By on April 29, 2015

He was a nice young man working the Enterprise counter, but I wasn’t buying his upgrade spiel. “Ya know, if you’re going to Joliet, there will be a lot of big trucks on the highway, I can upgrade you to a full size for just $15.”  Thanks, but no thanks, I will take my Kia and be on my way. But when I met Anthony at the parking lot I was told; “Mr. Ward, I see we have you for an economy car, but I have none left. How about this Chevy Malibu?”

Ka-Ching!” I win, looks like I’ll be saving that $3 a day for coffee.

Despite the upgrade, I wasn’t exactly pumped about the Malibu, I was hoping for a Charger or even a 300. I hadn’t tried the Malibu, but the previous generations had left me wanting. There, the gleaming silver bullet, sat with just over 13,000 miles. I was in a much better mood than my trip to Houston last month, and Enterprise had managed to get me in and out in less than 15 minutes, including the bus ride from Midway Airport.

So when I climbed into the stripper ‘Boo, I was prepared to give it a fair shake. The trunk had already swallowed my bag and would have taken two more full size bags and probably three backpacks as well.

With the engine already running, MyLink connected to my phone is less than 5 minutes and I eased onto Chicago’s surface streets headed south to Autobahn Country Club. As you would expect, the Chevy was quite comfortable soaking up the potholes around the airport. Not outstandingly so, but well. I actually liked the steering. It felt weighted with a nice on center feel. Good feedback; not quite to Accord standards, but that may be a matter of preference.

I eased onto the freeway and started to make my way southwest. I made it almost 4 whole miles before I encountered traffic. There I would stay, in one form or another, for the next 2 hours. It gave me a chance to spend a little Q time with this weekend’s ride. As superior as I was feeling when I rejected the upgrade offer, this car would have been worth the extra money. The big seats in the Malibu are more comfortable and offer a greater scope of adjustment than the Altima and certainly more than the econobox I reserved. The stereo was pretty good – lots of cubbyholes for things and even a space behind the stereo screen.

That evening I ended up with three passengers, my 6 ft. frame the shortest of them. Despite some criticism of a lack of rear seat room, the Malibu took all of our gear and us to the hotel that night and track the next day. I was actually surprised at how well the Ecotec handled the additional weight. With only 196 hp, the real advantage is 191 lb-ft of torque through the slick shifting 6-speed auto. You won’t win any stoplight sprints against its competitors (unless it’s a Altima), but that doesn’t matter much when you quadruple the passengers.

2015 Chevrolet Malibu

With the size upgrade, I only had to return the tank ½ full, so I didn’t observe any real fuel numbers. But, after driving over 150 miles in a mix of freeway and surface, the tank barely broke the halfway mark. So the claimed 25/36 is probably accurate, which was another pleasant surprise.

This was absolutely the stripper base rental car fleet model, but a “build and price” excursion on GM’s website tells me its $22,465 before the $825 destination charge. It showed me 17 in stock units around the Atlanta metro that match the build ranging from $23,300 to $23,600. With $2,400 down and $1,000 cash back, the Malibu can be had for $294 a month at 1.9%. This places it squarely in the price point of a similar Camry or Accord, but slightly above a Chrysler 200 and under a Ford Fusion, which is kind of where it lives.

I expected disenchantment because that is what GM sedans have always delivered. But the Malibu surprised me. It’s not a market-shattering bargain propelling GM to the top of the market, but it is a good, competent vehicle, competitively priced in a very difficult segment. It offers good value by every measure of a car for the investment. The clear choice in this segment really comes to flavor and the aggressiveness of your chosen dealer to put you in their car rather than the competition.

Which means “Ka-Ching” for anyone looking to buy in this segment.

Photography courtesy Nick Boris

 

General Motors contributed nothing to this review. But Enterprise did rent me the car and offered outstanding customer service in doing so. Speaking of great work, how about these photos?  No crappy iPhone pics for the B&B this time. As I promised my buddy Nick Boris gets credit for every shot. 

