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William Maley

Quick Drive: 2017 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

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Chevrolet’s previous attempts at building a hybrid version of the Malibu are less than stellar. Their first attempt in the late-2000s was not well received due to mediocre performance and fuel economy figures that fell way behind the pack. The second attempt was the last-generation Malibu Eco. Chevrolet hoped to draw people in with a lower price and slightly better fuel economy figures due to the mild-hybrid system. But once again, it would prove to be a flop as the performance was meh and fuel wasn’t that noticeably better from the regular four-cylinder model.

Chevrolet isn’t one to give up though. When the next-generation Malibu was revealed a couple of years ago, they announced a hybrid variant would be available. But this one was going to be different as the model would feature ideas and tech from the Volt. We spent over a week in a 2017 Malibu Hybrid to find out if Chevrolet has repeated the same mistakes as before or if they have learned from them.

  • The Malibu Hybrid powertrain is made up of a 1.8L DOHC four-cylinder paired up to the Volt’s electric drive unit - comprised of two electric motors. Power for the electric motors comes from an 80-cell, 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Total output is rated at 182 horsepower.
  • This powertrain is quite surprising. The Malibu Hybrid leaves a stop effortlessly and quickly thanks to the instantaneous power available from the electric motors. If you keep a light throttle, you can get up to 55 mph on just electric power alone. If you need to make a pass or get up to speed somewhat quickly, the gas engine kicks on and delivers the extra shove. It needs to be noted that the gas engine will make a fair amount of noise when you have your foot to the floor. Otherwise, the engine is muted for the daily grind.
  • Transitions between electric and hybrid power is mostly smooth thanks to the gear-free transmission and a number of clutches from the Volt. There were a few times during our testing that we felt the gas engine kick on, but this mostly happened at times where we needed the extra power.
  • Fuel economy is rated at 49 City/43 Highway/46 Combined by the EPA. We saw an average of 45 MPG on a 50/50 mix of city and highway driving.
  • Brakes are the key weak point on most hybrid vehicles as they tend to feel very grabby due to the regenerative system. The Malibu Hybrid may have the best brakes we have ever driven on a hybrid vehicle. They feel linear and have the bite of a normal braking system. Thank the Volt for lending its braking system.
  • Despite being a few hundred pounds heavier than the last Malibu we drove, the Hybrid retains the balanced ride and handling characteristics we liked so much. The suspension keeps the vehicle composed over some of the roughest roads on offer in Detroit. On a winding road, the Malibu feels agile and stable. Some will be disappointed by the lack of feel offered by the steering, but most buyers won’t notice this.
  • Unlike most hybrid midsize sedans, the Malibu Hybrid doesn’t scream about it. Looking at it from all angles, you would find it to look like the standard Malibu. Only the ‘H’ badge on the trunk reveals its true identity.
  • One of the issues we had on the last Malibu was material choices. For the price, the fabric covering for the dash and a large amount of hard plastics felt like a huge misstep and put the Malibu way behind the pack. The Hybrid does show some improvements if you order the Leather package that replaces the fabric covering for leather on the dash. It not only makes the Malibu look more premium, it also feels much nicer. Now Chevrolet needs to work on adding more soft-touch materials around the dash, door panels, and center console to make the Malibu truly stand out.
  • Trunk space is slightly smaller in the Hybrid - 11.6 cubic feet vs. 15.8 - due to the battery pack. There is a trunk pass-through, albeit a small slot. It's better than nothing.
  • The Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid carries the most expensive base price of any midsize hybrid sedan of $27,875. But you do get a decent amount of equipment such as dual-zone climate control, push-button start, keyless entry, backup camera, automatic headlights, power driver’s seat, and a 7-inch touchscreen. Our tester came fully loaded with three packages - Leather, Driver Confidence, and Convenience & Technology - to bring the as-tested price to $32,730 with destination. For the money, it is quite the value.

