By on September 17, 2019

Admit it — you weren’t aware Chevrolet made a hybrid version of the midsize Malibu. You’d be forgiven for replying in the affirmative, as the variant introduced for the 2016 model year sported a profile lower than that of an SOE agent in occupied France.

And yet the Malibu Hybrid lived. But now it must die.

As reported by Green Car Reports, General Motors has discontinued the Malibu Hybrid for the 2020 model year, citing slow sales as a motivator. As GM tosses roses on the grave of the Chevrolet Volt and Cruze, while digging a new one for the Impala, it seems being a car in GM’s lineup is riskier than eating expired mayo. The cancellation also leaves the automaker without a hybrid vehicle, though the fully-electric Chevy Bolt soldiers on into the coming model year with more range in tow.

GM spokesman Kevin Kelly confirmed the variant’s discontinuation to GCR on Monday. With sedan sales sinking everywhere and the Malibu’s long-term future in doubt, it’s not a surprising move. Given the amount of attention paid to the Malibu Hybrid, one wonders whether GM ever wanted to sell any of the things.

gm

Rated at 46 mpg combined, the Malibu Hybrid paired a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor for a total output of 182 horsepower. Conventional Malibus don a turbocharged 1.5-liter in base guise. Should you really want to impress your cubicle mates, there’s a 2.0-liter on offer for uplevel trim customers.

As we bemoan the sinking sedan segment, it appears the Malibu is the Chevy passenger car not called Corvette that’s destined to live the longest. Automotive News‘ product pipeline shows the model existing until 2024, with a possible facelift arriving in 2022, should the automaker deem it  beneficial. The Malibu was last updated for the 2019 model year.

[Image: General Motors]

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44 Comments on “Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid: ‘H’ Marks the Spot… of a Gravesite...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’ll bet the hybrid was less of a penalty box than the base 1.5T.

    The Premiere 2.0T editions at least had some nice combos available like the red exterior with a tan leather interior.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Never drove the hybrid but read good things, and also read it crushed the EPA numbers. It used a lot of the Voltec technology.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I’ve had, like, nine or ten current-generation Malibu rentals, and have probably logged a collective 4,000 miles on them. I’ve never had a problem with the 1.5T. It’s not exactly fun, but it is an unobtrusive driving partner, whether on the highway or city streets. It is *vastly* superior to the 2.5-liter N/A I4 that was the base engine in the previous Malibu and the ATS for a time, and that’s still the base engine in the Envision.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Life’s too short to not be fun.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I guess. The only midsize sedan I’ve driven in recent months that’s been “fun” was an Accord Sport 2.0T/6MT. The others were pretty dull. Even the Fusion Sport, with that potent 2.7 twin-turbo and AWD, was more of a discount luxury Q-ship than a sport sedan.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            That’s where you and I will have to agree to disagree – “Discount Luxury Q-Ship” sounds like my definition of “fun”.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            @PrincipalDan

            “Discount Luxury Q-Ship”

            Me too.

          • 0 avatar

            What Q-ship means exactly. Does anything to do with Infiniti or Navy?

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            @Inside-Looking-Out

            A Q-ship was a class of gunboat during World War I used by the British Navy.

            They were disguised merchant vessels that were heavily armed and would be used to lure submarines to the surface by appearing like an easy target.

            They also were used as spy ships and for other secret service missions. They would have been more comfortable to be a crew member on that a typical Royal Navy fighting ship, and were faster and more powerful than their outward appearance.

            Hence – Q-ship

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        Can you expand on how the 1.5T is vastly superior to the more powerful 2.5. I have the latter in my 2017 Impala and am very pleased overall with its smoothness at idle, overall refinement, power and overall mileage which has easily reached 36 on the open road on several 7 hour trips. What part of the 1.5T is so much better? Just really curious

    • 0 avatar
      quickson

      All one needs to know about the 1.5T was that my wife called it “undriveable” after our test drive.

      She had me take it around after her drive to verify she wasn’t just being paranoid.

      The lag in the turbo and stop-start meant merging onto just about any Texas road from a stop was an invitation to get clobbered.

      PUNCH… wait for it… wait for it… wait for it… motion.

      When we mentioned it to the salesman, he just sighed and said “yeahhhhh.”

      So I agree… it would be hard for the hybrid to suck more than the 1.5T.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        “All one needs to know about the 1.5T was that my wife called it “undriveable” after our test drive.”

        I mirror her sentiment, worst rental and worst powertrain I’ve ever had the displeasure of driving. It’s no wonder why GM is dropping all of its sedans, once someone drives this car they run – fast.
        If you think the power is bad, the fuel economy is an even worse issue, I averaged 22-23MPG over the time I had the car, mostly on highways and long country roads south of Chicago.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          I would hope that the Hybrid at least had a less-intrusive start-stop system.

          My boss and I were walking back from lunch recently. We hear a car start up next to us at the intersection as we’re waiting to cross.