Christian “Mental” Ward has owned over 70 cars and destroyed most of them. He is married to the most patient woman in the world, lives in Atlanta and is racing his silly Nissan truck in the 24 Hours of LeMons this weekend at Carolina Motorsports Park. You can follow that and all his other shenaningans on Instagram, Twitter and Vine at M3ntalward. 

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125 Comments on “2015 Chevrolet Malibu LT Rental Car Review...”


  • avatar
    r129

    For what it is, the current Malibu is not the terrible car that some make it out to be, but there was never really a compelling reason to choose it over most of its competitors. However, especially now that the 2016 model has been introduced, there are some great deals to be had on the 2015 that will only get better. Already you can easily purchase a base model in the upper teens, making it an attractive “free upgrade” possibility for compact car buyers as well.

    One thing I would like to point out is how awful the base wheels look on this generation of Malibu. The 16″ aluminum wheels as pictured are standard on the LS and LT, and I think they contribute heavily to the awkward proportions of the vehicle, and are an unattractive design. The 17″ wheel covers that were standard on the previous gen looked better than this. I seriously hope they don’t carry these wheels over to the 2016!

    • 0 avatar
      eManual

      As discussed yesterday, keep the 16″ on the car for better ride and lower replacement cost. You can always buy replacement wheels (<$500) if you must. A midsize car used to have 14-15″ wheels not that long ago.

      • 0 avatar
        r129

        When it comes to appearance, 15″ and 16″ wheels used to look just fine on the midsize cars of the 1990s and early 2000s, but on today’s tall and bloated vehicles, they seem undersized. For better or for worse, 17″ wheels have pretty much become the new standard for this class of vehicle, and tire prices have come down accordingly. I don’t disagree that the 16″ wheels probably ride better and cost less to replace, but by today’s standards, they just make the car look cheap.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        On my last two cars, I’ve replaced the wheels with smaller ones to improve the ride and reduce expenses. I highly recommend to everyone to do the same.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Is there really a compelling reason to buy any particular car in this or really any other class. They all have their plusses and minuses, and there are no amazingly good choices or amazingly bad choices anymore. Do you work next door to a Chevy dealer? Well, buy a Malibu. Do you think the Camry is the best thing since sliced wonder bread – buy a Camry. Etc, repeated ad infinitum.

  • avatar
    PonchoIndian

    This must be a lie…this whole article is nothing buy lies!!

    Everyone knows the Malibu is the bottom feeder and can only be compared to a 78 Granada.
    :)

    Nice to see an on point review without the hyperbole and bias.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    I cannot understand the brain of the average car reviewer. I have always thought this car to be worlds better than the current Camry, Accord, or Altima but it has been consistently panned and the degree of nit-picking astronomical. I caught a glimpse of the 2016 Malibu and it looks like a turd in comparison to this, yet car reviewers have already used words like “stylish” to describe it. Are Americans just gullible? Maybe some saw the commercials of Toyota Jan racing a ruby red Camry SE and actually believed it is a cut-rate Lamborghini. I had a Camry once myself…

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Many car reviewers are in bed with the car companies in that they have to say nice things about the new cars. It’s not at gamergate levels, but there is definitely a whitewash of new products. (As for ads, did you notice the Toyota commercial where they were drifting a FWD car?)

      I agree the new Malibu just revealed does nothing for me. I honestly don’t see what reviewers are gushing over.

      I’ve had a few Malibus as rentals, and they are consistently some of my least favorite. Of the midsizers I’ve driven, the Malibu was far more unpleasant. It is uncomfortable, didn’t feel spacious, got what I consider lousy mileage, and wasn’t fun to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The car has a fundamental problem. It’s a family sedan, intended to carry people in the back seat, but the back seat is tiny. That’s what really started all the criticism, and on that point criticism is very warranted.

