2013 Chevrolet Malibu

1LS FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4 auto trans

2013 chevrolet malibu Reviews and News

2013 Chevrolet Malibu Turbo Front Three Quarter In Motion 2
If the newly turbocharged 2013 Chevrolet Malibu proves anything, it's that people at Chevy have figured out how to subvert the Office of Management and Budget. The Malibu turbo's apparent innocuousness would well suit a technocrat, one, for example, who tabulates the effectiveness of government subsidies for a car company like Fisker, and finally recommends pulling the plug.
That same technocrat, looking at the Malibu turbo through his smartphone's camera function or spreadsheet data--it's hard to imagine him performing a direct appraisal, such as a test-drive--would conclude that the taxpayers' stake in GM and its Chevrolet division is paying off. Here is a sensible, smartly designed, commodious sedan that gets 21/30 mpg and couldn't possibly represent orgiastic ends.
As Abraham Lincoln supposedly said, in part, "You can fool some of the people all of the time." The turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder versions of the Malibu LT and LTZ are understated in the same way as Bruce Willis's portrayal of Captain Sharp in the recent Moonrise Kingdom. By climbing a church steeple during a hurricane to save two tempest-tossed young lovers, Captain Sharp shows there's more to him than the repressed fellow we'd seen before.
The only obvious difference between the normally aspirated Malibu and the turbo models is larger 18- or available 19-inch wheels and tires. So sorry: no furbelows. A body kit and rear wing are absent. Nothing but sleekness betokens the prowess of this most aerodynamic midsize Chevrolet ever (0.29 cd). And no scoops, ducts, badges, graphics, fangs, or satyr's horns suggest the car's 155-mph potential.

Hampered by the poundage

That's why the Malibu turbo is slightly disappointing. Lacking visual drama and having a fine but conventional interior, the car could at least offer a manly driving experience. It almost makes us nostalgic for wheel fight during acceleration. A roaring exhaust instead of the tepid sputter we heard from our single-pipe LT would have been welcome. (The LTZ has dual exhausts.) Whenever the word "turbo" is added, we expect some drama, a steeple-climbing hero turn. Instead, even when we barreled headlong along twisty Marin County roads with menacing guardrails, the Malibu turbo fancied itself being on an ordinary jaunt to restock edamame and veggie chips.
Such placidity can be attributed to thoughtful development work by a gifted and experienced team of designers, planners, and engineers. Aided by direct injection and forced induction, the 2.0-liter four, which replaces the Malibu's 2.5-liter four, generates 259 hp and 260 lb-ft. It remains smooth because of dual balance shafts. With a twin-scroll turbocharger, the inconvenience of lag is unknown. On the other hand, the LT weighs in at 3635 lb (LTZ at 3660 lb), so it was a surprise to learn that Chevy claims zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds.
As for the rest of the powertrain, we found the six-speed automatic to be less than a faithful servant. Upshifts required patience, and operating this gearbox in manual mode--pressing the plus or minus symbol atop the shift knob, a feature known as Tap Shift--was laughably primitive. To our question about the lack of paddle shifters, lead development engineer Todd Stone said the issue was decided before he joined the Malibu program. Maybe it was decided in Washington, D.C.
The Malibu turbo's careful grooming extends to the suspension, where the damping differs for the LTZ with 19-inch wheels. We sampled 18-inch footwear on the LT model and found the multilink rear put to good use, offering a supple ride and steady cornering without body roll. An alert rack-and-pinion steering system with electric assist proved satisfactory, with accurate turn-in and noticeable progressivity.

Refined, or is that homogenized?

Nevertheless, the LT turbo brought to mind the high-wire acrobat who gets halfway across the wire but looks back to the starting point. Some of the irresolution we sensed came through the squishy seat cushion, which hardly enhanced our feeling of oneness with the machine. But there was also a sense of isolation, the lack of much visceral appeal. We shouldn't complain, given how far this nameplate has come since 2005, when the Malibu was a clattering, plasticky bucket of bolts. But here we are, complaining!
An advanced feature introduced on Malibu turbo models is the Duralife brake rotors; Chevy says they won't rust, and among other things this means the end of brake dust and messy wheels. Kudos to the bowtie brand for this. In a handsome, quiet, and spacious interior, the MyLink infotainment system is a high point. "This home screen is very Applelike," said Kathy McMahon, infotainment program manager. "That's what we were going for." The home screen is configurable, and McMahon pointed out that, among others, MyLink provides support for the Gracenote music database. The 6.5-inch screen displayed large icons, letting us hasten through the menus as if they were mere intersections.
2013 Chevrolet Malibu Turbo Front Three Quarters
What the Malibu turbo models offer, in the end, is a value-priced package, conservative yet tasteful, with a high degree of refinement but no evidence of passion. A competitor like the Kia Optima Turbo is more outre. Meanwhile, the Ford Fusion's comparable powerplant makes 22 hp less (although torque is 10 lb-ft greater). As with everything about the Malibu turbo, it lands somewhere in the middle.
Normally we wouldn't paraphrase a PR guy's remark, but Chevy's flack said it well: The Malibu turbo is for the person who wants to drive 85 mph on the freeway without attracting notice. While it might slalom past government accountants, switching into steeplejack mode during a hurricane, like Captain Sharp, just isn't in the script.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu

Base price/as tested: LT $27,710/$29,210 including $995 destination and delivery, LTZ base price $30,992
Powertrain
Engine: turbocharged DOHC 2.0-liter with variable valve timing
Power: 259 hp @ 5300 rpm
Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 1700 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Drive: Front-wheel
Chassis
Steering: Electrically assisted rack-and-pinion
Suspension, Front: MacPherson strut, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension, Rear: Four-link Independent, stabilizer bar
Brakes: Four-wheel disc, ABS
Tires: P235/50R-18 Goodyear Eagle LS2
Measurements
L x W x H: 191.5 x 73.0 x 57.6 in
Wheelbase: 107.8 in
Track F/R: 62.2/62.0 in
Weight: 3634-3660 lb
Cargo volume: 16.3 cu ft
Performance
0-60 MPH: 6.3 seconds
Top Speed: 155 mph EPA Mileage: 21/30 mpg city/highway
2013 Chevrolet Malibu Front Three Quarter In Motion 3
Chevrolet introduced the all-new 2013 Malibu at the start of this year, but we've only been able to test the Eco model until now. Starting this summer, the midsize sedan will have another frugal engine option: a 2.5-liter I-4.
The new four-cylinder is expected to be the most popular engine that the 2013 Malibu will offer. Chevy estimates around 80 percent of Malibu buyers will opt for the 2.5, with the remaining 20 percent of them to be split between the Eco and upcoming 2.0-liter turbo-four.

New Powertrain

For the 2012 model year, the Malibu used a 2.4-liter inline-four cylinder as its base engine; that engine was rated at 170 hp and 158 lb-ft of torque. The 2013 model uses an all-new 2.5-liter I-4 that adds 27 hp and 22 lb-ft, totaling 197 hp and 180 lb-ft. Despite the extra power, Chevrolet expects the new powertrain to be marginally more efficient as well -- mileage estimates for the 2013 Malibu have been pegged at 22/34 mpg city/highway, which is one more mpg on the highway than the outgoing car.
Stacked up against the competition, the 2.5-liter Malibu is more powerful than all of its rivals, save the 198-hp Hyundai Sonata and the 200-hp Kia Optima. However, the added oomph comes at a cost -- the Chevrolet falls short of the competition with its 22-mpg rating in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.
An all-new six-speed automatic transmission is partially responsible for the extra mile per gallon on the highway. Compared to the six-speed unit in the 2012 model, the 2013's transmission has less internal friction and offers quicker shifts. Chevy carried over active grille shutters from the Malibu Eco to help reduce aerodynamic drag on the highway. Plastic shutters behind the lower intake close like venetian blinds to help direct airflow around (instead of through) the grille when cooling needs are minimal, meaning the car uses slightly less fuel.

On the Road

Once underway, the new I-4 is stronger and more refined than the outgoing engine and the 2.5-liter in the Toyota Camry, but it's not quite as robust and smooth as the Accord's four-cylinder. What Chevrolet trumps its rivals in; however, is low-speed serenity. The engine was almost silent at parking lot speeds, making us wonder if we had slipped behind the wheel of a Malibu Eco hybrid by mistake. That quiet bliss fades away quickly as acceleration builds and the four-cylinder makes itself known. The engine sounds a bit raspy under heavy load, but it never feels underpowered. Fortunately the six-speed automatic is buttery smooth, with shifts hardly noticeable at any speed.
Chevrolet has tuned the suspension to absorb as many road imperfections as possible, which results in a very soft ride. Handling characteristics, like the engine, fall between the Camry and the Accord: more confident than the Toyota but not as planted as the Honda. However, the softness becomes worrisome over mid-corner bumps that cause the Malibu to feel floaty and disconnected from the road. The electric power steering doesn't help this sensation - the steering is very light and overboosted, which is a common trait in this class.

High Style Option

Differentiating the 2.5-liter 2013 Malibu model from the already stylish Eco model are mirror-mounted indicator repeaters and the lack of Eco badging. Top-end LTZ models gain added brightwork, Camaro-esque LED taillights, and vibrant two-tone leather interior options. Other options for the 2013 Malibu include Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system, which comes with a seven-inch touch screen and lets passengers stream music via Bluetooth or USB; a reverse camera; and remote engine start.
Chevrolet will offer the 2.5-liter I-4 engine across the all trim levels (LS, LT, LTZ) and will go on sale this summer. Prices start at $23,150 including destination charges for a 2013 Malibu LS; stepping up to the Malibu LT nets MyLink as standard and costs $24,765; and the top-spec LTZ with LED taillights and standard 18-inch wheels retails beginning at $28,590.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 2.5

On Sale: Summer 2012
MSRP (with destination): $23,150
Price as Tested: $28,590
ENGINE: 2.5-liter DOHC I-4
Horsepower (hp): 197 @ 6300 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 180 @ 4400 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
DRIVE: Front-wheel
WHEELS AND TIRES:
18-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels
P235/50R18 all-season
FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway/combined):
22/34/28 mpg (est.)
CURB WEIGHT: 3547 lb
CAPACITIES:
Doors/Passengers: 4/5
Cargo volume: 13.2 cu ft
Legroom (front/rear): 42.1/36.8 in
Headroom (front/rear): 39.0/37.5 in
2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco Front Left Side View
The outgoing Chevy Malibu -- not quite gone, really, as 2012 models are still available -- was one of Bob Lutz's notable achievements at GM. It pulled Chevy's midsize nameplate out of the rental-car ooze and became a handsome, competent entry in the very tough mid-size sedan segment. The 2013 model builds on some of those achievements, but it might have made a better first impression with its full range of powertrain offerings.

Shorter wheelbase

Chevrolet would like you to see hints of the Camaro in the new car, and there actually are some: in the slight kick-up at the rear of the beltline and in the four square taillights. The latest Malibu is not as dramatically styled (or is that overstyled?) as a Hyundai Sonata, but overall the car is a little more interesting and a little more three-dimensional than its predecessor. Still, I'll admit I was a little surprised when another dad in the pick-up line at school rolled down the window of his Maxima to ask if this was the new Malibu.
The dominant visual characteristic of the previous Malibu was the long stretch between its axles. The 2013 iteration shortens that span by 4.5 inches, taking the Malibu from one of the longest-wheelbase midsize sedans to one of the shortest. The shortened wheelbase takes less of a toll on rear-seat legroom than you might expect. Factory measurements show a decline of less than an inch. And this car is significantly wider than its predecessor, so overall passenger volume actually is improved. Still, the previous Malibu wasn't terribly roomy despite its long wheelbase, so while the new car has enough space for a six-foot passenger to sit behind a six-foot driver, it's not nearly as spacious as a Toyota Camry or a Volkswagen Passat, to name just two competitors.

