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Derek77

2008 Chevy Malibu Four-Cylinder LTZ Real-World Test Drive

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DETROIT — We may not be at "peak oil" quite yet, but anyone that's been to a gas pump in the past few months could build a strong case to the contrary. Fuel prices have already hit $4 in sunny Southern California; here in Michigan, gas can run north of $3.50 a gallon. And those high prices are affecting every segment of the automotive landscape, from SUVs to luxury cars.

But when it comes to moving five passengers in comfort, you don't necessarily have to jump into a subcompact to get respectable fuel economy. We decided to find out if Chevrolet's four-cylinder Malibu, combined with the new six-speed automatic, has the eco chops to take on much smaller sedans. Chevy has introduced a segment-exclusive combination with this new model. None of the others (Accord, Camry, Fusion) offer the fuel-sipping potential of a four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic. What's equally unusual is that this is not some stripper with 16-in. tires, dog-dish hubcaps and cloth seats, but a top-of-the-line LTZ that comes with almost everything—standard—for $26,545. For comparison, a Malibu LTZ V6 is priced at $27,745—that's $1200 more, and the four-cylinder Hybrid version, rated at 24 mpg city and the same 32 mpg highway, sells for $24,290. The new combination, the folks at GM said, would amount to 22 mpg in city driving and 32 mpg on the highway for the Malibu's EPA mileage test.

We grabbed the keys to an LTZ four-cylinder, six-speed automatic for some real-world riding—and came away with some rather impressive stats. On a 500-mile, one-day trip across historic U.S. 12 from Woodward Avenue here to Gary, Ind., and back, we hit nearly 30 mpg. Driving conditions were everyday fashion, with lights, air conditioning and the sound system on the whole time—no coasting, no shutting off at stoplights, none of those old Mobilgas Economy Run tricks. We passed other cars every chance we got, and ran at speeds above posted limits on the open stretches—no paddle shifters or Manual mode either, so the the transmission figure could figure out the shifting for itself.

With the six-speed automatic's 4.58:1 First gear and only 169 hp to work with, acceleration was decent. The kickdowns from the transmission were very quick and passing power was good. Overall, the car was quiet and well-behaved. With an effective overall gear ratio of only 2.16:1 in overdrive Sixth gear, the engine whispered along at 2100 rpm at up to 75 mph.

The trip computer showed a potential tank range of 471 miles at continuous highway cruising speeds. Our instantaneous mileage figures rose as high as 34 mpg on flat, straight highways. When we finally had to fill up the tank after the warning light came on, we did the math and came up with 29.89 miles per gallon. And when the gas station signs read between $3.55 and $3.75 per gallon along our route to and from Gary, that was very good news.

Remember, our Malibu was a fully loaded 3700-pound, five-passenger sedan with OnStar, satellite radio, all the normal power accessories, heated seats, tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, leather seating and remote starting. And it returned nearly 30 mpg on a brand-new engine with only 473 miles. That's quite good, indeed. —Jim McCraw

LINK: 2008 Chevy Malibu Four-Cylinder LTZ Real-World Test

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That's good mileage....IIRC, on a drive from Reno to Denver on I-80/I-25 a few years ago, I was getting over 30 in an Avis '04 Impala...not sure what engine that would have had (3.1 V6?).

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Good millage but, not like ZOMG! Impressive. My car with a 200 hp V6 and a 4-speed automatic has hit 29 mpg...and it's a bigger car.

Edited by Dodgefan
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Good millage but, not like ZOMG! Impressive. My car with a 200 hp V6 and a 4-speed automatic has hit 29 mpg...and it's a bigger car.

That's good... I've always been impressed with the mileage my '87 Mustang GT gets on road trips...I used to get 26-28mpg regularly cruising along in 5th gear...impressive for a V8 from the '80s.

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2004 Impala if it was a base model it has the 3400 SFI Gen. I. Good review and better mpg's never hurt. The six speed will be standard on 2LT models as well as optional on 1LT models.

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I really like this freaking car.

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Good millage but, not like ZOMG! Impressive. My car with a 200 hp V6 and a 4-speed automatic has hit 29 mpg...and it's a bigger car.

