Last Update: Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Malibu Redo: 2014 Model Gets Face-Lift, New Engine and Interior Redesigns PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Maynard   
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 23:22

Photo Credit Creative Syndicate
Malibu is sold in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels with starting prices ranging from about $23,000 to $30,765.

2014 Chevrolet Malibu 2LZ

• Body style: midsize, 5-pass., front-drive sedan

• Engine: 259-hp, direct-injection, twin-turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder; 295 lb.-ft. torque at 3,000 to 4,000 rpm

• Transmission: 6-speed auto. with Tapshift manual control

• Fuel economy: 21/30 mpg city/hwy.; premium recommended

• Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons • Trunk space: 16.3 cubic feet

• Front head/leg/shoulder room: 39/42.1/57.5 inches

• Rear head/leg/shoulder room: 37.5/36.8/57. inches

• Length/wheelbase: 191.5/107.8 inches

• Curb weight: 3,660 pounds

• Turning circle: 37.4 feet

• Standard equipment includes: dual-zone air conditioning,remote locking and remote start, 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth phone and audio, leather-trimmed upholstery, heated front seats, 8-way power driver seat with lumbar, power passenger seat, tilt-telescopic steering column, power sunroof, fog lights, LED tail lights, heated side mirrors with turn signals, cruise control, P245/45 19-inch all-season tires and alloy wheels, carpeted floor mats, trunk net

• Safety features include: 8 air bags, 4-wheel-disc brakes with ABS and stability and traction controls n Base price: $30,675, including $825 freight charge; price as tested $36,205 n Options on test vehicle: red tintcoat paint $395; electronics package, $1,350, includes 19-inch wheels, 9-speaker Pioneer audio system, rearview camera, 12-volt power outlet; LTZ package, $1,000, includes HID headlights, keyless entry and push-button ignition, driver-seat memory settings; Safety package, $890, includes forward collision alert, lane departure warning, side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert; navigation system, $795, includes 7-inch color touchscreen n Where assembled: Kansas, City, Kan., and Detroit n Warranty: 3-years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper with 2-years/24,000-miles free scheduled maintenance (oil, filter and tire rotation)

The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu is something of a quick-change artist. This family-class midsize sedan went through a major reengineering in 2012 as a 2013 model. The styling shifted from that of elegant savior for the 2008 redesign to something more sporty.

While the car was much improved for 2013, sales dropped. Fans weren't ready for a "sporty" Malibu. So Chevrolet put the Malibu back under the design knife and in 18 months reconstructed the face for a stronger jaw line, redesigned the center console, carved out more rear knee room (1.25 inches) and recalibrated the suspension for a better ride. Some of the improvements are trickle-down from the new Impala. The console has a longer armrest, two cup holders and two very handy cellphone holders.

There still needs to be a more functional area for charging phones and devices or plugging in a USB or audio jack. Those ports are still awkwardly positioned in the armrest cubby. The greater improvement was in adding a twin-turbocharged four-cylinder, which takes the place of the e-assist mild hybrid engine. The base engine is the 196-horsepower, 2.5-liter Ecotec four-cylinder with sixspeed automatic and auto stopstart at idle.

It has admirable fuel-economy estimates of 23 mpg city and 35 highway on regular unleaded. The uplevel engine is the 259-horsepower directinjection 2.0-liter with sixspeed Tapshift automatic, which is EPA rated for 21 mpg city, 30 highway on premium fuel.

This is the same engine available in the Cadillac CTS sedan, but it gets 272-horsepower. Malibu is sold in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels with starting prices ranging from about $23,000 to $30,765, including the $825 freight charge from Detroit or Kansas City, Kan. Today's LTZ tester was $35,105, with desirable upgrades for enjoyable longterm ownership. This is well-balanced transportation that drives well, is reasonably quiet at Interstate speeds and handles well, whether being sporty or in evasive maneuvers.

The acceleration has V-6 urgency and the transmission provides easy steps for power, but there's no encouragement for manual shifting. Brake force, throttle pickup and steering are all well measured and consistent. A 37.4-foot turning circle is an asset in cramped situations and the 18.6-gallon tank helps extend the cruising range.

The front-seat area is wide with a sweeping surround of a dual cockpit. It's comfortable and attractive with pleasing materials and ergonomics. Sightlines are good and made better with the large-screen color rearview camera.

Sliding visors are an asset and there are a variety of storage slots and boxes. I like the manual emergency brake handle on the console, but there's better use for that space, which an electric parking brake could provide. The back seat is also roomy with a raised bench, generous seat-bottom length and a good angle to the seatback. Adults at the window seats will have legroom with good footroom under the front seats and they can share a wide fold-down armrest with storage and cup holders.

Even the center seat is reasonably wide for that occasional occupant. Of course the rear seats fold 60/40 to expand the generous trunk space of 16.3 cubic feet trunk. I didn't find a trunk release in the driver area, but there are electric buttons on the trunk lid and remote fob.

Malibu is fresh and forward thinking, but this is a tough room of comparables, which includes the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Beauty is relative, but even the new Malibu styling translates as the rental car upgrade. If it's still not loved for the beauty of its sheet metal, it's what's inside that will endure. Mark Maynard is online at mark.maynard@utsandiego. com. Find photo galleries and more news at MaynardsGarage


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