Malibu's 2.4-liter engine makes adequate power, and the new six-speed transmission makes good use of it. This is a solid powertrain that delivers good fuel economy and an appropriate level of performance.
The Mailbu's chassis is well balanced and poised, but the tires provide merely adequate grip. The electric power steering provide acceptable effort, but it doesn't communicate clearly.
Careful suspension calibration gives the Maibu a smooth, well-damped ride with a pleasant measure of refinement on broken pavement.
Road and wind noise are kept nicely at bay. You can hear just enough of the four-cylinder engine when it's working hard, but the sound is more refined than it was in past years.
Most of the interior controls are well placed and easy to use. Certain stereo and trip computer functions are harder to access, and the arc of the steering controls is opposite the sweep of a thumb.
The view to the front and sides is good, but the view to the rear is impaired slightly by a rising beltline and high decklid.
Seat Access & Space
Front seat space is good, but the rear seat can be tight for tall occupants. The Malibu is a bit narrower than others in its segment, and rear-seat occupants, especially, can feel it.
Cargo & Storage
The trunk is reasonably sized, but the trunk opening isn't, You'll be playing Tetris with your suitcases to make use of the available space.
Exterior build quality (paint, gaps) is good for the class, and many of the interior materials look good, too. But some of the graining looks less than authentic and we saw more misaligned accent pieces than we would have liked.