A Lutz Lesson Learned

Interior quality, however, continues to reflect the importance brought to this area by Lutz. This 2013 version takes another major step forward. The cabin shows precious little hard plastic anywhere -- something the new Camry can't say. The twin, hooded, squared-circle gauges are another Camaro cue, and they look good here. Less successful is the grooved section running across the dash where you might expect to find fake wood or metal trim -- it's unimpressive in the daytime but it glows blue at night with ambient lighting. A radio with a large touch-screen is standard, even in cars without navigation. Besides the audio system, it handles Bluetooth phone and music and selected Internet functions (through your smartphone, with the downloaded app). Unfortunately, the menu logic isn't always logical, and the system had some trouble playing music from my iPhone (it showed the song playing but no music was coming out). On the other hand, I found the voice recognition to be better than the norm, to the point where you might actually use it.
From a driver's perspective, the Malibu is really quite agreeable. First of all, it's nice to be able to easily see out of a car, and the Malibu's rather upright greenhouse makes for decent-sized windows. GM seems to improve the steering in its Epsilon family of sedans with each new model introduced, and this Malibu's is more progressive and less overboosted than its Buick platform-mates, the Regal and LaCrosse. The car's ride is supple, sopping up bumps pretty well. The chassis is fairly composed overall, with no trace of float, although it would be improved with a bit more damping of pitch and dive. And like its Buick siblings, this car is a quiet cruiser.

By the Numbers

The electrically assisted 2.4-liter four is the first engine out of the gate, mostly because it was the first one ready. Still to come is a new 2.5-liter four that will be the base engine; it makes a healthy 197 hp and 191 pound-feet of torque. At the top of the lineup will be a high-performance turbo four, with 259 hp and 260 pound-feet, which Chevy promises will scoot the 'Bu to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. (There will be no V-6.) Neither the base engine nor the turbo four are yet on sale, but will be in a matter of months.
For its part, the Eco 2.4-liter is good for 182 hp and 172 pound-feet of torque. With a minor assist from its smallish motor-generator, it feels responsive, and delivers very good fuel economy: 25/37 mpg. As it does elsewhere (in the Buick Regal and LaCrosse), the eAssist system works seamlessly, shutting down the engine at stoplights and restarting it instantly with no notable shudder or hesitation.
So what's the problem? Well, the Eco system doesn't approach the fuel economy of full hybrids, which can be driven at times on battery power alone. The trade-off is supposed to be that the GM system doesn't command as much of a cost premium, but a glance at some competitors' pricing shows that the Malibu Eco is not really much cheaper.
The Chevy's price -- $25,999 to start -- is a lot less than a Ford Fusion Hybrid ($29,570), but not significantly less than a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid ($26,625) or a Toyota Camry Hybrid ($26,660), either of which gets way better fuel economy. The Malibu Eco's 25/37 mpg does beat the standard, non-hybrid version of the Camry (25/35 mpg) and the Sonata (24/35 mpg), but not by much.
It could be that the base-engine Malibu will fare better in a sharp-eyed comparison of price and fuel economy -- or that the upcoming turbo will make a case for itself with its strong output. For now, however, the 2013 Malibu is a car that does well in a lot of subjective areas, but its Eco powertrain, while it works well, suffers in some by-the-numbers comparisons.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco 2SA

MSRP (with destination): $27,605
PRICE AS TESTED: $29,100
ENGINE:
2.4-liter DOHC I-4
Horsepower: 182 hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 172 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm
ELECTRIC MOTOR:
Type: Liquid-cooled, belt-driven induction unit
Battery system: 115V lithium-ion
Horsepower: 15 hp @ 1000 rpm
Torque: 79 lb-ft @ 1000 rpm
TRANSMISSION:
6-speed automatic
DRIVE:
Front-wheel
WHEELS AND TIRES:
17-inch aluminum wheels
FUEL ECONOMY (city/highway/combined):
25/37/29 mpg
CURB WEIGHT:
3620 lb
CAPACITIES:
Doors/Passengers: 4/5
Cargo: 14.3 cu ft
Legroom (front/rear): 42.1/36.9 in
Headroom (front/rear): 39.0/37.6 in
Towing: N/A
STANDARD FEATURES:
Ecotec 2.4L DOHC 4-cyl
E-Assist electric motor generator
6-speed automatic transmission
Cruise control
Stability and traction control
OnStar w/6-month subscription
Rearview camera
Power windows and locks
Power driver's seat
SiriusXM satellite radio w/3-month subscription
Remote start
Automatic dual-zone climate control
Tilt-and-telescopic steering column
Leather-wrapped steering wheel w/audio controls
Chevrolet MyLink
Touchscreen radio
Auxiliary audio jack
USB port
Pioneer audio system w/amplifier
Cruise control
Blue ambient lighting
Fog lights
Halogen headlights
17-inch aluminum wheels
Ice blue ambient lighting
OPTIONS ON THIS VEHICLE:
Black Granite metallic paint- $195
Leather package- $1300

