2013 Chevrolet Malibu Review


Pros & Cons

  • Upscale interior
  • advanced high-tech features
  • composed and comfortable ride
  • Eco model's high fuel economy.
  • Less rear legroom than competitors
  • transmission makes Eco model feel sluggish
  • oddly shaped trunk space in the Eco.
List Price Range
$7,966 - $15,595

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The redesigned 2013 Chevy Malibu is a solid choice for a family sedan, but we suggest considering the late-introduction 2.5-liter or turbo models instead of snapping up the Eco model that debuted first.

Vehicle overview

"Close but no cigar." This saying could be applied pretty easily to the previous generation of the Chevy Malibu, a family sedan that was pretty good in most respects but not good enough to earn "best-in-class" status. The fully redesigned 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, however, with its added refinement, feature content and efficiency, finally makes this model a strong competitor.

The Malibu's improvement is immediately evident once you take a seat inside. Even lesser-equipped Malibus enjoy an abundance of sound deadening, soft-touch materials, high-quality switchgear and an attractive appearance. The controls -- dominated by a touchscreen in all but the base LS trim -- are a bit more complicated than the outgoing car's, but then the 2013 Malibu is also available with a lot more equipment to control. Chevy's new MyLink system connects your smartphone to the car via a USB jack and/or the Bluetooth system, allowing for not only hands-free calling, but audio connectivity and Internet music streaming as well. The Malibu is also available with a navigation system for the first time.

In terms of size, the new Malibu is wider than before, which results in more shoulder and hiproom. However, the wheelbase has shrunk, which means a little less rear legroom than most other midsize family sedans provide. Still, we can't say many people will notice. Overall, the Malibu is more spacious than before, and only the tallest drivers will leave rear occupants with squished knees.

The 2013 Malibu debuted first with a new "Eco" setup. This pairs a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with a mild-hybrid system that adds an electric motor for assistance during acceleration but which otherwise primarily powers an auto stop/start system as well as various vehicle accessories. Taking that burden off the gasoline engine and adding some aerodynamic tweaks allows the Malibu Eco to achieve an impressive 29 mpg combined from the EPA. Still it's worth noting that this figure is only 1 mpg better than what the four-cylinder-powered Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry achieve.

However, the 2013 Chevy Malibu does offer a new 197-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder as standard equipment, as well as an optional 259-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Both of these engines deliver strong performance and admirable fuel efficiency, easily making them preferable to the Eco model.

Given the wealth of other benefits that come with the 2013 Malibu, we think Chevrolet has risen to become competitive among other midsize family sedans. It joins the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima and Volkswagen Passat as a model to consider heavily. Quite simply, the new Malibu feels like a more premium product. Forget "close but no cigar." The new 2013 Chevy Malibu deserves a Cohiba or two.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu models

The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan is currently available in four main trims: LS, LT, LTZ and Eco.

Standard equipment on the LS includes 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, keyless entry, full power accessories, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, OnStar, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a touchscreen infotainment interface and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and satellite radio.

The LT actually consists of three subsets: 1LT, 2LT and 3LT. Added perks of the 1LT over the LS include heated mirrors, upgraded upholstery, Chevrolet MyLink smartphone integration (includes voice controls, Pandora and Stitcher Internet radio compatibility) and an upgraded audio system with a touchscreen infotainment interface, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. The 2LT further adds 18-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, remote vehicle start, a compact spare tire (versus just a tire repair kit), dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar) and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The 3LT is essentially identical to the 2LT, with the addition of the turbocharged engine.

Springing for the top-of-the-line LTZ provides leather seating, heated front seats, an eight-way power passenger seat (with power lumbar) and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Like the 3LT, the 2LZ subset trim level is the same as the LTZ but with the turbocharged engine.

