Even with the launch of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu still a fair number of months away, the GM buzz machine continues to spill out new details of the car on a fairly regular basis, and one of its more recent efforts put the Malibu’s all-new I4 powerplant in the spotlight. The fresh addition to the General’s Ecotec engine lineup is being touted as “more efficient, refined and powerful than its predecessor,” which is exactly as it should be. IMHO, if you’re going to go through the effort of building a brand-new engine for a brand-new car, it should at least be superior to the old combination and, ideally, set a new benchmark for its class. I believe that’s what they call a strategy of “continuous improvement.”
This is especially important with the new Malibu, because Chevrolet clearly is trying to position the car at the top of the mainstream mid-size heap, and that would seem to require top EPA ratings. Or does it?
Despite all the public focus on hybrids and EVs, the fact of the matter is that a surprising number of theoretically “all-new” vehicles have started following the Ford/Chrysler model in which “more efficient” means achieving more power without sacrificing fuel economy instead of offering better fuel economy without sacrificing power. Consider the Ford F-150 EcoBoost or the Pentastar-powered Chrysler 200. Both vehicles offer best-in-class power numbers and have seen strong sales this year—the 200 grew sales by more than 140 percent in August as compared to the Chrysler Sebring—but neither has best-in-class EPA ratings.
(It’s also important to point out that Ford has begun to change its ways now that the four-cylinder EcoBoost engine is migrating across the lineup.)
Pictured: 2012 Chevrolet Malibu