DETROIT -- Chevrolet will offer the new 2008 Malibu LTZ variant with a four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. The new powertrain will improve fuel economy and cost $1,200 less than the V-6 LTZ.
General Motors plans to ship the new version of the cars to dealers starting Thursday, April 24.
The new six-speed transmission will boost fuel economy by 2 mpg in highway driving, Chevy Vice President Ed Peper said at a media briefing here today. That brings the LTZs fuel economy to 22 mpg city/32 highway.
With this new model, the Malibu lineup offers an unmatched range of powertrains, technology and amenities, Peper said in a statement.
Asked whether customers were demanding the new powertrain, GMs chief engineer for midsized vehicles, Mike Meloeny, said, Obviously, people want better fuel economy.
Meloeny said that among current customers, 60 percent want a four-cylinder engine and 40 percent the V-6. Once this powertrain is available, he expects that to shift to a 70/30 mix.
The new LTZ version has a sticker price of $26,545. The LTZ V-6 starts at $27,745. Both prices include shipping.
The 2008 LTZ trim comes with a V-6 engine, but on the 2009 model, the four-cylinder six-speed transmission will be standard on the LTZ and 2LT models. The new powertrain will be optional on the 1LT and unavailable on the LS. There is also a Malibu hybrid.
The new transmission keeps the buzz going, said Mike Weidman, marketing manager for the Malibu.
Weidman said the combination of improved fuel economy, better acceleration, refined driving and a softer downshift gives Chevrolet a great attribute to talk about out there.
GM will start advertising the new Malibu LTZ transmission in some print ads now. Weidman said heavier advertising on the Web and TV and in print will begin when Chevrolet rolls out the 2009 models beginning in June.