Proverbs tells us that a good name is better than wealth, but does that apply to automobiles? We’ve noticed a strange trend in the industry where automakers change the name of a model or series for no apparent reason. But Chevrolet chose to breath new life into one of the oldest names in production. The Malibu was originally a trim package for the 60’s era Chevelle and El Camino. In the 70’s and 80’s it rolled on the G-body as its own model until 1988. We will not speak of anything between then and 2008 because that’s when Bob Lutz and his team decided to make Malibu great again.
A massive amount of money was spent on reverse engineering other midsize cars along with an expensive ad campaign. The result was the 9th generation that launched last year. In our partnership with Motor Trend, Chevrolet’s display of an unmarked example always draws a comparison to German or Japanese luxury sedans. The skilled hands of UAW Local 31 in Kansas City received all new tooling and state of the art paint shop to compete on the world stage. What they build is the best Chevrolet in years. We have driven the turbocharged 1.5-liter example several times and it feels better than some cars twice its price.
Honestly, we didn’t know a hybrid was available, so we jumped at the opportunity. A hybrid in the traditional sense, it has no plug for the external charge because the battery is only 1.5 kWh. Driving is nice thanks to more electric assist than you would imagine. Battery mode works up to 55 mph in most situations, much like the Volt. That’s because most of the electronics and the transmission are shared between them. The tradeoff in battery size keeps the trunk usable, so you have room for family stuff and groceries. Styling is sleek and it stands out in a parking lot. Combined output o the electric motor and the 1.8-liter gas engine is 182 horsepower with 277 lb-ft of torque. The latter is more than most V6 sedans on the market, and it makes for spirited driving along with over 40 mpg. Try as we might, it just sips on fuel. Mileage is rated at 49 city and 43 highway since gas is needed to go faster than 55 mph.
It took serious engineering to build an attractive & comfortable sedan that approaches 50 mpg. The price you pay for such a car is $32,730. If you only drive 5 miles a day you may not even need gasoline anymore, what a day to be alive. Stay with us for more reviews.