 

Disclaimer: Chevrolet Provided the Malibu Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

Year: 2017
Make: Chevrolet
Model: Malibu
Trim: Hybrid
Engine: 1.8L DOHC VVT Four-Cylinder with Direct Injection, Two Electric Motors
Driveline: Two-Motor Drive, Front-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 122 @ 5,000 (Gas), 182 Total
Torque @ RPM: 130 @ 4,750 (Gas), 277 @ 0 (Electric)
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 49/43/46
Curb Weight: 3,366 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Kansas City, Kansas
Base Price: $27,875
As Tested Price: $32,730 (Includes $875.00 Destination Charge and $745.00 Leather Package Discount)

Options:
Leather Package - $2,140.00
Driver Confidence Package - $1,195.00
Convenience & Technology Package - $895.00
8-Inch MyLink System with Navigation - $495.00


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1 hour ago, William Maley said:

But once again, it would prove to be a flop as the performance was meh and fuel wasn’t that noticeably better from the regular four-cylinder model.

To be honest about it, really only the top 8 of the field of 35 EVs / PHEVs AREN'T "flops"... but the 20th century mindset that Chevrolet must build each model in the 100 thousands or it's a 'flop' obviously is dying hard.

I struggle to recall the same judgement leveled against the BMW 330e or the hyundai sonata PHV or the Kia Optima PHV or the 2 dozen other hybrid 'flops' out there... but maybe I just missed those opinions...

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20 minutes ago, balthazar said:

To be honest about it, really only the top 8 of the field of 35 EVs / PHEVs AREN'T "flops"... but the 20th century mindset that Chevrolet must build each model in the 100 thousands or it's a 'flop' obviously is dying hard.

I struggle to recall the same judgement leveled against the BMW 330e or the hyundai sonata PHV or the Kia Optima PHV or the 2 dozen other hybrid 'flops' out there... but maybe I just missed those opinions...

I think he was referring to its crap performance as a hybrid, not its sales figures. 

I cannot get into a hybrid that butchers the trunk so much the pass through is crap.

2017-chevrolet-malibu-hybrid_trunk_14918

 

When Hyundai figured out how to do this..

2016-Hyundai-Sonata-Hybrid-Limited-JP-19

 

 

http://www.autos.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2016-Hyundai-Sonata-Hybrid-Limited-JP-19.jpg

Edited by frogger

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2 hours ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

That gas mileage is impressive for a midsize...

The whole car is impressive.

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so this larger vehicle with a decently loaded base model gets 49 City/43 Highway... and the cruze diesel exists, why?

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2 minutes ago, FAPTurbo said:

so this larger vehicle with a decently loaded base model gets 49 City/43 Highway... and the cruze diesel exists, why?

Loss leader...

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3 hours ago, FAPTurbo said:

so this larger vehicle with a decently loaded base model gets 49 City/43 Highway... and the cruze diesel exists, why?

... to give the $5K cheaper, smaller Cruze buyers better mileage...?

[I'm missing the trick in this question...]

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10 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

Surprised they don't offer a Cruze Hybrid with this powertrain..

Don't think they could get the price premium...besides...Volt...

1 hour ago, balthazar said:

... to give the $5K cheaper, smaller Cruze buyers better mileage...?

[I'm missing the trick in this question...]

Except that Cruze diesel sells for a premium price.

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I've had a hybrid twice as a loaner while mine was getting fixed.  The gas mileage is as advertised.  45 city is not a chore for mpg in this rig.

He's right about the cloth interior.  It really feels downmarket.

I disagree a bit about the handling.  The hybrid is like 400 pounds more than my 1.5 and it feels to me, different.  I feel like you feel the extra weight.  Maybe only by comparison.  I didn't think the ride was anything special on the hybrid.  So even though the powertrain was fairly smooth, the car didn't feel cushy.  to me anyways.

It is faster noticeably than the 1.5 but the engine sound is a bit coarse when the gas is on.  And even though you have battery surge its not the same as turbo surge either.

Trunk reduction didn't seem to be a huge deal but already some of the competition is able to almost eliminate the battery penalty so GM needs to repack this.

GM's best bet here would be to basically upgrade this to a plug in and sell for the same price.  Then they would move these.  Even though plain hybrids make all the sense in the world, i think its a tough sell to the regular population unless the price comes down, and if they can continue to downsize the batteries.  I hear toyota is working on a capacitor to replace a battery.. If they get that to work then very well i could see them making hybrid a standard issue across all their cars.

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3 hours ago, A Horse With No Name said:

Except that Cruze diesel sells for a premium price.

Not vs. the Malibu Hybrid.

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11 hours ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

Surprised they don't offer a Cruze Hybrid with this powertrain..

That is the question I have been asking since day one of the VOLT comin out, why is this power train not in all product lines as the actual Hybrid powertrain?

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16 hours ago, balthazar said:

... to give the $5K cheaper, smaller Cruze buyers better mileage...?

[I'm missing the trick in this question...]

why bother with the higher cost diesel of a diesel engine, the higher cost of diesel fuel and, the associated stigma when this hybrid powertrain could be in the cruze?

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On 7/31/2017 at 4:13 PM, FAPTurbo said:

so this larger vehicle with a decently loaded base model gets 49 City/43 Highway... and the cruze diesel exists, why?

Probably.. and I'm gonna go out on a limb on this.. because some people.. Vegas odds.. don't want a larger car and would rather have a smaller one with an alternative drivetrain.:rolleyes:

Some vehicles are literally being produced these days STILL.. because of consumer preference.. even in small bits. Go figure.. GM of all companies building cars that people want:wub:

Personally.. I see zero reason for an EV infrastructure to not be put into place and EVs take over the entire realm of automotive in the next 20 years.. OH WAIT!!! 

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On 7/31/2017 at 8:53 PM, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

Surprised they don't offer a Cruze Hybrid with this powertrain..

Quiet as it's kept... they do. I'm actually surprised they didn't call the Camaro SS, the Chevy 378ci or something b8sths.jpg IMO.. its a prime reason why some of their cars suffer in sales numbers. The Trax should have never been called the Trax.. when it is a taller version of the Sonic. A Sonic TRX would have been more appropriate.. and would offer a better sales marketing boast to the Sonic overall. Shit.. I would have called the Spark the Sonic Mini.. 

cruzevolt.jpg?00cfb7

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30 minutes ago, Cmicasa the Great said:

Quiet as it's kept... they do. I'm actually surprised they didn't call the Camaro SS, the Chevy 378ci or something b8sths.jpg IMO.. its a prime reason why some of their cars suffer in sales numbers. The Trax should have never been called the Trax.. when it is a taller version of the Sonic. A Sonic TRX would have been more appropriate.. and would offer a better sales marketing boast to the Sonic overall. Shit.. I would have called the Spark the Sonic Mini.. 

cruzevolt.jpg?00cfb7

I see the diesel listed, but no Hybrid version..

 

http://www.chevrolet.com/byo-vc/client/en/US/chevrolet/cruze/2017/cruze/features/trims/select/1?styleOne=383399

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12 minutes ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

My point was that the CHEVY VOLT is a CHEVY CRUZE with a different name. There is zero reason to offer a CHEVY CRUZE HYBRID as long as there is a CHEVY VOLT.. which should have been just called a CHEVY CRUZE HYBRID in the first place and marketed as heavy as the Volt was back in 2010 onward

 

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3 minutes ago, Cmicasa the Great said:

My point was that the CHEVY VOLT is a CHEVY CRUZE with a different name. There is zero reason to offer a CHEVY CRUZE HYBRID as long as there is a CHEVY VOLT.. which should have been just called a CHEVY CRUZE HYBRID in the first place and marketed as heavy as the Volt was back in 2010 onward

They should have also put the VOLT powertrain into multiple auto's including CUV's. With version 2.0, that is when the VOLT powertrain should have been spread across product family offerings.

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1 hour ago, Cubical-aka-Moltar said:

Ah, didn't realize those were two different cars in those pics..the blue one and the black one. 

EXACTLY!!! U get it.. They are virtually the SAME car. I THINK most body parts are interchangeable. 

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      Next-gen Silverado HD previewed prior to its 2019 reveal DETROIT — Chevrolet announced that the next-generation Silverado HD will debut next year, as a 2020 model. It will be the third all-new truck in the Silverado lineup revealed in just 18 months, joining the 2019 Silverado 1500 and the 2019 Silverado 4500/5500/6500HD.
      “Chevrolet already fuels the most successful truck manufacturer in the industry,” said Alan Batey, global head of Chevrolet. “With a completely new, expanded range of Silverado models on the horizon, we expect to see even more truck buyers in Chevrolet showrooms.”
      The next-generation Silverado HD is designed for the specific priorities and needs of heavy-duty truck customers. On-road testing of the new Silverado HD prototypes will begin in the near future to reach Chevrolet’s increased durability and validation standards, and the bolder, larger proportions of the truck will be instantly apparent. More product information will be provided next year, with the first production models scheduled to roll off the assembly lines in Flint, Michigan, in the third quarter of 2019.

