2008 Malibu Hybrid test drive

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As you can see on these pictures, it’s pretty hard to tell the Hybrid from other regular Malibus.
Same story as with the Camry Hybrid and the Altima Hybrid.
I do think Hybrids should look a bit more different. (But who am I…)

It has its own wheel design and tires.

And the interior trim does not have the wood.
And I must say, it does look a bit cheaper than the regular models.
At least in my test car with the grey interior.

The system is the same as in the Aura Hybrid.
the car doesn’t run on electric alone. Unlike the Toyota system. That’s why you get theses pretty unimpressive mileage figures:
32 HWY and 24 City. That’s only 2 more than the regular, and cheaper, 2.4 Liter model.

Once under way, the Hybrid drives pretty much like the other models. The same steering, and for now, the 4 speed auto.
The only difference as far as what you notice, is the engine shut off once the car is stopped for a few seconds. It starts again as soon as you lift the brake pedal. It’s not weird and you get used to it very quickly.

As I mentioned before, the tires are specific to the Hybrid, and they do need a higher pressure. But I didn’t notice any difference in ride comfort.
By the way, the Malibus tire pressure monitor system gives you exact numbers for each tire. Not just a warning when the pressure is too low.
A nice detail.

The main difference in driving is actually how the transmission behave. It is much slower to downshift than the other models. It just doesn’t want you to push the engine at all. All it wants to do is save gas.
It can be really frustrating. Unless you just give up, and just”save gas”…

I am not sure of the point of this model in the lineup.
Hybrids are mainly bought fro 2 reasons:
Save gas, and show your friends you care about the environment.

The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t show off. So you can’t really be “the cool one with the Hybrid”.
But I actually managed to get 29mpg on mixed driving. Mostly on back roads.
Not bad. Compared to the 25 mpg I got with the now Hybrid Malibu before.
So the adventage is about 4mpg. Better than the official numbers.

But is it still worth it?
The car is $1800 more than the 2.4 Liter. After a $1300 tax credit, you end up paying just $500 more.

I do like saving gas. But the slow transmission and the “not so fancy” interior decor would tip the scale towards the regular 2.4 Liter.

GM has a 2 mode hybrid on other cars. Like the Tahoe.
But no such thing is planed for the Malibu.
So what we have now is what we’ get until a complete new car comes out.

Which by the way, should be before the regular 5 year cycle…

Conversation 11 comments

  1. It’s just a token hybrid so GM can say, “ooh, look at us, we’re in the game, too.”

    Half-assed as usual.

  2. GM loses $39 billion, largest quarterly loss ever. G.M. lost $247 million in North America, the focus of its turnaround effort.

    I doubt this tepid Malibu hybrid is going to help.

    (Btw Vince, this blogger shit has fucked up word verification letters we have to type to post. They’re barely readable sometimes.)

  3. Instead of a hybrid, how about a cheaper than automatic 5 speed manual with the same mileage. Both camry and accord have one. Why not GM?

  4. this is the best ybrid car out there period

    and within a year it will sell more than the ugly pruis mark my words kids

  5. I wish GM good luck on this. I’ll wait till the Volt to see if their really serious about Hybrids or any fuel saving vehicle.

    But Vince,

    “Hybrids are mainly bought for 2 reasons:
    Save gas, and show your friends you care about the environment.”
    By Vince

    Why all the condescending attitudes about Hybrids and there Owners. Most owners I know have bought their hybrids because of high gas prices, to help America reduce its dependence on (Foreign) Oil, and to help reduce our environmental impact on the Planet. As I can’t say that some might be Posing (I dare anyone to name any car category where this does not happen). I believe some of the animosity seems to come from the Prius being the #1 hybrid vehicle on the market. I was involved in one of the focus groups in developing the 2nd Prius. The several points that were stress in the group were that a hybrid needs to have utility, needs to be able save fuel and at the time look different. I’m sure this was probably stated at all the focus groups they had at that time

  6. Malibu looks great and is the best sedan Chevy has offered in decades.

    The hybrid model is ridiculous, though–I get 24 to 25 MPG in mixed driving, and over 33 on the highway in my 2004 Accord EX-L sedan.

    So, all that extra hardware in the Chevy isn’t needed to get essentially the same mileage as the Accord.

    Most hybrids are pablum for Greenies and little more.

  7. Vince,
    they are planning a two mode. It will come out late in 2008. They said so at this event if I’m not mistaken. This is a stop gap and they’re selling it on the low price to go “green”
    Although I totally agree with you on the review.

  8. Germans seem to be the only ones that can get the gray interiors to look classy. I haven’t seen one American or Japanese car that looks classy with a gray interior imho.

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