Test Drive with Greg Zyla: 2013 Chevy Malibu Eco
Base Price: $$26,845
Price as Tested: $29,100
This week, we're driving our first 2013 model of the year, the all-new eighth-generation Chevy Malibu Eco. Labeled as the "first fuel efficient" Malibu ever, General Motors (GM) looks to a bright future with this car both domestically and internationally, with an eye on sales in nearly 100 countries. This new Malibu Eco is loaded with features that will attract consumers that are looking for economy and mid-size comfort at a fair price.
Chevy's Malibu brand dates back to 1964, when the new mid-sized Chevelle utilized the name for its upper trim line. The label survived and prospered through 1977, becoming a standalone model in 1978 by replacing the Chevelle nomenclature. Malibu name was phased out in 1984 and replaced by the new front drive and mechanically hampered Celebrity.
By 1997, General Motors marketing brought back its best selling badge and re-introduced the iconic model. Since then, Malibu has been a staple of Chevy sales and takes direct aim on top mid-size sellers like Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata and Honda Accord. Overall, this 2013 Malibu Eco is equipped to do battle and then some, thanks to innovative "mini" hybrid features, great features and excellent fuel economy.
Built on GM's new Epsilon II platform in Fairfax, Kansas, Malibu Eco is loaded with modern conveniences, more interior room than the previous generation, new "intelligent" 6-speed transmission and an ever evolving Ecotec 2.4-liter four cylinder that generates an impressive 37 MPG highway and 182 horsepower. Most important is the addition of GM's "eAssit," which guarantees both good acceleration and better fuel economy.
Malibu Eco's eAssist is identical to Buick's eAssist that debuted in the 2012 LaCrosse. This GM developed "smaller" hybrid system employs a 115-volt lithium-ion battery and 15-kilowatt electric motor to increase fuel economy by 25 percent compared to the previous 4-cylinder. It also buffs up the torque an additional 79 lb. ft. at 1000 RPM.
In combination with the variable valve timing, these technologies work in tandem to recover electricity via regenerative braking and then use that energy to deliver an additional 15-horsepower while cruising on the freeway. This allows GM better use of its 6-speed automatic by incorporating a higher, final, gear ratio of 2.64, which generates the great highway MPG and won't allow the engine to "bog down" and shift to a lower gear. (Traveling at 65 mph, the RPM's read only 1,600.) Additionally, when you're stopped or off the accelerator, eAssist switches from using gas to battery power to operate the accessories. The end result is 25 city and 37 highway EPA numbers.
Although this mechanical wizardry may seem complicated to some, it is actually a less expensive Hybrid innovation that directly affects the fuel economy standard demanded by today's inflationary conscious consumers while delivering better performance.
Malibu's all-new cabin is functional, more roomy and includes all of the high-tech safety items from traction control to eight air bags. The amenities list is long, with standard fare featuring a 250-watt Pioneer 8-speaker stereo/CD/satellite system with a 7-inch touch screen, USB, steering wheel controls, cruise, all the powers, dual zone air and much more.
With over 8.5-million Malibus delivered since inception, look for the 2013 Malibu to be an immediate winner. The car delivers an exceptionally good looking exterior (based on Camaro DNA ) along with sound blocking materials that make it one of the quietest Malibus ever.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 107.8 inches, 3,630 lb. curb weight, 14.3 cu. ft. of cargo space, 37.4 ft. turning circle and a 15.8 gal. regular grade fuel tank.
If you want to drive one of GM's top new "technological wonders," the 2013 Chevy Malibu Eco is awaiting your visit at your Chevy dealer. It may cost a little more than the other Malibus, but for what you get in return you'll be quite pleased.
Likes: Acceleration, interior, exterior, fuel mileage, comfort.
Dislikes: Pricing can quickly go over $30K, availability might be limited.