By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.7
Chevy's mid-size offerings, like most GM passenger cars, suffered corporate neglect in the 1990s and early 2000s as customers – and the company's engineering attention and budget – increasingly shifted toward trucks and SUVs. What a difference a few years make. After surviving one of the worst crisis in automotive history, GM emerges from bankruptcy with a renewed emphasis on high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles. Nowhere is this philosophy more evident than in the company's most successful mid-size sedan, the Chevrolet Malibu. Now entering its third year of production, the Malibu has bolted from middle-of-the-road contender straight to the top of the mid-size sedan game. The 2011 Malibu looks wonderful, is solidly built and carefully crafted inside and out, offers good fuel economy, drives wonderfully and is priced to sell in serious volumes. If there is one weakness in the Malibu game plan, it is the lack of a proper hybrid model to challenge the Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry.
The 2011 Chevrolet Malibu's bold, attractive sheetmetal and stylish interior touches are backed by confident handling, a quiet ride and an overall level of refinement competitive with the category's best. Unlike some competitors, the fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine is available on all Malibu trims, not just the entry-level model.
The 2011 Chevrolet Malibu hasn't been around long enough to challenge the impressive resale values of the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. Certain high-end features available on competitors, like DVD navigation (OnStar Turn-by-Turn does not feature a map display), music streaming and keyless start and entry, are not offered on the Malibu. And Chevrolet has nothing to counter Ford's SYNC voice activated audio system.
For 2011, Chevrolet adds its fuel-saving six-speed automatic transmission with TAPshift manual shift control to all Malibu trims.
Driving Impressions The 2011 Chevrolet Malibu's long wheelbase, wide stance and stiff structure combine for a pleasing balance of ride and handling that's not at all common in this class, particularly for...a domestic brand. The energy-efficient electric power steering on four-cylinder models – though better than earlier GM electric power steering applications – feels a bit artificial on-center; the conventional hydraulic power steering on V6 cars offers more precise feel. The Malibu is amazingly well behaved on uneven pavement, absorbing all but the most stubborn bumps and never giving in to wheel hop or chatter. The cabin is also luxury-car quiet, with no perceptible wind noise around the pillars or mirror caps. GM's fuel-efficient six-speed automatic is a welcome addition to the Malibu lineup and offers paddle shifters for more spirited driving.
Available on 1LT models and standard on 2LT and LTZ, this terrific feature lets you start the engine and warm or cool the interior from a distance, with the car still locked, well before departing.
A GM OnStar feature, this service provides precise verbal directions through the car's audio system without the need to program in a destination.
The 2011 Chevrolet Malibu's beautifully crafted interior uses premium materials throughout. The "dual-cockpit" instrument panel's major gauges are backlit in blue, ambient lighting provides a warm environment and overhead LED floodlights project subdued light on the console area between the front seats. The deep center console's sliding cover opens to accommodate large items, there's a handy storage compartment atop the instrument panel and an available "rear power center" provides a 110-volt AC power outlet. Two available two-tone trim combinations – Ebony and Brick and Cocoa and Cashmere – offer a choice of metallic-look or wood grain accents, while an all-Ebony combination is accented with tasteful wood grain. Rear seat legroom for tall passengers is exceptionally good, and the high roofline allows enough head room for all but the super long-bodied, who probably will be more comfortable up front.Exterior
The 2011 Chevrolet Malibu hits a high-water mark for its size and price with taut proportions, elegant lines and a crisp, clean profile. Its split grille represents the new global face of Chevrolet cars, and its twin round tail lamps are traditional Chevy cues. The Malibu feature a large, deep trunk with a low lift over height for easy loading, and the car's elongated rear doors make entry and exit comfortable even for tall passengers. LTZ models feature front fog lamps and clear-lens LED tail lamps, while V-6-powered Malibus sport twin chrome exhausts. With tight panel gaps and rich-looking details, this mid-size Chevy looks like $40,000 while starting at half that price.
Malibu's comprehensive list of standard safety features includes four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and traction control, StabiliTrak stability control, front seat-belt pretensioners, OnStar 9.0 and six air bags: Dual-stage front, front seat-mounted thorax (side) and two-row head-curtain bags. Also standard are a six-speed TAPshift automatic transmission, 17-inch painted steel wheels, XM Satellite Radio and (surprisingly) a choice of interiors that includes two-tone trim combinations. The range-topping LTZ offers front fog lamps, 18-inch aluminum wheels, dual chrome exhausts and clear-lens LED taillamps.
