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When the Chevy Malibu was launched back in the fall, we were promised a four cylinder version mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and it's finally here. The newest Malibu will achieve 22 mpg in city driving and 32 mpg on the highway, which is a monumental improvement over the 17/26 fuel economy of the 3.6L V6. The four cylinder LTZ will not only save green-backs at the pump, but it'll also cost less at the dealership with a base price that is over $1,000 less than the V6 model. The lone downgrade of note is that the four cylinder LTZ gets 17 inch rims standard, versus 18s for the V6.

Earlier in the year, we reviewed a 2.4L Malibu with a four-speed slush box, and while it wasn't as engaging as the 3.6L model, it still had plenty of get up and go for most driving situations. With a six speed auto, driving characteristics can only improve, and the six-mpg improvement over the V6 model makes the four cylinder LTZ Malibu look like a very good option for folks that want high-end equipment without such a thirst for petrol. Hit the jump to read GM's press release.

[Source: GM]


Chevrolet Malibu LTZ Offered With Segment-Exclusive Four-Cylinder/Six-Speed Automatic Powertrain

DETROIT – Chevrolet's popular, award-winning 2008 Malibu offers an expanded range of customer choices this spring, with an efficient four-cylinder/six-speed automatic combination offered on LTZ models.

A 2.4L Ecotec engine is partnered with a 6T40 transmission to deliver a great balance of performance and fuel efficiency. The EPA-estimated fuel economy for this combination is 22 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway.

"This new Malibu LTZ model answers customers' calls for a premium-equipped car with an efficient, four-cylinder engine," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. "With this new model, the Malibu lineup offers an unmatched range of powertrains, technology and amenities, along with the great styling that has helped make it a runaway success since the first '08 model rolled off the line."

The new Malibu LTZ model has a MSRP of $26,545 (including a $650 destination charge). It joins an already diverse lineup of Malibu models, ranging from the value-driven LS to powerful V-6 LT and LTZ models, as well as the unique, fuel-saving Malibu Hybrid.

The Malibu LTZ with the 2.4L/six-speed powertrain is distinguishable on the exterior with unique, 17-inch Chrometec wheels and a single, chrome exhaust outlet. Inside is the same upscale interior as V-6-powered LTZ models.

"Matching the 2.4L engine with a six-speed delivers a lively driving experience that is unlike any other four-cylinder in the segment," said Peper. "The unique performance characteristics of the six-speed transmission enhance the feeling of a quieter, more refined driving experience."

Powertrain details
The 2.4L Ecotec engine is renowned for its performance and efficiency. It uses variable valve timing to optimize power and fuel economy. The engine is rated at 169 horsepower (126 kW), which is comparable to the four-cylinder engines from competitors such as the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Hyundai Sonata. None of those competitors, however, offers a six-speed automatic with their four-cylinder engine.

Matched with the 2.4L engine is the Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed transmission. It is part of a new family of six-speed automatics that GM committed to developing only a few years ago. Clutch-to-clutch technology and other high-tech features are employed to maximize its performance while simultaneously minimizing its overall size. A wide, 6.04:1 overall ratio enables strong launch acceleration, while carefully spaced "steps" between the gears balance performance and fuel economy. The driver can manually tap up or tap down through the gears for more control.

The efficiency benefit of the six-speed automatic comes through the lower operating speed of the 2.4L engine. This reduces fuel consumption and contributes to quieter, more isolated operation. The feeling of performance is heightened with the four-cylinder/six-speed automatic combination, too, as the engine can always operate close to the optimum speed.

Style and refinement
Malibu LTZ comprises a distinctive package of style, features and attention to detail. It carries a strong stance and bold proportions, with front fog lamps and clear-lens LED-lit taillamps unique to the model. Precise details, including minimized panel gaps, a tight wheel-to-body relationship and select use of chrome trim, reinforce the Malibu's refinement.

Inside, the Malibu LTZ is offered with two-tone trim combinations, including Ebony and Brick and Cocoa and Cashmere. The cabin also features black-chrome accents, a specific instrument layout and unique, two-tone leather seating surfaces. Heated seats are standard.

The interior's attention to detail is highlighted by an ergonomic design and premium materials that convey quality and value. An integrated, flowing instrument panel features a Chevrolet-signature dual-cockpit design, with prominent gauges backlit in blue. Ambient lighting in areas such as the overhead console and door-pull pockets enhances the Malibu's inviting feel.

Malibu LTZ also comes with Turn-by-Turn navigation provided by OnStar, standard XM Satellite Radio and the premium amplified eight-speaker audio system.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Improvements over V6: 5 mpg City, 6 mpg Highway.

      Those are good numbers. I wish them well with this.
      • 6 Years Ago

      Okay, GM: no excuse for any of your Ecotec vehicles to be saddled with a four-speed now. Get this in the HHR, Cobalt, G6, and Aura Green Line stat!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Does this mean that the 6 speed auto is only available on the LTZ and not the LS and LT? That would be ashame. Maybe it's coming later? I agree a 6 speed manual would be sweet...
        • 6 Years Ago
        The 6 speed will be standard on 2LT model for 2009 and on all Aura for 2009. This change is only for late run 2008 models and it only applies to LTZ model.

        The Malibu and Aura are heavier than the Camry and Accord and have more standard power than Camry. This also beats the Fusion although a new model will be out for 2009 with better economy. Bottom line is 2009 domestic sedans will get best I-4 economy.
        • 6 Years Ago
        This does appear to be the case.

        It's unfortunate, but I think they are just capitalizing on the fact that mpg is suddenly a valid selling point.

        Hopefully in another model year they'll drop the 4-speed completely.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Good news and right on time.

