Quick Spin: 2014 Chevrolet Malibu first drives chevrolet
2014 Chevrolet Malibu LT. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

It’s never easy finishing last. As we wrapped up our last comparison test, this one testing a batch of respectable mid-size sedans, I could feel the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu sliding to the back of the pack, despite some very good qualities. In key areas like styling (inside and out), handling, ride and fuel consumption, it was giving up too many points for that sweetheart of an engine and practicality to make up.

So when we were invited to sample the Chevrolet Malibu in a variety of trims, we were eager to see how the Malibu would fare outside of the crucible of a comparison test, for its own merits as you will. We were also eager to hear more about the specific areas of the 2014 redesign so soon after the launch of an entirely new 2013 model.

Truth be told, we still believe that this is a very good car for the average driver, or at least one who is not too picky about interior materials. No matter the trim, the Malibu suffers from cost-effective materials throughout the cabin, though the upper dash is soft and yielding to the touch. Of particular note is the imitation woodgrain trim wrapped around the shifter and cupholders between the front seats – a simple metallic look plastic would do. Perhaps more subjective, the warm, chocolate-coloured interior, which brings out the drama of the sweeping split-level dash and makes the divider between the upper and lower dash over the glovebox far more natural (it seems completely pointless between fields of grey). This treatment is available on any trim above the base LS.

Quick Spin: 2014 Chevrolet Malibu first drives chevrolet Quick Spin: 2014 Chevrolet Malibu first drives chevrolet
2014 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ interior options. Click image to enlarge

The seats, too, seem borrowed from a class up, a Buick at least, with the brown offering subtle relief from the black edges, and brown thread picking out the seams with a level of workmanship that speaks of durable quality. They are comfortable, too, and offered decent support throughout the day of our drive.

As good as the front seats are, the big news is the back seat, where Chevrolet designers have added 32 mm of legroom for a total of 967, though it still lags behind competitors like the Camry (989), Accord (977), and even Fusion (973). The Fusion, though it may be lower numerically, was judged the most comfortable for two rear passengers by our Autos.ca seating experts. The 2014 Malibu we had for the comparison failed to impress, and was particularly tight trying to squeeze three across.

Quick Spin: 2014 Chevrolet Malibu first drives chevrolet Quick Spin: 2014 Chevrolet Malibu first drives chevrolet Quick Spin: 2014 Chevrolet Malibu first drives chevrolet Quick Spin: 2014 Chevrolet Malibu first drives chevrolet
2014 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ. Click image to enlarge

It was however, one of the best for car seat installation thanks to easy access anchors and wide door openings with sufficient headspace thanks to a less swoopy roofline. Cargo room is also top notch, best in segment by our assessment.

We didn’t have a lot of time to play with the infotainment system, but Chevy’s MyLink is a reasonable mix of touchscreen menus and hard buttons and knobs that operates quickly enough to not be a complete pain. Still, I’m not a huge fan, and the layout seems a generation old, while the metallic trim surrounding the centre stack isolates the controls in a way that bothers me. For devoted Siri users, the Malibu is now compatible, with a handful of preset voice-to-text messages available.

Quick Spin: 2014 Chevrolet Malibu first drives chevrolet Quick Spin: 2014 Chevrolet Malibu first drives chevrolet Quick Spin: 2014 Chevrolet Malibu first drives chevrolet
2014 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ. Click image to enlarge



About Jonathan Yarkony

Jonathan Yarkony is the Senior Editor for Autos.ca, a Brampton-based automotive writer with eight years of experience evaluating cars and an AJAC member.