After just three years, Chevrolet is reworking the mediocre Malibu, which is a wise decision considering how brutally competitive the midsize sedan segment is. One of the big changes for 2016 is the introduction of a fully hybrid version of the Malibu, which will compete directly with the hybrid versions of the Camry, Accord and Sonata.
Chevy knows it has to pull out something daring to challenge those darlings, and that’s exactly what it’s going to do. The Malibu Hybrid will be powered by an adapted Voltec powertrain, which is what moves the Chevy Volt. Gone are that days of mild hybrid systems.
That means owners will be able to get around on just electricity, which is critical since competing vehicles provide the same ability. Chevy’s getting bold, saying that the combined EPA fuel economy should be above 45 mpg, which would outclass every single competitor, excluding the Honda Accord Hybrid and its 47 mpg rating.
The truly big news is that the Malibu isn’t going to be the only GM vehicle that will use a powertrain similar to the Volt’s, flying in the face of critics who have characterized the Volt as a collasal failure. One of the upcoming variants will be a plug-in hybrid version of the Cadillac CT6, with many more planned but not announced or even hinted at quite yet.
Even though the Malibu Hybrid is borrowing the Volt’s powertrain, there are some key differences. First off, there won’t be a plug anywhere on the car. The lithium-ion battery packs only 1.5 kilowatt-hours versus the 18.4 kilowatt-hours from the Volt’s battery. The gasoline engine has a slightly larger displacement at 1.8 liters. Total system output for the Malibu Hybrid is 182 horsepower.
The car’s aerodynamics have been modified as well, compared to the regular Malibu. It rides lower to the ground and has active grille shutters. More information about the Malibu model lineup will be brought to light during the New York Auto Show, where the sedan’s official reveal is scheduled.