Since its debut last fall, the 2008 Chevy Malibu's four cylinder engines have only been available with a like number of transmission speeds. If you wanted a six speed gearbox you had to opt for the top-end LTZ model with the 3.6L V-6 engine. No more. You still have to opt for the LTZ to get the six-speed, but now you can get the smaller 2.4L engine paired with it. GM has been ramping up production of the new 6T40 automatic transmissions since last summer and there are now finally enough to merit the new drive train combo. The result is a Malibu that gets the same 22mpg city rating as the existing 4 pot, 4 speed variant, but highway mileage jumps up 2mpg to 32mpg. By comparison, the V-6 only gets 17/26mpg. The mild hybrid Malibu squeezes out an extra 2mpg city for 24/32.
Now if only GM would add the six speed transmission to the base LS and mid-level LT models it would be more appealing to those who may not want every luxury bell and whistle on the LTZ. Similarly, if GM replaced the four speed in the hybrid it might be a little more appealing than the current unit. Maybe for 2009.
[Source: General Motors]
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."
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.