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  • Drew Dowdell
    Drew Dowdell

    2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco

      August 20th, 2012

      Drew Dowdell

      Managing Editor - CheersandGears.com

    Now that the Sonic and Cruze have launched, by all accounts, successfully, Chevy is eager finish up the upper two models in its family car lineup. This 2013 Malibu Eco marks the three quarter mark on this refresh project while the Impala awaits its turn for 2014.

    The outgoing Malibu was on the large end of the mid-size scale, nearly approaching big brother Impala in overall size. And, while not the most feature laden of family cars, it offered a good combination of space, performance, efficiency, and value. In fact, even when viewed next to more modern designs like the Kia Optima and Toyota Camry, the 2012 Malibu was still an attractive and handsome car, especially in upper trims. That generation of Malibu had fairly good reports for build quality and reliability as well.

    Chevy could likely have gotten away with a minor styling refresh with some power train updates and kept that model on sale for another two years. Instead, Chevy decided to push the new Malibu out sooner in spite of not all of the engines being ready at launch. So instead of a full Malibu lineup, the car was launched in only the Eco trim which comes only with a mild hybrid setup GM called eAssist.

    I sampled the eAssist set up in the 2012 Buick Lacrosse back in January where I achieved an astounding 36mpg highway and 27mpg city. I was impressed with the performance of the eAssist because it gave the 4-cylinder gasoline engine more of a smooth V6 feel while rolling around town yet was still able to get to those fuel efficiency numbers without employing one of the more expensive full-hybrid configurations in a car that is not at all light weight.

    So the 2013 Malibu has two main tasks to convince me of: First prove that it is better than the outgoing Malibu and second perform at least equal or better than the bigger and heavier Buick Lacrosse eAssist. A few weeks ago, you got William Maley’s review on the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco and now it is my turn. Is the new Malibu up to the two tasks I have set out for it?

    Next up: How is the Malibu inside?

    As GM’s value brand, it is Chevy’s job to offer good value for the money. Clocking in at an eye popping $29,380 as tested, this Malibu has a number of nice features, but a notably absent one at this price being a full navigation system instead of just OnStar turn-by-turn. In the prior model, the only navigation option was OnStar, but the rest of the car upped the value quotient with a lot of car for your dollar with good passenger space and plenty of trunk room.

    With the new Impala coming, Chevy had to kick the Malibu down a notch in size and shaved 4.5 inches out of the wheelbase while trimming exterior length by just 2/10ths of an inch. I know we usually start our tour with the driver’s position, but this 4.5 inch drop has the largest impact on rear seat passengers.

    Chevy claims it was able to keep rear legroom about the same by the numbers, but I wasn't able to find it. Rear leg room is on the tight side and even though I’m only 5’10”, my knees were almost in the back of the front seat. In fact, knee room feels roughly on par with the Malibu’s little brother Cruze. The Cruze get there by having cutouts in the rear of the front seat. It seems to me this same trick could have been employed to get a little more room for the Malibu, but no such luck. Even the Jetta, a car that should not even be playing in this size class, has a good bit more leg room than the Malibu.


    Headroom in back is merely acceptable, but don’t be much taller than I am. Those wishing for a rear center armrest that the previous model lacked finally get their wish fulfilled. The rear seats themselves are firmly supportive and comfortable.

    Moving up to the pilot’s position, we are greeted with a new take on Chevy’s dual cowl dashboard. The design is now split horizontally with black plastic ribbing inside the split and a thin chrome strip running through the center. No one’s pictures (especially mine) do the design justice, but it does look very attractive in person especially when the night time ambient lighting kicks on. The plood on the steering wheel, doors, and center console looks especially fake with the dark veins of grain looking printed on almost to the point of being pixilated.

    The large oval center stack dominates and the camaro-esque instrument panel gives a nod to the Malibu’s sportier cousin. Controls on the center stack are laid out logically and have a high quality feel to them. An attractive addition is the active backlight behind the controls that gives a swooshing lighting effect when you make adjustments on certain dials.

