2017 Chevy Malibu Hybrid Review

Finally GM has developed a real hybrid – not a “mild” hybrid like they tried with the Saturn Vue Green Line  –  a real Toyota style hybrid.  A hybrid that gets 49 miles per gallon in the city and 43 on the highway.  A hybrid that gets better mileage than the Toyota Camry (the largest selling mid-size sedan hybrid) and is in the mpg ballpark of the Prius (if you do the majority of your driving in town).  Yes, a hybrid Chevy can be proud of – maybe.

Models

The Malibu hybrid is only available in one trim package simply called “Hybrid” starting at $27,875 but from that starting point many options that can be added.  One of the most expensive is the leather seat package.  When you add leather seats you are also forced to add the Convenience and Technology Package and the Drive Confidence Package.  While the two additional packages add some nice features (an eight-inch touchscreen monitor, remote vehicle starter, leather wrapped steering wheel, Lane Keep Assist, Following Distance Indicator, and Forward Collision Alert) the price of the car balloons from $27,875 to $32,495.

Interior design

The interior is clean and uncluttered.  Soft touch materials are used throughout and give the Malibu a luxurious feel.  All the gauges are right where you expect them to be and are easy to read – none of the video game like clutter you see on some hybrids.  The seats are very comfortable and the steering wheel easy to grip.

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2017 Chevy Malibu Hybrid with cloth interior.

Ride and handling

The Malibu has a nice, soft, quiet ride, but the tradeoff is very average handling,  If you’re used to a BMW, this is not the car for you.  Everything about the Malibu makes me think the folks at Chevy were taking direct aim at the Toyota Camry Hybrid, and frankly, they didn’t miss.  There is absolutely nothing objectionable about the Malibu and it in some ways seems better than the Camry hybrid.  The interior is well laid out and seems cleaner than the Camry.  Acceleration is very good, especially for a hybrid.  This may be because the Malibu Hybrid is powered by the same two electric motors that power the Chevy Volt – a plug-in hybrid with excellent performace and, in the case of the Malibu, the electric motors supply more of the power than the gas engine.  The electric motors can drive the Malibu up to 55 miles per hour before the gas engine kicks in. Paired to the two electric motors is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and together they produce a combined 182 horsepower.

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Safety and reliability
10 air bags, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren), stability control, and all the other usual safety options make the Malibu Hybrid a safe choice.  LED daytime running lights and a rear vision camera help prevent accidents by making it easier for other cars to see you and for you to see them.  

In federal government tests, the Malibu received a 5-star (out of 5) overall crash-test rating. It earned 5-star ratings in all collision assessments except for frontal-impact protection for the front passenger, where it received a 4-star rating.

The Malibu Hybrid is a new model for 2016 so its reliability is largely unknown.  However, in addition to the standard new car 36-month, 36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, the hybrid electrical components have a 96-month, 100,000 mile warranty.

Competition

Competition is fierce among mid-size sedan hybrids.  Almost every major manufacturer offers a mid-size hybrid: GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai/Kia.  Somewhat surprisingly Volkswagen is dropping it’s Jetta hybrid* and Fiat/Chrysler has never offered one.  All these hybrids are good, but not always reliable.  When it comes to hybrid reliability Toyota and Honda still lead the way while the Chevy is just a maybe.

Summary

The Malibu hybrid is designed for the person who doesn’t want to make a statement about driving a hybrid, they just want to drive a comfortable, safe, fuel efficient car.

Quick Comparison Table – 2017 Chevy Malibu Hybrid versus the 2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid. It’s true, a cheaper version of the Toyota Camry Hybrid is available for $26,790, but for purposes of this comparison I choose to compare a Camry SE because it’s standard features are more comparable to the Malibu Hybrid.

2017 Chevy Malibu Hybrid 2017 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE
MSRP (not including
destination fee)
$27,875 $27,995
MPG**
(city/highway/combined)
49 / 43 / 46 42 /38 /40
Total system horsepower 182 hp 200 hp
Transmission Automatic, two-motor drive unit, hybrid transmission Continuously Variable Transmission
Battery type  Lithium ion  Nickel-metal hydride
Length (in.) 193.8 190.9
Wheelbase (in.) 111.4 109.3
Width (in.) 73.0 w/o mirrors 71.7
Height (in.) 57.6 57.9
Passenger volume (cu.ft.) 102.9 102.7
Headroom (in, front/rear) 39.1 / 37.5 38.8 / 38.1
Legroom (in, front/rear) 42.0 / 38.1 41.6 / 38.9
Weight (lbs) 3388 3485
Cargo volume (cu. ft.) 11.6 13.1
Turning diameter,
curb-to- curb (ft.)
37.5 36.7
Wheels 17-in. alloy 17-in. alloy
Dual-Zone automatic
climate control system
Standard Standard
Rearview camera Standard Standard
Power driver’s seat w/
power lumbar support
Optional Standard
AM/FM/CD audio system
with 6 speakers
Standard Standard
Bluetooth® streaming audio Standard Standard
USB Audio Interface Standard Standard
Push Button Start Standard Standard
Power windows with
auto-up/down
Standard Standard
Steering wheel-mounted
controls (phone and audio)
Standard Standard
Tilt and telescopic
steering column
Standard Standard
Center console w/ armrest
and storage compartment
Standard Standard
Overhead console with
sunglasses storage
Standard Standard
Automatic-Dimming
rearview mirror
Optional Optional
Daytime Running Lights (DRL) Standard (LED) Standard (LED)

 

Resources:

The Quick Comparison table is derived from new car specifications found on the manufacturers websites.  All pricing and specifications are subject to change without notice.

*http://blog.caranddriver.com/volkswagen-jetta-hybrid-cancelled-for-2017-wont-be-part-of-vws-electrified-future/

**Miles per gallon based on EPA ratings