A Meaningful Midsize Mulligan First dates can be rough. We've all been there – forcing your way through some conversation, trying to find common ground, nibbling your way through a meal you'll no doubt end up paying for yourself. The person across the table may be perfectly nice, and means well, but you just aren't feeling it. The spark isn't there. Our initial encounter with the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu was like that – an experience we'll look back on with a shrug and a "meh." And we aren't alone. After it launched, the 'Bu was met with lukewarm-at-best reviews, comparison test losses and, most importantly, meager sales. In fact, there was a point where Chevy was actually selling more of its discounted 2012 Malibus than the 2013 models that were piling up at dealer lots. But rather than leave it alone, Chevy has quickly worked up a host of changes for its ever-important midsize sedan, and will be launching this "there, we fixed it" 2014 Malibu like it's an all-new product. The exterior has been tweaked, the interior refined, the powertrain massaged and the chassis retuned. The list of enhancements is rather significant, and caused us to reconsider the Malibu rather than just remembering that first bad date. Everyone deserves a second chance, right? This new-and-improved formula starts up front with a refreshed fascia that better brings the Malibu in line with the most recent crop of updated Chevys. What was previously an unoffensive but not terribly inspired design has grown into something more sculpted and handsome, simply by adjusting the height and spacing of the grille. The hood now curves and falls over the tipping point of the nose, and the lower grille opening is larger and better defined. Other facial elements like the headlamps and foglamps have remained the same, but even this small nose job is enough to give the Malibu a more confident visage. What was previously an unoffensive but not terribly inspired design has grown into something more sculpted and handsome. As for the rest of the car's visuals, they haven't changed. From the profile, the overhangs still appear to be too large, and we just can't completely warm up to the rear design with those squared-off (please stop calling them "Camaro-inspired") taillamps. Still, it's not a bad-looking package, rounded out with carryover 18-inch alloy wheels from last year's 2.5-liter model wrapped in P235/50R18 Goodyear Eagle LS tires. Larger 19-inch wheels are available, and they do a nice job of filling out the wheel wells. But if you choose not to pony up for an uplevel model, you will be punished with puny-looking 17- or even 16-inch wheel designs. Other 2014 model-year improvements lie behind those wheels, where Chevy has fitted the Malibu with upgraded chassis and suspension components pulled from its larger Impala sedan. Specifically, the 2.5-liter naturally aspirated model that we drove now uses better rebound springs and struts, allowing for more refined damper calibration. The result is an improved, smoother ride quality. …
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|MPG||25 City / 36 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||196 @ 6300 rpm|
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