2010 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on June 23, 2010

A serious hauler despite being light on fuel. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 23, 2010

Still a great work truck! (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 23, 2010

A really nice interior for a pickup truck. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 23, 2010

Ultra-comfortable seats make a long trip seem short. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 23, 2010

Stretch out and relax. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 23, 2010

Battery pack makes for less story. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 23, 2010

Toyota doesn't... Honda doesn't... Ford doesn't... Ram doesn't... no, GM makes the only hybrid pickup there is. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 23, 2010

Top-tier features make the Sierra Hybrid more than merely serviceable. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 23, 2010

Load it up! (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 23, 2010

GM's cool hybrid logo sets this truck apart from conventionally powered rivals. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

Published on June 23, 2010

GM makes the smoothest riding trucks on the market, period. That's just the way it is. I'm not saying a GMC Sierra, or a Chevy Silverado for that matter, is the best truck on the market for towing or hauling payloads or even features and interior refinement, I'm just saying that they ride well. They handle corners well enough too, and in my experience can manage a load without concern, plus, to me at least they look extremely good, especially the Sierra.

As it turns out, the Sierra 1500 Hybrid I recently drove has a lot of power too. You might think it's odd that GM used one of its largest V8s, measuring in at 6.0 litres and this displacement now only available in the Hybrid, as the internal combustion component of its gasoline-electric drive system, instead of its 4.8- or 5.3-litre V8 engines, but it has its reasons. As far as E85 flex-fuel capability, they all have it for 2010, although you'll be hard pressed to find a single station that offers it outside of Chatham, Guelph, and Ottawa, Ontario, where there's two because our government wants to regularly see that their doing something to expand green issues.

GM is doing its part to improve its fuel economy and emissions, however. Hybrid aside the General added variable valve timing to their pickup truck lines' 4.8- and 5.3-litre engines, a six-speed automatic to regular and extended cab models with the 5.3-litre V8, and that engine now gets a standard 3.08 axle ratio and fuel saver mode. And then there's the 1500 Hybrid, available with the Silverado, and the Sierra featured in this review.

Coated in new Pure Silver Metallic, my Sierra 1500 Hybrid is a great looking truck. Inside, its design is attractive too, but from a fit and finish standpoint it's standard pickup truck fare, meaning most plastics are hard although everything is put together well, and GM does a great job with its switchgear, my truck featuring a navigation system, backup camera, automatic climate control, and leather to give it an upscale look and feel.

The only configuration for the 1500 Hybrid is four-door Crew Cab with a 1700 mm (5-foot, 8-inch) box, but GM gives the option of two- or four-wheel drive, the latter GM's Autotrac 4x4 system with an electronic rotary dial for choosing the drive mode. The former starts at $47,505 (ahem)… yeah, a lot for the starting point of a pickup truck. But then again it isn't exactly bare bones. It comes with automatic dual zone air conditioning, power remote and heated side mirrors, powered windows front and rear, metal-look interior trim, a leather and metal-look steering wheel with redundant audio, phone and cruise control functionality, tilt steering, variable intermittent wipers, driver information centre, a compass, a low tire pressure warning, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/XM satellite audio system with speed compensated volume control and RDS, plus OnStar with 12 Months Safe and Sound Plan and Automatic Crash Response.

Automatic Crash Response uses built-in sensors to automatically relay an alert to OnStar HQ where an advisor is immediately connected via audio speaker into your truck to see if you're ok. Even if you say nothing, the advisor can use GPS technology to locate you and your truck and request emergency help. Additionally, the adviser can send critical crash data, including the type of crash and its severity, to give emergency responders a heads up before they arrive on the scene. OnStar can do a lot more, too, like recover a stolen vehicle, find where you've parked by sending a remote signal that will flash your lights and honk your horn, provide hands-free calling if your truck is so equipped, and much more, so it's a great bonus all-round.

But why wouldn't a near $50k truck not have hands-free calling? Yes, I was a bit surprised to see what came standard and what's omitted with the Sierra Hybrid. For instance, I'd like to see a standard sliding rear window for this price range, it's fixed in the Hybrid, and there's no rear window defogger either. Leather is optional as is anything more than four-way manually adjustable seats for driver and passenger, with manually adjustable driver lumbar support included, mind you. The front seat is a 40/20/40 split-bench, which allows for six-occupant seating, while the rear seat isn't 60/40 split like its conventionally powered siblings, because the battery pack is housed underneath and takes up what would otherwise be a flat loading floor. It folds up stadium-style, mind you, for what it's worth.

On the base two- and four-wheel drive Sierra Hybrid ($47,505 and $51,665 1SH packages respectively), you can tack on a six-way power driver's seat upgrade for only $400, and the electric rear window defogger will add $245. A tilt and slide powered glass sunroof can be added for $1,325, plus the Rearview Camera System for $565 featuring a backup camera and audible sensors to allow for more peace of mind when backing out of a driveway.

