The Bowtie team from General Motors will introduce an impressive stable of Malibu models with a total of three engines and four trim levels for the 8th generation 2013 model year. The first new Malibu to appear in the marketplace will be the Eco model, the first Chevrolet to feature GM’s eAssist fuel-saving technology, which is a mild hybrid system. It is also Chevrolet’s first global mid-size sedan.
The Malibu Eco will draw its motive force from the same unique powerplant combination that propels Buick’s e-Assist LaCrosse. The 2.4-liter Ecotec, inline 4-cylinder with Direct Injection and an advanced 115v lithium-ion battery and latest-generation 15kW, liquid-cooled motor-generator unit benefits from regenerative braking with up to 15 horsepower and 15kW of electricity for charging the battery. The gasoline fueled engine delivers 182 horsepower at 6,700 rpm, along with 172 pound feet of torque, while the motor generator cranks out the Kw equivalent of 136 horses and the Nm equivalent of 233 pound feet of torque. Monitoring the driving force to the front wheels is a second-generation Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed automatic transmission.
The Eco represents its own specific Malibu trim level, while three other trim levels L, LT and LTZ will follow. They are powered by a 2.5-liter Ecotec inline 4-cylinder with VVT high-pressure direct injection and electronic throttle control. A 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is scheduled to appear on the scene at a later date.
In terms of its visual appeal, the 2013 Malibu is by far the best-looking Malibu ever. It comes with a wider stance and broad shoulders that bring it a new athleticism and an aggressive presence. The new Malibu has a 4.5” shorter wheelbase and 62” front and rear tracks that are more than 2” wider than the model it replaces. Displaying a new aerodynamically efficient form, the vehicle features a mesh-type dual port upper grille that displays a cross bar wearing the bowtie logo. A unique lower grille features active aero shutters controlling airflow to the powertrain as well as improving aerodynamics. Here are the defining exterior standouts of the new Malibu:
- The grilles are flanked by accentuating character lines and wraparound, projector HID headlamps.
- The hood displays strong definitive lines that integrate with the “A” pillar and sharply angled windshield.
- The Greenhouse gracefully curves into the backlight and suggests a coupe-like profile with its blacked-out “B” pillar and chrome trim surrounding the glass area.
- The “C” pillar or sail panel flows into the raised rear deck and integrated trunk lid spoiler.
- The rear showcases sculpted character lines and Camaro-inspired LED dual element taillamps.
- Stylish alloy wheels add to the Malibu’s sporty profile.
And here are the defining interior standouts of the new Malibu:
- The cabin is now roomier and more refined with a greater emphasis on craftsmanship, fit and finish.
- Metallic, chrome or wood accents dictate the shifter, surround the center stack, and instrument cluster and trim the doors and steering wheel.
- Soft, ice blue ambient lighting complements chrome accents and ensures consistent illumination along the instrument panel, in the storage pockets, and on the center stack dials.
- French contrast stitching, soft-touch and textured surfaces, and strategic applications of noise-deadening materials add to the Malibu’s refinement.
- The dual cockpit design is all new and more spacious, with nearly 4 additional cubic feet.
The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu delivers the ride and handling of a premium sedan in a well-equipped and affordable package, even when fully loaded with options. The ride quality is compliant and comfortable and acceleration is surprising for a non-turbo, four-cylinder-powered sedan. Handling characteristics border on sporty with a satisfactory on-center feel. Controls and switchgear are logically positioned for optimum user-friendliness and outward visibility is good. In addition to being the best-looking and most appealing Malibu yet, it is also the most fuel-efficient ever. Moreover, a comprehensive inventory of safety equipment and technology makes one feel even more secure with their purchase. Equipment includes:
- Dual-stage driver and front passenger air bags.
- Driver and front passenger pelvic/thorax side-impact air bags.
- Driver and passenger knee air bags.
- Roof rail air bags with rollover protection and available second-row head/thorax side impact air bags.
- Lane departure warning system with forward collision alert.
- Rearview camera system.
- OnStar includes Automatic Crash Response as well as improved voice recognition technology, remote diagnostics, remote door unlock, Stolen Vehicle Slowdown and six months of up level Directions and Connections service that includes turn-by-turn Navigation.
The new Chevrolet Malibu will be sold in nearly 100 countries on six continents, with the Eco model available only in North America. Malibu will go on sale in the first quarter of 2012. It should compete quite well in the marketplace with Honda’s Accord, Hyundai’s Sonata and Toyota’s Camry. Especially since it’s the longest-running nameplate in the midsize category covering eight generations with over 8.5 million built in the U.S. since its 1964 debut.
Our test 2013 Malibu Eco was a pre-production vehicle finished outside in Crystal Red Tintcoat with a Cocoa and Light Neutral interior. The base price was set at $25,235, while adding the destination and delivery charge slightly increased the tab to $25,995.