    Chevy’s MyLink system is here and it is simple enough to use for even the most technically inept. I did find the response from the touch screen to be rather laggy, but otherwise I experienced no bugs. There is a compartment under the MyLink screen which would be useful for storing your MP3 player or smart phone if Chevy had included a USB port inside. Without that, the smart phone was relegated to the center console. The only thing I found the compartment useful for was storing my toll transponder.

    The HVAC system is more than up to the task of cooling the cabin rapidly. There are two modes for the system : Eco and Comfort. Eco will allow the eAssist system to stop the gas engine when the car has come to a stop, in effect stopping the cooling ability of the A/C compressor. The Comfort setting will continue to run the engine to keep the cabin cool. Being somewhat eco conscious, I kept the setting in Eco, however the car seemed to want to override my selection from time to time and bump back into Comfort. If outside temperatures are over about 85 degrees Fahrenheit you will probably want to keep the car in Comfort as cabin temperature can rise rapidly at a long light.

    Interior build quality is not one of the new Malibu’s strong suits. I found numerous assembly defects in my test vehicle. Frankly, given the great strides GM has made on its interiors lately, the number and severity of the defects in this Malibu was shocking. Hitting heavy turbulence, I noticed the instrument pod had a bit of extra shake to it. After poking at that I found the cover just peels back. Even just small amounts of pressure was able to move part of the dash on the passenger side around, and just a one handed small tug pulled the whole piece off. The carpet on the passenger side was not installed correctly, leaving a large gap in the foot well. Interior panel gaps were misaligned all over. I’m not sure how this particular car ever passed Q/C much less end up in the press fleet.



    Next up: Can we judge a book by its cover?

    With a new model comes new exterior styling as well. Personally, I felt the dearly departed previous generation Malibu to be one of the most handsome vehicles in the segment. If I were in the market, I could have written a check for the LTZ without remorse.

    Out front Chevy butched up the face of the Malibu with a lot more creases and folds. Rather than one subtle crease in the hood like the previous model, Chevy upped the ante with no less than 7 folds of the metal making up just the hood. It has to be a very expensive part to produce and on my example it did line up perfectly. In fact, all of the body panels lined up well with tight gaps. Around back, Chevy incorporated more Camaro into the tail lights. Taken as a whole, I like the overall more masculine effect. It’s not better or worse than the previous body, just a different style. If I had any specific complaint about the exterior, it is that the 17” aluminum wheels look too small, but that is likely a compromise for Eco’s sake.


    If you’re expecting to need to haul a lot in the trunk, just wait for a non-Eco model. The battery pack takes up so much room back there you end up with one of the smallest trunks in the class and again bested by Cruze and Jetta.

    Next up: Yes, but how does the Malibu Eco drive?

    In spite of the Camaro cues incorporated into various parts of the Malibu design, it isn't especially sporty out on the road. The suspension is more concerned with providing comfort than strong cornering abilities. Out on the highway, the Malibu is a comfortable long distance cruiser soaking up road imperfections before they infiltrate the cabin.

    One of the reasons you can buy a 2013 Malibu today rather than having to waiting till the fall is because GM management at the highest levels decided to push the car out early in spite of not all engines being ready for production. Since the 2.4 liter Ecotec with eAssist was the only engine ready to go at launch time desired by management. This put Chevy in the disadvantage of having its new midsize entry come with an initial base price thousands of dollars above the competition.

    Functionally, the eAssist starts and runs like any other engine out there available. During light acceleration conditions, the 15 horsepower electric motor adds some twist to the wheels to help out the gas engine and save some fuel. The additional power mostly comes on at lower speeds, giving the 4-cylinder a more torquey feel that one might expect from a V6. On the highway, the system will give slight boost to crest light waves in the highway while regenerating the battery on the downside of the hill. The transition between assist and regeneration is absolutely seamless and, unless you have one of the power train displays up, you will have no idea what is going on under the hood. When stopping at a light, the eAssist will also stop the gasoline engine unless the HVAC system is set to Comfort as mentioned above or if the engine is not yet at operating temperature. Full throttle acceleration is not what I would call brisk. Swing the tach too far past the 4,000 mark and the engine seems to run out of breath. Don’t expect much help from the electric motor at that point either, its 15 horsepower only goes so far.

