Don't call it a hybrid! The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco uses the automaker's eAssist technology to boost the economy of its 2.4-liter mill.
Chevrolet pits its 2013 Malibu Eco against the standard versions of the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Hyundai Sonata, with which it compares favorably. Well-informed and eco-conscious consumers, however, will likely pit this mild hybrid against the hybrid versions of each of those sedans -- much tougher competition for the Chevy.
Total power for this front-wheel drive sedan is 182 horsepower and 172-pound feet of torque. On paper, the Chevrolet Malibu Eco is more powerful than the Toyota Camry Hybrid. On the road, it ends up feeling slower.
The Chevrolet Malibu Eco's tiller is comfortable, not too large and not too small for my tastes, and features tilt and telescoping adjustablilty. Steering feel, on the other hand, is of that overboosted and effortless type that buyers in this segment seem to love.
The Malibu's cabin is handsome enough and features nice touches, such as cool blue illumination trimming the dashboard at night. However, there appear to be two different wood textures present and that glossy plastic around the 7-inch touch screen is a smudgy fingerprint gallery.
The Chevrolet Malibu Eco's seats are extremely comfortable and feature power adjustment and heated surfaces. However, they're a bit too flat for spirited cornering. That's all right, because the Eco can't really get around a corner that quickly anyway.
The instrument cluster features gauge shrouds that mimic a Camaro's, but the round gauges within are from a different parts bin. The small ECO gauge only really moves out of the green if you really start pressing the pedals. The centrally located LCD is useful for monitoring the eAssist system, fuel economy and trip computer functions, and navigation directions.
The Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system is standard on the Chevrolet Malibu Eco and rolls in many of the audio sources that we like to see in our tech cars along with a bit of smartphone app integration.
When connected to the Pandora app, users have access to all of their custom stations, thumbs-up and thumbs-down controls, and song metadata with artwork. Many of Pandora's functions can also be controlled with voice commands.
Chevrolet's navigation system cannot be added without first deleting the MyLink system. However, MyLink users can still get turn-by-turn directions from OnStar on the center display and the small display in the center of the instrument cluster.