The mid-size sedan of today is the large sedan of yesteryear. And yet the fuel economy of a mid-size sedan today is the fuel economy of a sub-compact of yesteryear. That statement is even more accurate when you look to the fleet of mid-size sedan hybrid vehicles currently floating about in the market.
And with the addition of a newly revised Malibu, Chevrolet is very much in the game.
This new Malibu was unveiled in 2016 and immediately elevated the nameplate into contention. It’s larger, of course, and yet lighter. The interior is no longer a festival of tacky blue calculator screens; now the rich MyLink display in the dashboard is matched up to an equally rich multi-colour TFT nestled between large, clear gauges.
The TFT cluster is reminiscent of the Cadillac CUE TFT screen with a deep menu of options from Audio to service history, navigation, fuel economy information and more.
Fans of high score leaderboards will enjoy the fuel economy displays which give real-time reports and trip history – a tool which has a dramatic impact on how I drive whenever I test a hybrid. I was stoked with my 5.4 L/100 km figures for a while, but then a big highway drive saw me bloat to 6.5. (I’ll admit, I worked hard to recover that lost economy and get back to my previous best score….) Incidentally, the official numbers for the Malibu are 5.0/5.1/5.1 L/100 km city/highway/combined. That’s better than every other mid-size hybrid bar the Honda Accord on combined numbers, but those numbers are a bit ambitious. 5.0 L/100 km might be possible in the city, but real-life highway driving taxes the hybrid system mightily. I saw closer to seven when running with traffic.
Only when I put on my tweed hat and puttered along in the right lane did I see numbers close to that rating. But before you think me a whinger, 6.5 is a really, really good average when you throw in a few hundred kilometres of highway driving in a mid-size sedan. It’s on par with the number I achieved in a tiny wee Chevrolet Sonic with a CVT some time ago.
Behind the Scenes: The Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
And unlike the Sonic, the Malibu never felt wanting for power. Its 1.8L four-cylinder engine with Variable Valve Timing is good for just 122 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque, but paired with the electric motor it produces a stout 182 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. That’s more torque than the 2.0L turbo (258 lb-ft, 250 hp) and it’s available much earlier: as in, from zero rpm.