The Eco is available in two subsets: base and with Premium audio. Standard features on the Eco are similar to those of the 1LT, with a few upgrades that include 17-inch alloy wheels and dual-zone automatic climate control. An Eco with the Premium audio adds a nine-speaker Pioneer sound system, foglamps, a remote garage opener, a cargo net, auto-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera, remote vehicle start, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar) and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

Many of the upper trims' features are available on the lower trims via various option packages. Other optional highlights (depending on trim) include xenon headlights, keyless ignition/entry, a sunroof and a navigation system.

2013 Highlights

The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu has been completely redesigned.

Performance & mpg

All Malibu trims except the Eco come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 197 hp and 191 pound-feet of torque. As with all Malibu models, a six-speed automatic is the sole transmission offered. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 22 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 26 mpg in combined driving.

The 2.0-liter turbo engine is only offered with the 3LT and 2LZ trims. It produces 259 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy registers an EPA-estimated 21/30/24 mpg.

The Malibu Eco model comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder paired to a small electric motor. It produces 182 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. Unlike a full-hybrid, the mild-hybrid Malibu Eco cannot propel itself using electricity alone. Instead, the motor modestly aids acceleration, powers vehicle accessories and enables an automatic stop/start system that shuts off the car when you've stopped (such as at a traffic light or stop sign) to conserve fuel.

In Edmunds performance testing, the Malibu Eco went from zero to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds -- quicker than average for a four-cylinder family sedan. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 25 mpg city/37 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. These numbers are slightly better than the thriftiest four-cylinder family sedans, but far less than what you'd get from a full hybrid sedan.


The 2013 Chevy Malibu comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front knee airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and OnStar emergency communications. Rear side airbags will be standard on all Malibus starting in the summer.

In Edmunds brake testing, an Eco stopped from 60 mph in 119 feet, which is a few feet better than average. As for crash safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Malibu its best possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.


Chevrolet put a lot of effort into giving the new 2013 Malibu a supremely quiet cabin, and it was certainly a successful mission. This on-road serenity is particularly appreciated on the highway, where the Malibu offers a well-composed ride that dampens bumps without making you feel isolated from the driving experience. Handling is about what you'd expect for a family sedan -- confidence-inspiring, but we wouldn't call it fun. The steering is responsive enough and offers an appropriate amount of weighting, but provides little in the way of feel.

The Eco model's quasi-hybrid system operates seamlessly, rarely reminding the driver of its existence. For instance, when the engine shuts off automatically when the car comes to a stop, you don't get as much of the telltale shudder when it turns back on as is common to most auto stop/start systems. Unfortunately, the 2.4-liter four-cylinder that provides a majority of the motivation here (the electric motor provides limited assistance) sounds unrefined and feels sluggish, despite acceleration numbers that are strong for the class. The culprit is the fuel economy-programmed transmission, which is eager to reach top gear and reluctant to kick down when needed.

While the Eco's fuel economy is impressive, we'd choose either the 2.5-liter or 2.0 turbo engine instead.


The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu stands out from the crowd with a cabin that verges on entry-level luxury territory. The look is attractive, there is an abundance of soft-touch materials and the various buttons and knobs feel substantial. The control layout may be more complicated than previous Malibus, but it's actually simpler than other recent Chevrolets, such as the Equinox and Volt. The touchscreen that's standard on most trims supports GM's new MyLink system, which works pretty well and allows the driver to customize the menu structure (just as you would on an iPhone) and stream music using Internet radio services.

In terms of comfort and space, the new Malibu is a mixed bag. The front seats are comfortable and the available power driver seat provides a wide range of adjustability for even tall drivers. In back, the Malibu's increased width for 2013 creates more shoulder and hiproom, but the shrunken wheelbase means less legroom. Unlike in most of its competitors, taller drivers will have to scoot their seat up a bit in order to make room for folks in back. To be fair, it'll be big enough for most, but rivals are nevertheless superior in terms of maximum rear legroom.