Leather seating surfaces
Power passenger seat
Heated front seats
KEY OPTIONS NOT ON THIS VEHICLE:
Navigation package- $1020
COMPARE TO:
Dodge Avenger
Ford Fusion and Fusion Hybrid
Honda Accord
Hyundai Sonata and Sonata Hybrid
Kia Optima and Optima Hybrid
Mazda6
Nissan Altima
Toyota Camry and Camry Hybrid
Volkswagen Passat
2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco Front Left View
The current-generation Chevrolet Malibu, which debuted in 2008, may have been the signature accomplishment of Bob Lutz's tenure at General Motors. The former GM vice president's celebrated sense of style and attention to detail heralded the first truly excellent Chevrolet passenger car in decades. Fast forward four years and one bankruptcy, and we have the next-generation Malibu -- the first car to bear the fingerprints of GM's present CEO, Dan Akerson. Although development was already under way by the time Akerson assumed the mantle in late 2010, he reportedly applied the full weight of his authority to rush the car to market in time for the new year rather than letting the current Malibu -- still competent but now dated -- languish until summer. Therefore, our biggest question prior to driving the new 2013 Malibu was, has Dan improved Bob's car or damaged it? Does the new Malibu consolidate and build upon the critical gains of its predecessor or has it suffered a setback because of its last-minute rush to production? The answer to both questions is "yes."
Design: Going global
Looking at the pictures, you might be wondering just how new the 2013 Malibu really is. Indeed, its oversize split grille and general shape look very similar to those of its predecessor. The most noticeable change is a mild injection of Camaro DNA, in the form of four square taillamps and a muscular uptick over the rear wheels. There's also a dose of BMW influence in the busier surfacing, the high trunk lid, and the "eyebrows" over the headlamps.
2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco Front Left Side View
It's only when you see the car in the real world that you begin to suspect there's more going on here than a mild refresh. The new car has an altogether different stance than its predecessor -- shorter, wider, and seemingly taller. That's the result of moving from underpinnings shared with the Saturn Aura (remember that car?) to the much further evolved, globally viable architecture that serves the Buick Regal. The "global" part is key, since the Malibu, previously an almost exclusively North American car, will be built in the United States, China, and Korea and sold all over the world, including Europe.
In real terms, the new architecture cuts the wheelbase by five inches and widens the track more than two inches. The new Malibu also had to accommodate international regulations such as those for pedestrian safety -- hence the noticeably higher hood -- as well as an intense focus on aerodynamics. There was a time when these marketing and engineering priorities would have run roughshod over the design. Thankfully, that's not the case here. Parked in front of our hotel between a Toyota Camry and a Hyundai Sonata, the Chevy strikes us as harmonious, athletic, and upscale, if also a bit chunky.
Like the exterior, the interior doesn't look all that different from its predecessor, featuring the same basic dual-cove dash layout with an infusion of Camaro cues in the form of a square speedometer and tachometer. The cabin's dimensions reflect the new footprint, with big gains in shoulder and hip room and a slight loss (0.7 inch) in rear legroom.
The current Malibu's main interior weakness -- technology -- has been addressed with a standard seven-inch touch screen. Like the latest systems we've seen from Ford, Hyundai, and others (Chevy lamely calls its setup MyLink), it integrates climate controls, Bluetooth, and smart-phone apps such as Pandora radio. Thankfully, Chevy has preserved a few old-fashioned knobs -- five of them, actually -- for radio and climate control. The screen lifts up to reveal a storage space big enough to hold keys and phones. There's also a smaller multifunction color screen between the speedometer and tachometer. A navigation system is optional, but owners can still get turn-by-turn directions via OnStar, which is free for the first six months of vehicle ownership. We tried the latter and found it more than sufficient, as the turn-by-turn directions now appear on both color screens rather than the old Malibu's pitifully small radio display. Plus, speaking to a human OnStar advisor remains far easier than working with the car's voice recognition technology, which is finicky and sometimes frustrating.
The cabin's most impressive trait is once again its style and quality. The soft-touch plastics, the deep-pile carpet, the woven headliner, the convincing simulated wood, and even the switchgear all feel a notch above the competition. Our one quibble is with some graining changes on the door panels, which is only noticeable in all-black interiors. Much better to opt for one of the warm color combinations, like tan and chocolate brown.
Dan's gamble
Chevrolet originally intended to launch the Malibu with a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder. That engine is still coming, but not for another six months, which is when the car was originally scheduled to debut. To meet Akerson's new deadline, GM rummaged around in its parts bin and came up with eAssist, which is already offered in the mechanically similar Buicks Regal and LaCrosse.
2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco Steering Wheel
The system is an evolution of the belt/alternator hybrid system that Chevy unsuccessfully peddled in the 2008-2010 Malibu Hybrid, but it incorporates some important upgrades. A lithium-ion battery located behind the back seats teams with a more powerful motor/generator (assistance of up to 15 hp versus 5 hp in the old car), a six-speed (versus four-speed) automatic transmission, and a newly direct-injected 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. The electric motor, which takes the place of an alternator, allows for more aggressive fuel cutoff than in conventional cars. It also powers the start/stop feature, restarting the four-cylinder in about 0.3 second when you lift off the gas pedal. Finally, the Malibu receives the efficiency tweaks seen on the smaller Cruze Eco, namely low-rolling-resistance tires and several aerodynamic aids, including underbody panels and motorized shutters in the front air dam.
In both stop-and-go traffic and spirited country driving, eAssist is almost imperceptible, with no surging or shuddering as the gas engine powers on and off and no hint of sponginess in the regenerative braking system. The 182-hp four-cylinder feels competent if not quite vigorous despite sending its power through a numerically low 2.64 final-drive ratio.
The low final-drive ratio does catch up with the Malibu on steep inclines, where the engine bogs down at around 4000 rpm and requires a firmly planted right foot to maintain speed. Back-seat passengers will be able to hear just how hard the powertrain is working as the cooling fans under the package shelf suck in air during hard acceleration. All this battery and cooling hardware also takes up two cubic feet of trunk space, leaving 14.3 cubic feet. The new 2.5-liter four-cylinder, provisionally rated at 190 hp, should address this problem; the next-generation of GM's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which promises 270 hp and 260 lb-ft, certainly will.
