With gas around $4 per gallon, hybrids are hot. Before, if they looked like their regular production counterparts, they languished while the different-looking Toyota Prius prospered. Now buyers would rather have extra bucks in their pockets than make a styling statement. Other than hybrid badging, there is little that makes the Malibu Hybrid stand out. It does get better fuel economy, primarily in the traffic where the stop-start feature helps squeeze 4 mpg more out of the city cycle. Chevy has done an admirable job in making the operation seamless; just don’t expect massive boosts in fuel economy. With a light foot, you can make the Malibu start off in pure electric mode, but it will soon pop on the 4-cylinder engine, especially if you have accessories like air conditioning running.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid sedan brings the quality and reliability of the Camry together with increased fuel efficiency.
The Camry Hybrid is a front-wheel drive four-door sedan that seats five passengers. Available in two trim levels, LE and XLE, the heart of the Camry Hybrid is the Hybrid Synergy Drive, a combination electric motor/gasoline engine that produces a combined 200-hp, and efficient, electronic continuously variable transmission. The standard warranty for hybrid-related components is 8 years/100,000 miles. Stability and traction control, ten-airbags, anti-lock brakes with brake assist and tire pressure monitor are some of the standard safety equipment. Tech features include Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, garage door opener, rear camera, navigation with touch screen, HD and satellite radio, and the new Entune mobile app and services system.
For 2013, the Camry Hybrid LE is outfitted with a standard 6.1-inch touch screen audio system with Bluetooth wireless streaming.
The Ford Focus Electric is taking the fight to eco-themed rivals like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. If you want to impress the neighbors, tell them the EPA's equivalency formula pegs the Focus Electric at 110/99-mpg in city and highway driving. Of course, this fun fact is tempered by the Focus Electric's estimated total driving range of 76 miles — that's better than the Mitsubishi i and about even with the Nissan Leaf. The Focus Electric accepts charge at 6.6 kW versus 3.3 kW in the Leaf. According to Ford's estimate, that means a full recharge via a 220-volt outlet is accomplished in 4 hours, or half the time you'd need for the Leaf. Performance is peppy, especially at city speeds, and top speed is set at 84 mph. A display on the dashboard fills with butterflies if you're gentle about applying the gas pedal. MyFord mobile apps allow you to locate charging stations, or pre-heat and pre-cool the car while it's plugged into the grid (thereby saving battery life once you're on the road).
The key to Chevy's Traverse crossover's appeal is its ability to carry eight people in pretty good comfort, to feel more nimble than its size would suggest, and to get up to 24 mpg on a long road trip. With a 22-gal. fuel tank, the Traverse can go 528 highway miles on one tank. Like the similar Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia, the Traverse is also available with all-wheel drive, and it engages automatically when it senses front wheel slip. Despite this big wagon's good fuel efficiency, it's 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 engine is powerful, producing 288 bhp on models equipped with optional dual exhaust, or 281 bhp on base models. This engine, coupled with the standard 6-speed automatic, will also pull a 5200-lb. trailer.
Fresh off a complete redesign in 2012, the 2013 Honda Civic offers a few more refinements to help it maintain its popularity in the compact class.
Available in sedan or coupe bodies, all but the Si and GX trims are powered by a 140 horsepower, 1.8-liter inline four-cylinder with a standard five-speed manual transmission and optional five-speed automatic. The performance-oriented Si comes with a 201 horsepower 2.4-liter inline-four bolted only to a six-speed manual, while the GX is powered by a dedicated natural gas version of the 1.8-liter gas engine, and a five-speed automatic. A unique HF trim ekes out additional fuel economy with the help of aerodynamic add-ons, lightweight alloy wheels and low rolling-resistance tires. Standard safety features on all Civics include electronic stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes with brake assist, six airbags, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring. Tech features include Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera with guidlines and ECO-Assist technology on all trims for 2013, automatic climate control for EX models and up, front fog lights for EX-L models and subscription free FM traffic updates with the optional navigation system.
The 2013 Civic is refreshed with refined interior and exterior styling, as well as safety, feature, comfort and chassis improvements.