2011 Chevrolet Malibu option and equipment packages include such features as power-adjustable pedals, up level interiors, leather seats, power equipment groups and a premium audio system. A touch screen GPS navigation system is not available (partially because the center stack design doesn't provide room for a screen), but Turn-by-Turn verbal directions can be easier to use (you call in destinations to an OnStar operator rather than program them in) and you may not miss the screen.
The 2011 Chevrolet Malibu offers a choice of a standard 169-horsepower 2.4-liter ECOTEC four, or a 252-horsepower 3.6-liter V6; both engines feature dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing. Chevrolet's fuel-efficient six-speed automatic is standard across the line, and features a manual shift mode to aid when passing or merging. The 2011 Malibu does not offer a manual transmission option.
169 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
160 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/33 (six-speed), 15/23 (E85, six-speed)
252 horsepower @ 6300 rpm
251 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26
By Springseller56 on Tuesday, September 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Smooth ride, responsive acceleration, gas mileage"
Cons: "Stereo could be better"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I've driven this car for 1 1/2 years; it is a company vehicle and assigned to me in my job as an outside salesman; I call it my "salesmobile". It is my daily driver so it sees a lot of service in the city and I've also taken on very long road trips. It has a very smooth ride, competent handling, and gets great gas mileage. The 4-cyl engine is sturdy and responsive. Although you're not going to break any records from a standing start, acceleration is surprisingly good and has excellent "roll-on" acceleration for passing. The automatic transmission is extremely smooth; you might never notice gear changes at all. Steering is predictable and handling is remarkably competent for a car of this class and the 4-wheel ABS disc brakes stop the car very well. The Bluetooth paired with my smart phone works well and has answer/hangup controls on the steering wheel. Voice controls for making calls from the car, however, are dated and require too much specificity; it's usually easier to punch in the number on the phone. Seating position is comfortable for long drives and the rear seat is reasonably roomy for a small car. The trunk is also very roomy. Visibility is very good and the side-view mirrors are easily adjusted with the control on the driver's door arm rest. The driver's seat has power adjustments but the passenger seal does not. The standard AM/FM/CD controls are intuitive and the system comes with XM (which I don't use). However the standard 4-speaker arrangement is merely adequate by today's standards. On-Star can be accessed from a button on the rear-view mirror and also has a button for garage remote. Volume, station jump, mute, and cruise control are all on the face of the steering wheel and easy to operate. Biggest complaint is that even with new tires it has a tendency to hydroplane during a downpour, but only at +60 MPH. It would also be nice if they had included a compass direction display on the mirror. The cloth interior readily picks up stains so I purchased after-market faux leather covers for the front seats."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Chitowngal on Friday, September 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 57,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great ride, roomy, lots of storage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Love, love, love my car. Perfect fit for me in every way. Bought it used so was pleasantly surprised when I saw the exterior color had 'sparkles' in it much like my son's BMW. Of course, nobody buys a car for the glittery paint job but I love the way it handles, the feel of it on the road and it is roomier than I expected. Plenty of storage from the trunk (could probably fit 2 bodies in the trunk lol) to the various compartments inside and 4 drink holders in the front alone. Was expecting to buy a Toyota or Honda, but so glad I bought this Chevy. My very first car was a brand new 1968 Malibu (for $2600!) and it was adequate. THIS Malibu has come a long way baby!"
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By soccerMom on Monday, September 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 69,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun to drive, looks great, economical"
Cons: "rear window stays foggy too long"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The car is zippy, good on gas, looks good and is comfortable. The only thing I don't like is the rear window is hard to defrost."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Golf Guy on Wednesday, September 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,000overall rating 2 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I am a Chevy guy but this is the worst car I have ever owned. Almost cost as much in repairs as I paid for the car"
2 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Tawanda on Monday, September 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Economy and roomy interior"
Cons: "Road noise and lack of excelleration"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I went for economical when I bought this car and got a great deal. Now realize that I should have gone for AWD and Leather; I've also discovered that my needs require more space for hauling. Although the back seat is very roomy and the trunk space very large, the trunk opening is small for my needs and I don't like to have to use the back seat to haul. Road noise is loud but the ride is not bad. Seats are very comfey and insturment panel is nice; except the chrome around the radio the reflects sun into my eyes during all morning driving."
By mew on Thursday, August 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, handles very well, has get up and go"
Cons: "Narrow back windows can cause a blind spot"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love my car. She corners well, drives very nicely, stereo system is great. Absolutely love the OnStar. Only reason I am selling her is my husband doesn't have enough head room and since his neck surgery, has a hard time getting in and out. He wants a car that sits higher."
5 people out of 11 found this review helpful