All Malibus but the Eco boast a 16.3-cubic-foot trunk. The Eco's trunk stands at 14.3 cubic feet, as much of the rearmost portion is taken up by the car's compact lithium-ion battery. Although the latter is a decent number, the Eco's trunk's space is oddly shaped. Also, while the Eco still manages to provide a pass-through into the interior, it is rather small and located in the upper left corner of the trunk. We suppose it's better than nothing, but we also can't imagine how useful it would be.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

5 out of 5 stars
Classy Car
LTZ 4dr Sedan w/1LZ (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
We purchased our LTZ last week. The color and interior we wanted, White Diamond and Brownstone, was not available in the Chicago area. Our dealer found the car we wanted in Indiana a three hour drive away. We are very pleased with the car which has the Electronics pkg, LTZ Premium pkg and Advanced Safety Pkg. It is very quiet and comfortable. My wife drives the car and has shared that she has received compliments from from people she does not know. This is a car we may have for a while.
5 out of 5 stars
A Very Good Buy
LS 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
The redesigned 2013 Malibu looks and drives nothing like the 2012 model. This car is an extremely comfortable drive and the seats hug you. It features a quiet interior which you will really notice on those drives on the interstate. In addition to the redesigned interior, Chevy redesigned the gearing to get a car with a total average of about 30mpg city/highway. In short, if you are looking for a reliable car with a sleek look this is the car to have.
5 out of 5 stars
Feel smart for buying this car
Eco 4dr Sedan w/Premium Audio (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A)
The ride of this car is very smooth and very quiet.It's not going to win any contests in the 0-60MPH area, but it will get 30-32 MPG in mixed highway and city driving.Strictly highway driving will yield at least the 37mpg that it's rated for and possibly more depending how heavy your foot gets.Previously had an Acura TL,and I can say that the Malibu outshines the TL in nearly every category.Interior materials including leather are high quality. MyLink system fully integrates with my iPhone including putting album art on the screen. This car is a joy to drive and when I look around at other sedans like the TL or the Lexus IS I feel pretty smart with my decision to buy the Malibu for much less
2 out of 5 stars
Electrical problems
LT 4dr Sedan w/2LT (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
My 2013 Malibu 2LT is having a major issue that can cause a serious accident.. The steering and all electronics shut down while I'm driving. The motor remains running but all electronics shut completely down. The dealer won't fix this issue and I will put the biggest lawsuit on Chevy if I get into an accident


NHTSA Overall Rating

5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat4 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover11.1%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu
More About This Model

There isn't much time to form a solid opinion during a typical dealer test-drive. To get the most out of it, you must do some research and come armed with a list of things to check out at close range. You know, questions to ask the man with the tie.

And so it is with our early first drive of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu. We've previously seen the sheet metal at the New York auto show. We've studied preliminary specification sheets. Now it's time to slip behind the wheel with the engine cranked to life and some open asphalt ahead.

But the new Chevy Malibu hasn't made it to market just yet. Instead of taking a quick lunchtime jaunt to our local Chevy dealer, we've flown through three time zones for about two hours of seat time behind the closed doors of GM's Milford Proving Ground in Michigan.

Wide Stance
Finally outdoors and away from the auto show environment, the 2013 Malibu's revised proportions give off a "just right" vibe. Long and skinny, the outgoing car was sleek-looking on the outside but tight across the shoulders on the inside.

The new 'Bu does away with that problem by being 2.7 inches wider overall. Cabin width at the shoulders increases by 1.6 inches up front, but it's even better in the backseat, where the extra width and more muscular rear haunches conspire to produce 3.2 inches more rear shoulder room.

Lengthwise, the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu is only a half inch shorter than the car it replaces, but there's a full 4.5 inches cut from its wheelbase. At 107.8 inches, the new wheelbase is 2.5 inches and 1.5 inches shorter than the Accord and Camry, respectively. Despite this, front-seat legroom is essentially unchanged. The backseat's on-paper loss of 0.7 inch doesn't feel any worse to our resident tall guy, owing to front seatbacks with a broader, flatter profile that's friendlier to knees.

Essentially, the 2013 Chevy Malibu's cabin is no longer the runt of the litter; its interior width now plays in the same ballpark as its direct competition.

Two engines will be offered in the 2013 Malibu, but only the 2.4-liter Ecotec engine with eAssist will be sold for the first few months. Today we're driving the Malibu Eco, the car that's powered by this powertrain.