No... your car weighs ~3400lbs and the Malibu weighs ~3700lbs. You car may be bigger in terms of length, but the Malibu is bigger where it matters for MPG: weight, and by ~300lbs. I'd say the MPG is pretty impressive. I'd like to know what the city/highway mix was, though.

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No... your car weighs ~3400lbs and the Malibu weighs ~3700lbs. You car may be bigger in terms of length, but the Malibu is bigger where it matters for MPG: weight, and by ~300lbs. I'd say the MPG is pretty impressive. I'd like to know what the city/highway mix was, though.

They were a little vague with that info. But apparently they were going above posted speeds (75) and they were passing people, but they didn't say if that was on a 2-lane road or 4-lane road. Looking at a map, it looks like it was all interstate. Overall I think the mileage is great considering they weren't trying to see how high they could get it. I'm sure driving 60 mph would yeild higher results than 30 mpg. :AH-HA_wink: Did you guys read some of the crap posted on their comments?

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I'll wait and see what real customers are getting over the course of 10k miles or so, before making any judgments. If I went for a gas mileage run I could get 30-35mpg; but as it is I have a lifetime average of 25.5mpg because I drive with a lead foot.

Also, newer cars tend to reach their peak FE at a higher speed than older less aerodynamic cars. I wouldn't be surprised if the Malibu gets better MPG at 75 mph than at 60 mph, especially with the tall 6th gear.

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Did you guys read some of the crap posted on their comments?

everyone is much better off not reading or discussing those mindless comments.

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I'll wait and see what real customers are getting over the course of 10k miles or so, before making any judgments. If I went for a gas mileage run I could get 30-35mpg; but as it is I have a lifetime average of 25.5mpg because I drive with a lead foot.

Also, newer cars tend to reach their peak FE at a higher speed than older less aerodynamic cars. I wouldn't be surprised if the Malibu gets better MPG at 75 mph than at 60 mph, especially with the tall 6th gear.

Driving conditions were everyday fashion, with lights, air conditioning and the sound system on the whole time—no coasting, no shutting off at stoplights, none of those old Mobilgas Economy Run tricks. We passed other cars every chance we got, and ran at speeds above posted limits on the open stretches—no paddle shifters or Manual mode either, so the the transmission figure could figure out the shifting for itself.

It sounds to me they weren't focused on get the best gas mileage possible. Didn't coast, passed at every chance (which would mean they were giving it a lot of gas), used accessories at all times... what more do you want them to do to decrease the mileage? Rev the engine at stoplights?

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DETROIT — We may not be at "peak oil" quite yet, but anyone that's been to a gas pump in the past few months could build a strong case to the contrary. Fuel prices have already hit $4 in sunny Southern California; here in Michigan, gas can run north of $3.50 a gallon. And those high prices are affecting every segment of the automotive landscape, from SUVs to luxury cars.

But when it comes to moving five passengers in comfort, you don't necessarily have to jump into a subcompact to get respectable fuel economy. We decided to find out if Chevrolet's four-cylinder Malibu, combined with the new six-speed automatic, has the eco chops to take on much smaller sedans. Chevy has introduced a segment-exclusive combination with this new model. None of the others (Accord, Camry, Fusion) offer the fuel-sipping potential of a four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic. What's equally unusual is that this is not some stripper with 16-in. tires, dog-dish hubcaps and cloth seats, but a top-of-the-line LTZ that comes with almost everything—standard—for $26,545. For comparison, a Malibu LTZ V6 is priced at $27,745—that's $1200 more, and the four-cylinder Hybrid version, rated at 24 mpg city and the same 32 mpg highway, sells for $24,290. The new combination, the folks at GM said, would amount to 22 mpg in city driving and 32 mpg on the highway for the Malibu's EPA mileage test.

