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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.



    Turbo-Four engine

    Exterior Design

    Chevrolet MyLink

    Balance between comfort and sport


    Back seat space


    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)


    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 [email protected] or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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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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