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Chevy Malibu Eco: A Hybrid, Hybrid?

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On: Thu, Dec 22, 2011 at 4:46PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Chevy Malibu Eco: A Hybrid, Hybrid?

Truth be told, when you look at the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco with eAssist, it doesn't look like anything special. Same old Malibu, blah blah blah. That's not to say it's a bad looking car, but to enthusiasts, the Malibu is what it is - a company car. Chevy plans on the Malibu being its first global offering in the year ahead, and with that in mind, the GM guys went out of their way to make a version of the Malibu that has drawn our attention.

To your average enthusiast, a hybrid (outside of the exotic Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid) is nothing more than a harbinger of death for our beloved internal combustion engines. While some see a decrease in oil consumption, we see a decrease in performance and driving enjoyment. Well, it seems that the guys over at Chevy are enthusiasts, with an eye for the future. The Malibu Eco is a sedan that starts with a gasoline powered engine (thankfully), and then utilizes a small electric motor powered by a 115-volt lithium-ion battery. Now, that probably sounds pretty familiar by now, but instead of using a tiny 98-horsepower motor like the Prius, the Malibu uses a legitimate 150-horsepower 2.4-liter inline four cylinder engine to begin with, making the Eco a legitimate sedan even in the non-hybrid segment.

The electric motor simply helps the Malibu Eco minimize its fuel consumption where it counts. When the car is stopped, the Malibu will run on electricity and transition back to the gas engine with virtually no interruption noticeable by the driver. The electric motor also provides up to 15-horsepower of thrust during any lead-foot moments of acceleration, and the battery's power is regenerated using energy generated by calipers during braking.

The net result of the electric booster is a 15% boost in highway fuel economy -- going from 33 to 38 mpg and an 18% boost in city fuel economy going from 22 to 26 mpg around town. Chevy also claims that the Malibu Eco can go up to 550 miles between fill-ups, but that remains to be tested. But, beyond the bottom line numbers, is the fact that Chevy has given us a legitimately good looking sedan with a fit and finish that is above average for its class that also performs within the normal expectations of a family sedan and still manages to get pretty close to hybrid numbers at the tank. Sure, Nissan has attempted a similar approach to hybrids with the Altima hybrid, but the Malibu Eco looks better, drives better, performs better, and even gets better mileage so there isn't much competition from the competition.

We can expect to see the Malibu Eco in showrooms next summer -- just in time for gas prices to start climbing again. But maybe the Malibu Eco will bring some relief to all of us, even the enthusiasts.

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Stephy21 | 9:35AM (Fri, Dec 23, 2011)

Cant wait to see this car sounds great, just wonder how much its gonna cost?

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