Safety, performance, fuel economy, quality, price: They’re what everybody in Maryland wants in a sedan. The 2011 Chevrolet Malibu checks all the boxes, giving Baltimore buyers ample evidence for the reasons the Malibu has walked away with over 40 awards since its introduction.
Cars in the midsize family sedan segment walk a fine line. They need to be well built and functional, but the natural inclination of some brands is to build cookie-cutter, uninspired automobiles that don’t ignite any kind of passion. Available in four trim levels – LS, 1LT, 2LT and LTZ – the Chevrolet Malibu (MSRP starting at $21,975) is a different animal. Edmunds.com wrote, “Perhaps best of all, the Malibu has an upscale look that says ‘premium sedan,’ rather than ‘rental car’,” and went on to praise its “clean, classy lines with tight panel gaps,” commenting that the Malibu “doesn’t succumb to cheap visual add-ons like spoilers, side vents or body flares.”
The Malibu’s world-class design carries over into its interior where you will find features found in cars that cost thousands more. Here’s one example that indicates how far Chevrolet has raised the bar for midsize sedans. The Malibu features acoustic laminated glass, which helps to provide the quiet, comfortable cabin that so many auto buyers are looking for. Compared to the same thickness of traditional tempered glass – the type of glass used in most side windows and backlights of every other Malibu competitor – acoustic laminated glass improves interior sound transmission loss by a noticeable four decibels, according to testing by the Enhanced Protective Glass Automation Association. The result is that, in the OnStar-equipped Malibu, it is much easier to hear the turn-by-turn directions given by the operator. The list of automobiles that feature acoustic laminated glass includes the Audi A8, the Maserati Quattroporte, the Bentley Continental Flying Spur and the Rolls Royce Phantom.
It’s just a brief indication that Chevrolet offers meticulous attention to quality in this cabin. Inside, Malibu interior parts fit together with gaps as small as one millimeter. The refinements and conveniences inside include rich textures, unlike the hard plastics found in other cars in this class, and luxurious two-tone leather appointments in the Malibu LTZ with heated driver and passenger seats, an eight-way adjustment with power lumbar support for the driver and six-way adjustment for the front passenger. Press the Remote Vehicle Starter button on your Malibu LTZ (also standard on 2LT trims), and the car automatically preheats itself in the cold months, or precools itself in the dog days of summer. The back of your legs will thank you.
Despite its ability to haul five adults in comfort, as well as a trunk full of groceries (cargo capacity tops out at 15.1 cubic feet), the Malibu returns truly impressive fuel economy in this class thanks to an economical 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine, standard in all trims, which develops 169 hp at 6,400 rpm. Paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, all Malibu trims are available with impressive EPA-estimated fuel economy of 22 mpg city, 33 mpg highway. Combine the mileage with a large, 16.4-gallon fuel tank, and you’ll travel over 525 miles before visiting the gas station after a fill-up. That gets you all the way from Boston to Washington, DC. with enough gas to get around the nation’s capital for a day.
Drivers who prefer can choose the 252-hp 3.6-liter V6 engine on 2LT and LTZ trim levels. Even with the additional 83 horsepower, the V6 still provides EPA estimates of 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
While the rest of the automotive landscape plays technological catch-up, the Chevrolet Malibu offers real-world technologies that simply aren’t available in other cars in the segment. Take OnStar as an example. While competitors offer complicated, frustrating navigation systems (keep in mind, Malibu offers the only standard navigation in its class) that seem to take your eyes off the road at the least opportune moments, theink=overview&custom=lmg" target="_blank">Malibu’s OnStar system – which is complimentary for the first six months of ownership – provides turn-by-turn directions from a live operator. No addresses to manually enter. No expensive DVD updates to load. And while it’s getting you to where you’re going, OnStar also performs several hundred diagnostic checks on your vehicle, e-mailing you a monthly report of your car’s overall health. Lock your keys inside? Don’t sweat it. OnStar can unlock your Malibu remotely.
OnStar is also part of an impressive suite of safety equipment. In the event of an airbag-deploying crash, OnStar’s Automatic Crash Response alerts an OnStar Advisor who can immediately send emergency assistance to your location, even if you can’t respond. Six airbags stand ready to help protect you from impact including thoracic and pelvic side-impact airbags, and head-curtain side-impact airbags for both front and rear occupants. With a progressive crush front body structure, standard four-wheel antilock brakes and standard StabiliTrak Electronic Stability Control with Traction Control, it’s easy to understand why the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) once again named the Malibu a “Top Safety Pick,” a claim neither Toyota nor Honda can make with the Camry or Accord.
The Chevrolet Malibu continues to inspire driver passion. Ask the consumers who gave the 2011 Malibu an overall rating of 4.7 out of five stars in categories of value, reliability, quality, performance, styling and comfort. The 2011 Chevrolet Malibu, world-class design and craftsmanship for a lot less than you’d expect to pay.