In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

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Thread: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

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    GMI Canada Editor Premium Member ne_one's Avatar
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    In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ


    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.

    Pricing:
    • $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:

    Likes
    • 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.

    Dislikes
    • 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?

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    Re: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    Wow the wood trim is on the dislikes but not the poor rear seat legroom! I have yet to have somebody dismiss the purchase of a car because of fake wood trim. I have heard numerous complaints however about how tight the rear seat is. I do agree that the fake wood pattern could look a bit more convincing however and that it shouldn't be on the steering wheel of all places.

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    Re: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    Quote Originally Posted by ponchoman49 View Post
    Wow the wood trim is on the dislikes but not the poor rear seat legroom! I have yet to have somebody dismiss the purchase of a car because of fake wood trim. I have heard numerous complaints however about how tight the rear seat is. I do agree that the fake wood pattern could look a bit more convincing however and that it shouldn't be on the steering wheel of all places.
    I drove the first one we received here at the dealership, and I have to say I agree that it needs more than plastic trim. If a kitchen appliance, or cheap sound system from Megalomart, can have a form of brushed metal , then a nearly $40,000 auto should. The dash of a 2007 Avalanche I drove with a customer just this weekend, comes to mind.

    That said I have no problems with the ride and drive of this 'Bu. Even though the steering is more for the suburbanite crowd, the over all experience is very close to that of the now gone Pontiac Grand Prix GTP. That says alot for a 4cyl turbo. Especially since the GTP had the 3800 v-6.
    As for the back seat, we all know that this is to slot below that of the new Impala. It's unfortunate, but if we are going to sell both cars, so be it.
    Last edited by the_smurf2008; 12-04-2012 at 04:43 PM.

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    Re: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    Quote Originally Posted by ponchoman49 View Post
    Wow the wood trim is on the dislikes but not the poor rear seat legroom! I have yet to have somebody dismiss the purchase of a car because of fake wood trim. I have heard numerous complaints however about how tight the rear seat is. I do agree that the fake wood pattern could look a bit more convincing however and that it shouldn't be on the steering wheel of all places.
    I have dismissed this car for the sole reason of the wood trim......it is THAT bad IMO

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    Re: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    Quote Originally Posted by ponchoman49 View Post
    Wow the wood trim is on the dislikes but not the poor rear seat legroom! I have yet to have somebody dismiss the purchase of a car because of fake wood trim. I have heard numerous complaints however about how tight the rear seat is. I do agree that the fake wood pattern could look a bit more convincing however and that it shouldn't be on the steering wheel of all places.
    We have not gotten a car because of the fake wood trim. Now I'll admit that it was when choosing between 2 cars that we had a tough choice choosing between anyway, but our last gen Honda Accord was purchased because it did not have it. And yes, I DO hate it that much. I spend at least 10 times the ammount of time in the car looking at the interior as I do looking "over the shoulder" at the exterior, so the interior trim is very important to me.

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    Re: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    is rear seat room really as bad as critics say?

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    Re: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    Quote Originally Posted by ponchoman49 View Post
    Wow the wood trim is on the dislikes but not the poor rear seat legroom! I have yet to have somebody dismiss the purchase of a car because of fake wood trim.
    Dismissing a purchase because of a dislike would be overstating it a bit. Nonetheless, it's a minor change and it's a consistent quibble that undermines the perception of the car.

    The rear interior space issue has been discussed ad nauseam.

    Let's compare real numbers based on values from MotorTrend (shout out if any are incorrect):

    Head room Hip room Leg room Shoulder room Total space
    Accord 37.5 54.7 38.5 56.5 103.2
    Altima 37.1 52.1 36.1 56.1 101.9
    Fusion 37.8 54.4 38.3 56.9 102.8
    Malibu 37.5 54.3 36.8 57.1 100.3
    Sonata 37.8 54.9 34.6 56.7 103.8

    Is the 4% difference enough to be a factor?

    If you're tall and routinely sit in the back seat, I would think that it comes down to which experience is less miserable.

    If you have carry a lot of tall passengers in the back seat I also have to wonder if a full-size car, mini van, CUV or an SUV might be a better choice than a mid-size car.

    Should GM adjust the dimensions to go from the middle of the pack to the top? Likely - regardless of the utility, the optics are obviously a sore spot.

    My personal take on the seat room:

    I'm 5'9" so that makes me about 1" shorter than the average male and 4" taller than the average woman in NA. For me, the rear leg room and surrounding space is comfortable, setting aside the premium cloth seats. I could travel on a long trip in the Malibu without a concern.

