When it launches next year, the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu will have an optional turbocharged, 2.0-liter inline-four engine. The engine will be a variant of GM’s next-generation Ecotec lineup, and should slot above both a 2.5-liter I-4 and the Malibu Eco’s 2.4-liter mild hybrid driveline.
Although Chevrolet hasn’t said anything specific about the engine, we can deduce its approximate power outputs based on similar engines offered in other General Motors products. The Buick Regal GS has a 2.0-liter Ecotec turbo-four producing 270 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque; the more sedate Regal Turbo offers 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque from the same engine. Based on those cars, we’d guess the Malibu’s engine will produce somewhere in between those two extremes.
Many of the Malibu’s competitors offer turbocharged four-cylinder engines, and the Chevy’s mill would need to produce around 250 hp so as to keep pace with them. The Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima, for instance, each have an optional turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine good for 274 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Ford’s turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost I-4, which will likely appear in the next-generation Fusion, is also rated between 237- and 250 hp. The Volkswagen Passat (prior to the car’s 2012 redesign) used to offer a 2.0-liter turbo-four with 200 hp and 207 lb-ft; that engine is unavailable in the 2012 Passat but can still be had in the slightly pricier Volkswagen CC.
Most other midsize sedans, however, offer naturally aspirated engines, making the 2013 Malibu’s forced-induction powertrain a somewhat unique selling point. As a result, Chevrolet won’t offer V-6 power for the Malibu, seeing as the turbocharged engine will likely produce as much power as a six yet return better fuel economy.
Expect official power figures and fuel-economy estimates to emerge as we approach the 2013 Malibu’s on-sale date in spring 2012.