The hybrid powertrain leverages technology borrowed from the second generation of Chevrolet’s plug-in Volt, as well as the forthcoming electric Bolt. A 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, developing an estimated 160 horsepower, mates with twin electric motors and an 80-cell, 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. The second motor serves as a generator. Hybrid drive unit output is rated at 182 horsepower (136 kW).
The gasoline engine automatically starts at higher speeds and under heavier load. The two-motor electric drive unit provides extra energy, especially when accelerating, augmenting the gas engine. For brief periods, the Malibu Hybrid can travel at up to 55 mph on battery power alone.
Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery uses exhaust-system heat to warm both the engine and the cabin, which keeps fuel economy consistent in cold weather. Blended regenerative braking, also adapted from the Volt, provides maximum kinetic energy recovery while braking to help maintain the battery’s state of charge.
Fuel economy, as estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is 49 mpg in city driving and 43 mpg on the highway, or 46 mpg combined. In comparison, the Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata Hybrids are both estimated at 40 mpg combined, while the Kia Optima and Ford Fusion hybrids get 42-mpg estimates. The thriftiest gasoline-engine Malibu gets an estimate of 27/36 mpg (city/highway), or 30 mpg combined.
Standard equipment includes a power driver seat with power lumbar adjustment, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat with center armrest, a tilt/telescopic steering column, steering-wheel controls, remote keyless entry, and pushbutton start. Dual-zone automatic climate control, an electronic parking brake, LED daytime running lights, six-speaker audio, SiriusXM satellite radio, automatic headlight control, and heated power mirrors also are included. OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot lets passengers connect to the Internet. Alloy wheels hold 17-inch tires.
In Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system, a 7-inch color touchscreen not only controls operations, but also displays the image from the standard rearview camera. Connectivity includes both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Ten airbags and a rearview camera are standard.
Pricing starts at $29,625 (including the $875 destination charge). A Convenience & Technology Package costs an additional $895. The $1,195 Driver Confidence Package includes front/rear parking assist, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, pedestrian detection, and city-speed forward automatic braking. A Leather Package is available for $2,140. Wireless phone charging and heated leather-trimmed seats also can be added.
Naturally, increased fuel economy is the main attraction of the Malibu Hybrid. At the same time, you get all the features of a regular Malibu sedan, in its latest form and size. Considering the abundant equipment that’s included, and the gas-mileage advantage (especially in city driving), the Hybrid sounds like a sensible alternative for a reasonable price.
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