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    2013 Chevrolet Malibu Turbo


    William Maley

    Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com

    June 10, 2013

    Monday: Chevrolet Malibu Turbo

    Wednesday: GMC Acadia Denali

    Friday: Chevrolet Avalanche LTZ Black Diamond

    The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu hasn't gotten off to the best of starts. When it was introduced last year, the only model you could get for the first few months was mild-hybrid Eco model. This was Chevrolet's attempt to gain a slight edge over the mid-size competition. A decision that sadly backfired on the company as reviews of the Malibu Eco leaned towards the negative.

    gallery_10485_661_942547.jpg

    Since that time, Chevrolet has launched the other models in the Malibu lineup; the 2.5L and Turbo. Can these models help people forget the milquetoast reputation the Malibu currently has? I spent some time with a 2013 Malibu LTZ Turbo and here is what I found.

    gallery_10485_661_548307.jpg

    The Malibu LTZ Turbo gets off to a good start with its visual appearance. The LTZ’s exterior gets small details such as new grille insert with a chrome strip running around and optional nineteen-inch alloy wheels that set off the distinctive design even more. Inside, the Malibu LTZ is much the same as the Eco I drove last year. Design is very much a love it or hate it mantra with a mishmash of a Camaro-esque gauge cluster, organic curves, and the veins running along the dash. Build quality was very good in my low mileage example.

    gallery_10485_661_72505.jpg

    Installed in my vehicle was Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system with the optional Navigation system. Much like my experience in the Malibu Eco, MyLink was easy to use and quick to respond. The navigation system provided good information and the maps were easy to read at a quick glance.

    Of course the real story lies under the hood: A 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that is shared Cadillac ATS. In the Malibu LTZ, it produces 259 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The engine can quickly put a smile on your face thanks to broad range of power. Build-up of power is very smooth, feeling like a V6 and not a turbo-four. Turbo lag was kept a minimum. The EPA rates the Malibu LTZ Turbo at 21 City/30 Highway/24 Combined. My fuel economy during the week was somewhat disappointing during the six days I had Malibu LTZ Turbo, returning an average of 21 MPG. I’m mostly blaming my somewhat heavy right foot on this. The highway run saw fuel economy increase to 28.1 MPG.

    gallery_10485_661_2823.jpg

    My only concern in the Malibu Turbo’s powertrain was the six-speed automatic. Most of the time, the automatic was very competent with its shifts. But there were times when you would notice the transmission go into the ‘hunting for gears’ mode, especially when the transmission downshifts. I’m hoping this is a programming issue and not something else.

    In the handling department, the Malibu LTZ Turbo trades some of the comfort from the Eco model for a bit of sport. It's very noticeable when heading down your favorite road as the Malibu Turbo shows a bit of athleticism with the steering tightened up and the suspension not feeling like its made out of marshmallow fluff. Even with this added sportiness, Chevrolet made sure to balance the Malibu Turbo with some comfort. Driving on the expressway or in the city, the Malibu Turbo was very stable and able to soak up the bumps with no problem.

    However, not everything is perfect with Malibu LTZ Turbo. First is the claustrophobic-feeling back seat. Much like the Malibu Eco, the LTZ Turbo features the smallish back seat. This isn’t a good thing to have in a class where backseat space is one of the key criteria.

    gallery_10485_661_192350.jpg

    The other problem point with the Malibu LTZ Turbo is the pricetag. The base price for the LTZ Turbo starts at $29,700, very reasonable for the top model. Its only when you start adding options that the price and value equation gets thrown out of whack. My tester with most, if not all options ticked comes to as tested price of $34,595. Two problems with this: One; certain items on the options list should be standard equipment on the top trim. Those items include push-button start, HID headlights, and a backup camera (note: the Malibu Eco I had last year had the backup camera as standard.) Two; most of competition when comparably equipped to the Malibu LTZ Turbo cost one to two thousand dollars less.

    The Malibu LTZ Turbo helps remove some of the milquetoast reputation of the Malibu by building upon the good stuff. However, the poor value for money and backseat space negates the improvements. There is a very good car here, but it is a hard sell.