The rear window defogger and six-way powered driver's seat come standard with the $55,035 (2WD) and $59,185 (4WD) 1SJ package, as does an upgraded audio system with navigation and voice recognition, auxiliary input jack, USB port, and six Bose speakers plus a subwoofer under the console. Strangely though, despite having a big monitor front and centre on the dash the backup camera is still extra. On a more positive note, at the time of writing GM will knock $8,000 off the MSRP if you're paying cash! That means the $47,505 starting price shrinks to a much more palatable $39,505.

Additionally, of the eight available colours, which include Storm Gray Metallic (new for 2010), Pure Silver Metallic (the colour of my test truck), Midnight Blue Metallic, Onyx Black, Stealth Gray Metallic, Summit White, Fire Red and Carbon Black Metallic, only the last requires an extra charge of $195. Leather seats, available in Ebony (black), Titanium (gray), or two-tone Ebony and Light Cashmere (beige), will add an extra $1,050 to the bill. Also, according to the GM retail site the leather is only added to the front seat inserts while the rear seat is vinyl.

As mentioned, the Sierra's ride is the most comfortable amongst full-size pickup trucks and handling decent enough too, partially thanks to a speed-sensitive, electrical-assist, rack and pinion steering system, but its chassis configuration is nothing unusual for its segment. A body on frame design with a short and long arm front suspension complemented by coil springs, gas-pressurized shocks and an anti-roll bar, combined with a heavy-duty-tuned leaf-sprung rear setup featuring gas-pressurized shocks. There's a locking limited slip differential back there too, and four-wheel discs enhanced with ABS are tucked behind each 18-inch chrome clad aluminum wheel shod with 265/65SR18 all-season tires. The Sierra 1500 Hybrid also gets dynamic rear proportioning (DRP) and regenerative braking, as well as standard traction and stability control, the latter GM's StabiliTrak with Proactive Roll Avoidance.

The 6.0-litre V8 is a real dream of an engine. Its overhead-valve (OHV) design is optimal for torque, and torque it delivers with 367-lb-ft available at 4,100 rpm, allowing the 2,559 kilo (5,641 lbs) pickup to get off the line quickly; it weighs 2,668 kilograms (5,882 lbs) with four-wheel drive. The Sierra Hybrid's passing capability won't illicit complaints either, with 332 horsepower available at 5,100 rpm it gets up and goes without drama. Towing capacity is 2,767 kilos (6,100 lbs) with its standard Trailering Equipment Package, which is good enough for most peoples' needs. Likewise the Sierra Hybrid has a 662-kilo (1,459-lb) payload capability in two-wheel drive and 643 kg (1,418 lbs) capacity with four-wheel drive. And you can even take it into serious off-road country if you upgrade it to four-wheel drive, as the Sierra 1500 Hybrid 4x4 comes with a bull low gearing range for its full-time four-wheel drive setup.

The reason it can off-road and tow, and why Toyota has never been able to make its Tundra, in prototype hybrid form do likewise, is that it doesn't use a continuously variable transmission (CVT) like all Toyota and most other hybrid-electric vehicles do, but rather a two-mode continuous ratio electric transmission with four fixed gears that, together with its two 60 kW electric motors can reach speeds of up to 48 km/h (30 mph) on electricity alone, plus maintain Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation) mode, allowing it to run on only four cylinders, longer for improved fuel efficiency. And just like switching between electric and gasoline modes, the cylinder deactivation system is seamless to the point of being almost undetectable. Improving economy even more, the drivetrain features Auto Stop mode, shutting off the engine when it would otherwise be idling. The nickel-metal hydride battery pack is 300 volts.

All this results in superb fuel economy. The Sierra Hybrid can achieve an estimated 9.7 L/100km in the city and 9.1 on the highway, or 9.4 combined city and highway in two-wheel drive guise. Opt for a 4x4 and you won't be hit very hard at the pump either, with an estimated rating of 9.8 city, 9.1 highway, and 9.5 combined. And it only needs regular unleaded, saving you more. GM promises a fuel use reduction of 36 percent with the Hybrid, and that's significant!

GM also gives you an 8-year or 160,000-kilometre warranty on all hybrid components, and that's over and above the already excellent 5-year, 160,000-km powertrain warranty. Roadside assistance coverage lasts as long as the powertrain warranty, as does courtesy transportation. Corrosion protection is good at 6 years or 160,000 km, while the comprehensive warranty covering most components is average at 3 years or 60,000 km.

Details aside, the Sierra Hybrid looks good, with the regular blacked out grille featuring chrome surrounding trim, plus chrome bumpers front and rear as well as body-colour mirrors, door handles and mouldings that add a little more style to the truck's obvious capability. The light silver colour of my tester looks great with contrasting deep tinted windows, also standard.

The 2010 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid is a fabulous truck that offers plenty of advantages for environmentally minded do-it-yourselfers or companies trying to give off the best image possible at a time when going green means everything to some people. It's expensive, for sure, but it's hard to put a price on doing what you feel is the right thing. And if you can maximize the truck's efficiency by making the most of battery-only mode and the auto stop functionality when idling, you're bound to pay for a fair bit of the extra initial cost through fuel savings, but you're going to have to get out your calculator to figure that one out.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Pickup, GMC, 2010, Sierra Hybrid, $30,000 - $39,999,

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