2013 Malibu Infused with Charged Spirit

By Sue Mead, November 10th, 2012

With great fuel mileage numbers, a beefy design, a multitude of interior storage options and a new turbocharged 259-horsepower engine, the all-new 2013 Chevy Malibu seems to offer a little something for everyone. And it ought to: positioned as a global citizen in the world of passenger cars, this newly updated, midsize sedan is slated for sale in almost 100 countries around the globe.

Manufacturer photo: Chevrolet offers a stylish, affordable and dependable family car with a little something extra
Manufacturer photo: Chevrolet offers a stylish, affordable and dependable family car with a little something extra

We just strapped ourselves in for a drive in the newest model, the 2013 Malibu turbo LT that starts at $27,710, including destination charges. Tacking on the turbo engine option to Malibu's top-of-the-line LTZ version starts at $30,925.

We drove the 2.0-liter turbocharged Malibu LT, with a potent powertrain that has 259 horses and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. Its top speed is 155 mph and it has a 0-to-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds and, due to weight-saving and other fuel-economy-saving techniques, it delivers 21 miles per gallon city and 30 mpg highway.

The Malibu turbo engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and is a front-wheel drive sedan. Standard are traction control, stability control, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist on the four-wheel anti-lock discs and drag torque control, as well.

Chevy's engineers did a great job with this fun-to-drive sedan's suspension and steering; you'll find an independent front suspension with MacPherson struts and independent rear multi-link suspension that support the premium power steering, while a stiffer body is designed for a more rigid but responsive ride; there are also hydraulic ride bushings and "European tuning."

Manufacturer photo: Chevrolet offers a stylish, affordable and dependable family car with a little something extra

We noted that Malibu's cabin is quieter this year than in previous models. T Malibu turbo model is set up with hydraulic bushings to isolate the frame, until the driver puts pressure on the throttle pedal and is rewarded with a pleasing engine and tailpipe sound that signifies its speedy mission.

On the outside, Malibu cuts a brawny profile. It's wider and more powerful looking than its predecessor, with an updated front end that sharpens to a soft point like an unthreatening bullet. The grille is wide and bisected by a big Chevy badge; headlamps protrude slightly below character lines in the roof that recall muscle car styling.

Broad shoulders meet a low roofline that rakes back to a prominent tail section, capped by squared-off taillamps and an integrated decklid spoiler. Sixteen-inch wheels are standard, but grow up to 18 inches for higher end versions.

Inside, the cabin is bigger, with more hip and shoulder room than in last year's model. The dual-cockpit front cabin design is amplified by several storage features. On all but the entry-level models there's a 6-inch-deep compartment for electronics and other stuff behind the flip-up 7-inch touchscreen, and cupholders can be removed from the center console to make room for a big purse or other equipment.

The standard stereo is an AM/FM/CD/MP3 system with six speakers; additional audio jacks and Bluetooth, along with Chevy's MyLink infotainment system, are available with the 7-inch touchscreen. Air conditioning and power windows/locks are standard, as is cloth upholstery.

Specifications

Base price $27,710
Curb weight 3,635 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Epa mileage rating 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 18.5 gal.
Horsepower (net) 259 at 5500 rpm
Motor type 16-valve 4-cylinder turbo w/DI
Overall length 191.5 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 260 at 1700-5500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD midsize sedan
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