Today Chevrolet announced the 2016 Malibu Hybrid LT will start at $28,645 including $875 destination charge.
The LT is the sole mid-to-upper trim level being offered for Chevrolet’s all-new full hybrid hoped to jump to the head of the competitive midsized sedan class when it goes on sale late next spring.
First shown at the New York International Auto Show earlier this year, the Malibu Hybrid borrows an adaptation of the drive unit (transmission) and other powertrain architecture from the second-generation Chevrolet Volt. It promises by General Motors’ estimate 48 mpg city, 45 highway, 47 combined, and official EPA certification is expected late spring when the car is to be launched.
A new Ecotec 1.8-liter hybrid-optimized direct-injected engine – larger than the 1.5 in the Volt – is mated with the two-motor electric drive unit.
Assuming GM’s estimates are confirmed by the EPA, as is believed likely, the Malibu hybrid will surpass the Volt’s 42 mpg combined EPA rating when driving in its hybrid mode by 5 mpg.
With Honda’s dropping out for 2016 with its 47 mpg combined Accord Hybrid, the next-highest in this class is a Ford Fusion Hybrid rated 42 mpg, and Chevrolet is right proud of this car surpassing former eAssist mild hybrids.
“The Malibu leverages knowledge and technology directly from the second-generation Chevrolet Volt,” said Steve Majoros, marketing director of Chevrolet Cars and Crossovers. “By leveraging technology, we are broadening our level of expertise and lessons learned to bring consumers a world-class hybrid.”
As an LT trim, the Malibu is not the absolute top level according to Chevy media rep Courtney Moats, but comes well equipped. Included are 7-inch color touch screen, and available is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility – assuming the driver has a compatible smartphone – and rear-view camera.
It looks competitive, but pricing is $1,000 higher than the present segment leader, the 2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid which starts at $27,625 for the base LE, and runs to $28,830 for the SE, and $30,975 for the top XLE. Obviously a closer item by item comparison will be needed to determine the Chevy is worth the higher entry point.
Safety wise, included are 10 airbags, and convenience features include cruise control, and push-button start and passive entry.
As a model, the Malibu hybrid debuted in 2009 with a mild hybrid system that offered a paltry 4 mpg improvement next to the comparably equipped non-hybrid Malibu.
The disparity between Malibu hybrid and non-hybrid was nothing like the 9 mpg improvement by the 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid, for example, or the whopping 13 mpg improvement by the 2012-2016 Camry Hybrid.
Given what was offered, the original Malibu Hybrid failed to catch on with consumers and by 2011 was discontinued. A revamped mild hybrid system, dubbed “eAssist,” was introduced in 2013 as the Malibu Eco but was cancelled for 2014, in part due to the Eco version receiving no better EPA fuel economy ratings than the base model.
Now with what looks like a serious contender, Chevrolet’s 2016 Malibu is built at the GM Fairfax Assembly facility, in Kansas City, Kan. could put the automaker back in the running.
Unsaid is if or when a plug-in hybrid variant could be introduced, but GM’s Executive Chief Engineer for Electrified Vehicles Pam Fletcher told us in Detroit it would be a simple modification if desired to add a larger battery.
The Volt-derived powertrain is fully capable of morphing to a PHEV, and could also be the basis for more full hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, if and when GM chooses to do so.