First Drive: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu reviews first drives chevrolet
2013 Chevrolet Malibu. Click image to enlarge

First Drive: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu

Manufacturer’s web site
Chevrolet Canada

Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

Photo Gallery:
2013 Chevrolet Malibu

Margaree Valley, Cape Breton Island, NS – Since 1964 the Malibu name has traditionally been associated with North America. Built in North America. Sold in North America.

With the 2013 model year and the introduction of the eighth generation of the venerable nameplate, that is about to change. Now based on a shared platform and a global four-cylinder powertrain strategy, the Chevrolet Malibu will be sold around the world.

At first glance one might not notice that the 2013 Malibu is not the same car as the 2012 model, largely because the new Malibu shares its basic shape with the old model and carries brand-specific design cues like Chevrolet’s dual-port grille and the new Camaro-inspired LED dual-element tail lamps. But look a little closer and you will notice that the nose is more prominent, the rear deck higher and shorter, and the stance is wider, giving the Malibu a more aggressive, yet more mature profile.

First Drive: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu reviews first drives chevrolet
2013 Chevrolet Malibu. Click image to enlarge

The new Malibu has a wheelbase that is 114 mm (4.5 in.) shorter and 1,574 mm (62 in.) front and rear tracks that are more than 51 mm (2 in.) wider than the model it replaces, yet it is bigger inside in every dimension; there is 110 L (4 cu. ft.) more interior space and 34 L (1.1 cu. ft.) more trunk space.

Rear seats fold flat 60/40, giving the Malibu a level load floor for carrying larger items (although the utility of this feature is compromised in Malibu Eco models by the placement of the car’s storage battery).

The new Malibu is nearly 70 mm wider than before and the extra width translates into more hip and legroom front and rear. Despite chopping over 100 mm from the wheelbase, only rear legroom is affected, down just 18 mm (0.7 in.). Overall length is just 13 mm (.5 in.) less than before.

The Malibu interior features a new dual cockpit design with gauges inspired by the Camaro. Metallic or chrome and wood accents surround the shifter, the centre stack, the instrument cluster, the doors, and the steering wheel. Curiously, controls mounted on the driver’s door are encased in a beautiful chrome frame, while the smaller passenger door controls are not.

First Drive: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu reviews first drives chevrolet
First Drive: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu reviews first drives chevrolet
First Drive: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu reviews first drives chevrolet
First Drive: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu reviews first drives chevrolet
2013 Chevrolet Malibu; dash photo (top) courtesy GM Canada. Click image to enlarge

Soft, ice-blue ambient lighting reflects off chrome strips that wrap into the doors, while the colour of choice for gauge and centre stack backlighting is also ice blue, a colour I find relaxing. Interior panels on the LT and LTZ models I drove featured plenty of bright work and soft touch materials.

Even a seven-inch colour touchscreen is standard on all models except LS. The screen flips up revealing a lit storage compartment behind. Nifty, but don’t store your snacks behind the screen; heat from the electronics and equipment behind the dash will turn your Mars bar into a chocolate fondue.

Standard equipment on the base LS includes 16-inch aluminum wheels, cloth seats with manual four-way adjustment, Bluetooth for phone, six-speaker sound system, manual climate control, cruise control, and power locks. Seat covering changes to premium cloth with leatherette bolsters with the mid-level LT, with dual zone climate control being standard on the 2LT and 1LT Eco model. Eight-way power seats with four-way power lumbar support are standard on 2LT and optional on 1LT. A power sunroof is optional on all LT models, while a navigation package can be added to 2LT and LTZ. The LTZ gets the full load with 19-inch aluminum wheels, heated power seats, nine-speaker Pioneer sound system, express up and down windows, and chrome accents.

General Motors is all in with four-cylinder power, betting the house on a global four-cylinder power strategy. The standard engine for the Malibu LS and LT is a new direct-injected 2.5L four-cylinder engine that delivers 197 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque. The Malibu Eco has a 2.4L engine combined with GM’s eAssist technology (182 hp/172 lb-ft), while the LTZ will be powered by a “next-generation” 2.0L EcoTec Turbo with 259 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque (optional on 2LT).

A V6 is not available. Not planned. Not even contemplated.

The 2.0L turbo is not available either, at least until later in the fall. LTZ models at the Canadian press launch on Cape Breton Island were powered by the new 2.5L naturally aspirated engine.