The redesigned, 2013 Chevrolet Malibu lineup will include a high-mpg ECO model that pairs a 180-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor-generator and a lithium-ion battery pack. The electrically assisted Malibu is expected to achieve city/highway fuel economy ratings of 26/38 mpg.
Chevrolet is not calling the gas/electric powertrain a hybrid, although it does share many hybrid attributes, including automatic stop/start, regenerative braking, and the ability of the electric motor to aid the gasoline engine during acceleration. The electric motor cannot, however, drive the car on its own. This system, called eAssist, is currently available in the Buick LaCrosse.
The ECO will arrive in dealerships ahead of the rest of the 2013 Malibu lineup. The Malibu ECO goes on sale in early 2012, while the conventional ’13 Malibus (LS, LT, and LTZ, all powered by a new, 2.5-liter four) won’t be out until mid year.