2014 Chevrolet Malibu ECO

The 2014 Chevy Malibu ECO is a mid-sized sedan can take you 36 miles down the highway in a comfortable and roomy interior. And its 182 horsepower engine is more energetic than you might think. The Malibu ECO uses an eAssist system to add power stored in a lithium-ion battery to provide an electrical boost to the engine. The result is 172 lb.-ft. of torque that peaks at 4,900 rpm.

And that means driving the Malibu ECO is a non-guilty pleasure. You can get up and go when the situation requires it, but the inner environmentalist in you will be comforted by knowing you can get 36 mpg on the highway (Edmunds.com testing found the Malibu ECO can go from 0-60 mph in 8.2 seconds). In the city, the Malibu ECO delivers 25 mpg.

An engine stop/start feature saves gas at red lights and in stop-and-go traffic. The Malibu ECO also has an active shutter grille system that closes at highway speeds. With its 15.8-gallon fuel tank, the Malibu has a highway range of up 584 miles. The 2.4-liter engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Malibu ECO isn’t a true hybrid car in that it cannot run on electricity alone.

The 2014 Malibu is offered in LS, LT, ECO and LTZ models. LT models are available in 1LT, 2LT and 3LT trims, and LTZ is available in 1LZ and 2LZ trims. An all-new Ecotec 2.5L four-cylinder engine with direct injection is the regular 2014 Malibu’s standard engine.

Our test Malibu was in the 2LT trim, which was nicely outfitted with power windows and door locks, 8-way adjustable power driver’s seat with lumbar support, a leather steering wheel with controls, dual-zone air, a 7-inch color touch radio with Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system, satellite radio, 6-speaker audio, Bluetooth, remote start and cool blue ambient lighting.

The Malibu interior continues Chevy’s dual-cockpit theme with an inviting environment. A redesigned center console has a longer armrest, along with dedicated storage for two cup holders and a pair of cell phones.

An optional $1,000 leather package added heated seats and leather trim to our test car, an optional electronics package ($1,175) added three more speakers, a 250-watt amplifier, a rearview camera, side moldings, a 120 volt power outlet, universal home remote, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a convenience net in the trunk.

The Malibu has a full complement of airbags including knee airbags for the driver and passenger, as well as stability and traction control systems and four-wheel anti-lock brakes. The 2013 Malibu was a 5-star safety pick from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association as well as a “Top Safety Pick” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. We also like the available Advanced Safety Package that includes forward collision alert, lane departure warning, side blind zone alert and rear cross traffic alert, all for $890. Optional navigation adds $795.

The base price for our 2014 Malibu ECO 2LT was $25,215. Options and freight boosted the total price to a shade over $30-grand. The new Malibu is a solid entry in a very crowded mid-sized sedan segment loaded with exceptional – and more expensive – cars.

2014 Chevrolet

Malibu ECO

Engine:

2.4-liter 4-cylinder

Horsepower:

182

Transmission:

6-speed automatic

Test model base price:

$25,215 ($30,295 as tested)

EPA mileage rating:

25 mpg city / 36 mpg highway