The range-topping LTZ trim level, which includes lane depart warning and collision avoidance, offers Buick-overlap interior plushness and quality though some of the chromed plastic parts, especially around the gearshift and power window controls, stand out for the wrong reasons in an otherwise elegant interior. The non-eAssist Malibus are distinguished from the Eco models by the wheels and taillamps. Ecos have rectangular backup lights at the bottom of the taillamp lenses, while the others have square backup lights in the center of the taillamps.
Handling at Milford felt like a nice compromise between ride and handling, with good body control and moderate understeer. There’s a bit too much front-rear rebound coming off of big road dips, though. In the real world, some sharp bumps in the road made the Malibu’s chassis feel a bit stiff for a midsize family sedan, giving up some comfort for handling. We’ll need a full instrument test to sort this out.
Taylor’s story noted that the other big criticism is that the 2013 Malibu has a tight rear seat. Motor Trend, for one, has warned Chevrolet about its sedan strategy. The Cruze that’s been out a couple of years is on the large side of the compact category and the new Malibu’s wheelbase is shorter than the old model’s. That said, the Malibu’s back seat is sufficiently roomy. It’s wider, and there’s good knee room, though Chevy achieved this by raising the rear seat, which means headroom for a sub-six footer is marginal and his/her knees will be slightly up in the air. It’s no airy, roomy Volkswagen Passat/