      If you’re not carrying anyone in the back seat, it’s not a bad car. It’s one of the quietest entries in its class and has a lot of refinement in the suspension and steering. It’s not nearly as athletic as an Accord or 6 and not as attractive as a Fusion, but it’s a nice drive if you’re cruising on freeways.

      My only other real gripe aside from the back seat is the fuel economy. Unlike this reviewer, I’ve found it to be consistently below par for the class. The car is heavy and the 2.5 has to work hard to propel it. The six-speed auto is not a particularly brainy transmission, which doesn’t help either. I can get 35+ mpg out of a CVT Altima without too much effort in mostly highway driving, while I struggle to get 28 out of the Malibu on the same trip.

      • 0 avatar
        chiefmonkey

        People tend to describe the Accord as the athlete of the bunch; I just don’t see it. Maybe the V6 model…to me it looks like a car designed for museum docents or school administrators.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Drive it and you’ll understand. It’s very light, its engine is stronger than the numbers would indicate (as evidenced by its consistently top-of-class acceleration times), and it has the old-school Honda quality of feeling agile and willing to play. As usual with Honda the tradeoff is a bit more road noise and less isolation.

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            And with brakes that are awful. Cars that are not tracked should not be getting warped rotors. My coworker has taken his wifes Accord back already because the rotors were warped.

            His Civic? No real complaints.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      chiefmonkey, different people have different preferences and expectations. My dad is a Chevrolet guy who likes their choices on suspension tuning and where to cut cost. I prefer Honda’s choices, but any car that sells in the $20k range had to cut costs somewhere to hit the price target.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Imagine how well this car would be selling if they had not utterly botched the launch by going only with the horrible Eco model, which was then the basis for pretty much every review of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      yes, Captain Dan really screwed the pooch forcing them to move the introduction up and only offering the ECO at the start. He was a class #1 maroon.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. Orange

      I think your being to optimistic. There was no way this car would ever have sold “well” irregardless of the when all the trims were available.

      • 0 avatar
        PonchoIndian

        Mr. Orange
        This car doesn’t sell as poorly as people like to make it out.

        No it doesn’t sell in Accord and Camry volume but…It’s not like it sells in VW Passat or Subaru Legacy numbers either

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      Sirwired, good point bringing up GM’s horrible launch plan on this car. Marketing 101, never launch with your worst foot forward. If they had the 2014 refreshed face and the full lineup when the Malibu launched in late 2012, it would do better

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The launch wasn’t helpful, but the car still wouldn’t have sold. It’s in a class where the back seat is important, and its back seat is subpar. Simple as that.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        I’m with Poncho; the sales numbers over at GCBC make it clear that while it’s not in Camcord territory (and is being beaten by the Chrysler 200, due to the 200’s great improvement over last year), it’s not “not selling”.

        It’s outselling the Outback (which nobody seems to consider a failure?) and the Passat, and the Optima (but not the Sonata).

        It’s not an Awesome Success, but by no means is it not selling or a failure.

      • 0 avatar
        Phil A. Ofish

        I’m kind of a Ford guy. Looked at Fusion and Taurus.
        Could not believe how cramped these cars were considering their size.
        My head is on the roof in the back of a Fusion.

  • avatar

    I think you hit the nail on the head. The only real problem with the Malibu is that it’s a relatively-mediocre mid-sized sedan, and that its launch was botched by the availability of solely the “Eco” mild-hybrid version. But it’s not a bad car. It’s not even a “not-so-bad” car in the same way that the old Chrysler 200 was. GM may have missed the chance to stand out in some places with the Malibu, but you can tell they genuinely tried.

    The upcoming 2016 Malibu, by the way, is just hideous.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    I also had this rental, and was pleased overall. I wouldn’t buy it but it would be a preferred choice when next renting. The engine is its best feature, noticeably better than competitors 4 cylinders in this segment.

