What it Is
2008 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Preview – 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show: Sometimes the little steps are just as important as giant leaps, or at least that’s the logic one needs to believe when considering the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu. Offering an insignificant gain of two mpg, the Malibu Hybrid doesn’t match the Prius on the green scale and, in fact, can be bettered by many regular small and midsize alternatives. But this restyled Chevy sedan blends lower emissions and improved fuel economy with a stylish, comfortable, and affordable package, making this a hybrid the masses might buy because of what it is and not what it represents.
by Thom Blackett
Photo Credit: Thom Blackett
Why it Matters
In just the past few weeks, gas prices have risen dramatically, and if you’re a commuter all that coin spent at the pump can become a headache. For that reason and others, more shoppers are considering one of the many hybrid models hitting the streets, and Chevy’s hoping they’ll look at the Malibu version when it hits lots this month. Based on the award-winning redesigned midsize sedan, the Malibu Hybrid returns and estimated 32 mpg highway and starts at just $22,790, making this mainstream Chevy an affordable and efficient alternative to statement-making vehicles like the Prius.
What’s Under the Hood
The 2008 Malibu Hybrid is built sans the two-mode system found in GM’s new hybrid trucks and SUVs. It’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine shuts down and takes advantage of regenerative braking upon deceleration and it remains off while the vehicle is stopped; the Malibu will not crawl back up to speed on electric power alone like many of its competitors – the gas engine kicks back on as soon as the brake pedal is released. The result is mileage that’s only marginally better than you’d find with the regular four-cylinder Malibu. The setup is good for 164 horsepower and includes the use of a four-speed automatic transmission.
What it Looks Like
Fans of the redesigned 2008 Chevrolet Malibu should be quite pleased with the Hybrid, as it differs only slightly in its exterior appearance. There are unassuming Hybrid badges strategically placed on the flanks and rear, and the wheels appear to be specific to the most fuel-frugal of all Malibu variants. That theme is carried through to the interior, which is nearly identical to the regular Malibu with the exception of its gauges and a few other touches.
What Chevrolet Says
Chevy’s General Manager, Ed Peper, says, “With the Malibu Hybrid, customers don’t need to sacrifice style or capability to realize a significant fuel-efficiency gain. GM is committed to demonstrating environmental and technological leadership, and the full force of that capability is behind its biggest global brand – Chevrolet. The Malibu Hybrid is just one example of Chevy’s Fuel Solutions technologies that will take us from gas-friendly to gas-free.”
What We Think
Given that our Editors’ Choice Award for Best New Midsize Sedan recently went to the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, it’s clear that we’re fans of GM’s newest Camry-fighter. This newest iteration has style and substance in excess, and is a true shining star for the Chevrolet brand. The Hybrid model, however, is less impressive and looks to be more of a tool with which GM is pumping up its eco-friendly campaign than a bona fide gas-sipping alternative. Regardless, improved fuel economy and cleaner emissions are to be applauded, as is the affordable price.