    GM has announced a revised Malibu will be coming later this year and will address exterior and interior designs. Let’s hope it’s the shot in the arm the Malibu desperately needs.

    gallery_10485_661_654843.jpg

    Cheers

    Turbo-Four engine

    Exterior Design

    Chevrolet MyLink

    Balance between comfort and sport

    Jeers

    Back seat space

    Pricetag

    Disclaimer: General Motors provided the vehicle, insurance, and one tank of gasoline.

    Year - 2013

    Make – Chevrolet

    Model – Malibu

    Trim – 2LZ

    Engine – Ecotec 2.0L DOHC Turbocharged Four-Cylinder

    Driveline – Front-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic

    Horsepower @ RPM – 259 @ 5,500 RPM

    Torque @ RPM – 260 @ 1,700 - 5,500 RPM

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/30/24

    Curb Weight – 3,600 lbs

    Location of Manufacture – Kansas City, KS

    Base Price - $29,700.00

    As Tested Price - $34,595.00 (Includes $810.00 destination charge)

    Options:

    Electronics & Entertainment Package - $1,350.00

    LTZ Premium Package - $1,000.00

    Audio System w/Navigation, AM/FM CD Player w/7" Color Touchscreen - $795.00

    Crystal Red Tintcoat - $395.00

    Advance Safety Package - $395.00

    Cocoa Fashion Trim - $150.00

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    The value part of the equation is quite the deal breaker... Chevrolet is a value for money brand. Period.

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    I agree with ZL-1, they seem to have forgotten that Chevy is a value brand get your foot in the door not a luxury brand. Personally I think this vehicle as packaged right now is about $5000 too much. Yes I know some would say everyone else is in this price point, but still I think these mid size sedans are over priced for what you get.

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    nice photos and write up.

    i've driven the 2.5 and the turbo and like them both. they both perform well and are nice to drive. problem is, is the drive enough to overcome the other flaws (backseat, busy interior, price, slightly less mpg, some would say styling).

    the front end fix is welcome, and even as paltry as it is, carving a tish more rear room helps. both engines get updates.

    the interior fix is a partial success (handbrake? wtf). still has problems, a little more mpg, not sure if its enough (although the 2.5 fusion sells nicely with about the same mpg). 8 speed auto may be on the horizon.

    I think a lot of people still think bits of the car look clumsy. To me, the Fusion looks a bit faddish, but no doubt it is selling like hot cakes. Problem is there is just not much else now they can do with it until a brand new design with an all new platform.

    Chevy always has packaging problems with its models. I think now that the Impala is here (i saw an LTZ on the open road this weekend and it looks so badass!) to steal the limelight, Chevy needs to really determine how many of these they want to sell. If they want volume, then they need to lay it all on the table and do some things to make it move. One is lease deals (which to some degree they are doing).

    But they really need to load up the LS, LT1, LT2 with popular options, reduce the markup, sell with fewer incentives, or they will have to do what Chrysler and Dodge did with the avenger and 200. Give them away. Chevy will make coin on the Impala, so to do this with the Malibu.....they need to say 'every malibu we sell is one less car the competition sells'.

    They could stand to do little things like make heated seats with cloth a cheap option. Or, make an attractive sport package with sweet wheels and less chrome....none of the family haulers really play as a sports sedan anymore except maybe the mazda. Leverage the remote start and mylink in the marketing and really make those packages a screaming deal.

    of course, they also have Buick to compete with......

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    I agree with ZL-1, they seem to have forgotten that Chevy is a value brand get your foot in the door not a luxury brand. Personally I think this vehicle as packaged right now is about $5000 too much. Yes I know some would say everyone else is in this price point, but still I think these mid size sedans are over priced for what you get.

    that's fairly spot on. people who routinely say 'that is what stuff goes for', um, apparently not according to sales. the malibu hasn't been a retail giant, and the 13+ model is down even more. Korea and camrys+accords+altimas give away their cars.

    I think if GM added 17" and better seats to the mylink, the MSRP may be believable. All the next steps need to keep the prices in check.

    Maybe if they did cool stuff like make the turbo a standalone option on the LT1........or make a sport package available for the LT1.....