    While I appreciated the eAssist in the Buick Lacrosse back in January, the lack of Buick’s quiet tuning was quite apparent here with much more engine noise entering the cabin.


    Brake feel has the same lack of feedback that nearly every hybrid I've driven has. There were a couple of times when coming to a stop that I rolled out further than I expected to due to this lack of feel.

    Fuel economy for an “Eco” midsize was terrible. As I mentioned earlier, I left the climate control in Eco mode as much as possible and averaged just 23.7 mpg combined for the week. On one longer trip I hyper-miled it and still was only able to manage 28mpg. There are circa 300 horsepower V6es in heavier cars that can do better than that, Chevrolet’s own Camaro V6 being the most obvious example and Chrysler 300 is another. At first I thought the atrocious fuel economy was a problem limited to one car as I had done substantially better in the Buick Lacrosse eAssist review, however William Maley experienced similar terrible fuel economy during his review of the 2013 Malibu Eco a few weeks ago. In the end, it just reinforces the idea that if Chevrolet went through the hassle of fitting batteries into the car, shouldn't it get substantially better fuel economy than those cars without?

    Next Up: What it all boils down to...

    In the end, the 2013 Malibu Eco failed the two tasks I set out for it. The unacceptable build quality of my example ruined any chance of it being judged better than the prior model. The diminish rear seat room that has the Malibu matching with the Jetta and Cruze, the class smallest trunk space, the real world fuel economy below a larger Buick with the same power train, and higher-than-competition base price tag remove the value proposition. About the only thing this Malibu has going for it at the moment is its looks and a decent entertainment system.

    It is abundantly clear that this was a rush job on GM’s part, a rush job that wasn't even necessary with the already competent, though aging, previous generation Malibu out there for sale and doing good for GM’s reputation. Sorry GM, this one wasn't done cooking before you took it out of the oven. Better see what you can do to salvage things.

    General Motors provided the Chevrolet Malibu Eco, one tank of fuel, and insurance.

    Make: Chevrolet

    Model: Malibu

    Model Year: 2013

    Trim: Eco 2SA

    Engine: Transversely mounted 2.4 liter 4-cylinder with eAssist

    Transmission: Front Wheel Drive, 6-speed manual

    Max horsepower @ RPM: 182 hp @ 6200 rpm

    Max torque @RPM: 171 lb-ft of torque @ 4900 rpm

    EPA Fuel Economy: 25 City / 37 Highway

    Exterior color as tested: Crystal Red Tintcoat

    Interior color as tested: Cocoa

    Location of Manufacture: Kansas City, Kansas, USA

    MSRP as tested: $29,380.00

    Drew Dowdell is Managing Editor of CheersandGears.com and can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter as @cheersngears

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    Good review. Gives us the bad news without resorting to bashing

    I can't fault them for downsizing the Malibu to put some space between it and the new Impala, but the other stuff is just inexcusable. This just shows that Dan Akerson is an idiot and not fit to be CEO of a lemonade stand, much less GM. Hopefully he gets an inside-the-gate retirement package really soon.

    I had some seat time in a 2012 Malibu LTZ with the 4cyl last week, and that is fantastic car that could have more than held the fort until the current car was ready. Considering that it went its entire existence without a single touch to the exterior and was still one of the more handsome sedans on the market says something. It was built like a vault, very peppy, very roomy, and got great fuel economy. It's a shame that the new car doesn't capitalize on the momentum of the previous car. Still, as bad as it all sounds, much of it can be fixed with running changes. I'd hold out for a '14 at the earliest.

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    Thank you so much for this review - love to read about all the latest cars at this site.

    The last auto show I went to was in 2007-2008 in Washington DC at the Convention Center there...whichever year it was they had the newly redesigned 2008 Malibu there. I remember sitting in them and being so impressed with the way the interior looked and felt, the solidness of the car, especially liked the rear end.

