Confusingly, while last year's 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco was the first of a new-generation Malibu and included eAssist, the GM [NYSE: GM] mild-hybrid system, the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu lineup won't include it now at all.
Why? Simply because the system makes the Eco hybrid model irrelevant. The eAssist system still costs several hundred dollars extra per vehicle, and its mileage gains aren't significant enough to justify the cost. Now that Chevrolet is offering engine stop-start as a standard feature on the base Malibu LT—which is also lighter versus the former Eco, and has the new-generation 2.5-liter engine—its mileage numbers are just as high.
Eco or not, the same mpg
Technically, the 2014 Malibu, with the 2.5-liter engine and stop-start, gets the same EPA Combined rating—of 29 mpg—as the eAssist model.
The stop-start system includes two smaller lead-acid batteries, whereas the eAssist system requires a larger lithium-ion battery that cuts into trunk space, along with a heavier electric-motor system.
This past year, sales had already been failing to meet the modest expectations that the Malibu Eco would add up to about ten percent of Malibu sales. A $26,670 sticker price was surely part of it—that's $2,335 higher than the base 2014 Malibu LT (again, with the same mileage).