    • 0 avatar
      TorontoSkeptic

      My thoughts exactly. I’ve had several Malibu LTs for rentals, and they are quiet, comfortable and have a better base engine than the competition. I mean, that’s basically the ideal of American cars right – more powerful, affordable and comfortable than the imports, if a bit less agile, prestigious and sporty?

      The small back seat is mentioned endlessly, I have little kids so it’s only car-seats anyway for the next 5+ years… not a big factor.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    GM: Turns out we actually made a half decent car. Back to the drawing board.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Agreed, I rented an LTZ version last year. It was more then I expected. Very quiet, and a great hwy cruiser. Very solid car and I personally feel the Malibu has a better interior and overall design over the Accord and Altima.

    • 0 avatar
      eManual

      I also rented a 2014 Malibu for a 1000 mile road trip in one day (17 hours) and it was great cruiser. Previously I rented a 2014 Accord for the same road trip and found myself shaking at the end due to NVH. It felt like I was on a canoe, rocking back and forth. Liked the Accord better for short trips, but at the right price, I’d take the Malibu.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Just rode in a coworker’s ‘Eco’ malibu to lunch yesterday, sitting up front.

    My observations:

    Ride is really nice, as is NVH isolation in general. We absolutely flew through speed bumps and the car shrugged it off. Super fat door seals do their job well, doors shut very solidly, and keep outside noise to an absolute minimum.

    Start/stop is just okay, fires up quick but the shudder you feel every time as you take off is unpleasant and takes away from that pleasant isolation and smoothness the car otherwise excels at.

    Interior materials are pretty decent, his has the dark wood finish inside. Decent amount of very spongy/rubbery material on touch points, but start poking around and the door cards are questionably textured plastic, but that’s standard in the midsize class across the board. What is more disconcerting is the lack of space. At 5’11” I was consistently bumping my head into the roof, which had a sunroof. I looked for a way to lower the seat but found nothing. Not sure if I just missed the adjustment for height? I was sitting up fairly high, the view forward and to the sides was excellent, nothing like the pillbox view I was expecting in a GM. The car just doesn’t feel very roomy width-wise either, knees and elbows feel more constrained than in a Camry, or frankly even my Civic. Some of that might simply be the perception of space, but nonetheless the feeling of ‘tightness’ is there. Some people might actually like that.

    I inquired as to fuel economy and my coworker said he was a bit less than pleased. low-mid 20s in a mixed commute. But after seeing him drive I wouldn’t necessarily hold it against the car itself, but more so the ‘nut behind the wheel.’

    He’s had to take it in to the dealer for an errant check engine light once, and a recurring issue with a TPMS sensor I believe.

    I liked it overall, but would not spend my own money on one. He got a smoking deal, coming from a GM employee family, so that makes sense.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Well I’ll counter I suppose, the 2015 LT Eco I had was horrid, the engine would shut off and crank with the same enthusiasm as a 1980s Early TBI that had been sitting uncranked for a few months, embarrasing by 1980s standards and unforgivable today. Second, what the heck is the point of the rear glass, there’s nothing to see from the rear view mirror, visibility rivals a spacecraft, and that’s something coming from me.
    Closing the hood points out the largest GM cheap out I’ve ever seen, there is one gas cyclinder holding the hood up on the drivers side, if you try to close the hood with your handing pushing down on the passenger side, it flexes to a degree I was unaware was possible without permanent damage. The hood on this car is the absolute cheapest most uninspiring body panel I’ve ever seen on a production vehicle. I could go on for days how terrible that was, it wasn’t even mine and it made me mad something that cheap exists. Finally chevylink was terribly slow to respond, when I click something I expect it to react right at that moment, not 2 seconds after.
    I have to agree fully with the original reviewers, who cares if it’s got a nice interior or a smooth ride if it’s made without any attention to details.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      The hood is made of aluminum, and yes, you have to close the hood on the side where the strut is – common sense. At least it’s not using a prop rod. (2013 2LT owner)

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    And we’re back to the “there really aren’t any more terrible cars.”

