• Text-to-voice with preprogrammed responses
  • Siri Eyes Free for users with compatible iPhones
  • Standard MyLink system for mid-range and top-trim Malibu

The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu offers some new connectivity functions that could help drivers avoid distraction. Chevrolet's MyLink system includes a text-to-voice function that is capable of reading incoming text messages aloud so drivers can keep their eyes on the road. Drivers can also send limited responses without picking up their smartphones. For certain iPhone users, the latest Malibu also offers Siri Eyes Free, which further expands connectivity capabilities.

MyLink is Chevrolet's solution for connected information and entertainment. The system can be operated through a touchscreen, steering-wheel-mounted controls or voice activation. MyLink handles audio, vehicle information, apps such as Pandora and smartphone integration using Bluetooth. MyLink also includes OnStar functions and, on vehicles so equipped, navigation. The newly added text-to-voice functions and the Siri Eyes Free compatibility build on MyLink technology.

With the text-to-voice feature, connected smartphones deliver an incoming message to MyLink via Bluetooth. The driver is alerted of a new message and can choose to play it back or disregard it. MyLink reads the message aloud and allows the driver to respond with a preprogrammed message. Generic messages include "I'm driving and will contact you later." Drivers can also program their own messages when the vehicle is parked.

Siri Eyes Free will read back text messages, as well, but the technology for iPhone users with iOS 6 and iOS 7 goes even further with additional voice-activated features. For example, drivers can choose a song from their iTunes library, access their calendars, and compose and send custom text messages without picking up the device.

For 2014, MyLink is standard on two of the three trim versions (LT and LTZ) and is offered as an option on the base Malibu LS. Malibu isn't the first Chevy model to receive Siri Eyes Free as part of MyLink. The automaker offers it on two subcompacts, the Spark and Sonic. Chris Perry, Chevrolet's vice president of U.S. marketing, says a positive response from customers led to expanding Siri Eyes Free to more models.

"The response to Siri Eyes Free integration in Chevy Sonic and Spark from our customers has been remarkable," said Perry. "Easy, reliable and portable connectivity is a top priority for our customers, and Siri complements MyLink's existing capabilities to help deliver an incredible driving experience."

In addition to the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu, other 2014 Chevy models also offer Siri Eyes Free, including the Camaro, Cruze, Equinox, SS and Volt. The new features may not eliminate the potential distractions of mobile technologies for drivers, but they could help to keep drivers' hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

What it means to you: If you depend on text messaging to communicate as much as you depend on your vehicle to get you from place to place, consider a MyLink-equipped vehicle with text-to-voice or Siri Eyes Free, such as the latest Chevy Malibu.

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Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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