    I am really disappointed by the way the 2013 Malibu looks, it seems like a step backwards to me. I'm reading about it here, looking at pictures and thinking..meh

    Then GM releases the 2014 Impala and I'm thinking WOW, that's NICE - I just don't understand what GM was thinking with the Malibu. So much work & time & money and it looks, well, bad.

    Your last paragraph says it all...I do hope they can make some fixes.

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    I sat in one of these (display car) that was an uplevel trim, didn't look to see if it was LTZ and I did like the color selections and thought they used some nice materials. Didn't look that closely on quality or fit and finish.

    The lack of interior and truck space, bland driving and high price will hurt this car big time. $29,000+ gets you a Jetta or Passat TDI or Camry or Sonata hybrid that will crush the Malibu in mileage. Plus, new Accord and new Fusion about to go on sales, new Altima just came out, this segment is loaded right now.

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    I don't understand why they couldn't throw the DI 2.4L in the 2011/12 Malibus and held the release until it could be released properly in late 2012. This is inexcusable. In this segment you can't afford to make a mistake muchless several.

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    You know Olds, I looked at your pics, and all of them I really appreciated because they helped support what you wrote about build quality/finish. There was a pic of the side of the center console... was there a particular part I was supposed to focus on? Was it all the things meeting in different places or that they could have had tighter tolerances when coming together? Frankly, I'm shocked at some of the things like the carpet having a gap and pieces not fitting properly. You think with a press car they'd make sure it was PERFECT.

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    On styling, having seen the new one parked next to the old one on a dealer lot, I prefer the new one, all the way through until I get to the Camaro-inspired taillights, which I feel are not integrated well. The uplevel LED tails look cheesy when lit.

    I like the interior on the newer car as well. Yes, the back seat may be smaller than before, but that may not be a major factor for a lot of buyers who will likely use the front seat a lot more. A baby seat can still be installed back there, I'm sure. Equinox has tons of rear seat legroom.

    The e-Assist system is the elephant in the back seat here. It adds no value... in fact, it takes value OUT of the car, clearly. It is not a good system, and by forcing the buying public's hand by putting it out there before versions with simple, economical powertrains, confident brakes and decent trunk room, GM has imperiled their relatively weak position in a powerhouse market segment even further.

    As far as interior assembly quality, I wonder what the production date is on your test example. I'm guessing it is an extreme early-build car that's already been in the hands of some pretty unforgiving test drivers, plus it may have been taken apart after it left the factory by GM people for some such reason we may not be privy to. Examples on dealer lots now, for sale to the public, would be a fairer arbiter on interior assembly quality.

    Edited by ocnblu
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    You know Olds, I looked at your pics, and all of them I really appreciated because they helped support what you wrote about build quality/finish. There was a pic of the side of the center console... was there a particular part I was supposed to focus on? Was it all the things meeting in different places or that they could have had tighter tolerances when coming together? Frankly, I'm shocked at some of the things like the carpet having a gap and pieces not fitting properly. You think with a press car they'd make sure it was PERFECT.

    Yes but the alignment problem there didn't show up well in the photo. The gap between the metallic looking piece and the side of the console is uneven.

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    From what I have read so far, where this car fails is in the way it was lauched. Pretty much like the launch of the RWD/AWD SRX a few years back, it seems GM didn't spend too much time thiking of lauching it head-on on where the sales are and instead chose to give priority to the variant that should have been lauched last (in this case the e-Assist model; in the previous-gen SRX case the USD 50K V8 models)...

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    Here is the thing folks don't know much about the 08-12. At many dealers, they could not move too many Malibu's retail for a couple of reasons, sort of related. One, the Impala had more space and was easier to get in (many many folks bitched about the low roof and tough ingress and egress) and out of which was much easier to understand because 2, the Impalas in many cases were cheaper. So the overlap issue is understandable.

    They COULD have kept the 08-12 body, but the whole powertrains would need to be new and the interior would need a complete gut and redo.

    This review is timely for me for a couple reasons. One, I roamed a chev lot Sunday and a new Eco was left open....I spent a lot of time in it. Second, I may have a daily drive change which would require long distance (primarily interstate) travel. Eco leases have been advertised cheap now with the new non Eco's coming out.

