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Eric's Autos / Automotive

Eric's Autos: Reviewing the 2013 Chevy Malibu hybrid

The 2013 Chevy Malibu is the first "normal" car to come standard as a hybrid car. Two non-hybrid versions will be arriving later this summer, but for the moment, if you want a Malibu, you're looking at a hybrid Malibu Eco. It's an interesting strategy. But is it sound policy?

One of the Malibu's target competitors - the Hyundai Sonata - gets almost the same gas mileage (24 city, 35 highway vs. 25 city, 37 highway) without the hybrid technology - or the hybrid price tag. The $25,235 Malibu hybrid starts out about $5,000 more than its $19,795 to start Hyundai adversary - a tall stack of bills.

And the comparably priced Toyota Camry hybrid ($25,900) gets 43 city, 39 highway - a tall stack of MPGs.

Like the Chevy Volt electric car, the Malibu Eco hybrid is a neat piece of engineering - and a nice car, too. But ultimately, its success or failure will depend on whether enough buyers think it's worth the coin.

WHAT IT IS

The Malibu is a mid-sized, FWD sedan that - for now - is sold only in hybrid Eco form. The Malibu Eco is a so-called "mild" hybrid, meaning the gas engine turns itself off when the car is stationary - and an electric motor/battery pack provides an assist when it is accelerating . But unlike full hybrids such as the Toyota Prius (or the new Camry hybrid) the Malibu Eco doesn't have the ability to move down the road solely powered by electricity - and you can't plug it in to recharge its batteries.

Base price is $25,235. As summer rolls on, Chevy will add a lower cost base trim (non-hybrid) to the lineup as well as a sporty turbocharged version. Competition includes the Hyundai Sonata, its cousin the Kia Optima, the Toyota Camry and the Ford Fusion.

WHAT'S NEW for 2013

Everything. The '13 Malibu is all-new

WHAT'S GOOD

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