Vital Stats

Engine:
2.5L I4
Power:
197 HP / 191 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,547 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
16.3 CU-FT
MPG:
22 City / 34 HWY
Hardly Transformative, But More Than Meets The Eye



When we last left our hero, Malibu Man was struggling mightily. Beset by meddlesome marketers and ineffective engineers, allies who had inexplicably trapped him in the dull green glow of an Eco ray, Malibu Man was about to face off against new and stronger nemeses than ever before, foes intent on dispatching both our hero and the Middle American Way he represents to car buyers across the globe. Would Malibu Man fight back? Could he stand a chance when Aston Fusion, Camrybot and Dr. Altima came to battle?

Well it's time for the next exciting episode of Malibu Man Against the Midsize Marauders, and – spoiler alert – this one has a happier ending than the last. We finally had the opportunity to drive the mainstream version of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu equipped with a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder and did, in fact, come away with our expectations firmly met: If you want a Malibu, this is the one to buy.
Make no mistake, an overwhelming majority will be buying this one, which will make up some 75 percent of sales, according to Chevrolet. The Eco model, fitted with GM's underwhelming eAssist mild-hybrid system, is expected to shake out to only 10 percent, a lower number than even the forthcoming top-of-the-line, 259-horsepower turbo model.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu 2.5 side view2013 Chevrolet Malibu 2.5 front view2013 Chevrolet Malibu 2.5 rear view

The 2.5-liter represents a $1,000-$1,500 savings compared to the Eco model.

What those three-quarters of Malibu buyers will be getting is everything good about the first-model-to-market Eco, but with an extra 3.1 cubic feet of trunk space returned and a starting MSRP that's lower by almost three thousand bucks. While Chevrolet has packaged the equipment on the Eco models differently to make it frustrating for customers to do an apples-to-apples comparison, when similarly equipped the 2.5-liter models represent a $1,000-$1,500 savings.

The base 2.5-liter Malibu is the LS, which lists at $22,390 plus a $760 destination charge. The 1LT trim level adds Bluetooth and the Chevrolet MyLink touchscreen audio system along with some other equipment for $24,005 plus destination. A 2LT runs $25,240, offering 18-inch alloys, automatic dual-zone climate control, power driver's seat and a few other bells and whistles. Then pricing really escalates to $27,830 for the loaded LTZ, which has heated leather seats, LED taillights and chrome accents.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu 2.5 interior2013 Chevrolet Malibu 2.5 front seats2013 Chevrolet Malibu 2.5 rear seats2013 Chevrolet Malibu 2.5 trunk

The transmission seems tuned for driveability rather than eking out maximum mileage from every last drop of fuel.

Offered solely with a six-speed automatic, the direct-injected, 2.5-liter four-cylinder has good throttle response and a smooth character that's helped by a transmission that seems tuned for driveability rather than eking out maximum mileage from every last drop of fuel. We only had about 50 miles behind the wheel to tease out some fuel economy numbers for the 2.5-liter Malibu, but we saw an indicated 28 miles per gallon in combined driving.

Our initial impressions would thus point to the Malibu's EPA ratings of 22 mpg city, 34 highway and 26 combined being achievable without taping an egg to the gas pedal. We'll even go so far as to wonder aloud whether GM has understated the fuel economy here, so as to maintain greater distance between the non-Eco model and the supposedly thriftier eAssist-equipped brother, which carries a combined EPA rating of 29 mpg.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu 2.5 engine

The 2.5-liter models weigh in between 3,393 and 3,547 pounds – as much as 200 pounds less than the Eco.

While the new 2.5-liter still has a buzzy drone between 3,000-4,000 rpm like the 2.4-liter four it replaces, its 197 peak horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque are well-matched to the Malibu's bulk. GM says the 2.5-liter models weigh in between 3,393 and 3,547 pounds, which is as much as 200 pounds less than the Eco. Dynamically, the car is as prone to understeer during hard cornering as any other middle-of-the-road midsizer, but the steering is good, with reasonable levels of feedback and exceptional on-center highway feel. The brakes feel much improved over the Eco model, with a firm, immediate engagement and a linear pedal.

The Malibu is quiet and comfortable, turning just 2,200 rpms at 75 miles per hour, and while the seats aren't as plush as the new Nissan Altima, the Malibu arguably makes a better long-hauler because it feels so much more sedate at speed. The two cars are actually more similar than you might imagine at first glance, with the Altima's evolutionary approach coming from what would be a similar playbook, though perhaps better-executed.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu 2.5 rear 3/4 view

Compared to the Toyota Camry, the Malibu is a more enjoyable place to while away your time in traffic.

Compared to the Toyota Camry, the Malibu is also a more enjoyable place to while away your time in traffic, if only because its interior is more refined. While we still didn't find the new Malibu the equal of the Korean twins from Hyundai and Kia, we can understand why someone might choose one rather than a Sonata or Optima – a rationale extending beyond the obviously jingoistic, but still firmly rooted in appreciating the more conservative design character of the Chevy.

