First of all, this isn’t your father's Malibu. I have to admit that I had a preconception of what a Malibu was -- and it wasn’t all positive. A family truckster, sensible car, boring.

The 2013 Malibu Eco taught me a lesson.

This car was comfortable, practical and fun. It made sense. How many times have gotten in a car and wondered “why did they do that” or “who would put that there?”. Everything I looked at in the 2013 Malibu Eco just felt right. From the instrument display (including the Eco gauge - which i’ll get to in a bit) to mirrors/gauges/buttons, I enjoyed the ease of personalizing the driving experience (GM’s MyLink system is a good start - still don’t know why it doesn’t have HD radio).

It’s weird to write about performance in a car marketed for it’s mileage. The 2013 Malibu Eco had plenty of hop in it - but it’s not about that. It’s about the “eAssist technology” that gives the Malibu Eco the range that I loved. What is “eAssist”? It’s a 32-cell, 0.5-kW lithium-ion battery, an electric motor-generator and a next generation 6-speed automatic transmission coupled with a 2.4 Liter Ecotec 4 cylinder motor that generates 182hp. Along with fuel shut-off in certain deceleration modes, auto-stop (the engine stops when you do), and enhanced aerodynamics and suddenly you notice you’re not hitting the gas station as often. 37mpg (I was getting 42mpg on I-75) with a range of 500 miles on a tank. Smile.

Now about that Eco gauge. And the Malibu itself. Just like I had to look at this car from a fresh perspective, the Eco gauge did that in my driving style. It’s interesting to watch the reaction to the gauge when you put your foot in it -- and when you’re smart about driving. I’m actually a better driver because of it, and your monthly gas bill will like you as well.

So it’s a big car with plenty of trunk space, great range and well built (really liked the seat material - comfortable and felt like it would last). I’ve got a family of four - would I drive it daily? absolutely. Would I recommend it to a friend? absolutely. Did it change my mind about Malibu? yes. 100%.

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