  • avatar
    vagvoba

    I also had the chance to rent a Malibu a year ago and had very similar experience. All in all I was really surprised how well put together the car was. Decent interior and stereo, nice ride quality, good performance. In comparison, just a few months ago I rented a Kia Optima which was a huge disappointment and I hated almost everything about it.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      I rented a Kia Optima this weekend and was very pleasantly surprised by the interior room, fit & finish, trunk, ride quality and decent power. It took 3 adults and 2 children 350 miles on highways, city streets and country roads and delivered 26 mpg.

      Maybe I do have anti-GM bias, and different strokes for different folks, but by comparison the 2014 Malibu I rented maybe a year ago was a horror show.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Have driven several of these mainly in LT and 2LT trim and overall I was fairly impressed. This tested car is not the very basic model. That would be the LS trim which lacks the larger touch screen with storage and USB ports. The 2LT model is the way to go with it’s leather wheel, rear camera, remote start, fog lamps and dressier 18″ alloy wheels. You can even upgrade the sound system and get leather seats for the 2015 version. None of the examples I drove exhibited the shuddering or slow starting that some claim and after sitting at the bank teller window for 10 minutes with the engine off it started within a nano second and off I went. Mileage varied with the LT version getting one more overall compared to the heavier larger tired 2LT or 28/29 combined. Annoyances were few but still noticeable. The GM bean counters have been at work eliminating the glovebox light this car had for 2013 and only one hood strut instead of two.

    I’m wondering how the 2016 Malibu will fare with 36 less HP and 7 less torque despite the weight loss. That move will surely put the new Bu at the bottom as far as performance is concerned with the base engine.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I drove one of the original 2013 Ecos when they first came out; I thought it was a fine car, really. On par with any other of the 4 cylinder powered midsizers in recent times. I had no issues with the start/stop system, nor did I have any problems with a later Buick Regal that had the same(?) start/stop system. I did find it helped to “time” your stops to get super smooth take offs, but if the average person driving the car had no idea it was a start/stop car, I don’t believe they would notice. They’d probably have the tunes cranked up so they wouldn’t notice the car anyway…

      I’ve never understood the criticism of the Uglibu II (© geozinger, 2015) backseat. I was able to fit behind myself in the 2013 model (I have a 34″ inseam) with no issues. Not the limo-like atmosphere of my Malibu Maxx or my Pontiac G6 with 112″+ wheelbase, but not claustrophobic as was described at the time. I guess we all need a whipping boy at some point…

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        “I’ve never understood the criticism of the Uglibu II (© geozinger, 2015) backseat.” Agree 100%, geozinger. Friends (a family of four) had one as a rental back in 2013, and any four of the five of us fit fine* so long as the 6’3″ person was driving or riding shotgun. (No two-row vehicle on the current market has good room for five, IMO.) Two of me at 5’10” would have fit fine behind two of the 6’3″ person.

        – – –
        *Say that five times quickly.

  • avatar
    scuzimi

    Here’s my problem with most GM and Chrysler products… bad exterior design! At least Ford makes “some” decent looking cars, well not all models.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Truth hurts, I guess. The Malibu is actually a pretty good car. I’ve driven a couple, basic models, too. Gotta love Chevy. A Malibu would be my choice if I were in the market right now, and I’d be driving one if other than the eco version were available in summer, 2012, when I bought my Impala.

    • 0 avatar
      r129

      I had one of these Malibus as a rental, and I thought it was a perfectly fine car, but it did nothing for me. For my money, the smooth V6 power and wide open interior layout of the Impala is more appealing. Not to mention, the W-body Impala was/is such a bargain! I have since had a new Impala as a rental, and was absolutely in love with it.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      I don’t know Zackman. Having driven both, I think you made the right choice. Nothing beats that easy power that comes from the mighty 3.6!