Still, the Eco's biggest -- perhaps fatal -- flaw is its fuel economy. The troubling fact is that even with all its fancy hardware, the Malibu Eco's estimated 25/37 mpg city/highway rating gets trampled in a segment chock full of hybrids. Chevrolet thought it had this handled by avoiding the hybrid moniker altogether and undercutting its would-be competitors with a base price of $25,995. Alas, Toyota pulled a fast one by actually lowering the price of its new Camry hybrid by more than $1000. Now there's less than $1000 separating the Malibu Eco from this far more efficient competitor. It gets worse when you notice that the base four-cylinder editions of the Camry and the Sonata -- both of which cost several thousand dollars less than the Malibu -- get fuel economy that nearly matches the Eco. In fairness, the Eco has generous standard equipment, including seventeen-inch aluminum wheels, Bluetooth, and the aforementioned touch-screen interface.
Still drives like a Lutzmobile
The Malibu's biggest competitive advantage remains its surprisingly good driving dynamics. As noted, the Malibu now rides on the same platform as the Buick Regal. That affords a wider stance and a 20 percent improvement in structural rigidity compared with the old model. Todd Stone, who leads the ride and handling development for the Malibu, says the dampers for the American-market car are tuned for a slightly softer ride than its European counterpart, which is itself a step softer than the Opel Insignia (the European basis for the Regal). If those don't quite sound like the suspension settings dreams are made of, they're still far sportier than those of the Camry Hybrid and the 2.4-liter Sonata, which Chevrolet had on hand for comparison. The Malibu's body motions are neatly controlled and it has higher cornering limits than its competitors, although it understeers like any front-wheel-drive sedan once those limits are reached. The rack-mounted electric power steering is better than most - accurate, confident on center, and surprisingly communicative. Some credit is due to its Goodyear Assurance tires, which proved stickier than most low-rolling-resistance rubber, even when we pushed our pace on a damp, winding two-lane outside of Austin. Most mid-size car buyers will care more about the stable, whisper-quiet highway ride. The rock-solid platform isolates road noise -- even when we cross over a stretch of unfinished pavement at 90 mph -- and wind noise is hushed thanks to Chevy's use of acoustic lamination for the windshield and front side windows. Overall, the Malibu, even in Eco guise, offers an excellent ride and handling balance, which has us looking forward to the more powerful editions and their optional nineteen-inch wheels and stickier tires.
2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco Middle Console
Conclusion
Akerson's decision to pull ahead the Malibu may have been daring, but from where we sit, it wasn't worth it. The $25,995 Eco is wedged uncomfortably between cheaper four-cylinder competitors and far more efficient hybrids. That's the bad news. The good news is that the rest of the Malibu continues on as Lutz envisioned it: a stylish, premium-feeling, nice-driving car that bows down to no competitors. Just bring those new four-cylinder powerplants here quickly.
2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO Front Three Quartes In Motion
A tough act to follow -- and a tough road to get here
If you read enough car reviews, you'll probably notice that many for domestic passenger vehicles start by telling you about the woefully awful product that the new edition is replacing. Not this time. The current-generation Chevrolet Malibu, which debuted for 2008, represented a watershed moment for General Motors in terms of design, interior quality, and overall competitiveness. It went toe-to-toe with the best cars in America's toughest segment and often won, as evidenced by the All-Star awards this magazine gave it in 2008 and 2009. Unfortunately, it proved too little too late to save the ailing automaker from bankruptcy. Neither could the Malibu completely escape the shockwave from the eventual implosion, soldiering on longer than planned and with few changes even as the segment grew tougher than ever. The redesigned 2013 Malibu, which goes on sale early next year, thus has the dual challenge of living up to the hype of the last new model and, of course, matching competitors in efficiency, refinement, and performance. We headed to GM's Milford Proving Ground to see just how well the 2013 model meets those challenges.
2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO Side Static
Looks like an update, is actually a redesign
The new Malibu is a rare case where the design attempts to minimize, rather than advertise how much is truly new. Spot its oversize, horizontally split grille in your rearview mirror, and you might have trouble determining that it is in fact the redesigned model (remind anyone of the 2012 Honda Civic?). The biggest cosmetic change for the new car is a mild injection of Camaro DNA: four taillamps, a muscular uptick over the rear wheels, and square gauges on the inside. The new design also has busier surfacing, including a more expressive front fascia, more prominent creases on the hood and doors, and optional HID headlamps and LED taillamps. The new look struck us as a bit overwrought when we first encountered the car some months ago in a studio. But gliding around in bright morning sunlight, it looks much better, not to mention very premium.
The real trick is that the seemingly familiar sheetmetal wraps around a different car. Whereas the old Malibu shared its underpinnings with the now-defunct Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura, the new car rides on the much further evolved, globally viable architecture that serves the Buick Regal. The "global" part is key, since the Malibu is shifting from an almost exclusively North American car to one sold on six continents and built in the United States, China, and Korea. In real terms, that cuts the wheelbase by five inches and widens the track more than two inches. The new design also had to account for international regulations on things such as pedestrian safety - hence the higher hood - as well as an intense focus on aerodynamics to meet tougher fuel-economy standards.
The interior dimensions more or less reflect the changed footprint, with big gains in shoulder and hip room and a slight loss (0.7 inch) in rear legroom. A more proper greenhouse than the Regal affords more rear headroom than the old Malibu, although there's slightly less up front. All the cars we've sat in have either been early-build engineering cars or prototypes, so we can't yet deliver a final verdict on the overall quality of the interior. It is safe to say that its finish and attention to detail raises the bar compared with the last Malibu, which was, as noted, a major leap forward for Chevrolet and General Motors when it debuted. We're particularly impressed with the range of warm, interesting color combinations - chocolate browns, two-tone dashboards, and, on top-of-the-line models, surface graining that's subtly bronzed to provide more depth.
