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  • 2013 Chevrolet Malibu 2LZ

    Posted on January 9th, 2013 ninarussin

    Midsized sedan targets a global market

    By Nina Russin

    2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    It’s hard for anybody from my generation to see a Chevrolet Malibu and not think about the car’s heritage. First introduced in 1964, the Malibu was one of the automotive icons of my childhood, sharing its midsized body with the storied Chevelle muscle cars.

    Although my parents weren’t the type to pop for the ever-so-cool 300 horsepower Malibu SS, its sedan cousins were familiar faces in our middle class neighborhood. To this day, there’s something about the sound of those V-8 engines, particularly their roar at wide-open-throttle, that brings back a flood of happy memories.

    While the Malibu remains Chevrolet’s midsized sedan, its current mission is far different than that of the classic models. While the early generations were built specifically for American highways, the new car is global, appealing as much to buyers in China as those here in the states.

    It is front as opposed to rear-wheel drive, and far more focused on fuel economy than quarter mile performance. What remains the same is the value-driven philosophy.

    The Malibu is not just practical; it is also stylish, offering keyless start, heated leather seats, a premium audio system with satellite radio, navigation and more.

    2013 model offered in three grades

    2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    Buyers can choose between three trim levels for the 2013 models, including the base LS and upscale LTZ. There are two four-cylinder engines: a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated block and a two-liter turbocharged engine rated at 259 horsepower. There is also a hybrid model called the Malibu Eco, which uses a combination of gasoline engine and electric motors to achieve 37 mile-per-gallon highway fuel economy.

    The test car is the upscale 2LZ model with the two-liter turbo and six-speed automatic transmission. Base price, excluding the $760 destination charge is $30,165.

    There are four options on the car: an electronics and entertainment package which adds 19-inch alloy rims, Pioneer audio system, rearview camera, 120-volt power outlet and universal home remote; LTZ premium package including high-intensity discharge headlamps, push-button start, and driver’s seat memory; a safety package including lane departure warning and forward collision alert and special leather trim. Final MSRP is $33,820.

    Turbocharged engine boosts performance

    I would highly recommend the turbocharged two-liter engine over the base 2.5-liter block. Although it isn’t quite as thrifty at the fuel pump, the turbocharged engine delivers 60 more horsepower and almost 70 more foot-pounds of torque. In our toll booth-to-toll booth society, there’s no question as to which car is going to win the race.

    Electronic controls have solved a lot of problems that plagued earlier turbocharged cars such as oil coking and turbo lag. The newest turbocharged engines are considerably more reliable without the maintenance headaches.

    A six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift option is standard.

    Test drive in Phoenix

    2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    This past week, I put about 150 miles on the Malibu, driving on a combination of highways and surface streets in Phoenix, Mesa and Scottsdale, Arizona. Overall, the newest Malibu offers buyers the comfort, performance and value the brand promises.

    The engine has a surprising amount of power for such a small block. Acceleration off the line is quite good, and there is plenty of power in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range for highway entrance ramps.

    The six-speed automatic transmission is a smooth performer, with no noticeable shift shock.

    Visibility to the front and sides of the vehicle is good. I found it easy to monitor traffic in adjacent lanes on the highway. The sedan’s high rear decklid and relatively small rear glass create some rather large blind spots in back. The optional rearview camera eliminates these blind spots and makes it easier to monitor cross traffic in parking lots.

    At night, the high intensity discharge headlamps that come with the premium option package project longer, brighter beams of light than halogen, making it easier to see on dark suburban streets.

    A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts in front and a four-link system in the back. I found it compliant enough to absorb bumps in the road without being overly mushy.

    Steering response is quite good. I was especially impressed with the Malibu’s on-center response, which can be problematic for cars with electric power steering.

    Engineers did an excellent job of isolating passengers from road, wind and engine noise so both rows can converse comfortably, or enjoy the premium audio system.

    Upscale interior

    Chevrolet Malibu Interior

    Buyers will be impressed by the host of standard luxury amenities in the Malibu such as Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system, Bluetooth interface for phone and audio and XM satellite radio. A driver information center in the gauge cluster includes a digital speedometer, average and instant fuel economy, average speed and driving range. Two 12-volt power outlets enable the driver and front passenger to recharge cell phones on the go.

    The optional leather upholstery is attractive and comfortable. I had plenty of lower lumbar support for a two-hour drive. Optional driver’s seat memory enables multiple family members to share the vehicle. Redundant audio, Bluetooth and information display controls on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction.

    The HVAC system seemed a bit temperamental. At times it would overheat the cabin for no obvious reason. Having not driven other similar cars, I couldn’t tell whether the problem was unique to this particular vehicle or not.

    Passengers in the second-row outboard positions have plenty of leg, head and hip room. The middle passenger has to straddle the car’s floor tunnel, but should be comfortable enough on short trips around town.

    The optional 120-volt power point behind the center console enables rear passengers to plug in a computer or electronic games.

    The Malibu’s large trunk has plenty of room for groceries, luggage and some small camping equipment. Cyclists will be better served by one of Chevrolet’s crossover or sport-utility vehicles that have longer, taller cargo bays.

    Standard safety

    The Chevrolet Malibu comes with front, side, side curtain, driver and front passenger knee airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, daytime running lamps and tire pressure monitoring.

    Standard OnStar automatically notifies the police and emergency medical personnel in the event of a serious collision, and can also assist with stolen vehicle notification.

    Chevrolet builds the 2013 Malibu at its Kansas City, Kansas assembly plant.

    Like: The all-new Malibu offers buyers a great value with its peppy turbocharged engine, high level of standard safety, comfort and convenience features.

    Dislike: Poor rear visibility due to the car’s high decklid and small rear glass.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Chevrolet
    Model: Malibu 2LZ
    Year: 2013
    Base price: $30,165
    As tested: $33,820
    Horsepower: 259 Hp @ 5500 rpm
    Torque: 260 lbs.-ft. @ 1700 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: N/A
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Towing: No
    Off-road: No
    Fuel economy: 21/30 mpg city/highway





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