    Here is what i think Chevy's logic was, build the Ecos as basically production test bed cars, i.e. sell preproduction cars....but get the car out so there was it's time in the limelight. Getting it out now, would fall into the intros of all the other new midsizers. The other factor people should not discard.....to introduce it now, would mean only a few months of gap between the new Impala and new Malibu.

    Of course any decision can be judged in retrospect. Maybe it did not work out to GM's favor here. But it probably would have made most sense to have the Eco ready with the 2.5, and to launch the car when the 2.5 was ready also.

    I do think the 'pre-production Eco's' are why your quality issues seems to be there. The car I checked out (and I have seen them a few times already at the auto show etc.) seemed put together pretty well. The exterior was top notch, and after long long gazing, I do believe the 13 stands up as well as the 12. In fact, i like the sportiness of it more. I do not even mind the overhangs..... there is a lot of drama on every line on this car. You have to study it from many angles. Parked next to the 12, you see how much larger the hood and such is on the 13, and you also see how the pillars and windshield are essentially the same.

    The interior is unique in the new midsize class in that it is very invasive and intimate. The front has deep knee bolsters and the seats hug. The front seats are a great place to be. All the controls are well thought. Impressive how the lower dash is squishy on the passenger side but solid on the driver side...but they look the same.

    The rear is the let down. The leg room is barely adequate. For my 9 year old its ok. But why its a problem is what he said.....footspace. GM needs to re-engineer the seat base to return footspace. Does the Regal have the same problem? Not as much. Here is the culprit. The malibu's rakish roof takes a nosedive. It pushes the rear seat bottom down, and the tight ingress really constricts the feel in back.

    The car is stunning, but I do really feel they could have pulled off the same design theme with a little more changes (some of which would be tough being an epsilon car). I would cab forward the windshield a bit. i would add at least 2 inches wheelbase. I would then continue the raising part of the roof a little further back on the car and taper it back a little later with a shorter trunk....to preserve head space and get the rear seat a little higher. If the roof the car was even 2 inches higher over the rear headrests and the car had a 2 inch stretch for leg room, with a deeper footspace, i think we'd be good.

    The Malibu and Impala are very distinct as they needed to be. The wheelbase issue is a big part of it. The Malibu lacks windows (see gunslit rear window). The impala does not. The malibu will be primarily four cylinder. The impala should be mostly 6. The Malibu will lease cheap....i foresee lots of lease deals on the malibu to move in the showroom.

    the interior quality issues will get taken care of. The tech is now in the mix. the engines will be top drawer. The car will be a great cruiser. I think price is good. I think the backseat trouble will hinder sales....styling, once the car is in the wild, should be an asset. I have already seen a couple in the wild and let me tell you, you notice it. Too bad crystal red is not on the lower level cars. It needs it.

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    The car is stunning, but I do really feel they could have pulled off the same design theme with a little more changes (some of which would be tough being an epsilon car). I would cab forward the windshield a bit. i would add at least 2 inches wheelbase. I would then continue the raising part of the roof a little further back on the car and taper it back a little later with a shorter trunk....to preserve head space and get the rear seat a little higher.

    ... so... just to be clear... you'd build a 2012 Malibu.

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    no. because i welcome the design change. they could still have the curvy new design them and much of the same lines, they would not need the full 08 wheelbase. just an extra couple inches. the arc of the side window lines and the roof should arch higher and further back before it starts to come back down. they would raise the roof above the rear seat then. The trunk lid could be a few inches shorter if the roof taper starts higher and goes back further. the front windshield base could come forward to balance it out. in essence, to cab forward the car some and stretch the greenhouse would have been all that was needed. the hard epsilon points restricted them. Again, to be clear, the design THEME and it's primary features are fine. The proportioning would have worked better if they did not need to adhere to the limitations of epsilon. The 08-12 had the same problems of low roof also....ingress and egress and small windows were a complaint of many buyers with the 08-12.

