The 2009 Chevy Malibu Hybrid is what’s known as a “mild” hybrid, meaning not as economical nor as ecologically sound as a full hybrid, such as the Toyota Camry or the Ford Fusion. The Malibu Hybrid was introduced in 2008, and has been tweaked a bit in ’09 to get a few more mpg. The ’09 Malibu Hybrid is rated by the EPA at 26/34 mpg, which, while not exactly stellar for a hybrid, is some 4 mpg better than the conventionally powered Malibu.
For 2009, the Chevy Malibu Hybrid packs a 2.4-liter DOHC Ecotec variable-valve-timed inline four-cylinder (I4) engine and a smallish 4-kw, 36-volt electric motor powered by a nickel metal hydride battery. The hybrid system is managed by a four-speed automatic transmission to put out 164 hp at 6,400 rpm, and 159 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. Acceleration is not exactly neck-snapping (0-60 in 11 seconds), and hills can be a challenge.
The ’09 Malibu Hybrid’s electric motor is designed to shut the gas engine off at a stop, however, it provides very little drive power on its own, thus the Malibu Hybrid’s designation as “mild.” The transition from gas to electric power and back is unnoticeable, except for the sudden lack of engine noise.
Based on GM’s Epsilon frame with its longer-than-ordinary wheelbase, the ’09 Malibu Hybrid rides on 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, and together these attributes add up to astute handling and a comfortable cruise. The upgraded 17-inch wheels are also a factor in the ’09 Malibu Hybrid’s improved gas mileage over the ’08 Hybrid.
Standard comfort and convenience features for the 2009 Chevy Malibu Hybrid include cloth front bucket seats, remote power door locks, a two-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, power windows and mirrors, cruise control, tilt-telescoping steering, automatic climate control, a single-CD/MP3 player with 40 watts and six speakers, Sirius/XM satellite radio, Onstar communications service, and a hands-free phone. Options include a power sunroof and a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.
Safety features that are standard on the ’09 Malibu Hybrid include four-wheel disc ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution, StabiliTrak traction and stability control, dual front side airbags, front and rear head airbags, a remote anti-theft alarm, daytime running lights, and dusk-sensing headlights. The ’09 Malibu Hybrid garnered five-star front- and side-impact crash test ratings.
Owners of the 2009 Chevy Malibu Hybrid cite mileage as its biggest selling point, though a few are disappointed that it’s not quite what they expected. The lack of more up-to-date technology, such as Bluetooth, remote start, and a DVD navigation system irks many owners, as does the lack of bona-fide acceleration from a stop. Handling, ride, interior roominess, styling, the quiet cabin, safety, trunk space, and comfort, however, are praised by owners. Indeed, many owners claim the ’09 Malibu Hybrid represents the best overall value in its class.