Vehicle Type: Sedan
History/Description: For model year 2013, Chevrolet moved its popular family sedan, the Malibu, onto its Epsilon platform, and then quickly added new engines, new technologies and new features over this generation’s relatively-short life cycle to help keep it at or near the top of the pack. The Malibu is a car that’s hardly stood still for the past few years, with heavy updates applied in rapid succession towards nearly constant evolution. Now, an all-new Malibu has launched for model year 2016, meaning the last-generation Malibu has moved fully into used car territory.
Feature content included navigation, heated leather, OnStar, premium audio, a sunroof, and advanced safety features including Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Note that 2014, just one year into the life cycle, saw this generation Malibu updated with a new standard engine with more power and easier fuel mileage, as well as numerous chassis refinements to improve ride quality, steering response and handling. Idle-slashing AutoStop technology was added for 2014 as well. If your budget allows it, a 2014 or newer Malibu is ideal.
Engines / Trim: In 2013, Malibu’s standard engine was a 2.4 litre four-cylinder, running 182-horsepower. It was replaced in 2014 by a new 2.5 litre ECOTEC four-cylinder, providing 196 horsepower and a slew of new internal, fuel-saving systems, including a new variable valve lift control system for maximum engine breathing. Malibu’s new engine could now control both valve timing and valve lift—moving engine breathing management and fuel efficiency into the next generation.
Need more power? Malibu Turbo packed a 2-litre turbocharged ECOTEC engine with 259 horsepower. A 2.4-litre eAssist engine could also be specified, amounting to a low-cost, light-hybrid setup that provided a reduction in fuel use and a slight power boost.
All models got an automatic transmission.
What Owners Like: Owners frequently praise Malibu’s smooth and adequate performance, the potent and quiet punch from the turbo engine, good fuel mileage, a nicely-trimmed cabin, a well-sorted ride and handling equation, plenty of on-board storage, and adequate room in most directions in both seating rows. The Pioneer stereo system is a common praise point, too, as is the quiet ride.
What Owners Dislike: Common gripes include a surprisingly large turning circle, dull engine noises, and rear-seat headroom that’s good, not great. Some drivers also wish for more precise brake pedal feel.
Here are some owner reviews
The Test Drive: Finding a Malibu from this generation with plenty of remaining warranty shouldn’t be a problem—so buying confidently is largely a function of finding a used model at the right price, ideally from a Chevrolet Dealer as part of a Certified Pre-Owned Program.
Still, standard checks apply, as do some Malibu-specific ones.
Approach the car you’re considering assuming it will need new tires and brakes, even at relatively low mileage, until you confirm otherwise. As it tends to go with new cars, numerous owners have complained of excessive wear of factory-installed tires and brake parts. Look at the brake rotors for signs of rust or grooves, and ‘feel’ the pedal for a firm bite. If the pedal is soggy or mushy, or if light to moderate brake activation causes a ‘shimmy’ from the Malibu’s front end, you’ll likely need a new set of brakes.