Earlier this year, Chevrolet announced a series of enhancements aimed at boosting the appeal of the 2014 Malibu that goes on sale this fall. Beyond a slicker-looking front end, restyled center console, additional rear knee room, more refined chassis tuning and available Side Blind Zone Alert/Rear Cross Traffic Alert systems, the midsize sedan also is adding a standard econo-enhancing stop/start system to its comprehensively revamped 2.5-liter base engine.

This week, Chevy released final EPA estimates for that new 196-horsepower Ecotec four-cylinder which were even better than the preliminary figures it quoted in June. City mileage for the 2.5-liter with stop/start will rise by 14 percent -- from 22 mpg to 25 mpg -- while its highway stat moves from 34 mpg to 36 mpg. With an EPA combined rating now at 29 mpg, the 2014 Malibu 2.5 also tops the 2014 4-cylinder Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200 models in that category.

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According to Todd Pawlik, Malibu chief engineer, the key factor in these efficiency gains came from leveraging knowledge gained while developing the start-stop system that's also used on GM's eAssist mild hybrid package. Designed to turn the engine off any time the vehicle comes to a complete halt, GM's stop/start technology also monitors various other functions, including vehicle speed, climate control system operation and how hard a driver presses the brake pedal to help decide whether a full shutoff would be the most efficient response in any given situation.

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In addition to its new stop/start package, the redesigned Ecotec 2.5-liter further bolsters its direct fuel injection with new Intake Valve Lift Control that more effectively matches valve lift with engine load to enhance efficiency and also improve torque at low rpm. One final upgrade for the 2014 Malibu 2.5L engine is a new and more efficient version of its 6-speed automatic transmission that reduces the energy required to pump transmission fluid. Those willing to trade a bit of economy for fulfillment of a sportier nature can step up to the optional 259-horsepower/2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine that has been retuned/recalibrated to deliver 14 percent more torque - 295 lb-ft - in the 2014 Malibu than it did in the 2013.

Pricing for the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu 2.5L in base LS trim starts $22,965, while the 1LT opens at $24,335, the 2LT begins at $26,040 and the range-topping LTZ commences at $28,515. Prices for the turbocharged Malibu variants have not yet been released.

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