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 JDR on Thursday, January 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 63,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car was a great deal. Being that I will not buy foreign, I looked and perused the market for the best rated and most street appeal. This car, after many hard months, came up on top. Not only is the inside very attractive, but the outside is as well. Mine is an LS model, and the only issue that I've had with it, is that I've had to replace the hood release cable. Figuring that it is a main component we fixed it shortly after. Wasn't very hard at all, and cheers to GM for building a car that has the look, the quality, and the return customer."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By ladybug on Saturday, December 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,327overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Okay to drive, good gas mileage"
Cons: "Blind spots, hydro planes, not roomy"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"Car is sporty and nice if you don't want room. Good for one but not a family, maybe I'm used to larger car."
5 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By 1906 Alpha Man on Monday, December 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 81,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great look, good price, and nice car"
Cons: "Driver's side not made for a tall person"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"We bought a brand new Chevy Malibu in 2009. Very nice looking car, a real head turner. The car looks like a BMW it looks that nice. The price was not bad. We bought the LS base model and have no problems with it. The inside is very classy, the dashboard set up is nice and fun to look at. The car is not bad on gas V4 although it the engine does struggle when you dive over 60mph. The car gets around 25mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the hwy. We really like the car. The cons are the power locks went out after having the car 4 years, the A/C sounds very weak now like its about to go out, and I'm 6'3'' 225lbs and the steering wheel doesn't adjust upwards. With the seat pushed all the way back I can hold the wheel with my knees. The wheel does adjust downward but not upward. But overall we do like the car. Very nice looking, very dependable, and the price was not bad at all. I would recommend this car to anyone looking to purchase one. I would purchase another one if they fix the steering wheel problem."
6 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By T8 on Monday, December 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,400overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "price, features, comfort, mpgs"
Cons: "style is a bit bland, new body in 2013"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"About six months after having bought a kia soul, we sold the soul and bought this Malibu. That was a huge change, and was a good one! although the kia soul was an ok car, we could tell after about a month of driving it that it was not going to hold up very well. This Malibu was a complete change for the better in that regard. The build quality of this car is twice that of the soul. Also, this car has more features, and still cost about the same as what our soul was. We love the Malibu, and haven't had any problems with it. In the 5 months that we have owned it, we have put over 15k miles on it, and they have been a joy. overall, its been a really good car, and we would recommend it to anyone."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By tina on Saturday, December 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Easy to drive - good gas millage - roomy"
Cons: "With 2011 year only - blind spots - hydro plaining"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"This has been a good car for the most part; it gets good gas millage, has decent pickup and go when you hit the gas, roomy enough on the inside- front and back, big trunk too. With the 2011 Malibu, I do have a problem with blind spots, when backing out or trying to pull out into traffic from an angle. Also, the car is so light, that hydro plaining has been a scary experience with this car. This is my 3rd Malibu, both of my previous Malibus' have been Excellent cars with no problems, the 2011 is the only one that has had these problems."
3 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By supernurse on Sunday, December 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 69,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Generally a great car overall"
Cons: "headlamp design means $200 repair bills!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Changing headlamps is a nightmare in this car. You have to take the whole front end apart, which is a dirty trick if you ask me. Other than that it's a great car, comfy, roomy, good on gas, handles ok, and reliable so far. I'd give it a 9 if not for the not-user-friendly headlamps."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful