2014 Chevrolet Malibu side profile
2014 Chevrolet Malibu

When it was New: 2014 Chevrolet Malibu

The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu takes a significant step forward in both overall appeal and driveability. This is an important vehicle for Chevy, a sedan they can’t afford to get wrong. The competition in this arena is tough, a who’s who list of market segment champs such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Mazda6 and Ford Fusion. Make a mistake here and you may never get another chance. It’s good to know then; the new Malibu gets it right from top to bottom.

My first impression of the new Malibu is that it looks more substantial from every angle. Muscular in a NASCAR sort of way is how I would describe it. The influence of racing on an oval has somehow trickled down to the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu; it is obvious as I walk around the car. The rear trunk lid looks racy, jutting outwards with both visual appeal and aerodynamic benefits. The new front nose is fresh, aggressive and stylish. From the side, this Malibu looks substantive, dare I say sophisticated and ready for the road.

Power comes in the form of two different 4-cylinder engines. I drive both over the course of my one day test drive. It’s hardly enough time to truly explore the limits of performance and handling, but sufficient for me to get a strong sense of what there is to like and dislike with each offering.

First up is the mid-level 2LT equipped with an ECOTEC 2.5L DOHC 4-cylinder gasoline powered engine with variable value timing. It delivers 196 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 191 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm.

At idle, it sounds smooth and ready to go. Hit the accelerator and the response is solid if not impressive all the way up to highway speeds. That said, I am not a fan of what I hear coming from the engine compartment. With nearly 200 hp on tap, it should sound fun and little exuberant. Oh well, I guess you can’t have everything.

Second on the list is the topline 2LZ featuring a 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 4-cylinder gasoline engine, also with variable valve timing. It offers an available 259 horsepower at 5,300 rpm and 295 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,000 rpm.

Without a doubt, this is my favourite of the two. It feels muscular, in tune with the exterior shape of the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu. Pushed hard, it lives to charge ahead. Shifts are smooth, torque always ready with little turbo-lag or fuss. I did notice significant torque-steer when accelerating away from a stop, but this is a product of the front-wheel drive configuration, rather than any engine deficiency.

Engine automatic start/stop is standard on the LS, LT and LTZ models; but not included on the LT and LTZ equipped with the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. Two 12-volt batteries placed strategically in the car work together to keep things powered up and ready to go. Both engines are matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Steering is electric rack-and-pinion, with the new Malibu also highlighting fully independent suspension. Brakes are 4-wheel disc with ABS and Panic Brake Assist all around.

Inside, the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu is near textbook when it comes to space utilization and overall appointments in a midsize sedan. To start, the front seats offer excellent back, hip and thigh support, as well as the proper cushion length on which to rest your legs. This is a far cry from the old days of lounge seating, or the sometimes to hard seats of the other competitors.

A 3-spoke steering wheel grips easily, both models I drive featuring leather wrap and brushed metal accents, plus easy cruise control and audio adjustment. White on black round gauges are simple to read yet sophisticated enough in what they offer.

The center console and dash area houses a large interactive screen, once again both test models featuring full navigation. The HVAC system is typical GM gold standard. Heat and A/C work when they should and direct airflow where it needs go. Why is this so hard for some automakers to get right?

Back seat room is good and plenty for up to three. Trunk space is excellent for a family of five, though you may need a few medium size suitcases to go along with several larger ones. Experience tells me I will get the smaller one.

As an everyday vehicle, the new 2014 Chevrolet Malibu certainly has what it takes to compete in this segment. As a vacation-mobile, here too it should succeed. Where the previous Malibu was a little staid and careful in its design, the newest Malibu appears to have it right from the start. This one should be on your list when looking for your next midsize four door sedan.

2014 Chevrolet Malibu
Configuration: front-engine, front-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.5L 4-cylinder; 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo/ 6-spd automatic
Power/torque: 196 hp/ 191 lb-ft; 259 hp/295 lb-ft
Fuel (capacity): premium (60L)
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 8.0 city, 5.3 hwy; 10.1 city, 6.6 hwy
Warranties: 3 years/60,000 km (basic), 5 years/160,000 km (powertrain limited)
Competitors: Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry

Related links:
Chevrolet Canada

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