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    • By William Maley
      Chevrolet has introduced mid-cycle refreshes for the bulk of their passenger car lineup. New faces are the big change of note for the 2019 Cruze, Malibu, and Spark. But there are other changes for these models which we will detail below.
      2019 Malibu
      Out of the three, the 2019 Malibu gets the most significant updates. It begins with the introduction of the RS package that adds a black grille, black badge, dual-outlet exhaust and special 18-inch wheels. Those hoping for some changes with the suspension are out of luck since there are none.
      Models equipped with the 1.5L turbo swap the six-speed automatic for a CVT. All Malibus will get an 8-inch touchscreen with the new Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system.
      2019 Cruze
      We first reported this back in December and it has now been confirmed. The manual transmission will no longer be available on any version of the Cruze. This means only automatics will be available - six-speed for gas and nine-speed for diesel. The Cruze Hatchback lineup gains a new LS variant to serve as the base. We're expecting the LS hatch to be somewhere in the $20,000 to $21,000 range for its base price.
      Other changes include the introduction of the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system, and LT and Premier models getting automatic climate control and remote start as standard.
      2019 Spark
      Last up is the 2019 Spark. It gets new styling for the rear and optional low-speed automatic emergency braking.
      No word on pricing, but we expect to find out when all of these models go on sale later this year.
      Source: Chevrolet
      Press Release is on Page 2


