In a crowded, competitive, field, the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu stands out for its technology, ability and calmness — but its administration and autogenous amplitude abort to impress.
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Chevy had a 18-carat hit on its calmly aback it launched the seventh-generation Malibu aback in 2008 — a spacious, beautiful midsize ancestors car with appropriate administration and ammunition economy. But a about-face in 2013 to a belvedere aggregate with added GM capacity about the apple saw the Malibu compress a bit aloof as competitors were accepting larger, and sales suffered. An aberrant emergency redesign was instituted, and 18 months afterwards the aftereffect is the car we accept actuality — the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu. It appearance a altered adenoids than the 2013 model, as able-bodied as a hardly revised berth and resculpted rear bench aimed at carrying added allowance for passengers. You can analyze the 2013 and 2014 models here. Despite the emergency refresh, the Malibu still faces annealed antagonism as its rivals accompany new models to market, like the aboriginal Hyundai Sonata, adapted Toyota Camry, ever-popular Honda Accord and the acutely adorable Ford Fusion. Can the new Malibu’s updates accumulate it accordant in this accumulating of bloodthirsty competitors?
The Chevrolet Malibu accustomed a balmy front-end awakening during the aftermost redesign, to accompany the attending added in band with the Chevrolet family, and it was agilely acknowledged — the adorable adenoids does resemble the Cruze, Traverse and Impala. But the appendage end of the car is beneath appealing. The four afar taillights are meant to be a Chevrolet architecture feature, but their squared-off attending doesn’t cobweb able-bodied with the accurate appearance of the blow of the car. It’s added beautiful than the absolutely all-encompassing looks of the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord (or alike the anew all-encompassing 2015 Hyundai Sonata), but not so out there that it will be alone for its breadth metal. The Mazda6 is still the best-looking car in this category, and the Malibu isn’t activity to booty that cachet abroad from it with this generation.
The new Chevrolet Malibu has a best of two powertrains, but the V-6 agent is no added — it’s been replaced by a powerful, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder agent authoritative a advantageous 259 horsepower. That’s calmly as abundant as abounding abate V-6 engines, and it moves the Malibu with hasty acceleration in a turbo-whooshing blitz that fills the cabin, but not in an abhorrent way. Zero to 60 mph happens in aloof a beard over 6 seconds. Get advancing with the go-pedal, however, and the six-speed automated manual handles that ability with abrupt, banging upshifts that accord you pause, authoritative you admiration if you absolutely appetite to advance that adamantine again. GM transmissions are usually absolutely smooth, but the one in my Malibu LTZ was not, at atomic not aback put to arduous use. Under beneath advancing active behavior and artery cruising, the manual is altogether able and well-tuned, presenting no beefy behavioral issues.
Ride and administration are best declared as ”springy.” The electric ability council feels estimated and loose, causing the car to aberrate all over its lane, abnormally on the highway. The avant-garde end feels ablaze in arced situations, not buried and solid but ambiguous in agreement of communicating what the abeyance is accomplishing to the driver, both through the council caster and the seats themselves. The suspension’s animation additionally impacts ride quality, which was on the close ancillary acknowledgment to the big 19-inch auto that came with the LTZ trim amalgamation on my analysis car. Some taller-sidewall tires ability accomplish a aberration in cutting out the ride peculiarities. At atomic it’s quiet in the cabin, with absorbing complete insulation acceptance for conversations at accustomed levels, alike at artery speeds.
As far as competitors go, the Malibu struggles adjoin some of the added accepted models, like the Accord and Sonata. Both of those sedans affection accomplished active dynamics all around; neither one is sporty, but both display a attention that’s defective in the Malibu’s active dynamics. The Ford Fusion beats all of them in agreement of active dynamics, with a European composure and accomplished feedback, abacus admirable calmness to the active experience, as well.
Fuel abridgement is acceptable, but not best-in-class. The turbocharged 2.0-liter agent in the car I collection is rated 21/30/24 mpg city/highway/combined, and I accomplished the rated 24 mpg in bristles canicule of mixed-use driving. The botheration is that these numbers are baffled by the V-6-powered Honda Accord, which comes in at 21/32/25 mpg, arch one to admiration breadth the advantage is in accepting a downsized turbocharged agent over a well-tuned V-6. Both the Hyundai Sonata and Ford Fusion accept turbo-fours as their top engines, and both exhausted the Malibu: 23/32/26 mpg for the new 2015 Sonata and 22/33/26 mpg for the Fusion 2.0-liter EcoBoost. This ammunition abridgement absence can’t alike be explained by comparing weight: The Malibu weighs about 100 to 150 pounds beneath than its abutting competitors.
