Real-World Review

2014 Chevrolet Malibu 2LT: Real World Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Brian Moody November 2014

The Chevrolet Malibu doesn't seem to command a lot of respect, but we've never really spent a lot of time behind the wheel. One editor drove an SS a few years back, but it seemed more like an appearance package with a little extra power rather than a true SS such as the Camaro or even the Cobalt from a few years ago.

I have to say, though, that I was fairly impressed with the Malibu. I'm not sure why it's not seen as a more competent competitor to cars such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. The interior is decent and certainly on par with the Accord in the EX trim -- maybe not quite up to the Camry XSE level but still not bad. Blue ambient lighting is part of the 2LT package, giving the car a little bit of an upscale feel.

Starting with the 1LT version, the Chevy Malibu gets Chevy MyLink, a USB port and satellite radio as standard. The 2LT adds a power driver's seat, dual-zone climate control, remote vehicle starting, 18-inch wheels and fog lights.

The only way that we could really get behind the wheel was to rent a Malibu, and we thought for sure that the experience would paint the car in a very negative light -- but this turned out to not be the case. Our 2LT car came with the 2.5-liter Ecotec engine, which is supposed to get 25 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. For a 4-cylinder engine, it's very smooth and responsive. With 196 horsepower, the engine never felt harsh or noisy and always had plenty of power -- it feels like one of the best 4-cylinder engines around. If you really stomp the gas pedal, though, the engine does get a little noisy.

Also, the automatic stop/start system is definitely the best there is. I didn't even realize that the car had the feature until after I'd been driving for a whole day. There's very little noise when stopping or restarting, and there's no jerky feeling. Whether you're shopping for a new or used car, this Malibu might be a decent alternative to a more expensive hybrid.

The Malibu's weak point is probably its handling. It doesn't feel as sharp as the Accord, Mazda6 or even the Kia Optima. Still, Chevy seems to have reworked the steering so that its a little quicker than in the past, and the balance of ride comfort and handling is clearly on the side of comfort, but that's not such a terrible thing.

Interior space is adequate -- plenty of room for five adults -- and the back seat is big enough to accommodate forward- or rear-facing baby seats without limiting space for those in the front seat. The trunk is large too, big enough to easily handle luggage for a family of four with lots of space left over.

I'm still not sure why the Chevrolet Malibu isn't more highly regarded, since there isn't one big glaring problem. It could be the exterior look -- the Mazda6, Honda Accord and new Camry are all more attractive. The Malibu isn't bad-looking, but several other sedans just stand out more without being more expensive.

The price starts at about $22,000, and a nicely equipped 2LT model is about $26,000. A certified pre-owned Malibu might be a good way to go, as well.

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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.
2014 Chevrolet Malibu 2LT: Real World Review - Autotrader