It’s hard not to see advertisements for the Chevrolet Malibu. With its keen redesign for 2008, Chevrolet has put everything it has into the marketing of the car named after the southern California beach city. The promotion began in earnest during last October’s World Series and it hasn’t waned.
Chevrolet wants the Malibu to compete with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, and that’s a hefty task.
With its hybrid, new for 2008, the Malibu features GMC’s “mild hybrid system” rather than its dual mode full hybrid system.
And when compared to other hybrid offerings, the Malibu goes in reverse before it finds forward gears.
The reason: Early mileage reports for the hybrid are about two percent higher than to 22 to 27 mph for the gas engine Malibu. That’s little to boast about particularly when you’re trying to compete established brands.
The hybrid’s configuration is a 36-volt electric motor coupled with a 2.4 liter Ecotec VVT four cylinder engine and a four-speed manual transmission. Using an integrated starter-generator, mild hybrids, shut the gasoline engine off at stoplights, and offer around 10-15 percent increase in fuel economy.
With its well-touted redesign, the Malibu features chrome outline on gauges, center vents and the console shifter and wood and several two-tone trims are available.
Beyond cosmetics, the Malibu’s interior leg and body room is spacious, but head room remains only adequate. Its average head clearance can be overlooked considering the expansive access area and the spacious pass-through from the rear-seat to the trunk.
Overall, the Malibu hybrid offers an enticing price point in an exciting, attractive new version of a near-classic car that’s been around since 1964. But the hybrid doesn’t distinguish itself against industry leaders.
Safety Features — dual-front, front side and side curtain airbags.
Warranty — Bumper to Bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/100,000.
Fuel Mileage Estimates — 22-27 mpg; miles; Corrosion, 6 years/100,000 miles.
Base Price — $22,140.00.