    If I were 5'11" or taller I'd likely feel cramped in the back seat of any car over a long distance.

    As a prospective buyer, I'd have a tough time coming up with a reason why I'd buy a mid-size sedan if I had to carry taller passengers on a regular basis. Full size cars offer more space while a mini van is likely cheaper and better equipped for hauling.
    Last edited by ne_one; 12-04-2012 at 05:55 PM.

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    Re: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    I'm 6'1" and ~300lbs.

    I found the rear seat snug but comfortable. I actually prefer it to the last gen Malibu. Even though I had more leg room in the last gen I found the additional hip and shoulder room in the 2013 added more to my comfort.

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    Re: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    Quote Originally Posted by ne_one View Post
    Dismissing a purchase because of a dislike would be overstating it a bit. Nonetheless, it's a minor change and it's a consistent quibble that undermines the perception of the car.

    The rear interior space issue has been discussed ad nauseam.

    Let's compare real numbers based on values from MotorTrend (shout out if any are incorrect):

    Head room Hip room Leg room Shoulder room Total space
    Accord 37.5 54.7 38.5 56.5 103.2
    Altima 37.1 52.1 36.1 56.1 101.9
    Fusion 37.8 54.4 38.3 56.9 102.8
    Malibu 37.5 54.3 36.8 57.1 100.3
    Sonata 37.8 54.9 34.6 56.7 103.8

    Is the 4% difference enough to be a factor?

    If you're tall and routinely sit in the back seat, I would think that it comes down to which experience is less miserable.

    If you have carry a lot of tall passengers in the back seat I also have to wonder if a full-size car, mini van, CUV or an SUV might be a better choice than a mid-size car.

    Should GM adjust the dimensions to go from the middle of the pack to the top? Likely - regardless of the utility, the optics are obviously a sore spot.

    My personal take on the seat room:

    I'm 5'9" so that makes me about 1" shorter than the average male and 4" taller than the average woman in NA. For me, the rear leg room and surrounding space is comfortable, setting aside the premium cloth seats. I could travel on a long trip in the Malibu without a concern.

    If I were 5'11" or taller I'd likely feel cramped in the back seat of any car over a long distance.

    As a prospective buyer, I'd have a tough time coming up with a reason why I'd buy a mid-size sedan if I had to carry taller passengers on a regular basis. Full size cars offer more space while a mini van is likely cheaper and better equipped for hauling.
    So basicly the back isn't that much different than the competition. It comes down to the fact that GM botched the introduction with the Eco only, the media seized on this an nit-picked the Malibu into oblivion.

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    Re: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    Quote Originally Posted by ne_one View Post
    Dismissing a purchase because of a dislike would be overstating it a bit. Nonetheless, it's a minor change and it's a consistent quibble that undermines the perception of the car.

    Let's compare real numbers based on values from MotorTrend (shout out if any are incorrect):

    Head room Hip room Leg room Shoulder room Total space
    Accord 37.5 54.7 38.5 56.5 103.2
    Altima 37.1 52.1 36.1 56.1 101.9
    Fusion 37.8 54.4 38.3 56.9 102.8
    Malibu 37.5 54.3 36.8 57.1 100.3
    Sonata 37.8 54.9 34.6 56.7 103.8
    Thanks for the chart. Funny, I don't remember the lesser (than Malibu) back seat room in the Altima and Sonata (presumably Optima as well) ever coming up in our ever-so-objective media. Huh, must just be an oversight.

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    Re: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    Quote Originally Posted by ne_one View Post


    Dislikes
    • 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?
    The car really looks quite attractive in that photo; in fact except for the front end I prefer it to the car people seem beside themselves with gushing admiration for, the new Fusion. And practically goes without saying it looks better than the new Camry, Accord, and Altima. I'd also rank it above the Sonata, and maybe a draw with the Optima depending on color. (The Optima looks pretty darned good in black from the right angles.)

    I'm totally OK with plastic wood. Virtually all car interiors are filled with "plastic leather", why get in such as twist about simulating wood? Given that it's a personal preference, though, I do think there should be an alternative offered for those who don't like it.

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    Re: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    Quote Originally Posted by yamahr1 View Post
    The car really looks quite attractive in that photo; in fact except for the front end I prefer it to the car people seem beside themselves with gushing admiration for, the new Fusion. And practically goes without saying it looks better than the new Camry, Accord, and Altima. I'd also rank it above the Sonata, and maybe a draw with the Optima depending on color. (The Optima looks pretty darned good in black from the right angles.)