The base 'Bu seems like a solid value for a good car, and even if it's not the automotive equivalent of Superman, it's at least dressed up well enough that most people won't be able to tell the difference.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 180 Comments
      carguy1701
      • 2 Years Ago
      Also, those mufflers are huge.
      jazz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Here is the weight compared to the other new mid size cars coming out soon or out already: 2013 Chevy Malibu 2.5L Auto - 3393 lbs vs. 2012 Toyta Camry 2.5L Auto - 3190 lbs (Edmunds.com) 2013 Nissan Altima 2.5L CVT - 3108 lbs (Edmunds.com) 2013 Ford Fusion 2.5L Auto - 3427 lbs (Edmunds.com) 2013 Kia Optima 2.4L Auto - 3223 lbs (Edmunds.com) 2013 Huyndai Sonata 2.4L Auto - 3199 lbs (Edmunds.com) 2013 Honda Accord 2.4L Auto - 3190 lbs (Motor Trend Article) 2014 Mazda 6 2.5L Auto - about 3000-3200 lbs.(Motor Trend Article) Only the Fusion is havier (no surprise there) than the Malibu.
      Kent
      • 1 Year Ago
      The turbo at 259 h.p. is comparable to the prior generation Malibu with the 3.6L V-6, rated at 262 h.p.
      Hello....
      • 1 Year Ago
      Went shopping and tried the Accord, Camry, Fusion, Altima and a few others... and I found the Malibu to be the best fit for my use..(and the best price).. has good body control, nice engine (2.5L) and overall quite car. (Base LS model)... has more driver room that the others... easier to get in and out.... controls are all located in perfect locations....very easy to drive... best bang for the buck car in this group.... (yes I purchased it, can't pass up on a great bargin).... try one out you might be surprised, I was.....
      Dark Gnat
      • 2 Years Ago
      Dear GM: I'd like to see this replaced with a mid-size sedan based on the Alpha platform. You can do it. Make it so.
      Kevin
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm ashamed to call Chevrolet an American car brand.
        Jack Holliday
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Kevin
        you're probably a tree hugger who's ahamed to be an American, if in fact you are
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Sir Duke
        • 2 Years Ago
        Exactly the point, no car in this segment STANDS out. The Fusion may be the best looking of the lot, the Camry the dullest. The Accord is just there, maybe just a little less bland than the Camry. The Altima is second to the Fusion in the looks dept. You say "po-tay-to" I say "po-TA-to" on the Sonata, you call it affordable, I call it cheap. The Malibu will do just fine, because there are an awful lot of ORDINARY people in this world. Like the Camry, it is a well made but very ordinary car.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Sir Duke
          [blocked]
          Dark Gnat
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Sir Duke
          It may have a better looking interior, but from what I've seen and heard, Kia and Hyundai seats do not last long.
        usa1
        • 2 Years Ago
        So says SonataGuy1 two times. Sigh.
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @usa1
          He probably hit submit twice. I've done the same thing before.
        carguy1701
        • 2 Years Ago
        As for design, some people still want a an American mid-size sedan that follows the '3 box' design logic, and since the Fusion has crossed over to the 4 door coupe design logic, the Malibu is the only game in town for the former (jury is still out on what Chrysler will do with its next-gen mid-sizers).
        carguy1701
        • 2 Years Ago
        Because the interior quality of the camry isn't up to snuff compared with previous generations?
        Justin Campanale
        • 2 Years Ago
        Sea Urchin is back!
          Justin Campanale
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Justin Campanale
          For those of you who don't know him, Sea Urchin frequently makes very similar comments, trashes GM, the bailout, and pushes the right-wing agenda on AB. Oh, and he also drives a Sonata. Welcome back, my friend.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        carguy1701
        • 2 Years Ago
        Oh look, a moron. You should really talk to someone about this thing you have against GM.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Thenewblack
        • 2 Years Ago
        I cannot take this comment seriously based solely on your username.
          Shayne Wolfe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Thenewblack
          ^Win....I love when guys come on here and degrade a car, when their name reflects a different brand car. Come on SonataGuy... if you are going to bash a car, a least have a name like : "ithinkimabadass" or "thatguy" or something to make us laugh at your idiocy..I wait, I already laughed at that
        Dark Gnat
        • 2 Years Ago
        Do you get a quarter for every time you pimp your Sonata?
          Synthono
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dark Gnat
          If he does Hyundai needs to fire their ad agency post-haste. I actually like the Sonata, but this guy is making me reconsider that position every time he posts.
          Dave
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dark Gnat
          "BigBoywith9inches" ? No change in validity. Try something else.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        timbrands
        • 2 Years Ago
        Different market & have you seen the new Avalon? Looks like they were channeling the spirit of Tucker for 2013!
      Majerus
      • 2 Years Ago
      The new malibu looks horrible :(
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