General Motors is relying on an Eco variant of a Chevrolet Malibu that is sportier and more fuel-efficient to extend the successful run of the mid-sized vehicle model. The company introduced its 2013 Malibu at the motor show in Shanghai and in New York with an Eco version. The company disclosed that such variant will return approximately 38 mpg on the highway, a level that mid-sized vehicles will get only if they are hybrids. Prior to the debut of the current Malibu in late 2007, the older versions had been rental-fleet fodder.
Its refined and enhanced styling helped the Malibu become the company’s top-selling vehicle in the United States with 198,770 cars sold last year, a 55 percent increase from 2007. Russ Clark, product marketing director for mid-sized and performance cars at Chevrolet, stated that the company has made a huge move with the current vehicle model to enter solidly in the game in the segment. The Eco version of the Malibu is around a half-inch shorter than the current model and is 3 inches wider.
The vehicle has a wedge-like profile with the trunk lid higher to the ground than the hood line. The Eco variant will also have GM’s eAssist technology, which is a stop-start system to be launched this 2011 in the Regal sedans and Buick LaCrosse.
In addition, the new Malibu will be the first Chevrolet to have the fuel-saving technology. This model will go on sale in early 2012. With this relatively budget-friendly technology, buyers will have a moderately priced selection to enhance fuel economy significantly without having to purchase a plug-in or conventional hybrid like the Chevrolet Volt, GM's North American president Mark Reuss emphasized.
Bryan Nesbitt, executive director for GM exterior design and Chevrolet Brand Champion, remarked that the exterior of the new Chevrolet Malibu features the same design DNA of its Camaro and Corvette siblings, thereby allowing it to introduce some sense of sportiness into the family sedan segment. For instance, the new Malibu now looks more aggressive thanks to its broad shoulders, wider stance and an integrated rear spoiler.
Add those to the fact the new Malibu features a wheelbase that is 4.5-inch (114 mm) shorter and front and rear tracks – at 62 inches (1,574 mm) -- that are over 2 inches (51 mm) wider than its predecessor. The new Chevrolet Malibu features Chevrolet's dual-port grille, projector HID headlamps and new Camaro-inspired LED dual-element taillamps, as well as larger Chevrolet bow-tie badges both on the front and the rear.
Accentuating the exterior looks of the new Malibu are large wheels available in three diameter sizes – 17 inches, 18 inches and 19 inches. Chevrolet expects the new Malibu to be certified by the SAE as one of the most aerodynamically efficient cars in its segment, thanks to a coefficient of drag (Cd) rating that is almost as good as the .280 Cd of the Chevrolet Volt. In fact, the new Chevrolet Malibu has 60 less counts of wind drag compared to its predecessor.
Aside from its new shape and design, Chevrolet Malibu also features electronically controlled and integrated active aero shutters (available in select models in North America) that help enhance both its aerodynamics and fuel efficiency sans any compromise in terms of exterior design.
When air intake is least required, this shutter system could automatically close the flow of air through the lower intake opening, thereby improving aerodynamic performance by redirecting airflow around Malibu’s front and down its sides, instead of through the vehicle. The opening or closing of the shutters depends on a number of factors like engine coolant temperature and speed. For instance, the shutters close when the Malibu is cruising at highway speeds, and open when the car is negotiating up a hill or pulling a trailer.