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    Lets not forget that the first two years of this bodystyle had that garbage grill, and that all years have that lousy steampunk centre stack.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    I had a meeting with the Bobs (consultants) who use rental vehicles often, and they tell me that this Malibu is, and I quote, “the Kraft American Cheese of midsize sedans.”

    Interpret that as you will.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I think it’s more “Store Brand American Cheese.”

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      That’s fair. I grew up on Kraft singles (or their local generic brand equivalent), and still buy them from time to time for work sandwiches. Like the ‘bu, they offer good value for money. REAL cheese is friggin’ expensive, and gets moldy much faster.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The best grilled cheese is the one you grew up with. In my case, that means white bread and Kraft singles. Campbell’s tomato soup is a welcome addition.

        • 0 avatar
          r129

          Thinking back to my childhood, I am certain that the best grilled cheese (and macaroni and cheese) was made with “government cheese.”

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I wouldn’t doubt it. The idea of pre-sliced cheese that was not “pasturized cheese-food product” was foreign to me as a child. I don’t know if it even existed.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Going to go full snob here, but the French do the best grilled cheese, and Ham and Cheese, and, well, food.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            PROCESSED CHEESE (Canadian pronunciation)

            “Like little pre-wrapped sausages and things

            They have pre-wrapped sausages
            But they don’t have pre-wrapped bacon
            Well, can you blame them?
            Yeah!”

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      So it will never decay if left outdoors? Seems like a good asset in a vehicle.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Nice review, this is one of the more positive ones. Never even sat in one, but it seems like the Malibu does well at providing a comfortable ride, removing road noise, providing a nice quiet place to eat up miles. Haven’t read much fondness for the drivetrain, real world mpg, or backseat space but not every buyer in this segment needs that much room or cares if the engine revs like a Honda. Honestly, it doesn’t sound like a terrible car to me.

    One problem:
    “You won’t win any stoplight sprints against its competitors (unless it’s a Altima)”

    Unless all the magazine acceleration metrics are way off from real world, the Altima will leave the Malibu behind. The Nissan’s is a rackety-clackety sounding motor but it scoots the comparatively light car quite well.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      “You won’t win any stoplight sprints against its competitors (unless it’s a Altima)”

      Or unless you have the 2.0 turbo under the hood, and then you might be pretty competitive with the V6’s in the stoplight wars.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Yes, the numbers I’ve seen show the GM 2.0T does a far better job competing against a 3.5 V6 than Ford’s 2.0T.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Unless GM’s 2.0T happens to be tossing pistons left & right (as it has an inclination towards).

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Tossing pistons? That’s a new one. It might not be the most refined engine in the world, but it’s pretty bulletproof for the most part.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Cruze on over to the Cadillac Owners Forums, where there’s a Nathan Are. Johnson phonebook sized thread about Crapilac 2.0Ts puking their pistons with violence thusly, also ruining piston rings, skirts and lands with enthusiasm.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Source?

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            I know you are even intelligent enough to realize that these forums are geared towards this sort of thing and are THE place to find a large number of people who have problems with their car…no matter what brand it is.

            Go to a Toyota web site and look for the engine sludge posts

            go to a Honda website and see the complaining about the CVT in the accord and the new DI engines

            go to an Audi site and find the huge threads about timing chains failing and the engine costing $10K to replace.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I know you sell Chevy Sparks or something and therefore can’t “knock the product,” even when it knocks back, and therefore couldn’t get a job at a Kia dealership.

            28 days: http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/cadillac-ats-performance-forum/613529-2-0t-bad-pistons-roll-call.html

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            28, also (random assortment of MANY):

            http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/cadillac-ats-performance-forum/628513-2-0t-piston-failures-automatic-trans-3.html

            http://cadillac258.rssing.com/chan-4460202/all_p60.html

            http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/cadillac-ats-performance-forum/605938-2014-ats-2-0t-cracked-piston.html

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            So 29 owners have self reported this problem. This would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad. Why can’t Cadillac use a motor which does not abjectly fail at some point? Think about it since the MY79 there have been maybe four which didn’t have some kind of catastrophic design flaw or failure (4.5/4.9, 3.6 DOHC, SBC, LS variants) but in the loser’s corner: 368 “8-6-4”, 4100, Northstar, Opel 54 degree 3.0, Opel 2.8, and now this 2.0T.

