AUSTIN, Texas -- General Motors said it will offer a turbocharged engine in the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu that launches next year.
The new 2.0-liter turbo will join a new base 2.5-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine in the redesigned Malibu, said Russ Clark, Chevy’s director of marketing for mid-sized and performance cars and compact crossovers, during a Chevy event here.
GM previously had announced the new 2.5-liter engine, which will debut in the Malibu and likely spread across GM’s lineup.
The turbo engine will offer a more powerful option to Malibu buyers who might miss the six banger, which is offered in the current Malibu but is being phased out for the redesign.
Initially, the redesigned Malibu will be available only in the Eco trim level, which will have a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine combined with a six-speed transmission and GM’s new mild hybrid system. Starting in February or March, GM will sell only the Eco version of the 2013 Malibu for about six months, until the other engine offerings are available.
The staggered launch comes at the urging of GM CEO Dan Akerson, who pressed product developers to accelerate the introduction of the redesigned Malibu. The engine in the Eco version was ready for production earlier than the others.
The first-quarter launch of the Eco trim level allows GM to debut the sedan ahead of a few key rivals in the fiercely competitive mid-sized sedan market. Redesigns of the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima are scheduled to be launched later in 2012. New generations of the top-selling Toyota Camry and the Volkswagen Passat debuted this fall.
“It gives us the opportunity to launch the car in a little bit of clear space as a technology and fuel economy story,” Clark said.
The Malibu Eco uses a small electric motor, a lithium ion battery and a stop-start system to boost fuel economy by about 12 percent, to 25 mpg in city driving and 37 on the highway, GM estimates. It’s priced at $25,995, including a $760 destination charge
Clark didn’t say when the turbo engine would be offered. The Malibu with the 2.5-liter engine is expected by late summer.
The current Chevy Malibu, launched in 2007 as a 2008 model, marked a comeback for the brand’s sedan lineup. The next-generation Malibu has a bolder, more muscular design that GM executives hope will set it apart from others in the segment.
Malibu sales tallied 191,774 through the first 11 months of this year, up 2 percent from the same period a year earlier.