Thursday, October 13, 2016

Chevy Malibu does it right; hybrid tech is a bonus

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve experienced this at car rental counters at airports across the nation … A prospective auto renter is pondering myriad options, and then, unprompted, suddenly says: “Hey, do you have a Chevy Malibu?”

That, more than anything I can think of, is the best example of the midsize Malibu sedan’s cover-all-the-bases appeal.

Yeah, it fits.  The Malibu satisfies on all levels: just the right size, good trunk space, room for adults, good engine power, admirable reliability and on and on …

And if you’re getting a fuel-sipping hybrid version of the Malibu, you’re even further ahead in the game.

That was my week recently, tooling a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid sedan around Northern California.

Yes, that hybrid package with the 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine matched with a two-motor drive unit translated to a bottom line of $33,620 on the tester’s sticker. Full disclosure: My ride also had a long list of optional extras.

The bonus on the hybrid technology: 47 miles per gallon in the city and 46 mpg on the highway.

The 2016 Malibu was changed from the ground up – the 2017 model is virtually identical to the 2016 version – and the extensive tweaks included a longer wheelbase, a curb weight loss of nearly 300 pounds and numerous technology/entertainment upgrades.

All that was very cool, but for me, the new ’Bu’s familiar agility and easy steering were the top bragging points.

The hybrid’s power plant also featured Chevy’s “Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery” technology, which employs exhaust heat to warm the engine and interior cabin.  This fact wows passengers every time.

Another cool fact: the 80-cell, 1.5 kilowatt-hour ion battery pack providing electric power to the Malibu’s hybrid system generates enough oomph to power the Malibu up to 55 miles per hour on electricity alone.

Beyond the technology front, the tested Malibu had plenty of old-school amenities to add to my enjoyment.

The perks list included power/heated exterior mirrors, power lumbar support in the driver’s seat and a thorough, helpful driver information center.

For the record, the Malibu’s extensive safety package is bolstered by a top-level, five-star, overall safety rating from the feds.

All in all, the Malibu continues to impress, at rental counters and on the roadways.

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