While hybrid vehicles have become a part of the mainstream, what typically comes to mind when the term 'hybrid' is raised are small, economical sedans and compact SUVs which use a battery and an electric motor to shoulder some of the responsibility for getting the vehicle from point A to point B. Of course, a gasoline engine is called upon to do all of the heavy lifting, but thanks to relatively light weights and excellent power management systems electricity can be used as the sole form of motivation during low speed driving and in some instances, highway cruising.
However, there are quite a few different configurations when it comes to hybrid technology. The systems pioneered by Honda and Toyota in the Insight and Prius, respectively, are the most familiar and have been licensed or mimicked in the hybrid vehicles produced by several other manufacturers. However, there are also hybrids which use their electrical component in a much milder fashion. Known as light hybrids, these vehicles take advantage of engine management that allows the gasoline motor to be shut down when the vehicle is stopped or slowing down below a certain speed. Once the regular engine has been turned off, the electrical generator steps in to provide power to any electrical accessories or vehicle systems which require constant energy in order for the automobile to function properly. Since the electrical component of the hybrid system does not actually turn the wheels at any point, it has a limited ability to impact the vehicle's fuel economy. Still, when installed in a vehicle with a large engine that consumes a fair amount of fuel even while idling, mild hybrids can put a dent in overall fuel mileage.
When GMC realized that they needed to get on board with hybrid technology in order to make their thirsty full-size trucks more palatable to a wider market, they knew that they had to move fast in order to head off the potential ill effects of rising fuel prices. Given that it would take them time to develop a full hybrid system, and that their line of trucks were extremely heavy vehicles, the decision was made to go with a light hybrid in order to demonstrate to consumers that they were serious about ecological concerns.
This article discusses the best used hybrid vehicle produced by GMC, the 2006 - 2007 GMC Sierra 1500 hybrid, and examines the effects that the hybrid system has had on both the vehicle's fuel economy and its capabilities as a full-size truck.
2006 - 2007 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid
Right from the start, it is important to understand that the hybrid system in the 2006 - 2007 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid is not intended to provide a quantum leap in fuel mileage. GMC claims that under ideal conditions the Sierra 1500 Hybrid uses approximately 10% less gas than a standard edition of the same truck, a number far below the lofty fuel savings of other hybrid vehicles but still significant - especially if multiplied across a fleet of trucks.
The 2006 - 2007 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid combines a 5.3-liter, 295 horsepower V-8 engine with an electric engine that engages to prevent idling when the vehicle is stopped. It also shuts down the motor if the driver brakes while traveling less than 13 miles per hour. Once the accelerator is depressed the pickup's oversized starter motor automatically engages the gasoline engine in a seamless fashion. Combined with a 4-speed automatic transmission, it is difficult to find any real differences in terms of driving experience between the hybrid truck and the standard edition, aside from the eerie silence at stop lights.
In addition to providing enough electricity to run the vehicle's systems while the engine is off, the generator can also be used to power equipment or tools through 120 volt outlets that come with the truck. Four-wheel drive is available, as are extended cab editions of the vehicle, and towing capacity is a healthy 7,400 lbs. This helps make the truck just as practical - if not more so - than the regular version.
The 2006 - 2007 GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid is a modestly priced, ecologically conscious full-size truck that makes a valiant effort to reduce not only greenhouse gases, but also the price that drivers will have to pay at the fuel pump. Given the extra utility provided by the addition of auxiliary power outlets, the Sierra 1500 makes a solid used hybrid choice.