Hybrids represent a transformative technology between gasoline and electric vehicles.
Until we fully surrender to all-electric (or, probably fuel-cell) vehicles, internal combustion engine is here to stay for, probably a few decades more. It still keeps getting better, more fuel efficient and still significantly cheaper.
General Motors (GM) of today has a strong portfolio of cars with different versions of electric-drive (EV) technology.
With the Malibu as hybrid, Volt an EV with range extender and free of range anxiety and finally Bolt, as a pure EV with an impressive range of 380 kilometers, GM is doing its part to embrace and develop EV technology. I humbly and subjectively think that while GM is making a business case, the company is paying also for its sins in the past. (Remember the killing of EV-1 in mid nineties)
I drive to Detroit every January since 2011 to visit NAIAS (North American International Auto Show). This year was not exception. And this time, the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid was my roadmate.
As soon as I hit the road, I noticed that it is still a pleasure to drive a sedan, in an SUV-crazy North American taste of mobility. The Chevy dirves well, built solid and behaves welI on the road. Part of my trip was under snow-covered parts of the 401 between Woodstock and London in the very early morning hours. I am happy to see to vast improvement in the quality of GM vehicles in the post-bankruptcy era.
Engine And Drivetrain
The Malibu Hybrid houses a new, direct-injected 1.8L I4 engine mated to a two-motor drive unit. This drive unit, based on the one used in the Chevy Volt, provides additional power to assist the engine during acceleration. The gas engine is rated 122 hp at 5,000 rpm and 129 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm. One electric motor generates 55 kW of power, while the second motor provides 76 kW of power. In conjunction with the gas engine, total system output rates 182 hp and 277 lb-ft. Juice is stored in and supplied to the two-motor drive unit via an 80-cell, 1.5 kW-hr lithium-ion battery pack. Chevrolet claims the Malibu can accelerate up to 88 km/h solely on electric power. The Malibu Hybrid also uses the Volt’s blended regenerative braking system to recover kinetic energy during braking.
A new technology launched with this model is Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery (EGHR) system, which uses exhaust heat to warm the engine and cabin. EGHR improves engine warm-up and helps offer consistent fuel economy performance in cold weather. Although I did not have an instrumental measurement, my trip to Detroit in a very cold night was very comfortable, and I assume, this feature was helpful.
After one-week test-drive of 1,168 kilometers mostly on the highway and including a return trip from Toronto to Detroit, the average consumption was 7 liters. This is impressive considering the fact that hybrids make a bigger difference when driven in the city. However, it is still significantly higher than Government of Canada measurement of 5.5 liter. So, as advised, always use these figures for comparison purposes.
In the last couple of years, GM achieved a lot when it comes to green, technologies. My impressions with the last generation Volt was amazing. And the full-EV Bolt will most probably will turn another page in the history of EV’s. And for “moderately environmentalists” who will always remain connected to a traditional internal combustion engine, the Malibu Hybrid is a very fuel-efficient hybrid, which drives, equipped and priced well. The cost recovery is still an issue, depending your annual mileage.
If you are, for example, an Uber driver, have a closer look at this vehicle.
Also worth remembering that the Malibu is the only midsize car with a sales growth in 2016 in a market with customers migrating to SUV’s.
Type of vehicle: Mid-size sedan
Engine: 1.8L Hybrid, DOHC, I4 SIDI
Transmission: 6-speed, automatic
Price (base/as tested): $28,850 / $36,530
Destination charge: CAD 1,650
Natural Resources Canada fuel economy (L/100 km): 4.8 city; 5.5 highway; 5.1 combined
Leather and convenience package: (convenience & tecnology package, leather appointed seating surfaces, heated front seats, 6-way power front passenger seat with power lumbar, Bose premium 9-speaker system, MyLink radio (TM) with navigation, Leather & convenience package credit (-525), blue velvet metallic
Total Price as Tested: $36,530
Article: Varol McKars
Pictures: Varol McKars, Basak McKars
Test vehicle was provided by GMC Canada (via BHG Media Fleet)
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