The eAssist components look suspiciously similar to the Malibu Hybrid system that disappeared in 2010. There's a battery pack in the trunk and a belt alternator-starter (BAS) device that captures a modest amount of deceleration energy for later use in a fuel-saving start-stop mode and for short, strategic episodes of acceleration assistance.

But every part is upgraded. The 2.4-liter mill is converted to direct fuel injection and now makes 182 horsepower (up 18) and 172 pound-feet of torque (up 13). The old Malibu Hybrid was saddled with a four-speed automatic; the new Malibu Eco enjoys a six-speed autobox with a manual mode. The lower grille houses computer-controlled shutters that close tight to reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed.

Lithium-ion cells replace nickel-metal hydride in the new 65-pound battery module, resulting in a same-size 115-volt pack (instead of 36 volts) with three times the energy capacity. Whereas the old BAS motor-generator (MG) was a hopped-up alternator good for just 5 hp, the new one is a water-cooled AC induction motor. Still belt-driven, it now packs 15 hp, three times the punch and, interestingly, two electric horses more than a Honda Insight.

Don't Call Me Hybrid
Despite this, Chevrolet isn't calling this a hybrid. The carmaker took some flak for using the term too liberally in the past. Using present-day political parlance, the original 2008 Malibu Hybrid was accused of being a HINO: Hybrid in Name Only. Even though the 2013 eAssist system brings three times the goods, GM seems bent on avoiding another over-promise, under-deliver situation.

GM engineers tell us they're using eAssist nomenclature instead because this simple system has "grown up" to the point where it's a transparent overlay that can be readily applied to most any vehicle in the lineup. "You want a Malibu with very good fuel economy? How about this one?"

Good approach. Technically speaking, the BAS layout precludes true electric-only operation, and 0.5 kWh of battery capacity is small potatoes. Compared to the ever-expanding spectrum of hybrids on the market, this is still one of the mildest hybrid systems going.

That said, the Malibu Eco's anticipated highway fuel economy of 38 mpg is quite good — class-leading compared to non-hybrids. GM says it'll achieve 26 mpg in the city, also at or near the top of the heap in the non-hybrid world but nothing like the 41 mpg city rating of the 2012 Camry Hybrid or the 40 mpg of the Ford Fusion Hybrid.

Finally Under Way
Under way, the 2013 Chevy Malibu Eco certainly feels stouter than last year's port-injected 2.4 Ecotec, but it's hard to tell if it's quicker with no time for formal measured runs. Chevrolet won't give numerical answers to our questions about curb weight, but the extra steel that goes with a 2.7-inch-width increase must surely add to the burden.

The engine goes about its business in a quiet manner, though, and there isn't much road or wind noise. In fact, all three factors are quieter in our Malibu than they are in a 2011 Hyundai Sonata trotted out for comparison.

Our 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco rides on the same MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension as before, but here the track width has been increased by 2.5 inches up front and 2 inches out back. Roll stability benefits from this broader base of operation.

There's also a new electronic power steering (EPS) system, which delivers its assist at the rack instead of inside the steering column. Totally retuned, the new system's effort build-up characteristics feel more progressive and natural.

Admirably, the steering doesn't kick back through a particularly nasty corner bristling with chatter bumps. Chevy's ride and handling engineers have also dialed in just the right amount of shock absorber damping force to keep the 17-inch Goodyear tires firmly planted over this and a variety of other challenging surfaces sprinkled around Milford's ride and handling loop.

Stops feel entirely normal in the Malibu Eco, mostly because the brakes are the brakes. You can't generate significant power during deceleration through a serpentine engine accessory belt, so the eAssist regenerative system is merely a thin veneer laid over a conventional braking system with good pedal feel.

Yes, but...
There's little to say about the interior because these engineering development cars aren't decorated with all of the final materials and textures we'll see in showrooms. There's no time to pair our smartphone and play with the MyLink system, but we've already previewed that system.