The outgoing car's main interior weakness -- technology -- has been addressed with an optional new seven-inch touch-screen navigation system. Like the latest systems we've seen from Ford, Hyundai, and others (Chevy lamely calls it "MyLink"), it integrates climate controls, Bluetooth, and smart-phone apps such as Pandora radio. Thankfully, Chevy has preserved a few old-fashioned knobs -- five of them, actually -- for radio and climate control. The screen also lifts up to reveal a storage space big enough to contain keys and phones (probably not at the same time, if you care about your phone). There's another secret cubby of sorts in the center armrest that looks deep enough to house a laptop.
For now, all we can nitpick is the tachometer, which has no redline marker. This presumably saves Chevrolet the investment of inserting different readouts to match different engines, but it essentially makes the gauge useless. Yes, we know this detail holds zero importance to the average American mid-size car buyer, but it just may catch the critical eye of a car shopper in Europe, where Chevrolet hopes to gain traction.
Spicing up the mild hybrid
Chevrolet originally intended to launch the Malibu with an all-new, direct-injected four-cylinder. We heard some particulars about that engine -- a 2.5-liter that should produce around 190 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque -- but it won't appear until mid-2012. GM CEO Dan Akerson had no intention of waiting that long for the whole car to launch and, according to a recent report in Bloomberg Businessweek, pushed the development team to find a way to get the car to market sooner. The solution is the Malibu Eco, which employs the four-cylinder hybrid powertrain from the closely related Regal and LaCrosse.
2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO Front End In Motion 2
The system, dubbed "eAssist," is an evolution of the belt/alternator hybrid system that Chevy unsuccessfully peddled as the 2008-2010 Malibu Hybrid but incorporates some important upgrades. A new lithium-ion battery located behind the back seats teams with a more powerful motor/generator (assistance of up to 15 hp versus 5 hp in the old car), a six-speed (versus four-speed) automatic, and, most important, a direct-injected 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Fortified with low-rolling-resistance tires and several aerodynamic aids, including underbody panels and motorized shutters in the front air dam, the Malibu should achieve a 38-mpg EPA rating on the highway -- 4 mpg better than the last-generation hybrid.
As the only Malibu on the market for about six months (the outgoing model will live on as a fleet special), the Eco cannot afford to turn away mainstream mid-size buyers. We don't think it will. The powertrain is far smoother and more refined than most hybrids, with no noticeable surging or shuddering as the gas engine powers on and off and with none of the telltale sponginess from the regenerative brakes. The 182-hp four-cylinder, aided by the electric motor during heavy acceleration, never sounds or feels strained as we repeatedly flog it around the Proving Ground's ride and handling course. Only back-seat passengers will realize just how hard the powertrain is working, as they'll be able to hear cooling fans under the package shelf suck in air during hard acceleration. All this battery and cooling hardware also sucks up two cubic feet of trunk space, leaving 14.3 cubic feet.
If the system suffers fewer drawbacks than typical hybrids, though, it still offers far less impressive quantitative gains. Although it more or less matches the highway ratings of most competitors, its expected 26-mpg city rating falls short -- 10- to 15-mpg short -- of mid-size hybrids like the Ford Fusion and the new Camry. The Malibu Eco will certainly undercut those competitors in price. You also won't see the word "hybrid" anywhere on the car. Nevertheless, a downsized, front-wheel-drive-compatible version of GM's two-mode hybrid system, something the company has been discussing for years, cannot come soon enough. Chevy should also consider importing the diesel engines that will power the car in Europe and China.
Drives like a Buick -- and that's a good thing
The outgoing Malibu already drove well for its segment. This upgrade to the same underpinnings as the Regal -- and by extension the Opel Insignia -- definitely has its advantages, though. The biggest difference we noticed from our memories of the old model is how solid it now feels. Over rough stretches of pavement -- GM's ride and handling course purposely has lots of them -- the Malibu is compliant yet confidently planted. This early-build model, with its unfinished interior bits, refuses to squeak or rattle and doesn't seem upset when we crash over a pothole going much faster than the recommended speed (this writer isn't getting a job at the Proving Ground any time soon). Only when we absolutely hurl the car over a midcorner bump does its rear end step out enough to earn us a slap on the wrist from stability control. Like any front-wheel-drive sedan, it's more liable to understeer at the limit, but most of the time, it goes exactly where we point it. The electric power steering, new for the Malibu, is quick, accurate, and communicative. We'd ask for less power assist, but then, we almost always do. A few panic stops reveal reliable, fade-free braking. Overall, the Malibu isn't the sportiest mid-size sedan -- a four-cylinder Ford Fusion is more fun to drive fast (it helps that Ford offers a manual transmission; Chevy will not). But like the Regal, it clearly has deeper reserves of poise and capability than a typical mid-size sedan. It's also, thankfully, more involving than the smaller Cruze.
As noted, a broader lineup powered by a more powerful 2.5-liter four-cylinder arrives next summer. It will offer a wider choice of trim levels (the Eco can be equipped with leather and navigation) and wheel sizes as large as nineteen inches (the Eco has seventeens). Six-cylinder power seems unlikely -- Chevrolet says some 90 percent of current Malibu buyers opt for a four-cylinder. Even so, adding power should be as easy as installing the 260-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder from the Regal GS.
Conclusion - Surviving with the fittest
It took longer than we'd have liked -- Akerson's last-minute push couldn't recover all the development time lost during bankruptcy -- but the new Malibu proves that Chevrolet can at the very least hang tough in the mid-size segment's war of attrition. And although the decision to start production with the Eco model opens it up to (justified) criticism for not meeting hybrid competitors head-on, it also demonstrates a willingness to think outside the box and, if our educated guess on pricing is correct, provides real value. Most important, it looks great inside and out and drives well. We look forward to spending more time behind the wheel and getting the '13 Malibu together with some of its competitors. Stay tuned.
THE SPECS
On sale:
Early 2012
Base price: $26,500 (est.)
Engine: 2.4-liter I-4/electric hybrid, 182 hp, 172 lb-ft (gasoline engine only)
Drive: Front-wheel
EPA fuel economy: 26/38 mpg city/highway (est.)
2013 Chevrolet Malibu
2013 Chevrolet Malibu