      2.4L is plenty big for a four-cylinder engine. I've driven Hyundai / Kia's 2.4 four in the Optima and Rondo and it wants for nought, even under loads of people,cargo, and air conditioning. The GM EcoTec engine is good, and should serve well in this capacity. In both senses.

      I wonder if they would eventually offer a stick shift.

      As others have said, 17 inches was an upgrade to the factory stock only recently.
      • 6 Years Ago
      22/32 for a vehicle of that size is pretty impressive.

      Now GM needs to move that drivetrain into their smaller vehicles like the Cobalt and HHR and then put the 6 speed tranny in the Aveo.
        • 6 Years Ago
        My friend gets the same highway mileage from his 05 Taurus.

        The new EPA figures are low balling most cars on the highway.
          • 6 Years Ago
          "The new EPA figures are low balling most cars on the highway. "

          It depends how you drive and where. It is not very hard to beat the EPA hwy OR city numbers with just a pinch of forethought in traffic. The new test includes speeds up to 80mph and other mileage-hurting things that I see many drivers on the road doing constantly. Things like accelerating towards a red light only to dive on the brakes seconds later.
          The new EPA numbers for my daily driver are 18/26 yet I average 26-28mpg in mixed driving. I have gotten tanks over 30mpg in mixed driving if I keep it to 70mph on the highway.

          With 22/32 for this Malibu, it ought to be possible to run near 30 in mixed driving. Truly impressive for such a big heavy vehicle.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Good economy with the 4, even though the Malibu's smaller than the Accord. But too bad the Malibu V6 gets far worse fuel economy than the Camry V6.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Anyone know what the weight difference is? I know the Malibu/Aura is a narrower car.

        Just a thought.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Also impressive to see that the Malibu has better fuel economy than Camry/Accord

        09 Camry 5spdauto 2.4 21 31 26
        08 Accord 5spdauto 2.4 21 31 26
        • 6 Years Ago
        They upped the fuel economy in the HHR and Cobalt, but they kept the 4-speed.

        Lookup XFE Cobalt.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wonder what sort of numbers Ford will get for the 4 cylinder Fusion with 6 speed that is to be released this fall?
        • 6 Years Ago
        i think the ford weights less, but not 100% on that. that'll help the mpg hopefully, hard to tell with two totally different engines
        • 6 Years Ago
        I'm hearing more horsies and better mpg's.
        Throw in a panoramic sunroof and the sport suspension and I'm sold.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Being another from a land of frost heaves (longfellow rocks), Give me the 17's and 15's or 16's would be even better. A car like a Malibu won't be generating big skid pad numbers anyway.

      Besides aesthetically, big wheels are a tired cliche.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Let me see, 15" wont' clear the front brakes.
        That is why 215/60 16 are the standard size.

        18" are just for show. I suggest they be replaced [by GM] by 235/50 17 (for the V6 model), and for the I4 215/55 17

      • 6 Years Ago
      Considering that the new EPA ratings have proven to be on the low scale of what people will actually acheive I see this engine/tran combo get around 36-38 on the highway with easy driving and crusing around 65-70.

      This car is a heavy contender for my wifes new crusier. She currently has an 01 base base Altima and it is a POS and we have spent over 2k in repairs alone this year. She has driven a lot of the newer Nissan offerings and they just dont have the fit and finish of the newer Malibus to her.

      Also if you look on the GM dealer site thing it shows that you can get the 6 speed on the 1LT and its standard on the 2LT and LTZ. So you dont have to get the top of the line LTZ to get the new 6 speed. I havent seen pricing for the 2009 1LT but the 08 model starts at $21,500 and I can venture to say that the 6 speed might add $1k to it.

      It should be a huge hit. I also think that it will be the lowest priced car with a 6 speed available AND standard in it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        See VW Rabbit.

        I think that the estimates are off. It should gain 1mpg city & 1mpg highway, not 0mpg city & 2mpg highway.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yea, if you want to spend less than 20K on a car, the Rabbit is a really nice buy. Plenty of space in a "Compact" car. Not to mention its the best put together thing on the road.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It's impressive indeed. Real world numbers could be even better if the car is driven with a light foot.

      Just did a calculation for my cars:
      2000 Ford Focus 2.0-liter SOHC I4 110 HP, manual - average 30.12 mpg - measured since Aug. 2007
      2003 VW Passat 1.8-liter turbo 170 HP, manual - average 31.07 mpg, max. 39.87 mpg - measured since Aug. 2007

      I used http://mymilemarker.com/
        • 6 Years Ago
        maybe I should do my 07 Civic EX, 5 speed. Haven't had a tank below 35 yet. Been gaming it to get close to 37 on my commute which is 26 miles one way, no interstate but a mix of 35, 45, and 55mph roads.

      • 6 Years Ago
      Quietest unibody GM has ever built! love the 2.4, but it's a little lazy in this ap, made the car feel heavy. (4 spd, not 6) Didn,t buy because of entry/egress ergonomics.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Swap out the 6-speed automatic for a 6-speed manual, and that could capture a LOT of interest, if the ride and handling are as good as people say.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I have to agree with Fthorn there. though i believe that manual cars are a pleasure to drive (i drive a manual), i think that people buying a Malibu are, in the vast majority, wanting a simple ride where they can get from home to work and vice versa...no need to be sitting on the clutch in severe highway traffic...
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think this sort of conjecture is not backed up by facts. I don't see many 'real' (non-auto enthusiast) people clamoring for manual transmissions.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is a great idea, offering the highest end model in a fuel-saving version is a fantastic idea in these times of high fuel prices.
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