    I'm totally OK with plastic wood. Virtually all car interiors are filled with "plastic leather", why get in such as twist about simulating wood? Given that it's a personal preference, though, I do think there should be an alternative offered for those who don't like it.
    I thought the Fusion looked slick when it debuted at NAIAS, but after seeing a bunch of them on the road here in the D, they look frumpy and not very sleek. I just wasn't that impressed when I saw it on the road.

    The Malibu's rear seat is tight, but I do like the exterior design.

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    Re: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    Quote Originally Posted by the_smurf2008
    I drove the first one we received here at the dealership, and I have to say I agree that it needs more than plastic trim. If a kitchen appliance, or cheap sound system from Megalomart, can have a form of brushed metal , then a nearly $40,000 auto should. The dash of a 2007 Avalanche I drove with a customer just this weekend, comes to mind.
    Indeed most GM models in the past few years have had a choice depending on the interior color, Malibu included. Silver or brushed aluminum, or fake wood of different shades. I don't mind Malibu's wood trim with the light tan interior. Variety other than the base grey plastic and the wood would be good.

    Quote Originally Posted by yamahr1 View Post
    Thanks for the chart. Funny, I don't remember the lesser (than Malibu) back seat room in the Altima and Sonata (presumably Optima as well) ever coming up in our ever-so-objective media. Huh, must just be an oversight.
    Motor Trend did mention the Altima's [smallish] rear seat space in their comparison IIRC.

    The new Malibu has rear seat width on par with the competition (old Epsilon I cars were narrow) but Malibu does have less overall interior space than most competitors as shown in the last column. Where the extra couple cubic feet the others have over the Malibu are, I don't know, haven't seen them split between front/rear in a while. I suspect something about how the seats are shaped contribute as much if not more to the tight rear seat remarks - probably kneeroom.

    FWIW the previous Malibu's rear seat dimensions:

    Headroom: 37.2 in
    Hiproom: 52.1 in
    Legroom: 37.6 in
    Shoulderroom: 53.9 in
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    Re: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    Quote Originally Posted by ne_one View Post
    Dismissing a purchase because of a dislike would be overstating it a bit. Nonetheless, it's a minor change and it's a consistent quibble that undermines the perception of the car.

    The rear interior space issue has been discussed ad nauseam.

    Let's compare real numbers based on values from MotorTrend (shout out if any are incorrect):

    Head room Hip room Leg room Shoulder room Total space
    Accord 37.5 54.7 38.5 56.5 103.2
    Altima 37.1 52.1 36.1 56.1 101.9
    Fusion 37.8 54.4 38.3 56.9 102.8
    Malibu 37.5 54.3 36.8 57.1 100.3
    Sonata 37.8 54.9 34.6 56.7 103.8

    Is the 4% difference enough to be a factor?

    If you're tall and routinely sit in the back seat, I would think that it comes down to which experience is less miserable.

    If you have carry a lot of tall passengers in the back seat I also have to wonder if a full-size car, mini van, CUV or an SUV might be a better choice than a mid-size car.

    Should GM adjust the dimensions to go from the middle of the pack to the top? Likely - regardless of the utility, the optics are obviously a sore spot.

    My personal take on the seat room:

    I'm 5'9" so that makes me about 1" shorter than the average male and 4" taller than the average woman in NA. For me, the rear leg room and surrounding space is comfortable, setting aside the premium cloth seats. I could travel on a long trip in the Malibu without a concern.

    If I were 5'11" or taller I'd likely feel cramped in the back seat of any car over a long distance.

    As a prospective buyer, I'd have a tough time coming up with a reason why I'd buy a mid-size sedan if I had to carry taller passengers on a regular basis. Full size cars offer more space while a mini van is likely cheaper and better equipped for hauling.

    So the rear leg room is 1.7 inches shorter than the Accord, which is not that bad folks. When you look at all of the headroom, hip room etc, the Malibu is on par with the other vehicles. GM can easily increase the indentation in the back of the front seats and do something with the rear seat cushions to make up 1.5 inches or so. It amazes me how they;ve torn this car apart. If they do that, eliminate the woodtrim or give the option of brushed aluminum, make the steering like the Regals, or make that an option where would this car finish.
    I think the freshened Malibu will address these shortcomings folks

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    Re: In the GMI (Canada) Garage: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

    The 2.0 Turbo is available on a 2LT. That is a lower trim then the LTZ.
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