New For 2013

The all-new 2013 Malibu, initially available only in Eco hybrid form, can now be had with a base 2.5-liter four-cylinder or an as-yet-untested 2.0-liter turbo four. The base engine is offered across all trim levels; the availability of the turbo had not been announced as of our publication date.

Overview

The 2013 Malibu began its slow rollout in early 2012 and now, almost nine months later, is finally a fully launched new model that Chevy plans to sell in 100 markets worldwide. Its exterior design is largely evolutionary, but it’s noticeably sleeker—minus the questionable Camaro-inspired rear fascia—with cleaner lines and a wider stance. Chevy designers would probably like to take all the credit, but the Malibu’s more svelte profile was also influenced by engineers who logged hundreds of hours in the wind tunnel in an effort to improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics. Fresh hardware is under the hood, too, with an all-new 2.5-liter four-cylinder mated to a more-efficient six-speed automatic. There’s also the Malibu Eco with GM’s eAssist system—a lithium-ion battery provides supplemental power—hooked to a smaller 2.4-liter four. Its 37-mpg highway rating is decent but doesn’t come close to that of its hybrid competitors. A 2.0-liter turbo that produces 259 hp rounds out the engine roster. The cabin received an update as well and, although its dual-cockpit style might not be to everyone’s taste, high quality materials abound. On the road, the new Malibu is not a revelation, but its supple ride, confident handling, and well-crafted interior help keep it competitive in the tough mid-size-sedan segment.

Safety

Knee, head, side, and front air bags are standard, as are ABS, traction and stability control, and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Options include a lane-departure warning system with a forward-collision sensor and a backup camera. OnStar with crash response is free for six months.

You'll like:

  • Sleek styling
  • More cohesive interior design
  • Newly available turbo four

You won't like:

  • Cramped rear seat
  • Eco economy doesn’t match competitors’ hybrids

Key Competitors For The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu

  • Honda Accord
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Toyota Camry
  • Volkswagen Passat
Opel Adam Trio
The good news is this: sales of General Motors vehicles were up in the U.S. last month (as we reported yesterday), and GM made nearly a billion dollars of profit in the first quarter of this year. But here's the not-so-good news: that's slightly lower than the $1 billion it made in the first quarter of 2012, and well below the $1.6 billion it made in the first quarter of 2011.
Mahoney And GM Logo
General Motors found itself at the center of a small storm this morning when it was suggested that CEO Dan Akerson’s pay package would grow for 2013. It’s a tiff that otherwise overshadowed GM’s other major move, installing a new Chief Marketing Officer who previously worked for Volkswagen.
2013 Chevrolet Malibu ECO Right Front 11
Here's a new one: Chevrolet announced that it reduced the MSRP on the 2013 Malibu mid-size sedan, but not for the obvious reason of making it more affordable. Instead, General Motors says that the new prices are a ploy to shake up how the Malibu appears on popular car-buying websites.
Chevrolet Malibu Sketch
Chevrolet's development of the 2013 Malibu was interrupted during the General Motors bankruptcy, North American president Mark Reuss conceded in an interview. The 2014 Impala's development came after the bailout.

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Certified Pre-Owned 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Pricing

Certified Pre Owned Price
$16,200

Used 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Values / Pricing

Suggested Retail Price
$21,995

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2013 Chevrolet Malibu
2013 Chevrolet Malibu
1LS FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
22 MPG City | 34 MPG Hwy
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2013 Chevrolet Malibu
2013 Chevrolet Malibu
1LS FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
$21,995
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2013 Chevrolet Malibu
2013 Chevrolet Malibu
1LS FWD 4-Dr Sedan I4
197hp
Top Ranking Vehicles - Horsepower

2013 Chevrolet Malibu Specifications

Quick Glance:
Engine
2.5L I4Engine
Fuel economy City:
22 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
34 MPG
Horsepower:
197 hp @ 6300rpm
Torque:
191 ft lb of torque @ 4400rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer RearABS
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear
  • Radio
  • CD Player
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation
Vehicle
36,000 miles / 36 months
Powertrain
100,000 miles / 60 months
Corrosion
100,000 miles / 72 months
Roadside
100,000 miles / 60 months
Recall Date
12-31-1969:21:35:30
Component
SUSPENSION:REAR
Summary
General Motors is recalling certain model year 2013 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles, manufactured December 6, 2011, through January 15, 2013. One or more rear suspension bolts may not have been tightened to the specified torque. This may lead to sudden changes in vehicle handling.
Consequences
Sudden changes in vehicle handling may increase the risk of a crash.
Remedy
General Motors will notify owners, and dealers will inspect and retighten the bolts as necessary, free of charge. Owner notifications have already begun and will be completed shortly. Owners may contact General Motors at 1-800-521-7300.
Potential Units Affected
8,519
Notes
General Motors LLC


