2014 Chevrolet Malibu Review and Prices
The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu is the best car for you if you want a roadworthy but unremarkable midsize sedan that’s liable to be updated just one year into its newest design cycle.
Expect the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu to get cosmetic changes as Chevy attempts to stoke sales against more exciting-looking rivals. The freshening would come one model year after Chevy introduced the redesigned 2013 Malibu. That car opened a new era for this family four-door, one in which it uses European-rooted engineering and an all-four-cylinder engine lineup. The result was a more sophisticated but slightly more compact Malibu than the all-American 2008-2012 generation – and one that drew criticism for its staid styling and cramped rear seat.
Should you wait for the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu or buy a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu? Buy a 2013 Malibu if you have no problem with its conservative looks. The 2014 Malibu might get freshened styling, but its general shape won’t change. Neither will its basic interior dimensions. And no major mechanical alterations are likely. So waiting for the 2014 Malibu would get you the latest in appearance details but almost certainly a model-year price increase, too.
2014 Chevrolet Malibu Changes back to top
Styling: If the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu gets styling changes they’ll be most noticeable at the front of the car. The likeliest scenario involves a version of the nose being introduced on the 2014 Chevrolet Impala.
It’s the new face of Chevrolet and shelves the bold horizontal-bar grille seen on the 2013 Malibu. In its place is a more conventional opening with slender transverse bars and a big Chevy bow-tie emblem. Using the Impala template, Malibu’s headlamps would be integrated more seamlessly at the edges of the grille. And the lower front fascia would flow more gracefully into the front-wheel openings.
Chevy could also tinker with the 2014 Malibu’s rear-fender line, perhaps incorporating the bulge employed on the new Impala. Some tweaking at the tail could bring the Impala’s smaller and better-blended rear lamps and tidier fascia.
The intent would be to juice up the new-but-familiar styling that had the 2013 Malibu outshown by flashier competitors such as the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, and Nissan Altima -- and likely would keep it in the shadow of the curvaceous new 2014 Mazda 6.
Unchanged would be the 2014 Malibu’s roofline, door shape, or wheelbase.
Wheelbase is the most critical element. It’s the distance between a vehicle’s front and rear axles and key to its passenger space, especially legroom.
The 2013 Malibu’s wheelbase was a significant 4.5-inches shorter than the previous Malibu’s and for 2013 will remain the briefest in this competitive set. The result is a dearth of rear-seat legroom and relatively tight rear-door openings compared with most of the family-car field.
Malibu’s current proportions reflect its model-year 2013 conversion to a platform with origins in an Opel sedan from GM’s German arm. The same platform is used by the Buick Regal. General Motors’ aim is to imbue the U.S. cars with some of the precision handling characteristics for which European cars are known – and also to amortize the cost of its global platform portfolio.
Even with no change in dimensions, the 2014 Malibu will retain a spacious front-seat environment and a generously sized trunk of 16.3-cubic feet. The “mild-hybrid” 2014 Malibu Eco model, however, would likely return with a trunk of around 13 cubic feet thanks to intrusion from the housing for the electric-motor’s battery.
If Chevy alters the 2014 Malibu’s exterior it could also accelerate changes to the dashboard layout. The pronounced “dual-cockpit” design introduced with the 2013 Malibu could give way to the more integrated – and less driver-oriented -- dashboard design of the 2014 Impala. Expect the return of some laudable Malibu features, though, including a 7-inch touch-screen radio-display screen that pivots to reveal a 6-inch deep illuminated covered storage bin behind.
Anticipate the return as well of upscale cabin materials and, on all but the base model, cool-blue ambient lighting. The 2014 Malibu should also remain one of the quietest cars in the class.
The 2014 Malibu lineup will likely continue built around three levels of trim: basic LS, volume-selling LT, and top-line LTZ, plus one or more grades of the Eco model.
An outside possibility has Chevy creating a performance-flavored model around Malibu’s turbocharged-engine option. Perhaps resurrecting the Super Sport name worn by classic 1960s and ‘70s Malibu muscle cars, the 2014 “SS” might have distinct exterior and interior trim and possibly its own wheel design.
Mechanical: Don’t look for major mechanical changes to the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu. It’ll retain front-wheel drive, which masses the powertrain over the tires that also propel the car for good wet-surface traction. That’s the norm in the midsize-sedan class, where handling-enhancing rear-wheel is absent and the traction advantage of all-wheel is available only on the Fusion (as an option) and on the Subaru Legacy (as standard).
Chevy probably will again set up turbo-powered Malibus for sharper road manners. But, overall, the 2014 Malibu should remain among the less rewarding cars in this class to drive. It’s wholly competent but also subject to a heavy feel in turns and indifferent steering feedback. Ride quality should remain composed but subject to some wayward body motions over broken pavement taken at highway speeds.
Big news under the hood of the redesigned 2013 Malibu was elimination of a V-6 option in favor of an all-four-cylinder engine lineup. That won’t change for model-year 2014.
