You probably learned it by reading this title.Chevrolet actually offers a hybrid variant of its intermediate sedan Malibu, it even begins its second year of life in this cuvée. This model is probably one of the least known vehicles among the current General Motors (GM) portfolio. The shadow of the excellent Volt can certainly be the explanation for this anonymity which, in truth, is not entirely deserved.
Entirely renewed last year, the Malibu appropriates the new stylistic current that borrows the latest creations of Chevrolet. One thus finds at the front a grille in two pieces crossed by a band putting, obviously, prominently the bow tie of the mark. The thin headlights, placed low, give a certain dynamism, as the design of the hood, some of whose folds converge forward. The low roof line, which at last coincides with the trunk, a little like the Sportback sedan, also helps to cultivate a more modern image of this sedan, which, it must be said, a rental car.
The cockpit is undoubtedly the strong point of this Malibu. Vast and well prepared, it offers many storage spaces.The dashboard, which plays with textures and depth, displays great attention to assembly and good materials. The controls of the heating and air conditioning system are cleverly arranged, as are those placed on the steering wheel. In the front, one easily takes place and the clearance for the head and the legs is without reproach. At the back, it’s a little less inviting. As a result of the low roofline, rear passengers have to negotiate with little space for the head.
Under the hood
The powertrain of this Malibu is largely inspired by that of the Volt, without the possibility of external recharging. Its four-cylinder 1.8L is therefore supported by two electric motors. The whole is coupled with two epicycloidal trains to relay the torque to the front wheels. We get 182 bhp in total and a lot of torque for nervous behavior, especially in town. The heat engine nevertheless has a rough appearance even at its optimum temperature, a fault which is attenuated when the temperatures pass above 0 ° C. The electric mode is also used for short periods due to the low battery capacity (1.5 kWh).
Behind the wheel
Obviously, we do not buy a hybrid Malibu with the ultimate idea of having an athlete in the hands. The sedan has a reserved temperament, not having a very frank personality. It does, however, fulfill its role of the road, except on one aspect: soundproofing. As soon as one crosses a road in less good condition, one perceives some suspicious noises of suspension. The behavior is very predictable and balanced overall. The direction is precise, but not really communicative. It deserves to be strengthened. Braking is progressive, despite its system of accumulation of kinetic energy.
The Malibu is equipped as standard with the MyLink system, to which you can add functionality depending on the choice of options. This system of infotainment essentially relies on tactile manipulations, only three physical buttons are presented. Like Cadillac’s CUE system, the menu structure does not greatly encourage intuition, so we often find ourselves in dead-ends for simple manipulation. The system nevertheless offers docking to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as the independent 4G LTE Internet connection. The Bose sound system, which is part of a group of options, also allows enhancing the walks of a very good quality of sound.
Without hurting anything, the Malibu Hybrid does all the right work with a different technical approach to competition. Its powertrain inspired by the Volt provides excellent fuel efficiency while retaining an acceptable power output. The refinement of the four-cylinder would deserve to be refined and the periods in electric mode would benefit to be longer. Notwithstanding these minor drawbacks, this sedan offers an interesting practical appearance, a good finish, and a good reliability rating according to the data collected by Consumer Reports magazine. The top of the hybrid intermediate sedans may not be that far, despite its image deficit induced by its name.
The Malibu Hybrid in Brief
The battery, located in the bottom of the boot, amputates nearly 120 L of loading volume. The trunk is still fairly loveable.
While the hybrid competition uses CVT boxes, the Malibu hybrid has no transmission, but two epicycloidal trains to send the torque to the front wheels. The behavior remains very similar to that of a CVT.
While some are displaying their green virtues, the Malibu hybrid is very discreet, contenting itself with a small logo “H” on the lid of the trunk.
The Malibu Hybrid uses a system that recirculates heat from the exhaust gasses to warm the engine and passenger compartment more quickly.
Despite the addition of the hybrid system, this version of the Malibu is barely 30 kg heavier than a well-equipped livery and weighs 70 kg less than a Chevrolet Volt.
Trial Version: Hybrid
Price (with options, transportation and preparation): $ 37,230
Engine: L4 DOHC 1.8 + two electric motors
Power: 122 hp at 5000 rpm (petrol engine) + 182 hp (electric motors combined)
Torque: 129 lb-ft at 4750 rpm (petrol engine) + 277 lb-ft (combined electric motors)
Transmission (test model): Direct drive by epicyclic trains
Drive architecture: Front transverse motors, four-cylinder + two electric motors, front drive wheels
Consumption (EnerGuide): 5.1 L / 100 km
Direct Competitors: Ford Fusion Hybrid, Honda Accord Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Kia Optima Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid
New in 2017? No major changes