    GM would have been crucified to keep the 08-12 body with all the new redos from everyone else coming out. It was the right plan to come out with the new body style to compete. The execution of it had some flaws. All the early Eco's are basically pre-production test bed cars.

    What if you set the cruise at 75 and drive 20 miles no stop, what does the computer show for mpg?

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    There are way too many complaints on this car already in a segment where you need to get everything right. The Camry and Accord may be boring, but they have a super loyal customer base and build quality and reliability. The masses trust those nameplates. The Sonata, Optima, Fusion and Altima are proven winners as well, and none of those six cars I just mentioned have multiple glaring flaws like the Malibu does. GM dropped the ball here, and perhaps there are too many Epsilon 2 cars and they can't manage them all.

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    How ironic, since there were many more Epsilon I cars...

    Weren't there 4 of them? Malibu, G6, Aura and 9-3 (which was heavily differentiated) and the G6 and Aura died mid-way through the current Malibu's life cycle. Epsilon 2 has Malibu, Impala, Regal, LaCrosse, XTS and very briefly a 9-5.

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    I've held my tongue about the new Malibu for quite some time now but now is as good a time as any to let my thoughts be heard I think.

    The current Malibu was designed, as Lutz put it, to look like a car that cost $10k more. That mission also seems to have been the driving force behind the 2014 Impala. The 2013 sub-LTZ Malibu models look kinda cheap, like a second tier of the midsize segment when you compare the looks of the more inexpensive trims of the Fusion and Sonata. The LTZ is a very nice looking car but that's just because this is one of those cars that uses a good wheel/trim package as a crutch to achieve good looks. That's not the case with the Sonata or Fusion, the new Impala or even the current Taurus either. It's certainly not the case with the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 either.

    If you look at other newer members of the Chevy lineup (Traverse, Equinox, Impala) the contrast is there too... I can't put my finger on it. Suffice to say it does bug me enough that I won't be considering one for myself while I will consider spending the extra money on an Impala. It's just that lukewarm to me for some reason

    I hope the interior is not of a poor quality and this was an isolated incident because the couple I've seen at the Auto Shows and press events have had impressive interior quality by my estimation, way better than the outgoing model, I'd almost say that my impression was build quality inside and out (along with the 2.0T engine) are probably the high points of the entire damn car.

    Rushing out your volume model in the biggest segment in the majority of your markets was a huge mistake. That's just bad strategy. The current Malibu could have waited the 8 months it would have taken to get it out with the right engine and maybe some more engineering and sorting out. I'm confused as to why they didn't think they'd get dinged for this.

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    Perhaps they were thinking that few would noticethe Eco model and then forgive them once the regular 2013 Malibu came out. #Fail on that strategy. Wrong market, piss poor timing too.

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    One of my issues with the Malibu not mentioned in the review is weight. The Malibu is easily the smallest of its declared competitors, yet it weighs the most.

    Malibu 1LT - 3439

    Malibu Eco 2SA - 3602

    Kia Optima - 3223

    Volkswagen Passat 2.5 SE A/T - 3221

    Hyundai Sonata GLS - 3199

    Hyundai Sonata Hybrid - 3457

    2012 Nissan Altima - 3180

    2013 Nissan Altima - 3187

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    Seems like they should have shortened the overall length of the vehicle but left the wheel base the same. That would have made more sense. GM still doesn't get it when it comes to interiors. Beauty and functionality please.

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    Hopefully by the time another Malibu is released it will be on a new FWD platform that is more competitive than Epsilon.. One that can be 10% lighter while being 10% larger.

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    seeing how flimsy the metal is on the passat, and others in the segment, and seeing how cars like the sonata lack some refinement and solidity....i don't really mind a lot if the malibu LS weighs a couple hundred more pounds. the 300 or more pounds is a bit problematic. but is this a car that will last ten years and not crumple up like a lightweight?

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    well, the Passats I drove did nothing much for me. Didn't like the diesel.....and the five cylinder is crap. My only reference to this new Malibu (not having driven it yet) is the Regal. If the drive is similar to the Regal, I would have to say i much prefer the GM stuff.

    If anyone who is a driving fanatic were to tell me they prefer the drive of a new Passat to the old one or to the CC, they would be crazy IMO.

