Months ahead of redesigns from some competitors, Chevrolet is gearing up to promote the first of its all-new 2013 Malibu mid-size sedan models, the Malibu Eco, on sale now at dealerships nationwide. A four-week TV blitz begins Monday with the first ads appearing during the NCAA basketball tournament.
The mid-size family sedan segment is already fiercely competitive, with the redesigned 2012 Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat introduced last fall. Later this year, redesigned models of the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima will add to the rivalry for the top spot in the family car segment.
With a starting price of $25,995, including $760 destination charge, the five-passenger 2012 Malibu Eco seems more than up to the challenge.
While the base engine for the Malibu line will be the 197-horsepower 2.5-liter Ecotec four-cylinder, Chevy confirms that engine won’t be available until July.
Under the hood of the Malibu Eco is a 182-horespower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Malibu Eco with eAssist is not only the first Chevy with eAssist, but is also the most fuel-efficient Malibu ever, according to Chevy. The eAssist system uses a small electric motor, lithium-ion battery, start-stop technology, regenerative braking, and active shutters, along with low rolling resistance tires and lighter-weight materials to achieve GM-rated fuel economy of 25 mpg city/37 mpg highway/29 mpg combined. The automaker says the Malibu Eco has a range of about 600 miles on a tank of gas.
In the fall, the Malibu Turbo model debuts, powered by a new Ecotec 2.0-liter turbocharged engine delivering 259 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The new turbo is expected to go from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds.
The Malibu is Chevrolet’s longest-running mid-size nameplate, spanning 35 years and eight generations. It is also the brand’s second best seller, behind the Cruze sedan.
In the hotly competitive mid-size segment, safety is a primary consideration of family car buyers. The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco, the first of the all-new Malibus to be sold, acquits itself well with eight standard airbags, including knee airbags to help reduce injury risk in a severe crash. Rear seat-mounted thorax/pelvis side airbags will be standard on all Malibu models this summer, bringing the total number of standard airbags across the Malibu lineup to ten. Chevy notes that this is more than on the current mid-size models from Hyundai, Ford and Honda.
Other standard safety features include StabiliTrak stability control with full-function traction control, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, cornering brake control, brake fade assist, electronic brake force distribution, panic brake assist, tire pressure monitoring system, hill assist, and pedal release system.
Optional Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning systems will be available this summer on Malibu and later on the 2014 Malibu Eco.
The 2013 Malibu Eco comes standard with OnStar, including six months of the Directions & Connections plan. OnStar Automatic Crash Response automatically triggers a response from an OnStar advisor in the event of a crash.
The Malibu Eco is currently built at the Fairfax, Kansas plant. Mid-year, it will also be built at the Detroit-Hamtramck, Michigan plant.
For an in-depth look at what it’s like to drive the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco, plus more details on all the changes, see Marty Padgett’s First Drive Review in TheCarConnection.
Also check out Bengt Halvorson’s piece on the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Turbo here.