This is one for the real world and real customer, some Joe or Jane with a modest budget, a family to haul and looking for sensible shoes. It’s not hot, super cool or extravagant in any fashion, but it flat out works just fine – I really liked it.
This saga begins at the rental car check-in at JFK in NYC one cool and blustery eve as I walked the lot to see just what was on order for my East Coast mega road trip vacation (8 states, 2K miles, 12 days). Figuring to log at least some time parked on city streets in Brooklyn and the like, I wanted something with a trunk to keep the luggage hidden and mine. Given the planned long hauls, I wanted something roomy and cruisey.
Choices boiled down to the Camry, Altima and this lone Chevy Malibu at the end of the row. In the crystalline night air it did look a fair bit sleeker and more upmarket than the Toyota or Nissan, so the choice was made. Five minutes later we were tossing all the bags into the good sized boot, snugging up the belts and putting the hammer down on the Long Island Expressway.
First impressions were all right on. Power was solid enough, 6-speed auto trans was a smoothy with none of the annoying CVT jive, and the standard stereo had SIRIUS satellite and a righteous sound when cranked. I felt this might be all right.
As the vacation rolled on, so did the trusty Malibu, faultless transit in reasonable quietude and very savory comfort on the open road, dicey enough to cut thru the traffic and very EZ to drive. The front seats were a bit fussy with 6-way adjustments scattered all over, but sat well when dialed in. The steering was light and accurate and the brakes felt solid and strong. With 16″ tires on board instead of the more trendy low-profiles, the Malibu rode like a cloud over the worst strata NYC could muster (and it was pretty bad).
When we kicked back for a 500 mile day the mighty “BU” turned in 33.2 MPG average – impressive enough for me to comment favorably. The whole epic rang in with 31.5 MPG, with a lot of start-stop shuffle mixed in. The huge 18.5 gallon gas tank minimized the fuel stops.
The interior style was a tad on the “American” side, but all controls did fall readily to hand, the shifter had a neat manual action when desired, and the Ice Blue mood lighting was attractive enough. Overall, no design prize winner, but nothing glaringly wrong either.
A few minor points to criticize – the rear seat is on the tight side for this class of car and visibility to the stern not optimum, but that’s it for nags.
With prices starting at $23,735 for the best value LT models the 2015 Malibu is a competitive offering and a really good all-around sedan. I was very favorably impressed with it’s basic goodness and overall balance. Nice.
Regrettably, you’d better move fast if you want one, as the just announced 2016 is a major redesign that loses the sweet 196 hp 2.5 liter four cylinder and drops a measly 1.5 liter turbo in its stead … I have my doubts there and about the rest of the mods too – flashier styling and other changes don’t seem to be moving where I’d want to go.
So, Chevy has messed with a winner to add some trendy glam – too bad.
The 2015 Malibu will make a great used car bargain though.
• dean seven