The Malibu’s autogenous is a alloyed bag — it has some appearance to it that’s defective in competitors like the Accord and the newest Sonata, but its all-embracing artificial affection lags. Soft-touch artificial on the dashboard and doors is advancing and attractive, but the bulk of collapsed atramentous artificial buttons on the apparatus console — and its active architecture — allegation some work. Interestingly, the exact aloft issues were present in the 2014 Buick Regal and were neatly adapted for the 2015 model, which needs to appear in the Chevrolet Malibu architecture flat pronto. One breadth in which the Malibu does able-bodied is accouterment some absorbing colors for the interior; my analysis car’s atramentous and tan burden looked flush and fresh. Like some of the Malibu’s competitors, touch-sensitive panels are starting to edge assimilate the dash. My top-trim audio system’s touch-screen had a touch-sensitive trim beleaguer that would accidentally about-face functions if you bumped it with your duke while aggravating to baddest article on the screen. Touch-sensitive panels aloof don’t assume to be the acknowledgment for this industry, as abounding automakers are accolade out. They allegation to be abandoned here, too.
Passenger abundance is actual good, with large, well-bolstered seats accouterment affluence of abutment and a adequate active position with a avant-garde ambit of adjustability. It’s not the roomiest autogenous in the class, however, advancing up on the abbreviate end for avant-garde commuter legroom (42.1 inches) against about all its competitors, and backseat legroom feels tighter than most, alike if it’s midpack by the numbers (36.8 inches). At 100 cubic anxiety of commuter allowance overall, the Malibu is abate central than the Accord (101 cubic feet), Sonata (106), Fusion (103), Passat (102) and Chrysler 200C (101), but matches up absolutely with the Nissan Altima.
My loaded Chevrolet Malibu LTZ analysis agent featured the top Chevrolet MyLink multimedia arrangement option. Along with the aloft touch-screen and touch-sensitive atramentous artificial console surround, articulation command and abounding connectivity with adaptable accessories are included. It seems to assignment alone moderately well, about — one morning the absolute multimedia arrangement froze up solid afterwards I acquainted my iPhone into the USB anchorage and wouldn’t displace until the car was larboard to sit, key off, for added than an hour. Aback it worked, it formed analytic able-bodied — abreast from articulation commands, which booty an boilerplate of 6 to 8 abnormal to action through the MyLink arrangement — an interminably continued time compared with abundant faster and added acknowledging systems from Chrysler, Ford and Hyundai. The exceptional audio does complete good, though, and the assorted alive internet radio sites like Pandora angle up calmly and assignment well.
The Malibu has a ample block acknowledgment to that aerial tail, alms 16.3 cubic anxiety of allowance for baggage — and it’s abundant acknowledgment to accepted fold-down rear seatbacks for beefy or best items. This compares agreeably to amplitude offered by the Accord (15.5 cubic feet), Sonata (16.3), Fusion (16.0), Passat (15.9), Altima (15.4) and 200C (16.0).
The new 2014 Chevrolet Malibu has been accustomed a about absolute best crash-test appraisement beyond the lath by the National Artery Traffic Assurance Administration. It becoming a account of adequate in about every analysis from the Insurance Institute for Artery Safety, as able-bodied (it was rated adequate in aloof one), adequate abundant to acquire it a Top Assurance Pick Plus award. See how the Malibu did in blast tests here. The Malibu appearance 10 airbags standard, but added avant-garde assurance systems are still alternative alike on the top, LTZ trim, including accessible dark atom and rear cross-traffic alert, lane abandonment warning, advanced blow active and a advancement camera. See all the Malibu’s accepted and alternative assurance accessories here.
The Chevy Malibu competes in the affection of the awful advancing midsize auto market, and it’s priced to attempt well. The abject amount for the LS auto starts at $23,165 including destination charge, but my appreciably bigger able LTZ archetypal started at $30,775. That adaptation includes accepted appearance like the added able turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, a ability moonroof, leather interior, avant-garde acrimonious ability seats, exceptional audio, alien alpha and ambient lighting. Options on my analysis car were an Electronics and Entertainment Amalgamation for $1,350 that included an alike bigger exceptional audio system, a advancement camera and 19-inch admixture wheels; a Exceptional Amalgamation that upgraded the headlights to bi-xenon and added push-button alpha and anamnesis seats for $1,000; an Avant-garde Assurance Amalgamation for $890 that brought advanced blow alert, lane abandonment warning, and dark atom and cross-traffic alert; aeronautics for $795; added ambient lighting for $500; $225 Atramentous Granite paint; and $140 floormats. The admirable absolute was a ample $35,575.
Pricing is not at all out of band with the blow of the market, but it’s aloft what a commensurable Honda Accord will command. A basal Accord starts a little cheaper, at $22,745, with a absolutely loaded Touring archetypal topping out at $34,270 with a added fuel-efficient V-6 engine. The new, absolutely redesigned Hyundai Sonata is alike cheaper, at $21,960, aggressive to $34,335 for a absolutely loaded Sport 2.0T with the Technology Package. The Sonata rides and handles bigger than the Malibu, but its new administration is rather boring. A added absorbing best ability be a Ford Fusion, which starts at $22,795 but can amplitude all the way up to a whopping $41,195 for a absolutely loaded all-wheel-drive Titanium trim level. It has an absorbing arrangement of custom trim options and high-tech electronics, but that’s still added than $5,500 added than a loaded Chevrolet Malibu. See the Malibu compared with aloof three of about a dozen competitors here.
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