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

The 2.5L is an advanced four-cylinder that delivers six-cylinder power with four-cylinder fuel consumption, estimated to be 9.4 L/100 km in city driving and 5.9 L/100 km highway. The new engine has noise-reducing features such as a cast exhaust manifold, steel crank, low-noise timing chain, and direct mount accessories that contribute to a quiet cabin experience. In fact, the new Malibu is one of the quietest four-cylinder-powered cars I have ever driven. Most of the time, one is hardly aware there is an engine under the hood and even under hard acceleration, when the small engine makes its presence known, the sound is muted and, unlike most four-cylinder engines, even pleasant to hear.

The 2.5L engine does not lack for power. While the Malibu is not a sport sedan—it really is a family sedan and doesn’t try to be anything else but a good family sedan—acceleration is very good with zero to 60 mph (96 km/h) estimated to be less than eight seconds.

And even though it is a family sedan, handling is on a par with many much more expensive sport sedans. A front MacPherson strut and rear multilink suspension is nicely tuned for both ride comfort and handling stability. The Cabot Trail has several winding sections to challenge both driver and vehicle (traffic and weather permitting) and the Malibu impressed—not as a sports car would, but definitely superior for a mid-priced, mid-sized sedan.

Large, 297-mm (11.7-inch) ventilated front disc and 292-mm (11.5-inch) solid rear disc brakes, clamped on by dual-piston front and single-piston rear aluminum calipers provide excellent stopping power. Also keeping the Malibu on course are a variety of active safety features including four-channel anti-lock brakes, full-function traction control, four-corner electronic stability control, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist, corner brake control, panic brake assist, and drag torque control.

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

The Malibu can be equipped with up to 10 air bags; dual-stage driver and front passenger air bags, driver and front passenger pelvic/thorax side-impact air bags, driver and passenger knee air bags, and roof rail air bags with rollover protection are standard, while second-row head/thorax side-impact air bags can be optionally added, as well as a lane departure warning system with forward collision alert and a rear-view camera system

In the quest to save fuel, engineers are leaving no mechanical component, no sheet of metal, no detail untouched. Electric power steering and an aerodynamic coefficient comparable to the Corvette or Volt contribute to make the Malibu one of the slipperiest family sedans in the GM lineup. The Malibu Eco’s underbody panels, active grille shutters, and low-rolling-resistance tires take efficiency one step further.

The Malibu Eco’s eAssist system is mated to an Ecotec 2.4L direct-injection four-cylinder engine. The 2.4L engine is efficient and lightweight, featuring dual-overhead cams, direct injection, continuously variable intake and exhaust timing, and electronic throttle control, as well as a lightweight aluminum cylinder block and cylinder head. It is rated at 182 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque.

The eAssist system uses power stored in an air-cooled lithium-ion battery to provide electrical boost in various driving situations, optimizing engine and transmission operation. A 15-kW motor-generator provides up to 15 hp of electric power assistance during heavier acceleration. Regenerative braking is used to keep the battery charged. The system also shuts down fuel delivery in certain deceleration conditions and shuts the engine down when stopped.

Despite its lower rating for horsepower and torque, and an estimated 0 to 96 km/h time of around nine seconds, the Eco model doesn’t really feel any different than the 2.5L-equipped car. Fuel consumption ratings for the 2013 Malibu Eco are not yet available, but GM says the car will travel nearly 1,000 km on a 60 L fuel tank.

Pricing for the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco starts at $27,940 (1LT) and includes dual zone climate control as standard equipment. Pricing for the 2013 Malibu starts at $24,995 for the base LS, $26,325 for the 1LT (with manual climate control), $27,915 for the 2LT, $29,160 for the 2LT Eco and $32,540 for the 2.0L-equipped LTZ.

Production of the 2.5L- and 2.4L-equipped cars has already begun at GM’s Fairfax, Kansas and Detroit-Hamtramck, Michigan assembly plants.

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