Recall Date
12-31-1969:21:35:20
Component
ELECTRICAL SYSTEM: SOFTWARE
Summary
GENERAL MOTORS (GM) IS RECALLING CERTAIN MODEL YEAR 2013 CHEVROLET MALIBU VEHICLES MANUFACTURED FROM OCTOBER 24, 2011, THROUGH MARCH 31, 2012. AFTER AN EVENT OF HARD BRAKING, THE SENSING AND DIAGNOSTIC MODULE (SDM) MAY RESET ITSELF.
Consequences
IF THIS OCCURS DURING AN AGGRESSIVE TURNING MANEUVER, AND THEN AFTERWARDS A POTENTIAL VEHICLE ROLLOVER EVENT IS SENSED, THE ROOF RAIL AIRBAG MAY UNINTENTIONALLY DEPLOY. ADDITIONALLY, THE AIR BAGS AND/OR SEATBELT PRETENSIONERS MAY NOT DEPLOY DURING A SEVERE CRASH, INCREASING THE RISK OF PERSONAL INJURY.
Remedy
GM WILL NOTIFY OWNERS, AND DEALERS WILL REPROGRAM THE SDM. THIS SERVICE WILL BE PERFORMED FREE OF CHARGE. THE SAFETY RECALL BEGAN ON JUNE 13, 2012.
Potential Units Affected
4,304
Notes
GENERAL MOTORS LLC


Recall Date
12-31-1969:21:35:21
Component
EXTERIOR LIGHTING:TURN SIGNAL
Summary
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2011-2013 Buick Regal and model year 2013 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles. These vehicles are equipped with two turn signal bulbs in each front turn signal. If one of the two front turn signal bulbs burn out in either front turn signal lamp, there is no indication to the driver. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108, "Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment."
Consequences
If the driver is not aware that a turn signal is not functioning properly, the driver may continue to drive the vehicle. If half of a front turn signal is not illuminating, other driver's may not be aware that the affected vehicle is turning, thereby increasing the risk of a crash.
Remedy
GM will notify owners, dealers will update the body control module software, free of charge. The recall began in September 2014. Owners may contact Buick at 1-800-521-7300 or Chevrolet at 1-800-222-1020. GM's number for this recall is 12212.
Potential Units Affected
120,426
Notes
General Motors LLC


Recall Date
12-31-1969:21:35:31
Component
ELECTRICAL SYSTEM:WIRING
Summary
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2013 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles manufactured October 25, 2011, through June 29, 2012 and equipped with the 8-way power adjustable front seat feature. The wiring harness for the power seat may contact the seat frame which may chafe the harness.
Consequences
If the harness is chaffed enough to expose the wires, a short circuit could occur, resulting unintended movement of the seat, the seat to become inoperative, sparking under the seat, flickering lights, smoke, or possibly a fire.
Remedy
GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the wire harness and repair and secure it as necessary, free of charge. The recall began during December 2013. Owners may contact GM at 1-800-521-7300. GM's recall campaign number is 13342.
Potential Units Affected
14,909
Notes
General Motors LLC


Recall Date
12-31-1969:21:35:31
Component
SEATS:FRONT ASSEMBLY:POWER ADJUST
Summary
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2013 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles manufactured October 25, 2011, through June 29, 2012 and equipped with the 8-way power adjustable front seat feature. The wiring harness for the power seat may contact the seat frame which may chafe the harness.
Consequences
If the harness is chaffed enough to expose the wires, a short circuit could occur, resulting unintended movement of the seat, the seat to become inoperative, sparking under the seat, flickering lights, smoke, or possibly a fire.
Remedy
GM will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the wire harness and repair and secure it as necessary, free of charge. The recall began during December 2013. Owners may contact GM at 1-800-521-7300. GM's recall campaign number is 13342.
Potential Units Affected
14,909
Notes
General Motors LLC


Recall Date
12-31-1969:21:35:50
Component
VISIBILITY:SUN ROOF ASSEMBLY
Summary
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2013-2015 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles October 24, 2011, to March 5, 2015. In the affected vehicles, the Slide or Tilt switch for the roof panel may not be adequately recessed to prevent the switch from inadvertently being pressed. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 118, "Power-Operated Window, Partition, and Roof Panel Systems."
Consequences
The Slide or Tilt roof panel switch may inadvertently be pressed and the roof panel may auto-close unexpectedly, increasing the risk of a pinch injury.
Remedy
GM will notify owners, and dealers will update the Body Control Module (BCM) software to remove auto-close feature for certain switch positions, free of charge. The recall began April 21, 2015. Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020. GM's number for this recall is 15176.
Potential Units Affected
87,063
Notes
General Motors LLC


Recall Date
12-31-1969:21:35:50
Component
POWER TRAIN:AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION:GEAR POSITION INDICATION (PRNDL)
Summary
General Motors LLC (GM) is recalling certain model year 2013 Chevrolet Malibu vehicles manufactured April 10, 2012, to August 2, 2012. In the affected vehicles, the console transmission gear selection indicator may not illuminate the shift position selected. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 102, "Transmission Shift Position Sequence, Starter Interlock, and Transmission Braking Effect."
Consequences
If the console shift indicator does not illuminate the transmission gear selection, a driver could inadvertently select a transmission position other than the position the driver intended, increasing the risk of a crash.
Remedy
GM has notified owners, and dealers will replace the transmission gear selection control module, free of charge. The recall began on April 20, 2015. Owners may contact Chevrolet customer service at 1-800-222-1020. GM's number for this recall is 12162.
Potential Units Affected
3,690
Notes
General Motors LLC


IIHS Front Small Overlap
N/R
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
5
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
4
NHTSA Rating Front Side
5
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
5
NHTSA Rating Overall
5
NHTSA Rating Rollover
4
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
Good
IIHS Overall Side Crash
Good
IIHS Best Pick
1
IIHS Rear Crash
Good
IIHS Roof Strength
Good

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5-Year Total Cost to Own For The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu

Depreciation
23.4%
Loss in Value + Expenses
= 5 Year Cost to Own
Depreciation
$6,612
23.4%
Insurance
$6,230
22%
Fuel Cost
$9,348
33%
Financing
$1,777
6.3%
Maintenance
$3,087
10.9%
Repair Costs
$878
3.1%
State Fees
$361
1.3%
Five Year Cost of Ownership: $28,293 What's This?
Value Rating: Above Average