Saving the planet is a good idea, as long as we’re willing to make sacrifices or drastically change the way we live. The automobile has been targeted as a polluter, so we must either get rid of it or find new ways to get around without further hurting the environment. Hybrid vehicles are the craze right now, bridging the gap between gas-powered and electric vehicles

But hybrids are on another mission, it seems. Hollywood celebrities always buy the latest environmentally-friendly vehicles for driving down to the Oscars; nothing looks socially better than stepping out of a green car before walking down the red carpet. The Toyota Prius was a hot seller in that regard, although I’m sure these actors also have a Hummer parked in their driveway.

Now, GM is entering the hybrid market with a full-fledged attack. On the frontline are the Malibu as well as the Saturn Vue Green Line and Aura Green Line, and they’re supported by heavy artillery such as the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon. Later, the Cadillac Escalade and GM’s full-size pickups will offer hybrid powertrains.

Simpler hybrid system
Without reading the brochure or press material on how the Malibu’s powetrain works, one would think it’s a cheaper setup than what you’ll find shoehorned in hybrid Camrys or Altimas. And, well, that’s pretty much what it is; small battery pack, no glitzy LCD screen with system operation diagrams, but a lot a Hybrid badging on the outside.

Unlike the Camry, you cannot drive the Malibu on battery power alone. The latter acts as a support to the 2.4-litre engine to lighten the load, thus improving fuel economy. You can consider it as a mild application of a hybrid setup. It also benefits from a stop/start feature when the car is immobilized at stoplights and such, and the whole kit is mated to a 4-speed automatic.

The end result, though, is not exactly impressive; the on-board computer is displaying an average of 8.6 L/100 km, and calculating my consumption the old-fashioned way gave me a result that’s a little higher than that.

With 164 horsepower on tap, the Malibu Hybrid’s straight-line performance is not the car’s top priority, of course. But we managed a respectable 0-100 km/h time of 10.6 seconds, while the quarter-mile mark is reached in 17.4 seconds at 132 km/h.

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Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Review

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