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2014 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 2.0 Turbo Review & Test Drive

posted by Malcolm Hogan  
Filed under Automotive, Chevrolet, Test Drives

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Thriving to endure through the astounding competitiveness of the midsized sedan segment wars, the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Malibu gets a refresh for the new model year to make a bolder statement. Spending a week behind the wheel of the all-new 2014 Malibu Turbo the takeaway is perceived as a much more defined vehicle within its class that deserves a thorough look.

The new 2014 Chevrolet Malibu receives many welcomed changes within its drivetrain engineering, exterior re-sculpting up front, interior space improvements and a new center console. For 2014 the Malibu base trims featuring its 2.5-liter engine get standard start-stop technology to aid in its improved fuel economy, suspension tweaks, reshaped front end, and additional torque in my 2.0-liter Turbocharged LTZ-trimmed test vehicle.

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Already having an enthusiast aptitude in our initial perceptions of each vehicle that we drive, the Malibu LTZ Turbo was under heavy scrutiny from me based on my perceptions of direct competitors like the 2.0-turbo Sonata, Toyota Camry V6, Honda Accord V6, Nissan Altima V6, Ford Fusion V6 and other top-trimmed mainstream mid-sized sedans on the market with high yearly sales figures. Fortunately, the first impressions of the new Malibu Turbo had a solid foundation to build my complete opinion of the new Malibu.

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Celebrating 50 years for the Malibu nameplate, Chevrolet stayed true to their basic modern-day mid-sized sedan formula – although the name has since departed far from its beginnings. The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu is in a sense the signifier for General Motors’ ability to adapt and change quickly to satisfy the market’s needs and wants. For the 2014 Malibu it is safe to say they have attempted just that.

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The new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine is reworked a bit to add 35 ft-lbs. of additional torque the equation for a total of 295 ft-lbs. while the decent power output of 259 horsepower remains. Midrange rpm throughout the full band, to almost fuel cut, the Malibu Turbo pulls strong with a faint and consistent whistle sound of the turbo spooling up. The front wheels beg for traction at times while the 6-speed automatic transmission adapts well to the stronger mid-range of the turbo-4-cylinder engine. The power, even though it comes on strong just after 2,000 rpm, manages to satisfy those that expect the same oomph from V6 engines. The torque figure, being as high as it is, is never overbearing and does not throw your steering wheel around with any unwanted torque steer.

Cruising around town the engine and transmission mesh together well for smooth shifts but suffers from a slight delay at times when the need arises to skip 3 or more gear cogs. This was a minor hiccup I encountered on more than one occasion but never to the point that things became dangerous or risky when jumping off of an exit ramp into interstate traffic.

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The new 2014 Malibu gets updated suspension tuning, which is much improved over the 2013 model I tested last year. The rear damping no longer emits a bouncy rebound as it did in the 2013 model and the new 2014 Malibu LTZ Turbo has a much firmer and reassuring feel even at highway speeds. The sporty characteristics of the Malibu LTZ Turbo emits through most surfaces but really aides in lateral feedback when going into and coming out of turns.

The all-new 2014 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ Turbo inspires a sporty attribute in many ways, including the decent V6-like power output from the turbo-4-cylinder engine getting an EPA-estimated 21 mpg city and 30 mpg highway figure, 19-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in 245/40R19 Goodyear RS-A high-performance all-season tires and sleek body lines. Some of the shortcomings in the performance arena lies with its 6-speed automatic transmission’s manual shifting mode, which allows manual shifts through a cheesy rocker-button mounted on top of the shifter. This disappointment really diminishes the marketable fun that many enthusiasts look for in a sedan that has a dash of performance in its recipe. Considering this minor shortcoming, you can say the Malibu LTZ Turbo’s batter tastes good but it looks to have been taken out of the oven a few minutes too early.

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Inside of the new 2014 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ Turbo is a familiar interior layout. Though, for 2014, the Malibu gets a few changes mainly for the trim and lower center console, which all get cleaned up for a refreshing quality look. The Chevy MyLink infotainment system meshes well to assimilate most vehicle settings, audio controls, ac/heater controls all in a large high-resolution 7-inch LCD touchscreen. The new text message-speech system integrates well with some smartphones but the use of an iPhone requires you use Siri through the phone’s home button, which will play the voice through the car’s speakers and listen through the car’s built-in mic.  In all, using an iPhone to read off text messages works well – if you are already accustomed to Siri. Though, using the system this way is not a recommended task while driving as it does require you physically pick up the phone and press the home button. Of course their is always the standard OnStar telematics feature for potential connectivity to a live person, just ask them anything.

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The seats in the new 2014 Malibu remain the same as last year, which is not a bad thing considering they have good support. The rear seating gets some needed legroom (additional 1.25-inches of knee room) after the slight repositioning of the split 60/40 seat back, all without any change to the vehicle’s wheelbase. Equipped on my Malibu LTZ Turbo test vehicle was the forward collision alert system, measuring distances via a forward-facing camera mounted above the rear-view mirror. Also using the camera is the lane departure warning system, which can be beneficial to those suffering from fatigue on long trips. Otherwise, the lane departure warning can be quite a nuisance for the focused and already-alert driver. Fortunately, it can simply be disabled (and stay disabled on the next start-up) at the press of a dashboard-mounted button.

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The combination of performance and efficiency are some of the traits of the new Malibu LTZ Turbo that will be put under a microscope for those considering the many competitive mid-sized sedans on the market. Not having the option for start-stop technology in the Malibu LTZ Turbo trim may not be the determining factor for some, though it is a benefit to serve up the V6 power but with uninspiring EPA fuel economy numbers for a 4-cylinder mid-sized sedan. Nevertheless, the new 2014 Malibu LTZ Turbo deserves to close look when considering a main-stream mid-sized sedan – as it has proved its willingness to become a competitor at the forefront of the market instead of fading into the proverbial rental-car background like it used to.

Copyright: 2013 AutomotiveAddicts.com

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base Malibu LS MSRP $22,780 / Base Malibu LTZ 2.5 $29,850 / As-Tested Malibu LTZ Turbo (2LZ) $35,105
  • Engine: 2.0-liter Turbocharged inline 4-cylinder 259 horsepower @ 5500 rpm / 295 ft-lbs. torque @ 1700 rpm
  • Turning circle: 37.4 ft.
  • Track: f/r-62.2/62 ft.
  • Legroom: f/r-42.1/36.8 inches
  • Headroom: f/r-39.0/37.5 inches
  • Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons
  • EPA Fuel Estimates: 21 mpg city / 30 mpg highway
  • Curb weight: 3,500 lbs. est.
  • 0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds

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