2014 Chevrolet Malibu 2.0T
2014 Chevrolet Malibu 2.0T
2014 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 2.0T. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jacob Black

It’s a handsome car this Chevrolet Malibu LTZ. From the front three-quarter view at least. The shoulders on the front fenders and above the headlights give the car a bit of forward interest and focus one’s attention on the large grille. The front bar looks aggressive and the chrome grille trim looks up-market. The extra opening above the Chevrolet logo is a little awkward to me but that’s a nitpick.

There is a lot of metal on display down the sides, and the five-spoke alloys are elegant and interesting at the same time. The character lines down the body are subtle but work well, though the tick-up at the rear makes the greenhouse seem much smaller than it is and the C pillar is not conducive to rearward visibility.

At the rear the bootlid tapers out to form a functional, drag-reducing spoiler and the taillights carry over a familiar GM twin-square motif with plenty of stylish LED pin pricks – but the back shoulders and the exaggerated rear bumper bar are a little dorky looking. Underneath the set on the left though, you’re reminded of one of the best parts of this car by a little red badge that says “Turbo”.

The 2.0L turbocharged four cylinder shoves a healthy 259 horses and 295 lb-ft – at 5,300 rpm and 3,000 rpm respectively – through a six-speed automatic with overdrive and a manual mode. That manual mode is a little odd though. To get to it, you slide the shifter down to M, and use the buttons on the top of the shifter to shift gears at will. The setup is like most manual modes; backwards. The button at the front shifts up, the one at the back shifts down.

I was denied some pretty reasonable shifts by the system too, so it really is a case of “why bother?” Ultimately I think I’d prefer an automatic with no manual mode than one that doesn’t allow me to use it when and how I want to and isn’t intuitive to use. But to be fair, we’re talking about a system that will almost never be used in the real world, it is there just to show that it is there – and that’s okay.

Silly pseudo-manual mode aside, the gearbox is a decent unit. It shifts quickly enough on kick down, and in regular driving it is not intrusive. Power delivery is strong and linear, with a decent engine note without too much of it coming through the cabin.

2014 Chevrolet Malibu 2.0T2014 Chevrolet Malibu 2.0T
2014 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 2.0T. Click image to enlarge

In fact, the Malibu was a lot more quiet than I expected. Maybe it was the large amounts of leather soaking up sound in the cabin, but the Malibu was calm on the inside.

I did expect better fuel economy than I got though. Despite managing to do a trip from Detroit to Toronto at 7.1 L/100 km, I finished the week at 11.1 L/100 km. The EPA says I should have scored 7.8 L/100 km on the highway and 11.2 L/100 km in the city, so I actually did better than expected on our road trip. Still, my 11.1 L/100 km combined is a way off the 9.8 the EPA says the Malibu is worth. If fuel economy bothers you, the 2.5L non-turbo engine available in lower trims returns 9.4/6.5/8.1 L/100 km city/highway/combined.  Probably because you can get automatic stop-start on the 2.5L but not on the 2.0T. There is also a 111 kg difference in curb weights between the base Malibu (1,571 kg) and the loaded LTZ with the 2.0L turbo which weighs in at 1,682 kg.

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