Review: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco is handsome, somewhat fuel-efficient

The Chevrolet Malibu name has been around for more than 30 years and has gone through eight generations (this being the 8th) of redesigns and re-engineering. The outgoing Malibu appeared as 2008 model year and may have been the sedan’s best couple of years as it won many accolades ranging from North American Car of the Year, Consumer’s Digest Best Buy and the IIHS Top Safety Pick. So when I heard that GM was redesigning the Malibu, redoing the entire model lineup and dropping its V6’s for a complete 4-cylinder lineup, I was a somewhat afraid for the future of one of America’s most popular sedans.

Right out of the gate, the first 2013 Chevrolet Malibu to be released was the Eco.

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While GM is refusing to call the model a hybrid, the Chevrolet Mailbu Eco features what the automaker is calling light electrification, better known as its eAssist system that first made its way into the Buick LaCrosse.

So until the standard variant of the Chevrolet Malibu sedans hit dealership lots (which are on their way to showrooms now) let’s take a look at the new Chevrolet Malibu Eco.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco Specifications:

  • Style: Sedan.
  • Seating Capacity: 5.
  • Base Price: $25,235.
  • Price as Tested: $30,150.
  • Engine: 2.4 liter Ecotec 4-cylinder engine, light hybrid system  – 182-hp at 6,200 rpm and 172 lb-ft of torque.
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic transmission with overdrive.
  • 0 to 60 mph: 8.3 seconds.
  • Top Speed: 118 mph.
  • Curb Weight: 3,620 lbs.
  • Fuel-economy: 25/37 mpg (city/highway).

Review 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco Exterior

Exterior:

For the 2013 model year, the Chevrolet Malibu gets totally redesigned with cues from the Camaro and the Corvette, making it the sportiest version of the Malibu ever. This year’s Malibu has a wider stance, muscular shoulders and an integrated rear spoiler that brings out the aggressiveness in its appearance.

The 2013 Malibu has 62-inch front and rear tracks that are more than two inches wider than the model it replaces. It sits on a wheelbase that measures 107.8 inches long and stretches 191.5 inches in length overall, 73 inches in width, and stands 57.6 inches in height.

When compared to its competitors like the Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and the Volkswagen Passat, the Malibu definitely stands out from the bunch. In fact, I would have to say it’s one of the most aggressive looking out of the group. What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.

Review 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco Interior

Interior:

The outgoing Chevrolet Malibu’s interior was a pretty impressive achievement by GM, but for the 2013 model year, the automaker took everything a step further with ergonomic design and soft-touch materials. The interior is also more spacious than the outgoing model with nearly four cubic feet of additional room allowing for more shoulder and hip room. That leaves all 5 of the Malibu’s passengers feeling quite comfortable during long trips.

Tech wise, the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu comes with a bunch of standard features including dual-zone climate control, CD/AM/FM/AUX/Sirius XM radio, MP3 Playback, Bluetooth and more. Our test model was hooked up with Chevrolet’s new MyLink system, which integrates, navigation, Pandora, Stitcher SmartRadio and voice-activated Bluetooth. The system is controlled by a full-color touchscreen 7-inch display. There is also hidden 6-inch deep storage area behind the display to keep your wallet, cellphone and other belongings in place while driving.

The Chevrolet MyLink system works flawlessly with GM’s OnStar service, providing what is, in my experience, the fastest and easiest system to use in the industry.

Note: Chevrolet’s new MyLink infotainment package and OnStar are standard on the Malibu Eco (optional on other Malibu models).

Review 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco Performance

Performance:

Our 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco is known to be the most fuel-efficient Malibu ever, but does it outperform its competitors? Power comes from a 2.4 liter Ecotec 4-cylinder engine mated to a light hybrid system (eAssist). The Electric Drive system consists of a liquid-cooled induction motor/generator unit fueled by a lithium-ion battery pack. The motor is good for a maximum output of 15-hp with a maximum torque of 110 lb-ft. Working optimally together with the 2.4 liter Ecotec, the Chevrolet Malibu Eco outputs 182-hp at 6,200 rpm with a maximum torque of 172 lb-ft at 4,900 rpm.

Mated to a 6-speed automatic with manual shifting mode, the 0 to 60 mph comes in around 8.3 seconds with a top speed of 118 mph. After driving the Malibu Eco for a week I noticed that the sedan is very quiet, its structure feels very solid, and the best part – there is no earthquake rumble when the electric motor turns on and off at the red light.

Now the Chevrolet Malibu Eco is by no means a fast sedan or a mean, tight-handling beast. It’s a cruiser that gets you from point A to point B in a very comfortable ride while offering you somewhat impressive fuel-economy figures.

The EPA rates the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco at 25/37 mpg (city/highway). During our week-long test, we managed to get 29 mpg – concidering the Malibu Eco’s competitors totally have knockout fuel-economy figures at a similar price point, we’re just not that overwhelmed by the figures.

In comparison, the Toyota Camry Hybrid is rated at 43/39 (city/highway), the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Kia Optima Hybrid both get 35/40 mpg – even the Volkswagen Passat TDI Diesel gets 31/43 mpg.

Review 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco Overall

Overall:

Am I impressed? Overall, with what the Malibu has become in 2013 and how it’s changed from last year’s model, yes, I am. But when it comes to the Malibu Eco, I’m a bit lost. The competition is getting stronger and tougher and you, as a car shopper, have some very strong alternatives.

As mentioned above, the Chevrolet Malibu Eco’s competitors offer much better fuel-economy with prices in the same range. The Chevrolet Malibu Eco starts at $25,235 while the Toyota Camry Hybrid starts at $25,990, the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid starts at $25,850, the Kia Optima Hybrid starts at $25,700 and the VW Passat TDI starts at $25,995.

So, while the new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu earns my praises as a whole, the Eco model just doesn’t excite me.

All Photos Copyright egmCarTech © Omar Rana.

– By: Omar Rana


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