That's because in top-of-the-line Turbo form, the Malibu makes 259 horsepower, along with 260 peak pound-feet of torque, achieves at just 1,700 rpm. That pegs the Malibu's 0-60 mph time at just 6.3 seconds—quicker than the former V-6 model.
The 3.6-liter V-6, in 2012 Malibu models, makes 252 horsepower—and peak torque of 251 pound-feet at a much higher rpm, which is likely part of the reason for that stronger performance.
While Toyota, Nissan, and a few others remain committed to the V-6 in mid-size sedans for now, the number of choices with this once-popular combination is dwindling. Just as Hyundai and Kia have with their mid-size Sonata and Optima mid-size models, respectively, Chevrolet is going to an all-four-cylinder lineup with its Malibu—and featuring a more efficient 197-hp, direct-injected 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine in base models.
Ford plans an even more radical change for its 2013 Fusion, however. In addition to a 2.5-liter base four and a Fusion Hybrid, the Fusion lineup will offer 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter turbocharged fours as a step up—and definitely in the case of the 1.6-liter, a step up in gas mileage.
Base versions of the 2013 Malibu, which we first previewed nearly a year ago at last year's New York Auto Show, are due to go on sale this summer and will be followed by models with the turbo engine this fall. GM hasn't yet said whether the turbo engine will be an option at the top of the line, or as part of its own separate model.
In the meantime, be sure to read editorial director Marty Padgett's first drive of the 2013 Malibu Eco—which is already on sale, with 25/37-mpg EPA ratings—and check back as we soon hope to have driving impressions for the turbo and a full review for the entire 2013 Malibu lineup.