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Aerodynamic Features Boost MPG by 2.5 on 2013-MY Malibu

August 19, 2011

DETROIT –General Motors has recently posted a few articles that provide an inside look at the development and design for the upcoming 2013-MY Chevrolet Malibu. Based on the number of Malibus in the fleet world, it’s likely to be an important vehicle for many in the industry, so we wanted to give readers an overview of some of the features in the new model.

Chevrolet Malibu aerodynamic engineer Suzy Cody tests the 2013 Malibu ECO with a smoke wand at the General Motors wind tunnel Friday, June 24, 2011 in Warren, Michigan.
Chevrolet Malibu aerodynamic engineer Suzy Cody tests the 2013 Malibu ECO with a smoke wand at the General Motors wind tunnel Friday, June 24, 2011 in Warren, Michigan.

First, aerodynamic improvements to the Malibu’s exterior allowed the automaker to improve fuel economy by 2.5 mpg on the highway. Improvements include outside rearview mirrors designed to deflect wind without causing more turbulent airflow, rounded front corners from the bottom of the fascia up through the headlamps, and shutters that open and close in the lower grille opening on select models. The shutters reduce drag at higher speeds and provide extra cooling when open.

GM measures aerodynamic improvements in “counts,” at 0.001 coefficient of drag (Cd). The new Malibu has a Cd of .28, which the automaker says is nearly as efficient as the Volt.

The new Malibu features an Ecotec 2.5L DOHC I-4 variable valve timing direct injection engine, but the automaker hasn’t released official mpg numbers (GM has only announced mpg figures for the ECO version of the new Malibu).

For the interior of the Malibu, GM engineers were able to add nearly 4 cu. ft. of interior volume when compared to the previous edition of the Malibu. The 2013-MY Malibu features an additional 1.5 inches of front shoulder room, 3.5 inches more rear shoulder room, 2.7 inches of front hip room, and 2.8 inches of rear hip room. GM also added an additional cubic foot of luggage space.

This is the interior of the 2013-MY Chevrolet Malibu LTZ.
This is the interior of the 2013-MY Chevrolet Malibu LTZ.

To improve seat comfort, the automaker took snapshots of a seated individual’s pressure distribution on a seat’s surface. They also used a machine that simulates the effects of seat force and deflection. The automaker uses this data to aid in seating materials selection. Seating features include available four-way lumbar adjustment, the ability to raise the seat cushions by up to 2.5 inches, and three levels of seating trim. Trim options include flat-woven fabric, leatherette and Meridian leather with a “tipped” grain finish.

To improve seat comfort, the automaker took snapshots of a seated individual's pressure distribution on a seat's surface.
To improve seat comfort, the automaker took snapshots of a seated individual's pressure distribution on a seat's surface.

In addition to interior comfort, the Malibu engineers focused on ways to make the cabin quieter. GM engineers used a device called an Aachen HEAD, which is a digital recording tool that is designed to match how human ears process sound. GM engineers test a range of sounds using this device, rating the sounds via different criteria.

The all-new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu has a number of vehicle components that reduce, block and absorb noise from entering the cabin to improve overall sound quality inside.
The all-new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu has a number of vehicle components that reduce, block and absorb noise from entering the cabin to improve overall sound quality inside.

Interior noise reduction measures include outside rear-view mirrors designed to reduce noise, laminated side glass, and noise-absorption pads. All doors are triple sealed, and fully sealed, acoustic perimeter water deflectors are in all four doors. GM also uses a noise baffle barrier in the trunk to reduce noise generated around the wheel houses.

For more on the 2013-MY Chevrolet Malibu, you can check out our initial coverage here.

By Greg Basich

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