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 jkbulher on Sunday, June 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "mpg, comfort, quiet, dependable."
Cons: "noise in steering."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Bought one of the first "new" malibus. Noticed a clunking noise as I was driving it home for the first time. Took it in and they "fixed" it. The noise came back. The dealership "fixed" it two more times and it continued to come back. The last time I took it in (still under warranty) I was simply told that "all malibus do that" as if it was ok because they all are messed up. This turned out to be the same problem I had with my GMC pickup. The steering column develops a slack in it and while it is not a safety issue it is very annoying and speaks to GM's failure to build a quality vehicle that they will make right if it has something wrong. Long story short, every time I drive it, especially on cold days when the noise id particularly bad the car (and truck) sing me a song that goes something like this ... Never again, never again, I'll never buy a GM again. The pickup was new in 2004 and stickered for 41k and the malibu was 28k. For that kind of money GM should make it right. At the right price a used malibu would be a good car but just know that they "all do that"."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Essie on Wednesday, June 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks great, easy to drive."
Cons: "not enough cup holders in easy to get to places."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Love this car. Roomy enough for 5, great ride, comfortable interior. Looks great even after almost three years."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By multiskittles2014 on Sunday, June 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 71,588overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "gas mileage, ambient lights, doors open wide"
Cons: "small trunk, no onstar, no satellite radio"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I had a 2001 Ford Taurus SES that I loved but it had major problems. Well I decided to stop in at a dealership because of traffic, I love car so the guy comes up and says "I will not bother you but if you have questions just ask" I had questions and drove some cars, then after everything; he asked if I wanted to see if I could be approved. I had been approved and I'm working on my credit :) They financed me for a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu LS and I never even test drove it. When I took it home everyone loved it and so did I. I had to take it back to the dealership three days later because the alignment was off a little bit. They said it was fine and turned the steering wheel back straight and it was still eating up the drivers tire. Other than the tire problem and noise from the tires the car is awesome."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Joee on Wednesday, June 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great value, style, interior appointments."
Cons: "Not as quiet a ride as I had hoped."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I really enjoyed my Malibu LTZ. Handled beautifully, enough power and great in the mountains. The Interior appointments were really nice and dash was well thought out. My only disappointment was I felt the car could have been a quieter ride, although I may have experienced some additional tire noise due to the fact I had the larger 19" wheels , (gorgeous), and sport tires. All in all I really enjoyed my time in my Malibu. I unfortunately won't buy the new one. I'm just not fond of the new body style."
By dick rhodez on Tuesday, May 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,457overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Leather, Sun Roof , power seats, bluetooth"
Cons: "small cupholder spot, navigation - less, no dvd"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I love this car... the Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 4 Door Sedan is smooth, With a gun metal blackish-Gray color, I love the handling and the leather / heated seats.... The Power train is in great condition and under warranty for 5 years and 100,000 miles. VERY IMPRESSED ( NO RECALLS... YET )"
1 person out of 3 found this review helpful
By lady on Monday, May 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "over all ride is good on highway not back roads."
Cons: "good gas mileage and body looks nice."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"do not like the black inside. Hit our heads every time we get in or out. It does get good gas mileage and has good leg room front and back. Dash scratches easily from keys and such."