            Per the source:

            TSB for piston failure *PI-1178

            List updated 2015-01-05 per smurfkiller

            1. smurfkiller 4700 2014 ATS ??/?? #3 replaced 2nd engine blew at 69xx miles
            2. 400hpATS 4213 2013 ATS ??/?? #3 warranty would not cover, building aftermarket 800+hp engine
            3. caleb bennett ???? 2014 ATS ??/?? #4 repaired
            4. byrce2.0t 15000 2013 ATS ??/?? #1&4 repaired
            5. shortfur7 5200 2014 ATS ??/?? #3&4 repaired
            6. soop3rn0t 6800 2014 ATS 07/13 #4 repaired
            7. calicts 9000 ???? CTS ??/?? #1 repaired
            8. romanats 20000 2013 ATS ??/?? #3 replaced
            9. ElanX 3700? 2014 ATS ??/?? ? repaired (from the other thread this looks like it was injector failed and blew a hole in the piston, maybe not the same type of failure?)
            10. Shooter2384 5k miles 2014 ATS ??/?? ? repaired
            11. chrisgarner ???? 2014 ATS ??/?? ? replaced
            12. Skenny50 6000 ???? ATS ??/?? #4 replaced
            13. DB_Outlaw 12000 ???? ATS ??/?? #1 repaired, he sold car then new owner possibly had to have engine replacement
            14. Firepower ATS 9000 2014 CTS 09/13 #1 repaired
            15. TheRival 5500 2014 ATS 02/2014 #4 replaced
            16. parker133t 17000 2013 ATS ??/?? #4 repaired
            17. pnm215 20000 2013 ATS ??/?? ? repaired
            18. SmurfettesCaddy 16000 2013 ATS ??/?? ? repaired?
            19. lemons1843 22000 2013 ATS ??/?? ? repaired?
            20. LChris24 40,000 miles 2013 ATS
            21. Dolvich 2013 ATS 6700miles #2 cyl failure pistons replaced
            22. RemaxAL 2013 ATS 27,000 miles
            23. ilovejuicysteak Ats 6700 miles
            24. Macvanglist 2013 ATS 6m
            25. FDNY-L107 2013 ATS 38k miles
            26. GoofyGoober 2013 ATS 34,5k miles #3 cyl failure pistons replaced
            27. Darren67 2014 ATS #4 cyl failure
            28. Dpelow07 24k miles #4 cyl failure
            29. Smurfkiller (loaner car) 2014 CTS 3500 miles engine replacement

            ———-

            ok so this is getting ridiculous. my car is at dealer currently. they are installing a entire new long block.

            we need to start a list of members who have had piston failures so we can keep track of build dates, gas used etc.

            * * *

            This is gold:

            GUY1: Just wondering, so no report on bad piston in a 3.6l yet? Mine is 3.6 and the piston failure on 2.0l u guys are reporting is making me worried…

            GUY2: You shouldn’t have any piston issues as your motor is naturally aspirated. The turbo motors generate a lot of heat and cylinder pressure and are detonating either due to a design flaw or a stock tune problem. (Likely going stoich at full boost for CAFE is my guess)

            2040 historian: It was the compliance to US gov’ts CAFE mandate which finally helped kill Cadillac.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            I don’t sell car, you must be talking about 28?

            28…kind of over reacting a little aren’t we?

            How about all those Civics getting new engines because the blocks have antifreeze coming out of them. Do we really think every manufacturer out there doesn’t have some issue like this?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I do not sell cars, I work in IT. I worked in the auto business ten years ago but it was on the auction/wholesale end, I have too much contempt for people to be a salesman.

