The hybrid Malibu gets us both revved up.
I have a confession. Though I love the idea of saving the environment, one of my chief reasons for choosing gas-sipping cars is that I’m cheap. No matter how low gas prices sink, every dollar spent at the pump is one that I can use on a new pair of pumps. So I was totally psyched by my drive from Connecticut to Washington, DC, in the Chevy Malibu hybrid which used less than a tank of gas round trip. Not only that, I got my husband behind the wheel and he loved the car, too.
Chief concern, not enough power: debunked
My husband has a need for power and thought a hybrid car would emasculate him. But he was surprised by the power and we both definitely felt the car delivered us safely onto the highway. His expectation was that the car would have no pick up. When you are merging on I-95 with all those people driving big old SUVs and wearing old shoes, you want to feel some pep in that engine.
Who this car is for
- Environmentally conscious drivers who rejoice in the outrageously great 47 miles per gallon
- Skeptical husbands who love power
- Families who don’t need a lot of trunk space
- Drivers who want the latest tech
Wait, is the car on?
The first time I got in the car, I pushed the button to start it, but heard nothing, so I thought the car wasn’t starting. I turned the car on and off several times before I realized that the engine was so silent that I had been turning the car on all along. My husband had the same experience. It was so disorientating, that I actually cracked open the owner’s manual and found out that a quiet car was the new normal. So just think, you can chat with your spouse, eavesdrop on your kids in the back seat and listen to satellite radio, all without the roar of an engine.
He says, she says – we both love the armrest
I drove to Washington, DC, with my friend and colleague, Suzanne Kantra, founder of Techlicious. She is a technology expert, but what first impressed her was the huge armrest where one of us could stash a purse. The armrest also won kudos from my husband who liked the height – he hates having to reach down while he’s driving. So whether you consider a big armrest a manly feature or female focused, we both got what we wanted.
No man hands – the steering wheel is perfect
Donald Trump may try to impress with the size of this hands, but a giant steering wheel is overwhelming for those of us with, well, normal sized hands. The Malibu had a steering wheel that felt just right for both us, and I found it easy to use the steering wheel controls like adaptive cruise control and radio volume.
Tech that made me feel current
The Chevy Malibu has all the technology to both impress your teens and make you feel safe and current. Both Suzanne and I drive older cars with outdated technology, so we had fun trying out all the innovations.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto let you easily connect your phone and use all of your preset maps and contact info. Although the Malibu has both OnStar, with live phone help that provides directions, and an easy to use navigation system, I have trust issues. I prefer to use my preset maps, and the infotainment screen supports that, with huge icons and the interface you are used to on your phone. Even better, there is no learning curve; your phone is essentially on the touchscreen.
With Apple CarPlay, you can have your texts read aloud minimizing distractions while you are driving.
Safety doesn’t take a back seat
The adaptive cruise control had a few extra features, like letting the driver adjust how close you want to be to the car in front of you. Setting the distance for the collision alert is also an option – you decide if you want to be alerted when you are one, two, or three car lengths away. Just push a button to choose the distance. The lane assist is very helpful for late night driving when you might get sleepy and Suzanne, who is used to driving a large SUV, praised the blind spot monitor in the mirror. She is used to being in a huge vehicle surveying everything, but even in the smaller hybrid, she felt safe and comfortable.
What I loved
- Amazing mileage: 47 miles per gallon!
- Looks beautiful – sleek and sporty
- Apple CarPlay
- WiFi hot spot
- Very comfortable steering wheel with easy to access controls
- Built in wireless charger
- Parking assist, for parallel or backing in
What you need to know
- Price for the model I drove: $27,770
- Fuel economy: listed at 47 miles per gallon in the city, 46 mpg on the highway. And wee actually got 47 mpg
- Takes regular gas (infrequently!)
- Small trunk – much of space is taken up by the battery
Note: Chevrolet loaned me the Malibu for the purpose of this review.