    I think the benchmark car for dynamics in the segment will be the Mazda6 when it comes out. The new Passat is likely way more desirable than a Camry, but that's not saying much.

    I am not sure why all the dumping on the Malibu. The only way it would have been substantively different is with a whole new platform (ala ATS) which has no history holding it back. Impala will milk the Epsilon platform so maybe the next gen Malibu will be the chance to bring out an all new platform (which GM should build many many vehicles off of).

    My biggest complaint on the new Malibu is the rear seat leg room and footspace. IMO that is how the car may fail in the market. Everything else is fine, as long as the incentives and lease programs are competitive.

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    I'm not at all claiming that that Passat is a sporty handler. It's a big comfy family car. With leatherette, demure conservative interior, and the diesel under the hood, it actually reminds me of the big Benz diesels of old... but with actual pickup and no black smoke.

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    Epsilon 2 cars are too heavy, and it is bad news when this car just went on sale a month or two ago and people are already wanting the new one, which is likely 6 years away. To me the 08-12 Malibu looked good in LTZ trim, but the other trim levels look like a boring rental sedan. Perhaps it is the narrowness and slab-sidedness of it, but couple that with cheap wheels and the black grille and the car looks cheap.

    Another thing I wonder is how good is Epsilon 2? The Malibu looks like it will finish at or near the bottom of the pack once all the comparison tests start, how much of that will be due to chassis, because this is the same chassis Cadillac is using for their top end car.

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    Epsilon II has some inheirent shortcomings as seen from the Malibu to the XTS--too narrow and both wheelbases are too short..have to wonder what GM was thinking, unless their dimensions were compromised by having to make the SWB platform a global platform..

    It will be interesting to see how Malibu sales are in a year or so, after they've had all the variations on sale for a while, esp. compared against the Accord, Altima, Camry and Fusion.

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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    Ever-tubbier cars with ever-diminishing engine displacements.

    Yeah, I get the turbo bidness and all that.

    Sorry to be such an old crumudgeon.

    Edited by NeonLX
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    Found your write up of the 2013 Malibu interesting after just turning in my week long stint with a 2013 2LT rental with the 18" alloy wheels and the base new 2.5 L4 with 197 HP. Thankfully my car didn't suffer the interior lapses your tester had with panel alignment and fit finish. The carpet was installed perfectly, the dash aligned just right and there was not a rattle or squeak in sight. The new 2.5 is a gem and I much prefer it to the noisier eAssist 2.4. My car had 16K miles on the clock and the engine ran very smooth and idled like butter. It laso provided better than expected scoot, easily breaking the front tires loose and winding it'self to nearly 6800 RPM's never sounding thrashy or boomy like the Cruze 1.4T that I rented a few weeks ago.

    Fuel economy was all over the map due to weather and temperature changes throughout the week. My best highway run was a tad over 34 going a steady 72 MPH on the open road on a 40 degree day. The worst was 22.9 in mainly city driving with 4 other people aboard and temps in the 30's. The overall average worked out to roughly 26.1 which I find reasonable considering the weight and solidity of the car and the excellent performance of this new mill.

    I also found the overall ride quality/handling/steering to be spot on for the every day consumer. This is a terrific road car and very quiet! The 8-way power driver seat seemed reasonably comfortable and better than the Cruze's 6 way setup that lacked lumbar and a power recliner. I also found the back seat better able to hold 3 adults than the tighter Cruze even if the outright space for knees was similar.

    Negatives included the silly cup holder setup which finds them in a fore-aft position that effectively cuts off the rear one if you adjust the center console to mate up to your right arm. If you put the console armrest back you gain the cup holder but lose the place to put your arm without reaching back. In front there is only one power outlet where there should be two at least. I also dis-like not having a power trunk release button in the car. If you want to pop the trunk you either have to have the key fob with you or exit the vehicle and hit the sometimes hard to find tiny black button. I also think that for 26 grand list Chevy could have thrown in the rear view camera, push button start and automatic driver/passenger up power windows. The windows only auto power down.

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