Chevy Malibu Eco Deemed Most Disliked Car of 2012
July 12, 2012 4:50 AM
CNN/Fortune bestows this unwanted title on GM's mainstream, midsize "mild" hybrid
When it comes to all-new vehicles introduced in the past year, one model in particular has left many reviewers and industry analysts scratching their heads. The vehicle in question is the
2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco
, which was the first trim level introduced for the redesigned midsize sedan (it will soon be followed by a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine and 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine options).
What makes the Malibu Eco so perplexing, however, is that despite its mild hybrid powertrain, it doesn't appear to do anything better than its more conventional rivals and falls well short of "true" hybrids competitors.
deems the Malibu Eco "The most disliked car of the year (so far)" based on reviews from auto outlets like
Autoblog, Car and Driver, The Truth About Cars
New York Times
There are plenty of criticisms about the poor backseat room (due to a 4" cut in the wheelbase to make room for the redesigned
in the Chevrolet lineup), reduced trunk space relative to its predecessor (and even its cheaper
sibling), and poor handling. But the harshest comments are leveled at the Malibu Eco's powertrain. The vehicle uses an electric motor generator and a 65-pound battery that robs trunk space to boost its fuel economy numbers; however, it's simply not enough against the competition.
For example, the Malibu Eco starts at $25,995 and is rated at 25/37 (city/highway). For comparison, here's how the vehicle stacks up to its more conventional competitors which have base prices that starts at least $2,000 lower:
Nissan Altima: 27/38
Toyota Camry: 25/35
Hyundai Sonata: 24/35
$21,500 Nissan Altima
manages to undercut the Malibu Eco by over $4,000, yet delivers better fuel economy (city and highway), has a larger interior/trunk, and is nearly 500 lbs lighter. The Malibu Eco fares better against the Camry and Sonata, but both vehicles put up competitive numbers without the added weight, cost, and complexity of GM's mild hybrid powertrain.
The Malibu takes an even heavier beating from full-hybrid and diesel midsize sedans that cost roughly the same amount of money:
Ford Fusion Hybrid
Toyota Camry Hybrid
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
Volkswagen Passat TDI
Alex Taylor III writes, "In trying to combine the benefits of a full hybrid and a conventional gasoline-powered engine, [GM] came up with neither. The car lacks the fuel economy of the former and the efficiency and value of the latter."
Taylor concludes, saying, "Unlike Toyota, which pioneered the full hybrid Prius more than 20 years ago and never wavered, GM has vacillated -- swerving from EVs to hybrids and back again. With its latest effort coming up short by key quantitative standards, the automaker has inadvertently created in the Eco the most disliked car from the first half of 2012."
One can only hope that GM can deliver a more competitive hybrid solution for future vehicles. The company needs to find some middle ground between the Malibu Eco's mediocre powertrain and the
fuel-efficiency wizardry of the much more expensive Chevrolet Volt
New York Times
The Truth About Cars
Car and Driver
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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