2009 Chevy Malibu LTZ

The EPA rates this car at 22 mpg in the city, but I was able to return averages of 23-25 mpg in conservative city driving. The real fuel benefit comes on the freeway, where I often saw the Malibu achieving the EPA-rated 33 mpg claim with little strain. Watch the gauges as you cruise - at 80 mph in sixth gear, the engine is turning at only 2000-2100 rpm. On a trip that was fairly split between highway driving and Ann Arbor football traffic, I averaged close to 27-28 mpg. Not bad.

Is it all perfect, then? Not necessarily. I'm not a fan of the 18-inch wheels - they look nice, but they compromise both the steering radius and ride quality. I had a bit of trouble using the Bluetooth system (perhaps it's my antiquated phone), and the front windows are a bit small for using ATMs, drive-thrus, and the like (perhaps it's my gargantuan head).

Still, this Malibu is a fairly impressive package for $27k. This is the comfortable, contemporary boulevard cruiser from Chevrolet - which doesn't bode well for Impala sales...

2009 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

Base Price (with destination): $26,670
Price as tested: $26,920

Rear Power Package $250
-incl. 110-volt AC outlet, manual rear sunshade

Fuel Economy: 22/33/26 mpg(city/hwy/combined)

Size: 2.4-liter DOHC I-4
HP: 169 HP
Torque: 160 lb.-ft.

Transmission: six-speed automatic; front-wheel-drive

Weight: 3649 lb.

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