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2014 Kia Optima, Metal Bronze, 11 mi., $22,540
Review of the 2012 Chevrolet Malibu
IntroductionNamed after the beautiful Californian beach city, the Malibu has been around since 1964. Receiving countless accolades and recommendations since being named the North American Car of the Year in 2008, the Chevrolet Malibu continues to offer great efficiency packaged in a signature design. Models equipped with the 2.4L engine/six-speed automatic combination are rated at 33 mpg on the highway. In this race, it surged ahead of more established brands such as the Cadillac CTS and the Honda Accord. The 2012 Chevrolet Malibu is offered in four trims - the LS, LT, and LTZ, in addition to the exciting hybrid. The hybrid offers EPA estimates of 26/34 mpg city/highway, and is available as a very limited availability model. Fuel-saving six-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models now. TAPshift manual shift control controlled by rocker switch on shift knob is standard across the lineup. Seventeen-inch ultra bright aluminum wheels are standard on Malibu 1LT and 18-inch Chrome Tech aluminum wheels have been included in Malibu 2LT V-6 package. The OnStar 9.0 hardware now features improved voice recognition and six months of up level Directions and Connections service with Turn-by-Turn Navigation.
Exterior Design and Special FeaturesThe LS rolls on elegant 17-inch alloy wheels with features like full power accessories, air-conditioning, keyless entry, and OnStar. A six-speaker CD audio system with satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack is standard. The 1LT adds color-keyed side mirrors and side moldings, a chrome exhaust outlet, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and carpeted floor mats. The 2LT upgrades with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, polished wheels, remote engine start, a power driver seat and heated front seats. The luxury-laden Malibu LTZ adds silver grille inserts (versus black), fog lamps, LED taillights, 18-inch alloy wheels, an upgraded audio system with a CD changer and eight speakers, leather seating and a power passenger seat. Options are grouped into a few packages that allow many of the higher trims' features to be added to the lower trims. A rear power package that includes a 110-volt AC outlet (behind the center console) and a manual rear sunshade is also an option.
EngineEvery 2012 Malibu model is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 169 horsepower and 160 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent through the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. The estimated fuel economy is 22 mpg in city and 33 mpg on the highway. A 3.6-liter V6 is available for the Malibu LT and LTZ, and it produces 252 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard on these models. The mileage details check in at 17/26/20 mpg.
SafetyThe Chevrolet Malibu's standard safety features include side-curtain airbags; seat-mounted thorax airbags; halogen headlamps composite with automatic exterior lamp control and daytime running lamps; anti-lock brakes and StabiliTrak electronic stability control system which includes traction control; brake assist and tire pressure monitor (excludes spare tire).