By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.3
Many critics believed GM could never build a mid-size sedan to compete with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. But, the 2012 Chevrolet Malibu sedan has made believers out of the most strident GM-bashers and given the entire mid-size segment a loud wakeup call. Chevy's Malibu is a stylish sedan with a handsome, intelligently laid-out interior, a choice of fuel-efficient 4- or 6-cylinder engines, and a penchant for driving. Unfortunately, Chevrolet does not offer a hybrid Malibu, leaving green-friendly drivers to shop the Fusion, Sonata, Optima or Camry hybrids. If the 2012 Malibu mid-size sedan falls short in one area, it's the car's entertainment and communications offerings. Unlike the Ford Fusion, the Malibu doesn't offer a SYNC-like system and there is no factory navigation option, although turn-by-turn directions are available through the OnStar system. If these things are an important part of your car-buying decision, you may want to hold off a bit longer when the all-new 2013 Malibu sedan arrives. Already unveiled, the 2013 Malibu offers an even bigger dose of expressive styling, a very cool interior and GM's MyLink voice-activated communications system.
If you've been wanting to come back to a domestic sedan, but felt the quality, styling and features just weren't there, the 2012 Chevrolet Malibu is your ticket back to the good old days. Long-legged occupants will appreciate the Malibu's generous legroom both front and rear.
If you're all about cutting-edge electronics, the 2012 Chevrolet Malibu sedan falls a bit short of the mark. Those who prefer the fun of driving a manual-transmission car will be better served by a Honda Accord, Kia Optima or Ford Fusion.
For 2012, the Malibu LS sedan receives a new Uplevel Package option, while the 1LT offers a Sunroof and Convenience Package.
Driving Impressions The 2012 Chevrolet Malibu sedan's impressively smooth and controlled ride is a direct result of its European-inspired suspension, stiff body, long wheelbase and wide stance. On uneven or rough pavement,...the 2012 Chevy Malibu is able to absorb all but the harshest road imperfections while maintaining its composure, never giving in to wheel hop or chatter. We tend to like the driving dynamics of the V6 models more than the 4-cylinder cars due to the conventional hydraulic power steering setup. The 4-cylinder Malibu uses a fuel-save electric-assist power steering setup that feels a bit detached and lacks good on-center feel. GM's fuel-efficient 6-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.
Although in its final year in this form, the 2012 Chevy Malibu sedan's interior doesn't look old or dated. The smart "dual-cockpit" instrument panel is made of quality plastics that fit together well. Upper-trim models feature two available 2-tone trim combinations-Ebony and Brick, and Cocoa and Cashmere-with metallic-look or wood-grain accents. Cool blue backlighting illuminates the Malibu's gauge cluster, while warmer ambient lighting resides in the foot wells and in the LED overhead pin lighting that projects onto the center console. Abundant storage space is provided throughout the 2012 Chevy Malibu's interior, most notably in the deep center console bin and in the covered storage bin atop the dash. Helpful for laptop or video-game use is the available 110-volt AC power outlet. As for interior space, the Malibu provides excellent legroom for tall passengers, although the headroom for such folk is far better up front than in the rear seat.
The 2012 Chevrolet Malibu sedan displays taut proportions, finely tailored sheet metal and definitive style that is pure Chevrolet. With its wheels pushed to the furthest corners, the Chevy Malibu presents an image of stability and strength; the design also stretches the car's wheelbase to its maximum limit creating a larger and roomy interior. The Malibu's short deck lid opens to reveal a larger and deep trunk, with a low lift-over height for easy loading. In LTZ form, the Malibu sedan is even more distinctive with front foglights and clear-lens LED taillights. V6 models are easily distinguished by their twin chrome exhaust outlets.
The 2012 Chevrolet Malibu sedan's comprehensive list of standard safety features includes 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and traction control, StabiliTrak stability control, front seatbelt pretensioners, OnStar 9.0 and six air bags: dual-stage front, front seat-mounted thorax (side) and 2-row head-curtain bags. Also standard are a 6-speed TAPshift automatic transmission, 17-inch painted steel wheels, XM Satellite Radio and (surprisingly) a choice of interiors that includes 2-tone trim combinations. The range-topping LTZ offers front foglights, 18-inch aluminum wheels, dual chrome exhausts and clear-lens LED taillights.
2012 Chevrolet Malibu sedan option and equipment packages include such features as power-adjustable pedals, up-level interiors, leather seats, power sunroof, Bose audio, Bluetooth, 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 2012 Chevrolet Malibu sedan 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 6-speed automatic is standard across the line, and features a manual shift mode to aid when passing or merging. The 2012 Malibu does not offer a manual transmission option.
169 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
160 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/33 , 15/23 (E85)
252 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
251 lb-ft of torque @ 3,200 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."
3 people out of 3 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!"
4 people out of 5 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."
4 people out of 6 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 7 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."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
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."
6 people out of 12 found this review helpful