2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco
2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco at New York Auto Show with High Gear Media's Joel FederEnlarge Photo
First came the news that the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu would have only four-cylinder engines, following the path set by the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and other midsize entries.
Then came the official unveiling of the line at last week's New York Auto Show, complete with projected gas mileage numbers.
The 2013 Malibu Eco model, says Chevy, will achieve EPA gas-mileage ratings of 38 mpg on the highway, which is comparable to midsize hybrids like the 2011 Toyota Camry Hybrid, at 31 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined.
It's higher on the highway than even the 2011 Ford Fusion Hybrid (41 city, 36 highway, and 39 combined).
But like the Cruze Eco, the Malibu Eco is rated much lower in city mileage than a full hybrid, since it's can't move on electric power alone. The city rating is "just" 26 mpg in the city, so its combined rating (perhaps 31 mpg) still won't come close to matching Ford's midsize hybrid sedan.
The 2013 Malibu Eco incorporates a number of tweaks to raise its fuel efficiency. Like the 2011 Chevy Cruze Eco and other models, it uses an active grille shutter to close off airflow to the engine when it's not needed, lowering aerodynamic drag and cutting fuel consumption. It also has underbody aero shields and low-rolling-resistance tires.
But unlike the 2011 Cruze Eco, the 2013 Malibu Eco--which goes on sale early next year--also includes the General Motors eAssist mild-hybrid system.
That technology, launching this summer as standard on the four-cylinder 2012 Buick Lacrosse. It will also be optional on the 2012 Buick Regal, where it is rated at 26 mpg city, 37 mpg highway.
The eAssist system pairs a small lithium-ion battery with a replacement alternator-starter that can also deliver electric torque to the engine, to supplement its gasoline power.
It also restarts the Malibu Eco's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine after it switches off when the vehicle comes to a stop.
We drove a prototype 2012 Buick LaCrosse with the eAssist system earlier this year, and found it impressive for a midsize near-luxury sedan. We'd expect the system to be equally fuel efficient in the Malibu Eco.
High Gear Media's Joel Feder covered the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco launch at the New York Auto Show, and we've got him on video walking around the car.
Feder shows off the styling, locates the lithium-ion battery pack in the trunk, and explains the evolution of the next Malibu from the current generation car.
Let us know what you think of our video: Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.