2014 Malibu New Car Test Drive
The Chevrolet Malibu is completely redesigned and re-engineered for the 2013 model year and the 2013 Malibu is a winner, delivering a smooth ride, responsive handling, cabin comfort and ease of use. The 2013 Malibu is a midsize sedan with a choice of powertrains, ranging from a low-cost 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine to the sporty 260-horsepower Malibu Turbo to the Malibu Eco mild hybrid that rates an EPA-estimated 25/37 miles per gallon City/Highway.
A quick glance at the 2013 Malibu tells you you're looking at a new kind of Chevrolet. Completely redesigned, the 2013 Malibu has an international look about it while not being either outlandish or overdone. It looks both modern and nicely understated; the stylists resisted the temptation to go Lady Gaga just to attract attention.
The interior, like the exterior, is handsome and, for a Chevrolet, pleasingly elegant. The luxury level of this Chevrolet seems almost Buick, though drawn with a much freer hand. Obviously, having the mission of standing out all around the world has not hurt Chevrolet's styling vocabulary in the least.
But the minute we drove the 2013 Malibu Eco around a fast bend, we knew we were driving a new kind of Chevrolet. It's a family car, to be sure, filled with all the familiar keynotes that define mid-size Chevrolet sedans. But in the same moment, it is a far more roadable vehicle than the Malibus of five or ten years ago. Gone is the vaguely ramshackle ride and the wanton tendency to lean far over when cornering in even the slightest haste.
Also gone is the wayward, numb sense of not knowing what the pavement beneath you is telling you. A proper driver's car communicates precisely what the driving conditions are, and serious lapses in driver feedback have ever been a shortcoming not only of non-Corvette Chevrolets but most American cruisers. Yet very suddenly, the new Malibu is a genuine contender in the world driver's car sweepstakes. It's not perfect; the more expensive sports-sedan marketers, after all, have had decades' more experience at fine-tuning their cars' behavior. But this Chevrolet family sedan has made a truly remarkable move in their direction. It is a genuinely rewarding car to drive. It's handling and ride are comparable to that of the superb new 2013 Honda Accord.
Furthermore, the Malibu Eco model's thriftily priced mild-hybrid drivetrain we tested has an impressive new E-Assist electrical torque-boosting arrangement that adds force to the car's very fuel-efficient 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The result is vigorous over-the-road performance, achieved while also registering very high highway mileage.
The 2013 Malibu Eco is a sleek new mild-hybrid package that is reasonably roomy, handsomely styled, and most of all, a convincing contemporary American rendering of the world car. The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco mild hybrid is debuting simultaneously in the U.S. and China. That singular fact tells you how completely the world view at Chevrolet and General Motors has changed. Though General Motors has long paid lip service to the concept of world cars, very suddenly in 2012, it is a world car company and will be judged by world-car standards. It's no longer enough to be applauded in Hammond, Indiana; it also has to be craved in Beijing, China and Singapore, Malaysia, and if such a thing be possible, Munich, Bavaria.
The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu lineup includes a range of models, starting with the base Malibu LS ($21,995), which comes with the Ecotec 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission.
Malibu LS comes standard with cloth upholstery, Sirius XM Satellite Radio (with three trial months), OnStar with six months Directions & Connections. Malibu 1LT ($23,185) upgrades with Premium Cloth seating, 7-inch color touch-screen, Chevrolet MyLink, Bluetooth audio streaming, ambient lighting, projector-style halogen head lamps, heated body color outside rear view mirrors with integrated turn signal indicators, carpeted floor mats. Malibu 2LT ($24,890) upgrades further with dual zone automatic climate control, Premium Cloth seat trim, eight-way power driver seat adjuster, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 8-way power-adjustable driver seat, full-color high-resolution Driver Information Center, remote starter, 18-inch painted alloy wheels, and fog lamps. Options include leather-appointed seat trim, heated seats, Rear Vision camera, Pioneer audio.
Malibu 3LT ($26,600) features the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with Direct Injection and Variable Valve Timing and is equipped like Malibu 2LT.
Malibu Eco comes with a 2.4-liter DOHC four-cylinder, electric motor generator E-Assist, 6-speed automatic, regenerative braking. Malibu Eco 1SA ($24,985) comes with active front aerodynamic shutters, cruise control, intermittent wipers, OnStar, Sirius/XM satellite radio, AM/FM/CD/MP3 six-speaker audio with color touch screen and hidden storage, USB port for audio, Bluetooth connectivity, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, express-down power windows, power door and window locks, driver information center, tilt/telescope steering, steering wheel controls, ambient lighting, overhead console, compass, two auxiliary power outlets, rear center armrest. Malibu Eco 2SA ($26,595) adds leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 8-way power-adjustable driver seat, Pioneer premium 9-speaker sound system, inside auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear vision camera, Universal Home Remote and cargo convenience net, foglamps and body-color bodyside moldings.
Malibu LTZ features heated leather-appointed front seats with vinyl perimeter accents and an auto-dimming inside rearview mirror, 18-inch machine spoke aluminum wheels, LED taillamps, chrome door handles and front grille with silver inserts and chrome surround. Malibu 1LTZ ($27,365) comes with the 2.5-liter Ecotec engine, Malibu 2LTZ ($29,700) boasts the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and also includes a sunroof.
Options include Navigation Package ($1,020), Power Sunroof ($1,000).
Safety features standard on all models include eight airbags, the mandated dual front airbags plus side-curtain airbags for head protection, side-impact airbags for torso protection, heated power outside mirrors, OnStar, safety-belt pretensioners, tire-pressure monitor, electronic parking brake. Active safety features include anti-lock brakes, grade braking control, panic brake assist, electronic park brake, electronic stability control, electric power steering, grade braking control, brake assist. Rearview camera is optional.