2013 Chevrolet Malibu Turbo

2013 Chevrolet Malibu Turbo Review

Chevy goes the turbo route with the Malibu.

By: Tim Healey

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: February 28th, 2013

For automakers looking to increase fuel economy without sacrificing power, turbocharging is the name of the game. Ford started the trend with its EcoBoost program, lopping cylinders off of engines and replacing them with a turbo--with the idea being that the turbo's boost would make up for the lost power, while fewer cylinders would lead to better fuel economy.

Other automakers have followed suit, including Chevrolet. When the company redesigned its mid-size Malibu for 2013, it killed off the V-6 option, leaving power-hungry buyers to opt for the Turbo for maximum grunt.

But will it be satisfying for those who want extra power?

  • On the Road

    It won't come as a shock to find that the turbo version offered a bit more power than the base four-cylinder, but the Malibu didn't feel quite as quick as some of the other offerings in the mid-size sedan class, such as its rival, the Ford Fusion. Not only would we like a little more power, but we'd also like an automatic transmission that would kick down to a lower gear faster to take better advantage of the engine's 259 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque.

    Enthusiasts hoping that the Malibu will be a sporty four-door will be disappointed. Want something fun with four doors and cargo room? Here, let us show you a Ford Fusion or Honda Accord. The Malibu felt nervous when pushed, with a steering system that felt disconnected from what the tires were doing while also feeling far too light.

    Too much body roll (side-to-side sway during cornering) also interfered with the proceedings, eating into the driver's confidence.

    The trade-off was a ride that made the Malibu a highway star. It was comfortable without ever being soft, making highway rides a joy. The word that kept coming to mind was "composed."

    Buyers who are looking to the Turbo for extra straight-line pep will be happy, but anyone who was hoping that the Turbo was an all-around performance version of the Malibu will be disappointed. It's a stand-in for the V-6, nothing more.

  • Exterior

    Chevy stuck with a conservative look for the Malibu with the 2013 redesign, but did get a bit more aggressive with the car's stance. Chevy also had no qualms with borrowing styling elements from other cars in the brand's portfolio--the taillights looked very Camaro-esque.

  • Interior

    We generally found most materials to be upscale for the price, with most switches and buttons easy to reach and easy to use. The design mixed form and function well.

    Space felt a bit tight for a mid-size sedan, and we were surprised that our nearly $35K tester didn't have a navigation system--buyers would have to pony up extra cash.

  • Final Thoughts

    General Motors was once known for making sedans that accelerated quickly in a straight line while also eating interstate miles with a composed ride, sedans that didn't corner well. The Malibu Turbo continues that tradition.

    We wished for a transmission that could match the engine, and a suspension that would give the car a bit more ability during cornering. But many buyers will care more about fuel economy (21 mpg city/30 mpg highway), passenger space, and comfort than they will about fun. The Malibu Turbo scores well for comfort, but $35K is a steep price to pay, even if it is line with some of the top-trims from the competition.

    The larger issue is that while the Malibu feels more than competent, it also already feels behind the times when compared to its competition, such as the revamped Fusion and Accord. Chevy has a little more tweaking to do.

  • Specs. Features, Prices

    Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    Drive Wheels: Front-wheel-drive

    Fuel Economy: 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway

    Base Price: $30,165

    As-Tested Price: $34,145 (includes $760 destination fee)

    Available Features: MyLink infotainment system, keyless entry, OnStar, satellite radio, Bluetooth, heated front seats, tilt/telescope steering wheel, sunroof, remote start, auxiliary port, USB port, fog lamps, Electronics and Entertainment Package (includes: 19-inch wheels, rearview camera, premium audio, 120-volt power outlet), LTZ Premium Package (includes: keyless starting, high-intensity headlights, passive entry, memory seats), Advanced Safety Package (includes: forward collision alert, lane-departure warning).

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