Chevrolet introduced the 2013 Malibu ECO, the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan in its 100-year history, at the recent New York International Auto Show. It features eAssist “light electrification” technology engineered to deliver an estimated 26 mpg in city driving and 38 mpg on the highway without compromising performance.
The ECO is based on the 2013 Malibu sedan, which will be sold in nearly 100 countries on six continents. Sales of the new Malibu begin with the ECO model in the United States in early 2012. The Malibu LS, LT and LTZ trim level offerings join the ECO in summer 2012. Pricing hasn’t been announced.
The eAssist system uses a state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery and an electric motor-generator to enable regenerative braking electric assist and start-stop functionality. It is efficiently sized, weighing only 65 pounds.
Malibu ECO also features an aerodynamic exterior – including underbody aero enhancements – and electronically controlled shutters in the lower grille that close at higher speeds to push more air over and around the vehicle. These enhancements increase aerodynamic efficiency to boost fuel economy.
An ECO gauge in the cluster continuously responds to driving behavior, encouraging fuel-efficient driving, while an Auto Stop Indicator on the tachometer informs the driver when the engine is in start-stop mode.
Malibu ECO’s eAssist system is mated to a 2.4L Ecotec direct-injection four-cylinder engine and next-generation six-speed automatic transmission. The 2.4L engine is efficient and lightweight, featuring dual-overhead cams, direct injection, continuously variable intake and exhaust timing and electronic throttle control, as well as a lightweight aluminum cylinder block and cylinder head. It is rated at an estimated 180 horsepower (134 kW) and is a variant of the same engine that was recognized as one of Ward’s Ten Best Engines in 2010.
Along with the Ecotec 2.4L and six-speed transmission, the eAssist system uses power stored in the air-cooled, lithium-ion battery to provide needed electrical boost in various driving scenarios, optimizing engine and transmission operation. An advanced 115V lithium-ion battery and latest-generation 15-kW motor-generator unit help increase fuel economy through:
A global lineup of fuel-efficient and powerful four-cylinder engines complements the Malibu’s European-inspired driving characteristics. In addition to the ECO’s Ecotec 2.4L engine, the Malibu’s North American lineup also features an all-new Ecotec 2.5L dual overhead cam, four-cylinder engine with direct injection.
It has new features, including enhanced authority continuously variable valve timing, variable-displacement oil pump and electronic thermostat that save fuel while delivering V-6-like performance. It is estimated the engine will be SAE certified at more than 190 horsepower (141 kW) and 180 lb.-ft. of torque (245 Nm). Both engines are mated to a Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed automatic with features designed to enhance powertrain efficiency.
The new Malibu will be built in multiple locations around the globe, including the Fairfax, Kan., and Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plants in the United States.
Article Last Updated: May 3, 2011.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.