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    • By William Maley
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      The front end is where you’ll make your decision as to whether you like the Ridgeline or not. There is an imposing grille with a long chrome bar on top. A set of large headlights sits on either side of the grille. Other design items to take note of are the sculpted hood and front bumper. Personally, I found the front end to a bit over the top. Honda was trying to make the Ridgeline look tough and imposing, but the end result is a look that is trying too hard. 
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      The Ridgeline proved to be a very comfortable pickup truck thanks to supportive leather seats, and power-adjustments for the driver. I took this truck to Northern Michigan and back during the holidays, and I never felt tired or had any soreness afterward. The back seat provides more than enough head and legroom for passengers. The bottom cushion of the back seat can also be folded up to provide a decent amount space for carrying larger items.
      Honda’s infotainment system in the Ridgeline has to be one of the most frustrating systems we have ever come across. The eight-inch system gets off on the wrong foot by using touch-sensitive controls for the volume and other functions that don’t always respond whenever pressed. At least you can use the steering wheel controls for a number of these functions. HondaLink needs a serious revamp in terms of its interface as trying to do simple things is very convoluted. For example, if I want to pick a podcast episode from my iPod, I have to jump through a number of menus to just to get to the listing of the specific show I want to listen to. You can avoid using HondaLink by plugging in your iPhone or Android phone and using CarPlay or Android Auto. 
      All Honda Ridgeline’s come with a 3.5L V6 producing 280 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. This is paired up with a six-speed automatic. The base RT to the RTL-T has the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The RTL-E and Black Edition only come with all-wheel drive. No other V6 truck in the class can match the performance of the Ridgeline’s V6. Acceleration is strong whether you’re leaving a stoplight or making a pass. The run to 60 mph is said to take around 7 seconds, making this one quick midsize truck. The six-speed automatic delivers fast and smooth shifts.
      All-wheel drive Ridgelines like our tester come with Honda’s Intelligent Variable Torque Management system. This system quickly redistributes the amount of torque going to each wheel to improve handling and traction. AWD models also get the Intelligent Traction Management system which adjusts the settings of the powertrain to help you get through whatever terrain you find yourself in. We put these systems to the test by driving through an unplowed road with deep snow. The Ridgeline was able to make it through without breaking a sweat. That doesn’t make the Ridgeline a truck you want to take on an off-road trail as it only offers 7.9-inches of ground clearance and no low-range.
      The Ridgeline’s payload is towards the top the of class when compared with other midsize crew cab trucks. Front-wheel drive models can haul between 1,447 to 1,565 pounds in the bed. All-wheel drive models have a payload capacity of 1,499 to 1,584 pounds. For towing, the Ridgeline falls a bit short. Front-wheel drive models have a max tow rating of 3,500 lbs, while AWD models are slightly higher at 5,000 lbs. For most people, the Ridgeline will be enough to handle various towing needs. If you need a bit more, then the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are ready to help.
      The EPA rates the Ridgeline AWD at 18 City/25 Highway/21 Combined. My average for the week landed at 23.6 mpg in a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving.
      Previously, we’ve considered GM’s midsize trucks as having the best ride in the class. The Honda Ridgeline now holds that honor. The unibody platform and four-wheel independent suspension setup give the Ridgeline a ride that is almost equal to a passenger sedan. Bumps and other imperfections are smoothed out. The Ridgeline is a decent handling truck as well. There isn’t much body roll and it feels stable when going into a corner. We do wish Honda would make the steering slightly heavier for the Ridgeline.
      The Honda Ridgeline may not meet the true definition of a pickup truck, but it is one in spirit. Yes, the unibody architecture does limit the capabilities of the Ridgeline as it cannot haul or tow heavy items. Nor can it go deep into the wilderness due to decisions made by Honda on the Ridgeline’s off-road capability. But it is in other areas that the Ridgeline begins to stand out such as the clever ideas in the bed, comfortable interior, and a ride that is more in tune with a regular car. They might not be the advantages you would expect in a truck, but they are something that Honda believes will bring in those interested in a pickup minus a lot of the issues that other models have. 
      To put it another way, the Honda Ridgeline is like Festivus from Seinfeld; they’re both for the rest of us.
      Disclaimer: Honda Provided the Ridgeline, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Honda
      Model: Ridgeline
      Trim: RTL-E
      Engine: 3.5L SOHC 24-valve i-VTEC V6
      Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 280 @ 6,000
      Torque @ RPM: 262 @ 4700
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21
      Curb Weight: 4,515 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Lincoln, Alabama
      Base Price: $41,370
      As Tested Price: $42,270 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge)
      Options: N/A
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