Bottom line: Forget any biases you might have against things GM and Chevrolet. If you are looking for an affordable, mid-size family sedan and you don’t put the all-new-for-2013 Malibu on your shopping list, you are cheating yourself.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Ride and handling are very good. Acceleration is slow for people who believe that every start-from-stop is a contest. But it’s perfectly fine for the rest of us.
Body style/layout: The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu is a front-engine, front-wheel drive, mid-size family sedan with a formal notchback trunk. It is available in four basic trim levels: base LS, popularly equipped LTZ, hybrid ECO and the upscale LTZ.
Engine/transmission: The Malibu comes standard with a 2.5-liter, 16-valve inline four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing. The engine is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission that can also be shifted manually. More-powerful engines — a turbocharged, 2-liter, four-cylinder engine with 259 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of torque, and a 3-liter V-6 with 260 horsepower — are available.
Capacities: There are seats for five people. Cargo capacity is 16.3 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 18.5 gallons of gasoline. Regular grade is recommended.
Mileage: In real-world driving with the 2.5-liter engine, we averaged 25 miles per gallon in the city and 30 miles per gallon on the highway.
Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front/solid rear); four-wheel antilock brake protection; available OnStar emergency communications with trademarked Stolen Vehicle Tracking Assistance; electronic stability and tracking control; emergency braking assistance; electronic brake-force distribution; side and head air bags.
Price: The base price of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ with the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine is $27,830. Dealer’s invoice price on that model is $26,999. Price as tested is $31,885, including $3,295 in options (onboard navigation, backup camera, high-intensity discharge headlamps, lane departure warning system, power sliding glass roof, premium sound system and other items) and a $760 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $29,959.