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 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