EV-Motoring

2009 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Review

Shorts In The System

The entire system works well, but there are two minor areas to note. The Ecotec engine doesn’t re-start after the Auto Stop with buttery smoothness. Every time the engine stops at a traffic light and then comes back to life, it transmits a slight vibration through the passenger compartment. This complaint is not nearly serious enough to write off the 2009 Malibu Hybrid, but it will give GM Powertrain engineers something to refine.

A second issue is the feel from the electrically-boosted power steering. While the steering has a nice heft to it, there is no genuine steering feel … as in feedback from the road. Engineers have had decades to perfect traditional hydraulic steering gears, so they’ll need some time to get these new energy saving electric systems dialed in. We recommend that GM engineers study the box used in Mini Coopers. They feel great.

Will your next car be a hybrid?

Remember the Hybrid’s aforementioned $3,050 premium over the four-cylinder Malibu LT? At $4/gallon, that equates to 762.5 gallons of fuel that a driver would need to save to recoup the additional cost of purchasing the Malibu Hybrid compared to a non-hybrid Malibu LT. If you drive 10,000 miles per year, it will take at 15 years for the ledger to balance out. With gas (at the time this was posted) hovering below $2/gallon, you may never drive enough to save the up-front costs.

However, we think some buyers will think that this premium is a reasonable amount to pay to live a greener life and won’t think too much about the premium required. And in this era of $2,000 navigation and entertainment system options, the extra cost for the Malibu Hybrid may not strike people as egregious.

Looking beyond the Malibu Hybrid, there are the competitive single-mode hybrid sedans to consider; the Toyota Camry, the Nissan Altima, and the still-a-little funky Toyota Prius. These vehicles will provide significantly higher city mileage, but the trade off is often an even higher purchase price because of the more complex single-mode hybrid powertrain.

In conclusion, it’s clear that the Chevrolet’ Malibu Hybrid is ready for prime time. Fluctuating gas prices may make consumers ready for it.

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