Bottom line: The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu is the perfect family sedan for buyers more interested in fuel economy and utility than they are in sacrificing extraordinarily large chunks of their household budgets for monthly car payments. It is economical, well-crafted, and good-looking inside and out.
Ride, acceleration and handling: It gets good marks in all three.
Head-turning quotients: Try this: Go to any church parking lot on a Sunday, or to an elementary or middle school on a busy weekday. Watch the people. They are more interested in their immediate family members and in one another than they are in 0-to-60-mph acceleration times. The new Malibu fits nicely in such milieus.
Body style/layout: The new Chevrolet Malibu is a compact, front-engine, front-wheel-drive family sedan (four side doors, notchback trunk), based largely on the reworked-for-2013 Chevrolet Malibu. The 2014 model has some notable improvements — start-stop technology, better legroom in the rear cabin, improved fuel economy. It is available in four trim levels — LS and LT in the base segment, upscale LTZ, and Eco for even better fuel economy.
Engines/transmissions: It comes with a 2.5-liter, 16-valve, gasoline-direct-injection in-line four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing linked to a six-speed automatic transmission that also can be operated manually. A turbocharged 2-liter gasoline engine (259 horsepower, 295 pound-feet of torque) is available in the Malibu LTZ.
Capacities: There are seats for five people. Cargo volume is 16.3 cubic feet. Fuel capacity is 15.8 gallons (regular unleaded is recommended).
Mileage: I averaged 25 miles per gallon in the city and 34 on the highway (the latter carrying one adult passenger, an 85-pound chocolate Labrador and 150 pounds in other assorted cargo).
Safety: Standard equipment includes ventilated front disc and solid rear disc brakes, emergency braking assistance, electronic brake-force distribution, four-wheel anti-lock brake protection, stability and traction control, OnStar emergency communications, stolen-vehicle tracking assistance, side and head air bags, and daytime running lights.
Price: The base price for the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu LT sedan is $22,965. You probably can get into this one, with optional safety equipment, for $25,500. It’s a good buy.