Mileage, smoothness impress in Silverado Hybrid
GM's Two-Mode hybrid system may soon require a bigger trophy rack. In addition to positive reviews from media and customers, it's most recently been called the 'Best New Green Technology' by the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada for 2009.
The innovative system was developed jointly by GM, Chrysler and BMW. In this case of the General, it puts the combined efforts of a six-liter gas V8 engine and an electric motor drive system to work for owners.
Two-Mode Hybrid Drive: a crash course
Here's the quick and dirty if you're unfamiliar with the concept. 'Two-Mode' refers to the system's distinctive operating modes. The first is used for light load, low-speed situations, the second for faster driving or whenever the gas engine needs to run.
In the first mode, the gas engine shuts off and the truck runs solely on battery power. Motion is eerily quiet and completely emission-free. All accessories function as normal.
The second mode runs the V8 engine on either 4 or 8 of its cylinders as appropriate, and it recharges the batteries while running, too. All power is generated on board, and there's no plugging in required.
End of the day, Silverado Hybrid can run on electric power only, engine power only, or a combination of both.
During winter, the mileage benefit of a hybrid diminishes somewhat. With temperatures around twenty below, the six-liter V8 engine spends less time in its fuel-saving 'auto stop' mode in order to provide heat for the cabin.
Chevy's hybrid truck, by the numbers
The two-mode system puts 332 horsepower on continuous standby, and towing capacity is rated as high as 2,767 kg. Even with the negative effects of the cold, my real-world winter consumption averaged about 15L / 100km.
That's about 2 to 3 L / 100km better than I achieved in the new Dodge Ram HEMI or Ford F150 -- and the Silverado has a bigger engine than either. These figures are in the same vacinity as a smaller, V6-powered family SUV.
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