January 16, 2013
Steering and suspension team up for a responsive and slightly sporty feel. Steering, particularly, is a touch heavy and quick – meaning Malibu feels locked-down and unopposed to sporty driving. On rougher roads, offensive sounds and jarring sensations are kept largely out of the cabin, meaning the Malibu’s ride feels tough, well damped and robust, not flimsy and fragile. I preferred this setup to the 2013 Nissan Altima SL I drove a week earlier. The suspension calibrations should satisfy the wide range of shoppers in Malibu’s target demographic: it’s comfortable, but not at the all-out expense of precision.
Brakes lack the precise feel you’ll find in a comparable German or Japanese car, but they bite hard and ditch velocity fast when called upon. Antilock brake action was felt strongly through the pedal, though it’s not overly eager to engage. Note that the factory all-season tires should be considered unsuitable for use in the snow, even with traction and stability assist systems on full alert.
2013 Chevrolet Malibu LT. Click image to enlarge
I left the Malibu wishing only for a smaller turning circle, and perhaps a more pleasing sound from under the hood when the engine gets spinning fast. It’s a tinny and dull noise, when opened up.
These are small complaints, in terms of a car that hits so many of the right marks.
End of the day, Malibu ticks all the boxes to take care of families on a road trip, while not emptying its tank in any sort of hurry. Give it a test drive alongside the Nissan Altima, which boasts a roomier feeling, even more upscale cabin, and the Honda Accord, whose new four-cylinder engine and CVT transmission feel stronger and more engaging when driven hard.
For 2013, Chevrolet Malibu pricing starts at $24,995.
What’s Hot: Quiet, comfortable ride, sporty steering, lots of features, refined powertrain
What’s Not: Big turning circle, dull engine sound
Pricing: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LT
Base price (LT): $27,915
Options: Electronics/Entertainment Package ($1,155), Heated Leather Package ($1,315), 7-Inch Colour Touch Nav Radio ($795)
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $32,780
Engine: 2.5 litre four-cylinder, VVT, Direct Injection, 200 horsepower
Drivetrain: front-wheel drive
Observed Average Mileage: 9.5 L/100 km
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Features: remote start, sunroof, heated leather, Pioneer audio, automatic climate control, driver computer
IIHS: Top Safety Pick
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