Based on published figures, reading lots of reviews and my own biased opinions, Chevy is in for a tough ride if it expects its new Malibu to do well in the very competitive midsize field.
Here’s why: The new car is probably better than the present Malibu, but it’s not up to its competitors in either mileage or performance. It does have a better interior cabin and better steering and handling.
Chevy released the car in its mild-hybrid Eco form first, probably because the other two promised engines weren’t ready. These will likely be a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder (190 hp), due next summer, and a 2-liter turbo similar to what’s in Buick’s Regal (220-270 hp).
So the new Malibu Eco gets something called eAssist, a mild hybrid wherein an electric motor (15 hp) replaces the alternator to assist the gas engine (182 hp) and permit it to run slower, thus getting better mileage. But, “even with all its fancy hardware, the Malibu Eco’s estimated 25/37 mpg city/highway rating gets trampled in a segment chock full of hybrids.” The new Camry Hybrid gets 43/39 mpg for about the same price. See our take on that car here.