When Chevrolet emailed me a few weeks ago and asked if I would be interested in driving the new Malibu Hybrid, I thought to myself, “Sure. Why not?” It got a big makeover just last year and it’s a good-looking car. I bet a hybrid would save me a fortune compared to my gas-sucking, daily driver that gets worse MPG’s than a brodozer towing an airboat. I recently went through a very BIG birthday and after an event like that, it really makes you think. Is it finally it time to grow up? Adulting is hard but maybe I’ve been doing it for a while and never noticed. Lets see, I pay my taxes on time, there’s food in the fridge, I have a 401K and a sensible 4-door car with a stickshift, so I can stay in shape. It’s the future, so why should I be intimidated by a hybrid?
Turns out, I wasn’t intimidated at all. This is a good-looking car. I’m impressed with the job Chevrolet did with the interior. It’s a real leap forward. The materials are high quality leather, the steering wheel feels good and the car is loaded with toys, like built-in wi-fi and navigation that was all very easy to use. So easy, even my mom could figure it out when we went for a ride. The car is a traditional hybrid, meaning you don’t have to plug-in anywhere. The 1.8 liter 4-cylinder engine charges the battery and it also charges when you use the brakes or coast. All of the witchcraft in this car just works and requires no Engineering degree to understand. I couldn’t stop watching the live display of what the car was doing with the battery and gasoline engine in real-time.
The touchscreen is big, bright and very easy to read – even for those of us who can see distances, but not our watches or iPhones. This car is perfect for the snowbird in your life, so I decided to put myself in the shoes of the typical snowbird. Lets say you’re Sam or Sally Snowbird getting ready for the trip back up north for the summer. All you have to do is enter the address of your house in New Jersey and the car will plot the course for you, estimate how long it will take and, because it has live traffic built-in, the car will help you avoid sitting in bumper to bumper madness for hours and find you a clever detour that really helps with that blood pressure you know you need to keep an eye on. Another great feature can be found every time you shut the car off. You will receive a report about the distance you traveled and the actual gas mileage. This quickly became a game to see how well I could do.
To feel more like a typical snowbird, I pulled in to the left lane and decided to call On-Star to get directions to First Watch, hoping to crash a brunch of the Red Hat Society ladies, who always seem so nice but I assume are some sort of cult that sacrifice their husbands to the gods of cross-stitching. I never took my eyes off of the road and before I knew it, the car was talking to me and telling me where to turn. Sometimes, I really like living in the future.
The car also works great with the myChevrolet app. It’s nice to open the app and start the car a few minutes before you get in and since it’s a hybrid, it’s not using any gas while it cools things off. The app is also good for things like checking your tire pressure, seeing how close you are to the next oil change, and if you don’t feel like talking to the On-star operator, you can send directions to the navigation in the car. It’s also fun to mess with people… allegedly. One could honk the horn for no reason in the parking lot at work, all from one’s phone; if one were so inclined. You could also use that feature for good if you misplace the car at the mega-mall mega parking complex.
The Malibu Hybrid comes with a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine, automatic transmission and a 3 year 36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty. The gas mileage is EPA rated at 49mpg in the city and 43mpg on the highway, which is fantastic for a big car that seats 5 adults. My car came equipped with the leather package, a great Bose stereo and lots of other stuff that you’d expect a modern car to have. The base price for the 2017 Malibu is $27,875 and with a good bit of options on my hybrid, the total came to $32,730. Pro tip for the snowbird: keep an eye out for 20% discount deals this time of year.
Erica Habedank | CW44/CBS Tampa