2009 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Test Drive and Review

By dancurranjr On February 19th, 2009

chevy-malibuSeveral months ago we tested a 2008 Chevrolet Malibu with the 2.4-liter Ecotec four cylinder and a six-speed automatic transmission that listed for just under $27,000 with all the neat stuff (leather seats, steering wheel audio controls, adjustable pedals along with a tilt and telescope steering wheel, and so on). It was the top of the line LTZ model and carried EPA numbers of 22 miles per gallon city and 32 mpg highway.

This 2009 Malibu is a hybrid, using the same 2.4-liter engine and an electric motor for low-speed and supplemental power. The combination is rated at 164 horsepower, and the hybrid technology includes shutting off the gasoline engine at idle (stop lights and stop signs, for example) and using regenerative braking to recharge the battery pack.

Sort of a “mild” hybrid, this package takes up a minimal amount of space in front of the trunk, doesn’t add a great deal to the cost of the car, and adds four miles per gallon to the city estimate and two mpg to the highway number, leaving the hybrid Malibu with EPA ratings of 26 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. This particular Malibu hybrid also carries a list price just under $27,000.

How do they do that? Well, for starters, this hybrid Malibu isn’t the upper-scale LTZ, so you give up a few things like the leather seats, adjustable pedals and so on. On the other hand, it has a slew of air bags front and rear, anti-lock brakes, a stability control system, air conditioning, an AM-FM stereo with XM Satellite radio, a tilt and telescope steering wheel, power everything that works even when the engine is shut off at idle, cruise control, and even the steering wheel audio controls.

In other words, it still has everything you need and nearly everything you want, even a power adjustable driver’s seat for comfort and 17-inch aluminum wheels for style, while being a little kinder to both the environment and your wallet. As we recall, the six-speed automatic transmission (now being used in a variety of General Motors vehicles) adds about a grand to the price of the car, but we’d be really curious to see what the six-speed might add to the fuel economy of the Malibu. Maybe next year.

As of 2008, the Chevrolet Malibu has become arguably a world-class car, winning the coveted J. D. Power and Associates award for “highest initial quality” in the mid-size segment. At the same time, it has gotten kudos for its interior design and quality as well as for its performance and fuel economy, but good fuel economy is becoming (no kidding) a GM standard throughout their whole line.

We have to admit, we’ve liked every Malibu we’ve tested in the last few years, particularly the Malibu Maxx, a sort of short station wagon, which is no longer in production as of the 2008 model year. The 2008 and 2009 Malibus have been uniformly well-built and a pleasure to drive as well as returning very good fuel economy numbers in the real world.

We noted above that GM is doing a great job on fuel economy improvement in their entire line, and are now also building new cars and trucks that offer improved fit and finish as well as better design and styling. (No, those aren’t the same thing.) In fact, the new GM stuff, model for model, is about as good as anything you will find on the market no matter where it is built.

We’ve mentioned the Malibu, among others (depending on what kind of car someone wants), to several people as a good car to look at if they are in the market, and gotten surprised reactions. Chevrolet is building good cars?

Well, yeah. And trucks. Not only that, they look good. The styling of the Malibu, inside and out, is top notch. Styling, of course, is subjective, but we’ve heard few complaints about the looks of either Chevy’s new cars or its new trucks, unless you’re just a dyed in the wool Ford buyer, and that’s okay, too. There are a lot of die-hard Chevy buyers and a lot of die-hard Chrysler fans (not as many, which is sad) along with those who won’t consider anything but a (fill in your favorite European/Japanese make here).

The great thing is, there are a lot of good cars on the market these days, and we hate to see any of them overlooked. Besides, you’re doing yourself a favor by considering everything before you decide, right?

Source: Oak Hill Gazette

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