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Chevy Malibu: A player among midsize family sedans

Chevy Malibu

Good luck if you're out there shopping for a midsize family sedan. The choices are numerous and the final decision could be an agonizing one as you pass on a lot of fine options and make the ultimate selection.

And the lingering thought after signing the endless amount of paper work - you're not totally confident it's the right one.

Thanks to a redesign a year ago, the Chevrolet Malibu got itself into the midsize sedan mix. The new Malibu arrived with new engine choices, a different appearance and offered nice safety and entertainment features.

But guess what? Sales didn't improve, which must greatly bother the folks at Chevy who believe the Malibu deserved a better fate. Yet opinions on vehicles don't change overnight. And the Malibu, while not a bust, just didn't, and still doesn't possess the reputation of some heavy hitters in the class.

2014 Chevrolet Malibu

  • Performance: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 196 horsepower; turbocharged four-cylinder, 259 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate range: 25-36 mpg
  • Price: $22,140 to $29,850
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/100,000 miles; roadside assistance 5 years/100,000; corrosion 6 years/100,000

Family sedans like the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima and Nissan Altima have grown in stature, while the Mazda 6, Honda Accord and Volkswagen Passat continue to receive strong accolades. 

Give Chevy credit, it changed and made the 2014 Malibu even better. An attractive sedan already, the Malibu added to its curb appeal with a more distinctive front end. Inside, the vehicle has more rear legroom and is also devoid of any hard surfaces, an unwanted Malibu trait in the past.

However, the most notable change overall is the addition of a more efficient fuel-saving engine. The Malibu now averages 25-36 mpg. The Malibu comes standard with an automatic stop-start feature that will shut down the engine when the car is stopped, which saves fuel.

Standard equipment on the base model includes keyless entry, air-conditioning (with humidity sensor), tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a power driver-seat height adjuster, OnStar, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player.

The standard engine for the front-wheel drive Malibu is a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder that produces 196 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, in conjunction with a six-speed automatic. Even though it's a four-cylinder, the Malibu delivers good performance.

For a little more punch and excitement, try the 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Note that's it's only offered on the 3LT and 2LZ trims. The turbo model features 259 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

A third option is the Malibu Eco model, which will reportedly be fazed out of the lineup early this year. It has a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder paired with a small electric motor that produces 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. The Eco is not considered a full hybrid because the vehicle can't operate solely on electricity.

Any of the four trim models provide good road manners, and are both composed and quiet. The smooth ride doesn't get too bothered by the bumps and the driver is offered a good feel for the road and solid braking.

We like the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu. Yet it certainly doesn't distance itself from the competition. However, what the Malibu does is offer a lot of upside that should make it an option when out there shopping for a good midsize family sedan.


Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at skiweidel@gmail.com
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.



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