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2013 Chevy Malibu Eco is lightly electrified (photos)

After making a stop at the Shanghai auto show, the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu shows up at the New York auto show with a high-efficiency variant in tow.

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Antuan Goodwin

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Behind the new Malibu Eco's grill lives a 2.4-liter Ecotec engine that produces 180-horsepower and is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

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The Ecotec engine is augmented by GM's E-assist technology, which uses a lithium ion battery pack and an electric motor/generator to increase efficiency.

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When slowing, the Malibu Eco's regenerative braking system recaptures energy and stores it in the lithium ion battery. The gasoline engine is stopped to save wasted fuel and at a crank position that allows for smooth restarting.

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While stopped, electrical systems run using stored power, rather than a wasteful engine driven alternator. When it's time to move again, the gasoline engine restarts.

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The electric motor doesn't move the Eco under its own power, but it can add a bit of electric boost under hard acceleration.

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The Eco, as well as the standard 2013 Malibu models, receives an exterior design that aids in aerodynamic efficiency. However, the Eco is the only Malibu model to feature a front shutter that seals the lower grille opening for less drag when less cooling is needed.

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In the cabin, the Malibu features the new Chevrolet MyLink connectivity package that integrates online services like Pandora Internet radio and Stitcher SmartRadio.

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Fuel economy for the Malibu Eco is estimated at 26 city and 38 highway. Economy numbers for the standard Malibu are still pending.

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In addition to the 2.4-liter E-assist Ecotec, the Malibu will also be available in LS, LT, and LTZ with an all-new Ecotec 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection. It is estimated the engine will output 190 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque and be mated to a Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed automatic with features designed to enhance power train efficiency.

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