2008 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid - Chevy's first hybrid car
Chevrolet's 2008 award-winning Malibu midsize sedan comes in four versions: LS, LT, LTZ and Hybrid - all with standard head-curtain side air bags and front-seat thorax air bags, OnStar Gen 7 with remote diagnostics and XM Satellite Radio. StabiliTrak stability control is standard on LT and LTZ models. There are two engine variants as well as two different transmissions.
"The 2008 Malibu rewrites Chevrolet's midsize car strategy, offering a stylish, uncompromising package that stacks up against the most popular competitors," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. The all-new 2008 Chevrolet Malibu delivers performance, fuel economy and refinement, all blended in an attractive, tailored design that typifies Chevrolet's global face.
The new Malibu is based on GM's global midsize platform, which serves as the foundation for a strong body structure, precise build quality and refined driving dynamics. It is more than three inches longer than the current model, with a six-inch-longer wheelbase. The proportions provide a wheels-at-the-corners stance allowing for a smoother, more direct driving experience.
Power comes from a family of dual-overhead cam four- and six-cylinder engines, including a 169-horsepower 2.4-liter Ecotec DOHC four-cylinder engine and a 252-horsepower 3.6-liter DOHC V6 with variable valve timing. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with the V6 and will become available later in the model year with the 2.4-liter four-cylinder LTZ - a segment first. The Malibu Hybrid uses a unique electric motor/generator mated to a 2.4-liter Ecotec VVT four-cylinder engine and Hydra-Matic 4T45 four-speed transmission. Chevrolet's first hybrid car delivers the highest fuel economy among all Malibu models with EPA ratings of 24 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.
The Malibu Hybrid's GM Hybrid system reduces fuel consumption by shutting off the engine when the vehicle is stopped in order to minimize idling; restarting the engine promptly when the brake pedal is released; enabling early fuel shut-off during vehicle deceleration; capturing vehicle kinetic energy during deceleration through regenerative braking to charge the advanced nickel metal hydride battery; and by performing intelligent battery charging when it is most efficient.
The system provides additional power, when required, during launch from the electric motor/generator and enhances acceleration at wide-open throttle, by utilizing the motor/generator, bolstering the gasoline engine to achieve maximum power. The GM Hybrid system also is designed to automatically maintain full accessory functionality when the vehicle is stopped, including climate control, so that hybrid operation is transparent to the driver and passengers.
A few of the highlights of the redesigned 2008 Malibu include an all-new refined and contemporary exterior with a new grille design representing the global face of Chevrolet; upscale interior design with available two-tone leather trim; remote vehicle starting (standard on 2LT and LTZ; available on 1LT); and available 110-volt household-type AC power outlet.
The 2008 Malibu displays an athletic stance along with bold expressive proportions. The profile reinforces the feeling of substance through the use of clean, pure lines and wheels pushed to the corners blended with a visually lower, yet longer, greenhouse and shorter deck which suggest motion, agility and attitude. The body sides are clean and elegant, interrupted only by distinctive, wheel-oriented forms that communicate an aggressive, stable stance and a rear profile with Corvette cues connecting to Chevrolet's rich performance heritage.
Hybrid model Malibus are readily distinguishable by specific exterior appointments and badges, while inside, a unique gauge cluster provides information and feedback about the Hybrid power train's operation.
The interior's integrated, flowing instrument panel features Chevrolet's signature dual-cockpit design, with prominent gauges backlit in blue, and metallic or wood grain accents. Ambient lighting in areas such as the overhead console and door-pull pockets enhances the Malibu's ambiance. The overhead console-mounted LED floodlights provide subdued lighting to the center console area between the front seats.
The Malibu offers a host of both standard and available safety features and equipment ensuring occupant protection before, during and after a crash. Safety features include dual-stage frontal air bags with GM Passenger Sensing System; head curtain side-impact air bags (front and rear outboard seats); front seat-mounted thorax protection air bags; front safety belt pretensioners; Latch child safety seat anchors; four-wheel disc brakes with ABS; traction control; StabiliTrak stability control system with panic brake assistance (LT and LTZ); tire pressure monitoring system; and a projected five-star government safety rating.
My test Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid wore an exterior finish of Imperial Blue metallic, complemented by a Titanium gray cloth interior and two-tone gray treatment accented by aluma-tone trim elements. The base sticker read $22,140. There were no options - only the destination charge was extra, bringing the final total, before tax and licensing, to $22,790.
Driving the Chevy Malibu Hybrid is essentially like piloting any other mid-size four sedan, except for certain hybrid technology nuances. The ride quality is quite comfortable, while handling characteristics actually border on sporty. The instrument cluster of the Hybrid Malibu has been modified to advise the driver on operations of the hybrid powertrain. An AutoStop indicator in the tachometer notifies the driver when the engine is in AutoStop mode. An Eco (Economy) indicator light notifies the driver when the vehicle is exceeding the EPA fuel economy estimates. A Charge-Assist gauge indicates whether the system is charging or providing assist power, and a Driver Information Center is programmed to provide messages specific to the Hybrid operation.
For those unfamiliar with hybrid operation, the fact that the gasoline engine stops rather than idling can be a little disconcerting at first. Then, the games begin - driving by the Eco gauge to try and achieve ever better mileage figures. Towing is not recommended for Hybrid model Malibus, while other models are capable of towing up to 1,000 pounds.
The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid is covered by GM's five-year/100,000-mile power train warranty. Additionally, the Malibu Hybrid's advanced nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack and other key hybrid components are covered by an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty.
Base price: $22,140
Price as tested: $22,790
Engine/transmission: 2.4-liter, 169-horsepower inline four-cylinder; four-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 112.3 inches
Length: 191.8 inches
Width: 70.3 inches
Height: 57.1 inches
Curb weight: 3,436 pounds
Fuel capacity: 16.3 gallons
EPA mileage estimates: 24 mpg city/30 mpg highway