We also didn't drive the all-new direct-injected 2.5-liter four-cylinder Ecotec engine, a clean-sheet design that will join the lineup next summer. GM expects it to make 190 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, slightly more than a Malibu Eco. No fuel economy estimates are available, but without eAssist it can only be less expensive, somewhat thirstier and with a larger trunk.

They tell us this new direct-injected 2.5-liter Ecotec will fulfill the role of a V6, but no recent-vintage V6 (or turbo-4) in this class makes fewer than 250 hp. We suspect a third Malibu engine is in the works, most likely a turbocharged variant of this 2.5-liter Ecotec. GM isn't saying.

GM is also being tight-lipped about the asking price for its 2013 Chevy Malibu Eco. Last time we checked, the 2009 Malibu Hybrid was $3,050 more expensive than a similarly equipped Malibu LT1. The Eco's new eAssist mild hybrid system is clearly more sophisticated, so it's hard to imagine the eAssist price premium shrinking much smaller.

So let's do some math. Today's 2012 Malibu LT1 starts at $23,335. Feeling generous, we'll add just $2,000 for eAssist, which brings our estimated base price up to $25,350. The Camry Hybrid LE, a full-blown strong hybrid that delivers 41 mpg in the city, starts at $25,900.

A Strong Contender
Eco pricing aside, the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu is clearly a better and more well-rounded car than the one it replaces. Steering and handling benefit from newfound polish, and the fuel-saving eAssist mild hybrid powertrain delivers more power and a significant fuel economy boost compared to the current four-banger. It's smooth and quiet, and the wider interior adds much-needed breathing room. No mistake, the new Malibu is a strong contender.

It has to be. The 2013 Malibu is a very important car for Chevrolet in light of declining SUV sales and a general shift to economical sedans. What's more, recent efforts by Hyundai, Kia and Toyota have turned up the temperature in this segment.

Perhaps that's why the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu is hitting the streets early, sometime between New Year's Day 2012 celebrations and the spring snowmelt.

Still, it's hard to make a purchase decision when the price is a secret and the guy in the suit isn't talking. For a solid value judgment we're simply going to have to wait until GM coughs up some prices. By then it'll be time to take a second, longer test-drive in a production-spec car on real roads on our own turf, away from the controlled confines of the proving ground.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored press event to facilitate this report, which originally appeared on insideline.com.

Used 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Overview

The Used 2013 Chevrolet Malibu is offered in the following submodels: Malibu Sedan, Malibu Hybrid. Available styles include LS 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 6A), LT 4dr Sedan w/1LT (2.5L 4cyl 6A), Eco 4dr Sedan w/Premium Audio (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A), LT 4dr Sedan w/2LT (2.5L 4cyl 6A), LTZ 4dr Sedan w/1LZ (2.5L 4cyl 6A), Eco 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid 6A), LTZ 4dr Sedan w/2LZ (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), LT 4dr Sedan w/3LT (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A), and LS Fleet 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 6A). Pre-owned Chevrolet Malibu models are available with a 2.5 L-liter gas engine or a 2.4 L-liter hybrid engine, with output up to 197 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2013 Chevrolet Malibu comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2013 Chevrolet Malibu comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2013 Chevrolet Malibu?

Price comparisons for Used 2013 Chevrolet Malibu trim styles:

  • The Used 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LT is priced between $7,966 and$13,527 with odometer readings between 60260 and146431 miles.
  • The Used 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ is priced between $8,974 and$15,595 with odometer readings between 82567 and96494 miles.
  • The Used 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LS is priced between $8,750 and$8,999 with odometer readings between 109152 and113512 miles.
  • The Used 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco is priced between $9,995 and$9,995 with odometer readings between 106559 and106559 miles.

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Which used 2013 Chevrolet Malibus are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2013 Chevrolet Malibu for sale near. There are currently 14 used and CPO 2013 Malibus listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $7,966 and mileage as low as 60260 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.

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Should I lease or buy a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Chevrolet lease specials
Check out Chevrolet Malibu lease specials