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Comparison w/Gen 2 and Malibu Hybrid

4468 Views 15 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  dwrede
So I took my baby ('17 Siren Red Premier) to the dealer today because the MIL was on with the P0442 code plus I wanted some other items checked (infotainment issues, possible oil drip).

They gave me a fairly well-equipped silver '17 Malibu Hybrid as a loaner. During the 35 mile drive home from the dealer, I got to experience the ride quality and play with some of the functions a bit and I wanted to give a quick review. This is going to be mostly subjective so YMMV.

First - the steering, handling, ride, etc... all feel looser than Volt. I don't know if this is because the car is bigger or because it's a loaner that was driven hard in the 1,070 miles that are on it. The general feel in the cabin is similar to the Volt meaning you know where everything is and how to get to it. I did have to hunt for the USB ports (they are tucked up higher than the Volt and are not visible unless you really go looking for them).

Drive-wise it almost feels like driving the Volt in Hold/CS mode where the engine will rev at random moments unrelated to how fast you are going. This makes sense as the Voltec powertrain is being used. The Infotainment setup is similar but the energy screen is more simplified containing just the power flow section and a bar-graph thing showing what I believe your MPG is although to be honest, I have no idea how to interpret it. There is an extra 'Shop' icon on the infotainment unit which I believe connects to some sort of app store but I haven't played with it yet. I don't know why this couldn't be updated/added to the Volt infotainment system.

The radio in general sounds lousy even equipped with the Bose system. You'd think it would be comparable to the Volt but the sound in the Volt is much more dynamic with more resounding bass. The Malibu sound output is almost 'tinny' and yes I did set the EQ the same way I have it in the Volt. It also sounds lower at similar volume levels but I am sure that is due to the car being larger or maybe because the subwoofer is in the trunk vs. hatch area.

Regarding the power flow, basically I watched it during the whole drive and it tends to run mostly on battery + engine. The battery charge level held steady between 50-60% charge. It seems like regen was sufficient to bring the battery back to that state of charge when it dropped. Without a charging port, I don't know how you would get the battery to 100% though (if you even could).

I wouldn't mind having two-zone climate in the Volt. While the cabin in the Volt is smaller, my wife is the kind of person who sets to temp to 80 even in the summer which leads to some interesting conversations/discussions in my Volt :) The front seats feel about the same as the Volt although I imagine they are a little bigger. I didn't sit in the rear but obviously there is more room back there.

I generally don't like the layout of the instrument cluster/gauges. The big kW gauge is kind of useless and uses up a lot of space. The digital portion of the dash provides useful information similar to what you find on the Volt (driving style, power usage, etc...) with a different layout due to the small size of the display. I wish you could combine items (e.g. digital speedometer and trip or driving style) but there is not enough room to do that.

Overall - it's a nice car and worthy of the $32k sticker price but I would never pick it over my Volt. The hybrid aspect was fine. On my 35 mile trip which is a mix of highway and local streets, I averaged about 44mpg which is not too bad. I do not like the loose feeling of the steering or the rattles present. Driving it just made me want to drive my Volt.

Just my two cents.
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It's interesting. It feels almost exactly like the Volt does in Hold mode. Based on the driving history stats stored in the car, it appears the highest MPG achieved was 47.8. I'll see if I can nudge that number up a little :)

Well unfortunately my car did in fact fall victim to the P0442 campaign and I have to have the affected hose replaced. At least the dealer said they should have the part by Monday or Tuesday which is significantly better than some others on this board have posted. Hopefully that is the case. In the meantime, I will provide some more info on what I think about the Malibu. Remember that these are just my opinions. Please do not let my thoughts and ramblings influence your feelings on the car if you are interested in it.

Sitting in the driver's seat feels almost exactly the same as sitting in the Volt. In fact while driving, I find myself resting my arms, etc... in the exact same places. The only difference is that there is significantly more leg room in the front and you are not as low to the ground. Power seat is nice as well (hint hint Chevy...)

The back seat is definitely wider and has more leg room but not drastically. Head room is about the same as the Volt. I did try fitting three booster seats in the back and was able to do so - something which is not possible in the Volt. There is a tunnel so the person sitting in the middle in the rear will still straddle a hump but it's pretty low to the ground and not at your knees like in the Volt. Nice port/power selection on the back of the center console also (2 USB, 12v, and 120v).

The trunk space in the Malibu Hybrid is pretty bad (read: lousy). Forget about packing large suitcases. A good portion of the trunk space is used by the battery. Speaking of the battery, still only see it moving between 3-6 bars (out of 10 on the power flow screen) while driving. Is it even possible to get the battery fully charged? Going to have to RTFM on that one. It appears that it will run on battery power if the available SOC is above 50% at which point it kicks on the engine.

About that engine...there is no nice way to say this - I do not like how the motor in this car behaves. The first time I started the car on my own it started quietly on battery power. At the exact moment I was moving the shifter to reverse, the engine started at a pretty high RPM and actually startled me. It's sudden and shakes the car. And this happens ALL THE TIME. I was driving earlier and stopped at a red light. A guy pulled up next to me with his window down. Well before the light turned green, the engine started and the guy gave quite a surprised look. Maybe he thought I wanted to race him :) Except for the fact that this car does not appear to get the torque benefit the Volt has. I don't know the numbers or if the size/weight has anything to do with it but I'd rate the pick-up as average. Definitely not the 'throw you back in the seat' experience you can get with the Volt (assuming you didn't care about your EV range).
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We have a 2016 Volt Premier, with over 20,000 miles on the odometer and 6,177 miles on gas. Per lifetime just on gas, 45.36 mpg, last 3 trips with over 230 miles just on gas averaged 52 mpg, which in opinion beats the Malibu Hybrid. Electric range now that it is summer is 60+ miles, currently reading at 66 miles with a full battery.

Its my opinion that the Volt's 1.5 engine is more fuel efficient than the Malibu Hybrid 1.8 engine. I also believe that GM had their thumb on the scale when it came to the EPA fuel economy for the 2016-17 Malibu Hybrid as well...
I agree with this. The local trips I took yesterday yielded what I would consider to be poor economy.
Probably the last update I will make on this. I took the Malibu loaner car on a long road trip this past weekend (~500 miles round trip) of mostly highway driving. I can say that the Malibu Hybrid is a pretty good highway car if you have a long commute. Averaged 46 mpg with a high of 49.5 mpg going *ahem* somewhat above the posted speed limit.

I don't know how big the fuel tank is but the total mileage you can drive appears to be north of 500 (closer to 540 miles per tank) for highway drives.

For local street driving (not stop and go but blocks/lights/etc...) I am seeing an average of about 34 mpg so kind of meh in that regard.

Hoping my Volt is repaired soon so I can get it back.
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