      NEW RS TRIM LEADS RESTYLED 2019 CHEVROLET MALIBU LINEUP
      DETROIT — Updated styling across the lineup — led by the first-ever RS trim — introduces additional choices to the 2019 Chevrolet Malibu and improves its presence.
      “We see an exciting opportunity with the 2019 Malibu to give customers new, distinctive choices, exemplified by Malibu RS,” said Steve Majoros, Chevrolet marketing director for Cars and Crossovers. “It offers athletic design and amazing features at an attractive price point starting between Malibu LS and LT trims.”
      The first-ever Malibu RS offers a sporty, personalized appearance starting at around $25,000, driven by styling cues that include 18-inch machined wheels, black sport grille, black bowtie emblems, a rear spoiler and a dual-outlet exhaust. Inside, Malibu RS features a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, black cloth seats and a standard 8-inch diagonal color touchscreen running the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system.
      Offered on five 2019 models, the RS trim is a Chevrolet success story that gives customers distinctive choice, strong value and performance-driven design. 
      The new, standard 8-inch diagonal touchscreen running Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system and new CVT transmission mated to the standard 1.5L Turbo engine further refine the 2019 Malibu line. The Premier trim retains its 2.0L Turbo paired to a nine-speed automatic.
      Performance-inspired design
      The Malibu’s front fascia, grilles and headlamps are all-new. The headlamps are integrated with the upper grille and the larger, bolder lower grille, giving the car a more powerful presence. High-performance LED lighting are integrated into the headlamps for Premier models, and there are new LED signature daytime running lamps for LT and Premier. There’s greater attention to detail in the grille and headlamps, with bold chrome accents reinforcing Malibu’s premium appearance.
      A new rear valance pushes the dual-exhaust outlets farther toward the corners, emphasizing the car’s width, while new taillamps deliver a more dramatic execution of Chevrolet’s signature dual-element design. The LT and Premier trims feature LED taillamps.
      “The Malibu’s fresh look refines and enhances the sculptural beauty of the Malibu,” said John Cafaro, executive director, Global Chevrolet Design. “It will also be an obvious member of the Chevrolet car family.”
      Additional 2019 updates across Malibu’s lineup include:
      A new, standard 8-inch diagonal color touchscreen radio running Chevrolet Infotainment 3 New 8-inch diagonal reconfigurable driver information center display on the Premier model Rear Vision Camera1 system is now standard on the Malibu L model The up-level Malibu Premier features standard heated outboard rear seats New available interior and exterior colors New wheel designs available in multiple sizes, including 16-, 17- and 18-inch The restyled Malibu joins the 2019 Cruze and Spark as part of Chevrolet’s freshened car portfolio. It goes on sale this fall.
      RESTYLED 2019 CHEVROLET CRUZE POSITIONED TO STRENGTHEN MARKET MOMENTUM
      DETROIT — Chevrolet today introduced the restyled 2019 Cruze with a more premium appearance that enhances its on-road presence and strengthens its value for customers. The updates for 2019 position Cruze to continue its success in the compact car segment.
      “Cruze is a cornerstone of Chevrolet’s car strategy, bringing new customers to the brand,” said Steve Majoros, Chevrolet marketing director for Cars and Crossovers. “In fact, 53 percent of Cruze customers in 2017 were new to Chevrolet. Cruze has been so successful at attracting new buyers to Chevy because its lineup offers something for every customer, from body style to fuel choice to trim and design.”
      Recent introductions of the Cruze Hatch and Diesel models helped push the car to a 0.6-percent retail market share gain in 2017 and helped Chevrolet secure its third consecutive year of higher overall retail market share.
      New design
      The 2019 Cruze’s front fascia and grilles are all-new. Revised grille designs reinforce Cruze’s premium appearance. In the Premier trim, Chevrolet’s signature dual-element taillamps now feature LED accent lighting, which adds to Cruze’s sculptural beauty.
      “Cruze’s refreshed styling gives Cruze a more upscale look while maintaining its Chevrolet design DNA,” said John Cafaro, executive director, Global Chevrolet Design.
      What’s new for 2019
      Chevrolet is the most awarded, fastest-growing brand for the last four years overall* and as part of that, the first-ever Cruze Hatch LS continues Chevrolet’s commitment and momentum in offering a broad car portfolio with choices for every budget and need.
      Additional updates include:
      New Chevrolet Infotainment 3 running on a standard 7-inch diagonal color touchscreen radio Remote start and automatic climate control standard on LT and Premier models New wheel designs Black window moldings, bowtie emblems and 17-inch (and available 18-inch) machined wheels for Cruze’s RS package New available Umber interior color The 2019 Cruze goes on sale later this year, offered in sedan and hatchback models, with 1.4L turbo and available 1.6L turbo-diesel engines. It also features 4G LTE connectivity and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot (with limited service trial), and one of the segment’s biggest rosters of available active safety features, including:
      Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert Rear Cross-Traffic Alert Rear Park Assist Following Distance Indicator Forward Collision Alert Front pedestrian braking Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking CHEVROLET INTRODUCES RESTYLED 2019 SPARK
      DETROIT — An updated face and new available active safety technology for the 2019 Spark add attitude and purpose to Chevrolet’s feisty, segment sales-leading mini-car.
      “Customers can easily personalize Spark, which is a main reason why it leads its segment in sales, attracting both young buyers and women to the brand,” said Steve Majoros, Chevrolet marketing director for Cars and Crossovers. “Spark is an excellent value for customers seeking an affordable car that offers great safety technology and connectivity.”
      Spark’s fresh front-end styling takes its cues from the Chevrolet line, while new, available Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking1 can help drivers prevent or reduce the severity of low-speed front-end collisions by applying the brakes or enhancing the driver’s braking.
      The new styling boosts Spark’s premium appearance with a rich use of chrome in the grille. Available projector-style headlamps further enhance Spark’s chic styling. The available LED daytime running lamps are moved lower, giving Spark a more powerful presence and a family resemblance to the rest of the Chevrolet car lineup.
      At the rear, dual-element taillamps further the signature brand cue. Spark continues its tradition of offering customer personalization through bright and distinctive paint colors.
      The 2019 Spark is offered in LS, LT, 2LT and ACTIV trims, with the ACTIV featuring crossover-inspired design cues and a ride height raised by 10mm. All trims feature standard air conditioning, 10 standard airbags2 and a rear-vision camera system.
      New, segment-exclusive Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking joins the available Driver Confidence Package, complementing the package’s additional active safety features, Forward Collision Alert1 and Lane Departure Warning. 1
      When it comes to connectivity, Spark delivers a standard Chevrolet infotainment system featuring phone integration compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a limited trial of OnStar and connectivity access at no additional cost, plus access to the MyChevrolet mobile app.
      Spark is powered by a 1.4L DOHC engine offered with a manual transmission or an available continuously variable transmission (CVT).
      The refreshed Spark joins the 2019 Malibu and Cruze as part of Chevrolet’s updated car portfolio, which offers new styling, new technologies and more choices and value. It goes on sale later this year.

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