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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. Fortune 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, and 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 2014 Impala in the Chevrolet lineup), reduced trunk space relative to its predecessor (and even its cheaper Cruze Eco 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 
The $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:
Fortune's 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.

Sources: CNN/Fortune, New York Times, The Truth About Cars, Car and Driver



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RE: Bummer
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 7/12/2012 11:40:25 AM , Rating: 1
Exactly. Either go full gas or go full hybrid... this mild hybrid stuff is just embarrassing.

You have Nissan hitting it out of the park by optimizing the heck out of its existing 2.5-liter four-banger to reduce friction and pairing it with a CVT. Then you have Toyota and Ford doing wonders with full hybrid technology (and the Camry Hybrid doesn't even using Li-ion battery technology... imagine the gains in the city if it did).

The Malibu Eco is the ultimate case of "WTF!?".


RE: Bummer
By Dr of crap on 7/12/2012 12:40:08 PM , Rating: 1
Your forgetting this is a Chevy.
And they are going back to thier old ways.

With the 2.5lt installed, everyone will buy that one, this IS the US after all. The Impala is a big seller.


RE: Bummer
By Apone on 7/12/2012 1:00:10 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
With the 2.5lt installed, everyone will buy that one, this IS the US after all. The Impala is a big seller.


By "big seller", you mean rental car companies and law enforcement agencies?....


RE: Bummer
By ebakke on 7/12/2012 2:19:15 PM , Rating: 2
Sales are sales.


RE: Bummer
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 7/12/2012 2:32:28 PM , Rating: 1
Not really. Fleet sales mean less $$$ than a vehicle sold at retail and less profit per vehicle.

Most Japanese and Korean car companies try to limit fleet sales to protect profits.


RE: Bummer
By ebakke on 7/12/2012 10:17:27 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, fair. The margins may be different. But they're not losing money on fleet sales. The point I was making was that fleet or retail, they're still making money.


RE: Bummer
By Pneumothorax on 7/13/2012 7:21:21 AM , Rating: 2
GM may not be losing money, but they're buyers are. Excessive fleet sales of any maker destroy their resale value.


RE: Bummer
By Pneumothorax on 7/13/2012 7:22:46 AM , Rating: 2
GM may not be losing money, but their owners are with the much decreased resale value over excessive fleet sales.


RE: Bummer
By ritualm on 7/12/2012 1:23:29 PM , Rating: 2
The Malibu is GM's auto version of Acer laptops, the only compelling advantage being offered is cheaper than everyone else...


RE: Bummer
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 7/12/2012 2:05:05 PM , Rating: 4
But the Malibu Eco isn't even cheaper... so what does that make it? Sony? :)


RE: Bummer
By Belard on 7/13/2012 12:45:59 AM , Rating: 2
No... cause SONY has STYLE... and higher than avg pricies.


RE: Bummer
By Uncle on 7/12/2012 1:27:33 PM , Rating: 2
Two things.
1: As its rated most disliked car of 2012, will make it a collectors item in 30yrs.:)
2: Their should be another bailout just around the corner for GM.:)


RE: Bummer
By Reclaimer77 on 7/12/12, Rating: -1
RE: Bummer
By YashBudini on 7/13/2012 2:15:42 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
will make it a collectors item in 30yrs.:)

You see a lot of interest for AMC Pacers at car shows?


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