2014 Chevrolet Malibu LT Review - Better, Much Better, But Not Great
By Timothy Cain on Tuesday, January 07, 2014
In order to understand the growth rate of GCBC's future editor-in-chief, his doctor compares his height and weight to the height and weight of other boys the same age. If we were lacking the specs of other children of the world, we wouldn't know if what we perceive to be an acceptable amount of chub and length actually represents good health.
Would we have any idea just how good seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer really is had we only ever seen him play against opponents ranked outside the top 100? We certainly couldn't make a fair judgement on the iPhone 5s's user-friendliness if we only compared it with the HTC Dream and Blackberry Storm rather than, say, the Nexus 5 and Blackberry Z30.
Lots of doodads
You can get a different engine
Pillow-top front seats
Heated driver's seat regained life
Handsome front end
Rear seat still snug
2.5L is buzzy and gruff
Easily flustered when pushed
Heated driver's seat died
Nasty rear end
You get the idea. If there's but one constantly improving option in the category, we should feel free to judge that product independently. But we don't only want to know if Roger's one-handed backhand has been improved by Stefan Edberg's coaching, we want to know how he plays against Rafael Nadal. Nor are we cross-shopping new iPhones with antiquated Blackberrys.
And the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu must be more than a good car - bigger than your old '97 'bu; more luxurious than the 2008 you rented in Columbus - it must be competitive with thoroughly evolved midsize sedans from automobile manufacturers that have been dominating the category for years. Indeed, this updated Malibu needs to be more than competitive if it's going to convince consumers who have never considered (and say they will never consider) a GM midsize car.
2014 Chevrolet Malibu 2LT Dartmouth Post Office
With those factors in mind, we're heading back to a method we've used before in GCBC car reviews. Here are three reasons the 2014 Malibu, with its rejigged front fascia, updated engine, and enlarged rear seat, may struggle to find traction in the midsize market and three reasons it could continue to attract more than 200,000 U.S. buyers on an annual basis.
It's Not A Honda Accord: Ask the next ten Accord (and Camry) owners you meet why they bought their car, and nine out of ten will say they wholeheartedly trust their car. ReliabiIt's Not A Ford Fusion:lity, durability, and quality have generally been traits which the Accord (and Camry) exemplified. But in this era when even the least reliable nameplates are rarely in the shop, is the Malibu really at a deficit? In the minds of midsize traditionalists, yes. The Accord goes beyond Honda's famed long-lasting drivetrains by also being more efficient than the Malibu in city driving and by feeling like the much more spacious car. The Accord certainly isn't the only midsize car that feels more expensive than the Malibu. While the Chevrolet's pieces are assembled well, the pieces themselves feel downmarket. There's soft touch material on the dash, but only directly above the instrument cluster. The central control panel looks very last-gen now that rivals are churning out premium interiors like this and this. The Malibu's 2.5L powerplant, apart from feeling like it's putting out closer to 180 horsepower than 200, is a noisy unit. Grumbly at low revs, the engine becomes gruff in the mid-range and then buzzy as the power peak is approached. Fortunately it's an aural issue, as the cabin is free from vibration through pedals, wheel, and shifter. (The stop-start system has been fine-tuned, as well.) But there's never been such thing as a complaint about the refinement of a Honda four-pot.
It's Not A Ford Fusion:The Malibu lineup now includes just two engines, this 2.5L four-cylinder and a 259-horsepower 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder that starts at $31,915. Ford's Fusion, on the other hand, Canada's best-selling midsize car and the only Detroit midsizer that's capable of challenging the Camry for top-selling status in America, is marketed in countless forms. There will be three turbocharged four-cylinders to go along with the base 2.5L, plus a hybrid powertrain and a plug-in hybrid alternative. The Fusion can also be fitted with all-wheel-drive.
See the rest of the review at the link: