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First Drive: Chevrolet Malibu Eco

GM’s mild hybrid system presents a reasonable fuel economy increase for the price.

by on May.17, 2012

The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco presents a good increase in fuel economy for the money.

Fuel economy requirements are about to increase and carmakers are going to be scrambling to find ways to squeeze more miles out of a gallon of gas. And to do it, automakers are going to count on the electric motor and battery to help.

General Motors is reintroducing its “mild hybrid” system as eAssist on some Buick models and this Chevrolet Malibu, dubbed Eco. A similar system was available briefly as GM’s first hybrid system on the Saturn Vue.

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While most “full hybrids” have an electric motor sandwiched in between the gas engine and transmission, eAssist replaces a typical car’s alternator with a larger generator that is rated at 15 kW and provides up to 15 extra horsepower. The motor turns the engine crank by a thick belt. The system is can briefly – very briefly – propel the car until the gas engine restarts when the car is stopped. It can also give the engine a little extra oomph for the drivetrain while cruising or for passing slower traffic.

The result? Fuel mileage increases from 22 mpg city and 33 highway to 25/37, neatly bridging the gap between regular gas-only mid-sizers and full hybrids such as the Kia Optima. We saw 29 mpg in a mix of freeways and rural two-lanes. Contrast that with mileage of a Buick Verano, tested the week before. With the same 2.4-liter four cylinder engine, but no eAssist, the smaller Verano averaged 26 mpg.

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Adventures in Malibu Land

The further adventures of Ripley V. Winkel.

by on Mar.13, 2012

Unless you've been sleeping you may know that Chevy is bringing out an all-new version of the Malibu.

Ripley V. Winkel, the third generation Chevrolet dealer in Shaughnessy, NY, up the Hudson from Manhattan, decided to take his demonstrator, a 1992 Chevrolet K1500 4×4 up into the Catskills for a little R & R from the pressures of business and family.

Even in a small town where every family knew every other family and had done so for generations, he was not immune from the annoying complaints of customers, the jibes from Crusty O. Jones, the Ford dealer across the State Highway, and the demands of his wife and teenaged son and daughter. What Ripley wanted was a little peace and quiet, and he knew where to find it.

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On his way up the winding black-topped road, he nipped occasionally at the jug of hard cider on the passenger seat. Through the open window, he could hear the thunder in the heights ahead. Finally he got to his destination, a little known outlook far over the valley. He carefully backed the pickup in, grabbed his jug and lay down under an big apple tree where he could appreciate the beauty spread out in front of him.

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Inside the 2013 Chevy Malibu

We get our first chance to crawl all over Chevy’s next-gen midsize sedan.

by on Jul.28, 2011

The next Chevrolet Malibu will make its debut for 2013.

It’s not often you get a chance to crawl inside a major product more than a year before its official launch, but even as most makers are starting to push their 2012 products, we found ourselves this week getting up-close-and-personal with the all-new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.

The Malibu, you may recall, created something of a shock wave when the current version made its debut as a 2007 model – quickly grabbing an array of awards including the coveted North American Car of the Year trophy.  It remains a solid seller, but the market has moved on and with all-new versions of the top-selling Toyota Camry and Honda Accord soon to market – never mind offerings like the Hyundai Sonata and Ford Fusion to deal with – Chevy is wisely hoping to wow us with the next-gen Malibu.

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We got a first glimpse of the midsize sedan at the New York Auto Show, a few months back, but the General Motors division had a prototype on hand – along with some of the key designers and engineers working on the 2013 program – as we headed out to its sprawling Milford (Michigan) Proving Grounds.

There’s no question that Chevrolet isn’t planning to play it safe.  As senior GM officials have stressed, the worst thing you can shoot for is simply a “competitive” vehicle.  Inside and out, if Chevy ever hopes to seriously tackle the imports it has to be bold and aggressive.

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First Look: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu

GM inadvertently leaks its own secret.

by on Apr.14, 2011

Whoops, you weren't supposed to see that.

It’s been said that there are few secrets in Detroit, a town that has, historically, leaked like the proverbial sieve.  And General Motors certainly proved that point when it inadvertently let a sneak peek of the next-generation Chevrolet Malibu appear on its media website today.

Ironically, the maker had intended to run the classic teaser campaign, first showing off a shot of the rear taillights and, for this morning, sending out a release with an image of the midsize sedan’s new radio face – which, it revealed, articulates up or down to reveal hidden, illuminated 6-inch storage compartment.

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But the above image, which we first spotted on Autoblog.com, tells a much more complete story.

The look should be familiar to fans of the Malibu, which took honors as North American Car of the Year in 2008.  There’s a somewhat update version of the bowtie grille, accented by new multi-element headlamps that wrap into the fenders.

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First Drive: 2011 Chevrolet Malibu

Chevrolet's Malibu has a sharp exterior and a stunning interior design.

by on Nov.24, 2010

The design of the Chevrolet Malibu has aged well since its 2008 introduction.

A little inside the NFL, if you’ll indulge: Automakers typically send out well-optioned versions of the cars auto scribes test. There’s a simple reason for that. Carmarkers want us to write about all the bells and whistles so you, the car buyer, to fall in love with the car and liberally check those pricy option boxes. They want you to go for the upmarket trim, the more powerful engine, fancy wheels.

But the reality is that most buyers look at their needs, check them against their desires and cross reference their budget as they decide between a nicely equipped LT1, like the Malibu tested here, an LTZ with the hot V-6 and leather or something inbetween.

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Malibus start at $22,695, including destination for the base LS. The LT1 starts at $23,545. With just one option – $250 for a USB port for the stereo and a rear 110-volt outlet – the as-tested price is $23,795.

But even without many options, the Malibu has some unexpected features. How about cool green ambient lighting illuminating the center console. Gas struts to hold up the hood and trunk lid. Power lumbar support and height adjustment for the driver’s seat. Seventeen-inch aluminum wheels.
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