No strangers to mainstream media controversy, the last time a tester arrived in our garage, the Spark was pilloried by CR for its reported shortcomings. This week, the 2013 Malibu LTZ arrives just as an article in Automotive News indicates that a refresh will be coming within 12 months.
In the face of such a kerfuffle what are automotive enthusiasts to do? We find that actual seat time gives us the most balanced view of any vehicle.
With that in mind, the Malibu LTZ vehicle we're driving is pretty much maxed-out, with the convenience package (sunroof, rear camera), premium package (passive entry, push button start, HIDs, seat and mirror memory settings), navaigation/audio system and advanced safety package (lane departure, forward collision). That pretty much includes everything except premium paint and the incidental interior bric a brac.
Our tester is taupe grey metallic with a jet black interior.
- $36,910 + $1500 destination. (Canadian funds)
Observed fuel economy:
- City (9.7L/100 km | 24 mpg), Highway (6.3L/100 km | 37 mpg)
Here are our impressions:
- Exterior upgrades including 19" rims, low profile P245/40R-19 tires, HID headlamps, LED tail lights, exhaust tips and additional bright work significantly improve visual appeal and presence compared to the ECO model that we previously tested.
- Monochromatic interior theme and leather seats make the busy psychodelic collage and butt scrapers of the ECO a distant memory.
- With 259 hp and 260 lb ft. of torque, the 2.0L turbo offers appreciable power with a predictable curve.
- Fuel economy numbers are very good for the turbo engine; only nominally more than the ECO for a much improved driving experience.
- The 2.0L engine is not offered on lower trim levels.
- Steering and handling is hyper-reactive and soft compared to its Regal platform sibling.
- The LTZ really deserves a sport mode.
- Plasticized wood accents belong in the same realm as polyester underwear, furniture protectors and acid wash jeans.
Questions? Comments? Special requests?