          Me, without even looking over: “New-style Malibu, right?”
          Boss: “Yup.”

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Non-“mild” hybrids have a big electric motor that can effortlessly start the engine any time. No need for a noisy and slow starter. Start-stop is near seamless.

          • 0 avatar
            drfnw3

            “near” is the key word there. Driven a Mercedes GLC with stop start. Ugh. Driven an F150 with it, too. Much better if only because the off switch was front and center.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’m talking about hybrids. Stop-start is far from seamless on non-hybrids, although you do get used to it eventually.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @quickson +2

        Had a dealer loaner for about two weeks with that setup and it was just awful. I couldn’t wait to get rid of the Malibu. So much awful.

      • 0 avatar
        KevinB

        I test drove a Malibu and my opinion is the same. I test drove a Cruze and bought it because it was an entirely different experience.

        How messed up is this when the model below is the better choice?

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Never driven the new Malibu but have read and watched rather impressive things on the Hybrid. Apparently drives well and the mpg numbers were impressive vs the competition.

    But hey you can’t make people buy what they don’t want.

    I still calling carnage when automakers release EVs on a mass scale. I simply don’t believe the demand is there. And the cost is insane.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    This is the type of car that CARB is insisting automakers sell in California (after it gets tweaked a bit to get another 8 mpg), and yet it doesn’t sell? I guess this failure just proves that saving the world will require a complete transformation to EVs built with child/slave labor sourced raw materials, powered by coal, and unprofitable to all.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “after it gets tweaked a bit to get another 8 mpg”

      CAFE and EPA fuel economy numbers are not the same. CAFE numbers are footprint-adjusted and based on old methodology. This car already exceeded 54 mpg CAFE economy with room to spare.

      It’s just staggering how much fuel would be saved at relatively little cost if all mass-market autos used this sort of hybrid system.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    This is arguably the first serious, reasonably-priced non-plug-in hybrid GM has ever done. Previous models were mild hybrids with negligible gains over their conventional counterparts, relative to their inflated stickers.

    While GM was busy doing other stuff, Ford, Honda and Toyota made much larger inroads with hybrids. I didn’t see GM do much marketing on the Malibu Hybrid, but they’d have been fighting an uphill battle if they *had* gone all-in on marketing it.

    That said, GM did an excellent job with both generations of the Volt, although they lost money and were somewhat limited-appeal products, and the Bolt. GM openly stated that there will be no more hybrids in its future; it plans to jump head-first into full BEV powertrains. The lessons and engineering learned from the aforementioned vehicles will pay dividends there.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The 2008 Tahoe, Yukon and Escalade Hybrids were serious 2 mode hybrids with substantial gains over their non-hybrid counterparts.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        They were.

        However, they had quite a hefty price premium. And they came at a time when there was an economic collapse, and people weren’t buying full-size SUVs. If you could really afford a full-size SUV at that time, there wasn’t a great reason to make the jump. If you just needed something with a lot of space, the crossovers on the market (including GM’s own Lambda-based Outlook, Acadia, Enclave and Traverse) did that for a lot less money. There was also only really a short peak in May of 2008 when gas prices were super high. By December of 2008, they had fallen to 5-year-record lows. There, again, wasn’t demand for a hybrid full-size SUV…even if you could afford one.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @danio3834 and IIRC the system was essentially a scaled-down version of the hybrid system found in GMC commercial buses.

        Another thing to note, IIRC again, towing and off-road capability was not impacted, or only minimally impacted with the 2 mode hybrid system.

        Most other hybrid SUVs/CUVs take/took a serious hit in towing capability, and some of the models out during that period (2000s) were specifically limited to no water entry above the hubs.

    • 0 avatar

      GM did not have CMO for a long time.

  • avatar
    ajla

    GM has now killed off all their hybrids and PHEVs. Their only BEV is the Bolt and none of their latest product introductions mention incorporating hybrid/PHEV/BEV technology.

    Previously GM had promised 20(!) New electric vehicles by 2023, but I’d be quite surprised if anything close to that occurs. Lately, there has been more movement from GM on diesel than electrification.

    autotrader.com/car-news/gm-promises-20-new-electric-vehicles-by-2023-270934

    There seems to be a strategy shift (or at least delay) from GM. Makes me wonder how much of a bath they have been taking on these programs. If nothing is changing, with their plans when are we going to start seeing some production-ready products?

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That’s a really good question.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        And if GM, who has the longest history with EVs of any mainstream automaker and the most impressive mainstream electric car available for sale, finds it necessary to scale back EV programs, then what does that say about the ability of other automakers to turn a profit with them in any reasonable time frame?

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I have a new Malibu Hybrid as my work car. We got one at my old position as a pool vehicle and in my new one, while still technically a pool car since I didn’t want to bring it home with me every day, I was assigned one in July with no miles.

