Used Car Review

2013 Chevrolet Malibu: Used Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Ron Sessions October 2014

Developed in conjunction with GM's German Opel operations, the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu was all new, featuring a stiff structure, Euro-inspired ride and handling, rack-mounted electric power steering and a 4-cylinder powertrain lineup. The 2013 Malibu was also the first version of GM's midsize sedan to offer a turbocharged engine. eAssist technology, which uses a small electric motor to boost power and efficiency, was also introduced in the new Malibu Eco model. Chevrolet's answer to Ford's MyFord Touch, the MyLink infotainment system, became standard on LT, Eco and LTZ models. Fitted with a standard 10 airbags, the 2013 Malibu garnered a 5-star crash-test rating from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and took home Top Safety Pick honors from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

What We Like

Quiet cabin; good performance with 2.0-liter turbo; comfortable front seats; well-balanced ride and handling; solid structure

What We Don't

Cramped rear seat; small trunk on Eco model; blocky exterior design; busy interior layout; heavy for its size; Eco fuel economy pales in comparison to hybrids

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu has three available powertrains. Standard on all but the Malibu Eco is a new 2.5-liter dual-overhead-camshaft (DOHC) 4-cylinder with four valves per cylinder and direct injection. Output is a healthy 197 horsepower and it develops 191 lb-ft of torque. It burns regular unleaded gas and has Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ratings of 22 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway with the standard 6-speed automatic transmission.

Available on LT and LTZ models is a turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC turbo 4-cylinder, which produces a V6-like 259 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Premium fuel is recommended, and it is EPA-rated at 21 mpg city/30 mpg hwy with the 6-speed automatic.

The fuel-economy-optimized Eco model uses a small, 15-hp electric motor/generator and a 0.5-kWh lithium-ion battery to boost the power and efficiency of a 182-hp 2.4-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine. A stop/start system shuts off the engine at stoplights to save fuel, and grille shutters close to improve aerodynamic efficiency on the highway. The Eco is EPA-rated at 25 mpg city/37 mpg hwy with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Standard Features & Options

The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu is available in LS, LT, LTZ and Eco trims.

Typical LS equipment includes air conditioning, a power driver's seat, cruise control, cloth seat trim, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, Bluetooth, OnStar communication system, SiriusXM satellite radio, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an MP3 decoder and steering-wheel audio controls, automatic headlamps, 16-inch alloy wheels, stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission and power door locks, windows and mirrors.

Moving up to the 1LT adds a 7-in touchscreen audio system with MyLink and voice recognition, Bluetooth streaming, a USB port, premium cloth seats, carpeted floor mats as well as Pandora, Stitcher and Gracenote capability. Upgrading to the 2LT adds a leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel, 18-in alloy wheels, driver's seat power lumbar, dual-zone air conditioning, foglamps, heated mirrors and remote engine starting. The 3LT features the 2.0-liter turbo engine.

The range-topping LTZ comes standard with heated leather front seats, a power passenger seat, LED tail lamps, chrome-tipped exhaust, auto-dimming rearview mirror and trunk cargo net. It's also available with a power moonroof and the 2.0-liter turbo engine.

The Eco is a special fuel economy model with electric assist from a 15-hp electric motor/generator and lithium-ion battery, low-rolling resistance tires, 17-in alloy wheels, a stop/start system and shutters behind the grille that close at highway speeds. MyLink infotainment and automatic air conditioning are also standard.

Pricing

The 2013 Malibu didn't sell as well as expected due to blocky styling, tight rear-seat space and mediocre fuel economy ratings. Still, the Malibu is Chevrolet's second-best-selling sedan and with lease returns coming back into the used-car market, there should be a good supply of pre-owned examples to choose from.

To get an idea of the 2013 Malibu's price range, check out kbb.com. You can also search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.

Recalls

The NHTSA has announced the following recalls for the 2013 Malibu:

  • Power front-seat wiring harness may contact the frame, leading to possible sparking and fire.
  • Loose rear suspension bolts may affect handling and lead to a crash.
  • The sensing and diagnostic module may reset after hard braking, increasing the possibility of the roof rail airbag deploying unintentionally or the seat belt pretensioners and front airbags not deploying in a crash.
  • On the Malibu Eco, the generator control module may malfunction, leading to the loss of battery charge, stalling, a no-start condition or smoke and fire in the trunk.

Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA rated the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu with five stars for frontal and side impacts.

The IIHS gave the 2013 Malibu a Marginal rating for small-overlap front impacts and a Good rating for moderate-overlap front impacts, side impacts, roof strength as well as head-restraint and seat crash performance.

General Motors covered the 2013 Malibu with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance and a 6-year/100,000-mile corrosion-perforation warranty.

Chevrolet certified pre-owned (CPO) cars cannot have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be five years old or less. Every CPO Malibu undergoes a 172-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, plus whatever remains on the transferable, original 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage. Also included is a 2-year/24,000-mile maintenance plan with roadside assistance.

Other Cars to Consider

Honda Accord -- The Honda Accord was all new for 2013. Slightly smaller, but still roomy and fun to drive, the 278-hp 3.5-liter V6 adds zippy performance. The base 2.4-liter 4-cylinder's 185 hp also provides ample acceleration and is EPA-rated at 27 mpg city/36 mpg hwy with the continuously variable automatic transmission.

Volkswagen Passat -- Since the 2012 model, the Passat has been built in the U.S. The interior trim is cheaper-looking than previous Passat models, but offers a roomy cabin and large trunk. Engine choices include a 140-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbodiesel capable of 43 mpg hwy, a 170-hp 2.5-liter 5-cylinder gas engine, and a 280-hp 3.6-liter V6.

AutoTrader's Advice

Coming on the heels of the gorgeous and very roomy 2008-2012 Malibu, the 2013 version was a hard sell in showrooms. Still, the 2013 model offers impressive ride and handling, a very quiet cabin, the latest in Chevrolet infotainment systems and top-rated safety. So, as a depreciated used car, the Malibu makes a decent buy in the midsize sedan segment. Be aware, though, that some versions of the Malibu come without a spare tire or jack, so be sure to check under the trunk mat for a spare if you feel you need one.

We would suggest a nicely equipped LT or LTZ with the base 2.5-liter or optional 2.0-liter turbo engine. The Eco model doesn't quite offer enough fuel economy or performance benefits to make up for its reduced trunk space. The eAssist electronic systems are also potentially more expensive to repair. Go for a Chevrolet certified pre-owned car, when available, and check with the dealer to make sure that the 2013 Malibu you're considering has had any safety-recall items resolved.

Find a Chevrolet Malibu for sale

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Used 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2013 Chevrolet Malibu: Used Car Review - Autotrader