2013 Chevy Malibu Eco Starts At $26,000, Rated 38 MPG Highway

2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO

2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO

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Hybrid automobiles can be a tough sell to the general public, partially because of the perception that they cost significantly more than their gasoline-only counterparts.

That’s not as true today as in years past, but there’s no denying that hybridization adds cost to the manufacturing process.

To circumvent this, GM is doing what it can to downplay the hybrid aspect of its eAssist system, which uses a combination motor-generator to provide supplemental power to the engine and improve fuel economy.

The lithium-ion batteries that power the motor are recharged via the generator and via regenerative braking, so eAssist can be accurately described as a “mild hybrid” system. It includes a start-stop function that shuts off the engine when the car is stopped, restarting it as the brake pedal is released.

That’s not what GM is calling the 2013 Chevy Malibu Eco, and it even appears to be downplaying the eAssist aspect of the car. That label is being used over at Buick, where the eAssist system is standard on the four-cylinder 2012 Buick Lacrosse and optional on the 2012 Regal.

Nonetheless, it delivers a respectable 26 mpg city fuel economy and 38 mpg highway fuel economy, for a likely combined rating around 30 mpg, which comes close to rivaling the highway fuel economy of a few full hybrid sedans.

That 2013 Malibu Eco's ratings remain far lower than the 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid, however, which is rated at 41 mpg city, 36 mpg highway, for a combined 39 mpg, and starts at $28,700--about 10 percent more.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO

2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO

Enlarge Photo

The Malibu Eco uses more than eAssist and a 2.4-liter Ecotec direct-injection engine, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, to achieve its fuel economy numbers.

It also gets reduced weight components such as an aluminum hood, rear bumper beam and low-mass carpeting, and even uses active aerodynamics (specifically, grille shutters) to improve airflow and reduce drag at highway speeds.

The price is relatively appealing, too, starting at $25,995 including a $760 destination charge. That’s sans options, so realize that amenities such as remote start, a premium audio system, leather seats and a navigation system will quickly drive the price up to the level of many full hybrid family sedans.

While the 2013 Malibu Eco may not deliver the fuel economy of a full hybrid or diesel sedan, it does provide an attractive alternative for those on the fence about buying any kind of hybrid. Look for the car to hit Chevy dealers by March of 2012.


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Comments (8)
  1. Let's see here, Fusion Hybrid starts at $28,600, Malibu Eco at $25,995. So, base price difference is $2,605. At 15k miles annually & $4.00/U.S. gallon, Fusion uses 385 gallons, costs $1,540/yr, in fuel. Malibu Eco= 500 gallons (15k/30 MPG), so $2,000. $460 in annual savings, then. Initial price gap is $2,605 so payback would be $2,605/$460, or 5.66 years.
    Actually, it states the Malibu Eco includes delivery charge but the one source I've seen quickly here shows the Fusion Hybrid MSRP as not including delivery. If so, payback would be 7.32 years. I used the same $760 for delivery charge as is shown for the Malibu as an estimate.
    Not bad, not great, but incremental progress isn't a bad thing.

  2. @robok2, I see this as a "hybrid with training wheels." If it gets more people to consider buying a hybrid, even a mild hybrid, I'd say that's a good thing.

  3. @Kurt, I agree, hence the comment about incremental progress. Compared to ten years ago this Malibu gets much better mileage, but ignorant people will still attack, see comments below for evidence.
    It's a mild hybrid that saves $2,600 over one of its full hybrid main competitors, yet still gets good mileage.
    But of course it's bad, because it's GM and GM sells Silverados. Luckily, Nissan doesn't sell a truck (Titan) that dwarfs the Silverado or F-150... The Toyota Tundra doesn't have a powertrain much larger and with worse mileage than either of the two, etc... Oh, that's right, it does.
    I'm still not a huge GM fan and have never bought/leased a D3 vehicle, but the mindless anti-GM comments from mindless people get irritating.

  4. I have looked hard at the press release for this car and you have to search for the fact that it is a mild hybrid with stop start capability.

    Why would GM obfuscate so, it points clearly to the fact that they are still paying lip service to fuel economy and would rather sell a Silverado. (more profit for less work but no future or growth)

    Lazy companies fail without fail or are nationalised (I think you get my point)

    The UK GM equivalent a Vauxhall Insignia with a 160bhp 2ltr turbo diesel will return over 45 mpg US. It has been on the market for 2 years already.

    Rather makes the Malibu ECO irrelevant.

    Think about it.

    Why not sell that instead ad be done with it.

  5. @Jeremy, perhaps you're unaware of this, but comparing American and European mileages/emissions isn't valid at all. The European test cycle is completely different and generally shows a 20-30% better rating simply due to the test cycle itself being unrealistic. In addition, you use imperial gallons in the U.K., right?
    Seriously, feel free to do some homework/research before spouting nonsense publicly. The Vauxhall Insignia=Open Insignia=Buick Regal, almost completely intact. It gets nowhere near 45 MPG using the AMERICAN test cycle, as is used here. Adjust for the test cycle/gallon size and your argument is ridiculous.
    The exact same Prius gets 72.4 MPG on the European cycle, but 51 in the U.S. Get the point? Compare the Focus, Corolla...

  6. It costs too damn much, GM. It's not loaded with expensive lithium batteries, so why all the expense? I do like the new styling, but I like the LaCrosse better.

  7. Compared to what? $26k for a car in that segment isn't particularly expensive. Basically $2k more than non-hybrids, $2-3k less than full hybrids. So what are you comparing it to?

  8. I'm comparing it to a 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid, which costs less and gets way better city mileage (43 vs. 26) and better highway mileage. Okay, the Camry is a more complex setup, but Toyota has it down pat. Price the Malibu at $22,500 and it'll sell well. There is stiff competition in that segment like Passat, Optima, Sonata, Accord, and Altima. People will opt for Japanese cars with better reliability if priced the same as American cars with average or below reliability.

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