    As a reminder, I had a Regal GS for a year and a half so I was familiar with the current GM basics. The interior of the Malibu is pretty nice. It’s not bare bones but missing a few of the conveniences that I got used to in the Buick. Most of the switch gear is the same and is of good quality.

    I don’t get consistent mileage since I made one trip of about 4.5 hours combined both ways and it barely used any gas and then the same trip a few weeks later and used over half a tank. But I rarely need to fill it up. It’s certainly not slow, not like the Prius we used to have. It’s not fast and I’d hesitate to say quick, but I’ve never felt like I wouldn’t be able to blend in with traffic. This is also contrary to the 4 cylinder Colorados we have which induce white knuckles when trying to merge.

    I liked it enough to shop the Premium trim (2.0T) since it has much of the same equipment as the GS did. I was at the Chevy dealer looking for the ones they had listed which they couldn’t find on the lot and I literally went next door to the Lexus dealer and got my IS300.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would think that the only way manufacturers could meet the proposed Obama fuel efficiency mandates that California is wanting would be using a hybrid in all ICE. This hybrid Malibu appears to be the closest to those 54 mpg mandates otherwise the only choice would be all electric. I could live with a vehicle like this at least it is not too small and would be decent as a highway cruiser. If the body were lightened further this car might be able to reach 54 mpgs. Too bad this didn’t sell as well and too bad cars are not selling well enough that GM could have eventually put this hybrid system in the Impala and Lacrosse–this appears to be a more advanced hybrid system than the e-assist.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Sounds close enough. At least it is a better compromise than some of the other transportation choices that would be much smaller.

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    GM didn’t kill the Malibu Hybrid. The Toyota Camry hybrid took care of that.

  • avatar

    The Japanese and Koreans do a much better job at this kind of thing.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    GM built the world’s best PHEV drivetrain for the Volt…and then essentially wedged it into the Cruze, yielding a car the size and shape of a Honda Civic for the price of a 3-Series. The Voltec powertrain should have gone in the Malibu too, and in the Equinox if they wanted to sell any.

    Give ’em credit, they did at least put a non-plugin version of it in the Malibu to make the Malibu Hybrid, got excellent reviews, and then…I don’t know if supply was constricted or dealers refused to order it, but it was all but impossible to buy. My ex, who enjoys both driving and Consumer Reports, was smitten with the Malibu Hybrid but couldn’t find one that wasn’t already spoken for. She ended up with a Kia Niro Hybrid, which has a tidier size and better packaging and incredible MPG but is about as exciting to drive as watching paint dry while listening to a presentation about term life insurance.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If the Malibu hybrid was hard to find then it sounds like GM was not that interested in it. GM has had some really good vehicles like the Lacrosse, Impala, and Cruze that they do not promote. Maybe it is a lack of advertising that is one of the reasons these vehicles have not sold as well. Maybe GM wants these products to fail since the profit margins on pickups, suvs, and crossovers are greater. Too bad GM and Ford are getting out of the making of autos, but it is what it is. Most who will buy GM and Ford cars that want cars will move on to the Japanese and South Korean brands if they haven’t already done so.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    “Admit it — you weren’t aware Chevrolet made a hybrid version of the midsize Malibu.”

    You’re right. Did I miss anything important?

  • avatar

    Under Barra’s watch GM produces trucks and SUVs with mediocre interiors. When GM primarily made cars they were also average with mediocre interiors. In summation GM has become an elblem of automotive mediocrity.

    Actually, the hybrid Malibu was one of GM’s better recent efforts.

  • avatar

    Day 3 is over.

    GM – what a disgrace.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    The Malibu Hybrid was cursed with being almost as good as the Accord and Camry Hybrid, but not quite. In particular, the current Accord and Camry Hybrids are not compromised at all in trunkroom. (Unlike the Malibu and Fusion Hybrids). In fact if the 50 (or so) mpg Accord and Camry were the “average” car sold today, we could cut our dependence on oil by a very tidy margin. These cars make no significant compromises in usability for a typical family and they use half the fuel of the mid-size crossover that are becoming the most popular vehicles. If everyday Americans were serious about climate change, they would drive much different vehicles.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Conslaw–Good points. I am probably going to buy a neighbors 2012 Lacrosse e-assist because the miles are low, 43,000 miles, it is in perfect condition, and the price is low but as you stated the trunk is small due to the hybrid battery. I believe that is why my neighbor no longer wants it but for my wife and I we are less concerned about the trunk space since we will not use the trunk that much and we have a CRV which has more than enough cargo room when we need it.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I considered this when I saw how much they depreciate post lease compared to say an ES hybrid/avalon hybrid. During my research I found out that GM purposely put a pinch in the fuel filler neck to keep the tank capacity at 13 gallons but if you didn’t autofill the gas nozzle you could manually add a couple of more gallons and get something like 700 miles/tank. Thats a luxury in and of itself.
    I personally like the styling of the latest ‘Bu and hope GM keeps making them.


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