With the new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu GM is looking to get a larger piece of the market that the Asian imports have traditionally dominated. When the last Malibu was introduced in 2008 it was hailed as the car that was going to turn GM around. In many ways it did: it was a sign of things to come with GM's engineers designing a great car not just a good car they could sell cheaply. The 2008 Malibu was considered a legitimate competitor to the Accord and Camry, the perennial top sellers in the midsize car category. Over the last 4 years we've seen new cars from Hyundai, Kia and Toyota as well as many others. All of these vehicles offer excellent value and the aging Malibu has been left by the wayside. For 2013 the Malibu is back, and ready to take on the imports. The styling is very fresh and contemporary and like so may midsize cars these days it looks much more expensive than it is when it drives by.
On the inside the new Malibu is a huge improvement over the 2012 model. The quality of the material looks excellent and there are some truly unique design touches. The dash has some horizontal groves in it the run across its width and offer a very modern look. The centre stack has some very unique mood lighting that responds according to the commands you are giving the stereo. The touch screen controls for the infotainment system are high resolution and look very sharp. LT level Malibu's and above get the MyLink infotainment system that allows for wireless audio streaming and internet radio stitcher. The entire touch screen will flip up to allow access to a small cubby hole behind it. Not only did our Malibu have climate control, it was also dual zone with independent driver and passenger settings to help ease marital tensions. Overall the interior is well appointed and of a high quality.
On the road the 2013 Malibu offers a very quiet and relaxing drive. The steering feel light and easy to use, but offers more feedback than last year's 4 cylinder model. Handling has also been improved on the new Malibu, offering a slightly sportier drive. The Malibu has never pretended to be a sporty car and it isn't starting now, however the new brakes and suspension give the car a stable, planted feeling though the corners. The ride quality is also excellent. The six speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and offers good response. The only drawback is that the manual shift control is located on top of the shifter, possibly the worst place one could think of to put it. As a result you feel a little clumsy when you use the manual shift mode.
Our Malibu Eco test car was equipped with the 2.4L 4 cylinder engine with electric assist with a total power output of 182 horsepower. The 2.4L engine offers adequate power but many buyers will opt for the new 2.5L strait-gasoline 4 cylinder that offers 197 horse power. The 2.5L will be the new standard engine if you do not go for the Eco option. If the last generation Malibu is any indiction, customers will be better off buying the standard gas engine over the mild hybrid Eco option. The last generation Malibu Hybrid offered horrible acceleration and unremarkable fuel economy. Overall the new Malibu offers adequate performance and excellent comfort, all while keeping the cabin luxury car quiet.