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2011 Chevrolet Malibu Review

2011 Chevrolet Malibu (select to view enlarged photo)
2011 Chevrolet Malibu

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyers Guide

2011 Chevrolet Malibu Rated Four-stars by Most.
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Change for the sake of change is usually non-productive. However, the change that took place four years ago with the Chevrolet Malibu was radical. If you’re in the market today for a front-wheel-drive, midsize, 5-passenger, four-door sedan, Chevy’s flex fuel approved Malibu should be on your list. An extremely viable car that can go head-to-head with any competitor including the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima, and will go the distance using less gasoline than a Toyota Prius. (see Patriotic Americans Choose Flex Fuel Vehicles)

On top of its 2008 North American Car of the Year honors by automotive journalists, Malibu for three years running was named a Best Buy by Consumers Digest, and a 2010 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Malibu’s 2011 model year changes include:
* The fuel-saving six-speed automatic transmission is now standard on all models including TAPshift manual shift control
* 17-inch bright finish aluminum wheels are standard on Malibu 1LT
* 18-inch Chrome Tech aluminum wheels are included in Malibu 2LT V-6 package
* OnStar 9.0 hardware, which offers improved voice recognition and six months of uplevel Directions and Connections service including Turn-by-Turn navigation.

2011 Chevrolet Malibu (select to view enlarged photo)

The flex fuel approved 2011 Chevrolet Malibu is offered in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels all with a standard four-cylinder 2.4L Ecotec engine and six-speed automatic transmission, which by the way I think performs extremely well. A 252-horsepower 3.6L V-6 is available on 2LT and LTZ models. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the four-cylinder is 22 city mpg and 33 highway mpg. For the V6, EPA estimates are 17 city mpg and 26 highway mpg. With its 16.4 gal. fuel tank, a driving range of nearly 550 miles should be achievable with the four-cylinder.

(Editors Note: When you fill-up the 2011 Chevrolet Malibu with Flex-fuel E85, it will use less gasoline than a Toyota Prius, that's good for your pocketbook, your country and your environment.)

You may wonder, why a six-speed transmission? It enables a balance between performance and fuel efficiency, with the six forward gears offering optimized performance at all rpm levels, as well as reduced rpm at highway cruising speeds. Fuel economy is enhanced and cabin noise is reduced.

Also standard on all Malibu models are four-wheel anti-lock brakes; StabiliTrak electronic stability control; AM/FM stereo with CD player and MP3 playback; XM Satellite Radio; OnStar 9.0 with six months of Directions and Connections service and Turn-by-Turn Navigation; power height driver seat adjuster with power lumbar; Remote Keyless Entry and cruise control. With spare tires in question these days, a compact spare tire and jack assembly are available on all models.

On LS models, custom cloth front bucket seats are standard, along with 17-inch fascia spoke wheels with painted sterling silver trim. Bluetooth connectivity and carpeted front and rear floor mats are available.

Malibu 1LT adds steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls; power body-color outside mirrors; 17-inch bright finish aluminum wheels, bright exterior accents and carpeted front and rear floor mats. Six-way power driver seat adjuster; remote vehicle start; Bluetooth connectivity; and an interface package including uplevel AM/FM stereo with USB port and CD player and 110V AC rear power center are available.

Malibu 2LT models add 17-inch Chrome Tech aluminum wheels, UltraLux trim seats with heated six-way power driver and front passenger seat; remote vehicle starter system; leather-wrapped steering wheel. Bluetooth connectivity for phone; and chrome exhaust tip. A premium floor and trunk mat package; interface package; premium eight-speaker Bose audio system and power sunroof are available. When the V-6 package is selected on the 2LT model, 18-inch Chrome Tech aluminum wheels are included.

2011 Chevrolet Malibu (select to view enlarged photo)

The premium Malibu LTZ model adds front heated leather-appointed seats with eight-way power driver seat and six-way power passenger seat; AM/FM stereo with USB port and MP3 playback; eight-speaker Bose premium audio system; automatic climate control; premium carpeted front and rear floor mats; power, heated body-color outside mirrors; fog lamps, 18-inch, 10-spoke bright aluminum wheels. A power sunroof and V-6 package are both optional.

The Malibu has clean, pure lines and wheels pushed to the corners, as well as a visually lower, yet longer, greenhouse and a shorter deck. The body sides are clean and elegant. The attention to detail in the interior matches the Malibu’s exterior, with an ergonomic design using premium materials that convey quality and value. Malibu’s structure provides an exceptionally quiet environment with minimal vibration and noise. The 15.1cuft trunk and split-fold rear seat provide for flexible cargo carrying.

2011 Chevrolet Malibu(select to view enlarged photo)

Malibu also comes with a standard AM/FM stereo system CD player with MP3 playback capability and XM Satellite Radio. Available upgrades on certain models include a premium eight-speaker, Bose sound system that is standard on LTZ and available on 2LT.

For 2011, Malibu includes OnStar 9.0, which, in addition to ACR, features improved voice recognition technology, remote diagnostics, remote door unlock, Stolen Vehicle Slowdown and six months of uplevel Directions and Connections service that includes Turn-By-Turn Navigation. It is the first factory-installed, fully integrated GPS navigation system from OnStar. Malibu is the only midsize car that offers standard navigation. (IMG_0776)

Pricing starts at $22,735. The 2.4L LTZ I drove had a base MSRP of $27,015. The Malibu is assembled in Kansas City, KS with 75% U.S./Canadian parts content.

Larry Nutson