GM's hybrid strategy includes using a mild hybrid system on a few sedans and small SUVs, while working toward its more robust two-mode hybrid system, already present on a few full-size SUVs.
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The 2008 Malibu has been a real success story for GM, winning awards such as the North American Car of the Year. It shows significant improvement in quality over past GM models.
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The front of the Malibu gets a radical design, with a single bar running across the grille and a smooth downslope from the hood to the ground.
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GM's mild hybrid system is called belt alternator starter (BAS). It can't run the car under electric power, as with more robust systems, but it does provide some boost during acceleration. The gas engine in the Malibu Hybrid is a 2.4-liter four cylinder.
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The Malibu is a fairly large four-door sedan, comparable to a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord.
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The Malibu Hybrid uses LED taillights and has a hybrid badge mounted on the trunk.
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We like the contour of the roofline and found the thick C pillars reminiscent of those used in the Cadillac CTS.
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The trunk offers plenty of space, and you can get an optional AC outlet for it.
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The fit and finish of the interior is very good, but we weren't too impressed with the materials and the general feel of the cabin.
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GM mounts cruise and audio controls on the steering-wheel spokes. We found that the steering was responsive.
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The car has a four-speed automatic transmission, a low number of gears considering six is becoming standard.
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As a hybrid, the Malibu has a gauge on the right showing electric boost and charging. An Eco light also comes on when you are driving in an economical manner.
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Although we think this display is ugly, it is also very functional, making it easy to choose categories and channels with XM satellite radio.
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You can choose which track information you want displayed while listening to XM radio.
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If you want to see track information for an MP3 CD, you have to push the scan button. Scanning can take a while, and the results aren't saved in the car.
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The interface makes browsing MP3 CDs easy.
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The stereo has a number of presets for different types of music, but we didn't find the audio system very impressive overall.
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You can use bass and treble settings to come up with your own equalizer setting.
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