We grabbed the keys to an LTZ four-cylinder, six-speed automatic for some real-world riding—and came away with some rather impressive stats. On a 500-mile, one-day trip across historic U.S. 12 from Woodward Avenue here to Gary, Ind., and back, we hit nearly 30 mpg. Driving conditions were everyday fashion, with lights, air conditioning and the sound system on the whole time—no coasting, no shutting off at stoplights, none of those old Mobilgas Economy Run tricks. We passed other cars every chance we got, and ran at speeds above posted limits on the open stretches—no paddle shifters or Manual mode either, so the the transmission figure could figure out the shifting for itself.

With the six-speed automatic's 4.58:1 First gear and only 169 hp to work with, acceleration was decent. The kickdowns from the transmission were very quick and passing power was good. Overall, the car was quiet and well-behaved. With an effective overall gear ratio of only 2.16:1 in overdrive Sixth gear, the engine whispered along at 2100 rpm at up to 75 mph.

The trip computer showed a potential tank range of 471 miles at continuous highway cruising speeds. Our instantaneous mileage figures rose as high as 34 mpg on flat, straight highways. When we finally had to fill up the tank after the warning light came on, we did the math and came up with 29.89 miles per gallon. And when the gas station signs read between $3.55 and $3.75 per gallon along our route to and from Gary, that was very good news.

Remember, our Malibu was a fully loaded 3700-pound, five-passenger sedan with OnStar, satellite radio, all the normal power accessories, heated seats, tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, leather seating and remote starting. And it returned nearly 30 mpg on a brand-new engine with only 473 miles. That's quite good, indeed. —Jim McCraw

LINK: 2008 Chevy Malibu Four-Cylinder LTZ Real-World Test

I like the Malibu L4.....but this article is not that impressive IMHO.....

I've averaged over 30mpg in my A4 (a heavier quattro at that) 2.0T on a trip from Las Vegas to L.A. with the cruise set on 90mph, and some jaunts up to 95 and 100mph for a time....around time driving consistently averages 24-26mpg with a mix of city and highway.....btw....the trip computer frequently advertises ranges of OVER 500 miles on a straight freeway cruise....AT elevated velocities....

And this with a car with 200hp that goes 0-60 in 7.2 seconds......

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No... your car weighs ~3400lbs and the Malibu weighs ~3700lbs. You car may be bigger in terms of length, but the Malibu is bigger where it matters for MPG: weight, and by ~300lbs. I'd say the MPG is pretty impressive. I'd like to know what the city/highway mix was, though.

An indicated 34 mpg on the hwy, better than the EPA estimate, but then they were also going much faster, which increases drag exponentially, and increases fuel use until you can't burn enough fuel to overcome it. Despite all the propaganda that speed kills (it's inattention that causes accidents, and even the posted interurban limit will kill you if you crash), this is why they introduced speed limits in most Australian states in the first place. People seem to have forgotten that.

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I like the Malibu L4.....but this article is not that impressive IMHO.....

I've averaged over 30mpg in my A4 (a heavier quattro at that) 2.0T on a trip from Las Vegas to L.A. with the cruise set on 90mph, and some jaunts up to 95 and 100mph for a time....around time driving consistently averages 24-26mpg with a mix of city and highway.....btw....the trip computer frequently advertises ranges of OVER 500 miles on a straight freeway cruise....AT elevated velocities....

And this with a car with 200hp that goes 0-60 in 7.2 seconds......

If I recall your A4 is a 2005? Those weighed ~3500lbs... 200lbs less than the Malibu. I can't be sure, but it sounds like your trip is also all highway driving, which the Malibu saw 34MPG on... I'd say each car is fairly impressive. The Audi's engine is smaller and unless the turbo has to do much while cruising at 90, I don't see why it shouldn't be getting quite good MPGs? Keep in mind in their test they said they also drove around town, though it did not say how much. So, if you are averaging 24-26 in mixed driving and their mixed driving is similar, I'd say the Malibu is doing quite well at barely under 30MPG. Also, one would expect the Malibu to get better as the engine is broken in... the A4's engine is already broken in.

As for whoever said the I4 Malibu's only weighed 3500lbs, I believe they listed the weight in the article as 3700... I would guess that since the LTZ has all the features for the most part, they all add some weight (along with bigger wheels which probably add a significant amount), and a base I4 is more than 3400. The 6-speed may also add some weight.