All LS models and most LT and LTZ versions of the 2014 Malibu almost certainly will return with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder. It’ll probably again have 197 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque (consider torque the muscle behind acceleration, horsepower the energy that sustains momentum).
The 2014 Malibu Eco model would reprise GM’s eAssist technology, named for the small electric-motor that assists the gas engine. It lends 15 horsepower when rapid acceleration is called for. The Eco’s total horsepower rating, however, should again be based solely on the output of its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine: 182 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. Powering the electric motor is a lithium-ion battery pack charged through regenerative braking and energy captured during deceleration.
GM’s eAssist system is a “mild hybrid” because it can’t propel the car on electricity alone, like a full hybrid. It reduces fuel consumption by taking some burden off the gas engine, by suspending delivery of gas in certain coasting conditions, and by idling the engine when the car is stopped. The 2014 Malibu Eco will again employ active shutters behind the grille that improve aerodynamic flow by closing automatically when additional cooling isn’t required.
Taking the place of the previous-generation Malibu’s 252-horsepower V-6 will again be a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. It’ll likely return with 259 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Also found in various states of tune in the Buick Regal and in the rear-drive Cadillac ATS, this engine was available in 2013 Malibu LT and LTZ models. Whether Chevy will expand its availability to additional 2014 Malibu models – or increase its power – remains a question.
Returning as Malibu’s sole transmission almost certainly will be a six-speed automatic. It’ll again enable manual-type gear control via a toggled section atop its console-mounted shift lever.
Among Malibu engines, the 2.5-liter version should remain the most sensible choice. It delivers adequate acceleration around town and in freeway merging and cruising. The modest fuel-economy gains of the Eco’s eAssist system don’t offset its additional cost. And while the turbo furnishes great giddy-up from midrange and highway speeds, it’s prone to frustrating throttle lag around town. And its sudden onset of power can trigger untoward front-end wander, known as torque steer.
Features: We’d urge Chevy to make hands-free Bluetooth mobile-phone connectivity standard on all 2014 Malibus. This safety-enhancing feature was unavailable on 2013 Malibu LS models. Chevy ought to also extended USB iPod linking to the LS, as well.
Otherwise, expect every 2014 Malibu to continue with an array of features that matches those of most direct competitors. These include standard air conditioning, power locks, windows, and mirrors, tilt/telescope steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, a driver’s seat with height and lumbar adjustments, remote keyless entry, and satellite-radio capability.
Also returning as standard across the board will be the OnStar assistance system. Activated by a button on the inside rearview mirror, OnStar is manned 24/7 by live operators and provides such services as turn-by-turn directions and emergency response that includes stolen-vehicle slowdown and ignition block. Expect Chevy to again include six months of OnStar service with the vehicle purchase and to require a monthly fee thereafter.
Don’t look for Chevy to extend its MyLink Touch system to the 2014 Malibu LS model. But every other 2014 Malibu should have it. Controlled by voice commands and a 7-inch dashboard touchscreen, MyLink integrates online services such as Pandora Internet radio and Stitcher SmartRadio. It also enables audio streaming and wireless control of Bluetooth-enabled smartphones.
Remote-vehicle start, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a driver-information screen in the gauge cluster should again be standard on LTZ and Eco models and most LTs. Upper-tier trims will return a power driver seat. And LTZs will again have power heated front seats with available with driver-seat memory. Leather upholstery should again be standard on the LTZ and optional on upper-tier Eco and LT Malibus.
Expect a power sunroof as standard on the top-line LTZ model and optional on all but the LS Malibu.
Chevy should consider expanding availability of the navigation system beyond just LTZ models and the most-expensive version of the Eco. We’re glad the rearview camera included with the navigation system will again be available separately – although it would enhance LS-model safety if it was offered there, too.
If there’s a 2014 Malibu SS model, expect it to join the LTZ with available xenon headlamps and pushbutton ignition.
New-to-Malibu for 2013 and sure to return for 2014 were lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems. Lane-departure alerts if the car strays from its intended highway lane and was an option on LTZ and upper-level LT Malibus. Forward-collision warning sounds an alarm if the car is closing too fast on traffic ahead; it was available only on the LTZ for 2013.
2014 Chevrolet Malibu Prices back to top
Prices for the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu were not announced in time for this review. But barring introduction of addition models, such as a flagship Super Sport, they shouldn’t differ greatly from those of the 2013 Malibu.
That suggests a 2014 Malibu base-price range of $23,650-$31,400.(Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandated destination fee; Chevy’s destination fee for the 2013 Malibu was $760.)
Such a base-price range would keep the 2014 Malibu in the ballpark with most comparably equipped rivals, although Accord, Camry, and Altima should again offer V-6 engines for the price of Malibu’s turbo four-cylinder models.
Estimated base-price range for 2014 Malibus equipped with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is $23,650-$29,100.
Figure $28,200-$31,400 for 2013 Malibus powered by the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, though a special performance model with this engine could push that upper estimate higher.
Expect the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu Eco to start around $26,600.
Chevy ought to reconsider some of its options-package pricing for the 2014 Malibu. Charges for some 2013 Malibu accessories were quite reasonable, but Chevy required they be purchased in combination with other features packages, driving up their cost.
For example, the navigation system ran just $795 but required purchase one of several packages, ranging from the $395 Advanced Safety Package (forward collision and lane-departure alerts) to the $1,900 Electronics and Entertainment Package (rearview camera, sunroof, upgraded audio system).
2014 Chevrolet Malibu Fuel Economy back to top
EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu were unavailable in time for this review but are not expected to change from 2013 Malibu ratings. That would keep the 2014 Malibu mid-pack in its class.
Expect 2014 Malibus with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder to again rate 22/34/26 mpg city/highway combined. They’d again trail similarly configured four-cylinder version of top rivals, such as the Altima, which rated 27/38/31 mpg for 2013, and the Accord, which rated 27/36/30 mpg for 2013.
Figure the 2014 Malibu Eco’s EPA ratings to repeat at 25/37/29 mpg city/highway/combined. That would maintain the Eco as significantly less fuel-efficient than full-hybrid competitors, while keeping it only slightly less expensive. For example, the 2014 Camry Hybrid is expected to repeat at 43/39/41 mpg and the 2014 Fusion Hybrid at 47/47/47.
At an expected 21/30/24 mpg, fuel-economy ratings for 2014 Malibus with the turbocharged engine would be OK for this engine’s power but no better than those of direct competitors with similar performance from both turbo-four and V-6 engines.
Chevrolet probably will continue to recommend regular-octane gas for all 2014 Malibus, the possible exception being a potential enhanced-performance turbo model.
2014 Chevrolet Malibu Release Date back to top
Look for the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu in showrooms during the fourth quarter of 2013.
What's next for the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu back to top
The 2013 Malibu finished in sixth place among midsize cars in calendar-year 2012 sales. It trailed, in order, the Camry, Altima, Fusion, Accord, and Sonata. That’s a tough crowd in which to stand out, but Chevy evidently had higher hopes for this new-age international Malibu.
Whether uninspired styling was to blame, or whether shoppers were turned off by the size of the rear seat, Chevy apparently isn’t waiting for Malibu to be further marginalized in its market segment.
If reports of a cosmetic facelift for model-year 2014 are accurate it would be a highly unusual step for a car just one model-year into its lifecycle. Such updates usually occur well into a vehicle’s lifespan, often just two years away from a full redesign, in hopes of renewing interest in an aging model.
A 2014 freshening doesn’t preclude Chevy from updating the Malibu again before the end of this design’s lifecycle. Figuring model-year 2019 for the possible introduction of the next all-new Malibu, another freshening could occur for model-year 2017.
Still, Malibu’s current wheelbase and general body structure is locked-in until the next full redesign. Interim mechanical changes could bring more efficient four-cylinder engines, even possibly a diesel-engine option. But a V-6 isn’t probable during the current design generation, and neither is all-wheel drive.
2014 Chevrolet Malibu Competition back to top
Toyota Camry: The current-generation Camry debuted for model-year 2012 and easily defended its title as America’s best-selling car. Toyota is working with electric carmaker Tesla to create a plug-in hybrid Camry, and it may debut as a 2014 model. Otherwise, no changes of note are expected for the 2014 Camry. It’ll continue with gas four- and six-cylinder engines and with a surprisingly pleasant “conventional” hybrid. Spacious passenger accommodations, plenty of cargo space, and refined-if-not-sporty road manners remain Camry hallmarks. Add to that competitive pricing and fuel economy, plus high customer-satisfaction ratings, and this Toyota defines broad-based midsize-car appeal.
Honda Accord: Fully redesigned for model-year 2013, the Accord is set to gain a plug-in hybrid model for 2014. Honda says the plug-in’s all-electric range is 10-15 miles in city driving and its all-electric top speed is 62 mph. The carmaker pegs a full battery recharge at less than 1.5 hours using a 240-volt charger. Expect an EPA rating of more than 100 miles-per-gallon-equivalent. Meantime, gas-powered Accords will return in sedan and coupe form, both offering a four-cylinder and a V-6. Like the latest Malibu, Accord shrunk a bit in its 2013 redesign. Unlike Malibu, it didn’t lose rear-seat spaciousness. It also retained its standing as a family midsize car even enthusiast drivers appreciate for its handling and balance.
Ford Fusion: If Accord has a midsize-sedan rival for good road manners it’s this new-era Fusion. Like GM, Ford looked to its global portfolio and tapped the European Mondeo model as inspiration for the redesigned 2013 Fusion. The result is sophisticated styling, a polished suspension, and the broadest powertrain lineup in the class. The 2014 Fusion will return with five engine choices, including two turbocharged four-cylinders and two hybrids, one a plug-in rated more than 100 mpg-e. It’s not as roomy as the Camry, Altima, or Volkswagen Passat, but Fusion appeals to both families and the people who drive them around.