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imagine if the 2.0diT was used instead of the 2.4L. i bet it could hit 35 cruising at rpms from 2100 up to 2300. get on that GM! hehe

the 2100rpms @ 70-75mph is impressive...that's about what my parents 04 lesabre does at 70

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If I recall your A4 is a 2005? Those weighed ~3500lbs... 200lbs less than the Malibu. I can't be sure, but it sounds like your trip is also all highway driving, which the Malibu saw 34MPG on... I'd say each car is fairly impressive. The Audi's engine is smaller and unless the turbo has to do much while cruising at 90, I don't see why it shouldn't be getting quite good MPGs? Keep in mind in their test they said they also drove around town, though it did not say how much. So, if you are averaging 24-26 in mixed driving and their mixed driving is similar, I'd say the Malibu is doing quite well at barely under 30MPG. Also, one would expect the Malibu to get better as the engine is broken in... the A4's engine is already broken in.

As for whoever said the I4 Malibu's only weighed 3500lbs, I believe they listed the weight in the article as 3700... I would guess that since the LTZ has all the features for the most part, they all add some weight (along with bigger wheels which probably add a significant amount), and a base I4 is more than 3400. The 6-speed may also add some weight.

The A4 is an '07.....but I think the '05 was the latest generation in any event.

In the recent C&D comparo of the Malibu L4, curb weight was listed as 3,470.....the A4 is around 3,500.

I'm not dissing the Malibu....I LOVE the idea of an LT with the 2.4L and 6-speed auto. I'm just trying to give some fuel economy comparisons from what I figure is excellent mileage in an AWD car with such strong performance.......

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The A4 is an '07.....but I think the '05 was the latest generation in any event.

In the recent C&D comparo of the Malibu L4, curb weight was listed as 3,470.....the A4 is around 3,500.

I'm not dissing the Malibu....I LOVE the idea of an LT with the 2.4L and 6-speed auto. I'm just trying to give some fuel economy comparisons from what I figure is excellent mileage in an AWD car with such strong performance.......

Was C&D's an LTZ? According to this article the Malibu weighs 3700lbs... unless they are mistaken. I'm not sure what would make up the 300lb difference, though.

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I'm glad that the six speed will be across the trim levels.....

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I'm glad to see the 6 slush box in the Malibu (FINALLY!), and even better news about it being in the LT2 and optional in the LT1. I'm not a big fan of the wheels on the LTZ 4-cylinder. I much prefer the wheels of the LT2. That is my favorite model actually.

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FIL got 34 mpg for a stretch in his 08 GP w/ 3.8 last week he told me.......calculated, not DIC.

Little known secret. The Saabs with 4 cyl and turbo get really good mpg too. Why GM does not promote their 4 cylinders I do not know. fueleconomy.gov has some impressive mpg features for the saabs.

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Was C&D's an LTZ? According to this article the Malibu weighs 3700lbs... unless they are mistaken. I'm not sure what would make up the 300lb difference, though.

Even the V6 LTZ that C&D tested didn't weigh 3,700lbs.....they listed it as 3,653. Hefty, yes....but not 3,700lbs....and certainly not for the L4.

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It sounds to me they weren't focused on get the best gas mileage possible. Didn't coast, passed at every chance (which would mean they were giving it a lot of gas), used accessories at all times... what more do you want them to do to decrease the mileage? Rev the engine at stoplights?

It sounds to me like the way they described how they drove doesn't really tell us anything, and only makes it sound like they were rough on the car. My idea of a "gas mileage run" doesn't mean keeping all accessories off, shutting off the engine, not passing, etc. It means driving normally, without the lead foot.

Look closely at their description:

Lights, air conditioning, sound system: These accessories don't suck up mileage like they used to, especially with electric A/C pumps.

No coasting or shutting off at stoplights: These kind of techniques are generally reserved for hypermilers, and wouldn't be needed to get good FE out of a vehicle.

Passed cars every chance they got: Which could be 100 times or just once. It doesn't say.

So my point is, they likely drove the car with FE in mind. And only one fill up does not give any sort of average.

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