            In the Year of our Lord 2015 no major auto mfg be it Honda or Cadillac should be building a motor which produces a catastrophic failure at any significant rate for that motor/model (transmissions have mystic powers thus they get a failure pass after a long life of use and fluid neglect). Please cite sources on your Honda claim, and let’s spread the word and shame the OEMs.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Don’t those Cadillac owners know that modern turbo engines are perfectly reliable?

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Civic blocks
            http://www.8thcivic.com/forums/mechanical-problems-technical-chat/177034-08-044-cracked-engine-block-2.html

            Toyota oil consumption problems

            http://www.consumerclasslawyersblog.com/2014/08/01/class-action-lawsuit-filed-toyota-oil-consumption-defect/

            Audi timing chain problems
            http://www.audizine.com/forum/showthread.php/414598-B6-B7-S4-Timing-Chain-FAQ-Information-Discussion-Thread

            Ecoboost failures

            http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/1126859-another-ecoboost-failure-story.html

            Porsche IMS failures
            http://www.nnjr-pca.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=484:straight-talk-about-the-ims-bearing-in-the-m-96-and-m-97-engine-&catid=82:technical-articles&Itemid=72

            I could go on. Unfortunately, even today, nothing is perfect.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Car and Driver actually experienced more than one of these catastrophic engine failures in GM cars they were testing:

            linkhttp://blog.caranddriver.com/maliboom-faulty-connecting-rod-bearing-causing-engine-failures-in-gm-four-cylinders/

            “The problem came to Car and Driver’s attention when three cars—two 2014 Chevrolet Malibus and a 2014 Buick Regal GS—driven by three different editors developed the telltale clatter of a failed connecting-rod bearing during our performance testing.”

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            “GM also examined cars that were still on dealership lots, awaiting shipment at the assembly plant, or in transit, by putting them through a stress test that involves hard acceleration and revving the engine to high rpm. While Pawlik wouldn’t reveal how many failures were provoked with that testing, he quantified the total number of engine replacements as ‘one or two per 1000 cars.\'”

            Hahaha! They stress tested brand new cars before selling them to the public. Then they told Car and Driver, who probably didn’t drive 1,500 to 3,000 cars equipped with these engines, that the failure rate was only one or two per 1,000 cars. I get it that Car and Driver is on the take, but is Pawlik an imbecile, or is he just comfortable that GM’s customers are imbeciles?

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Hey Genious..I mean CJ

            Since you like to run your mouth before looking at any stats…why not take a looksee at this link

            http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/car-news/consumer-news/62383/german-cars-among-worst-engine-failures

            1 in 1000 isn’t completely out of the question for any manufacturer.

            That “stress” testing isn’t going to have one effect on the long term durability of those customer cars…

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Calling someone a genius sarcastically is more effective when you can spell genius. CandD experienced three of these engine failures. That’s more than 1 in a 1,000. Two is a coincidence when GM is buying lunch, but three is ridiculous.

            Some of us are able to learn from our experiences. Stress testing an engine before the rings have seated and everything else has had a chance to wear in appropriately is a good way to achieve high oil consumption and make cam lobes shrink. These aren’t precision machines. They’re GM engines; a bunch of marginal crap from the lowest bidders assembled by the unaccountable. They should be broken in by the book, accompanied by an early oil change to remove all the swarf before it can do any damage.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            CJ
            It’s cute when you try to be witty and insulting. Calling me out on a spelling error, how great are you…

            Tell me how you wear down cam lobes on a roller engine and why the rings aren’t seated when the engine is run after first being assembled at the factory or when the car is run to redline after final assembly.

            It would be nice if you really learned from your experiences and didn’t act like such an a$$ all the time, I guess you can’t teach old out of touch dogs new tricks can you?

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I liked your Auto Express link. Honda has the best engines followed by Toyota. Who would have guessed? Worst was Audi, which is consistent with the stack of replacement engine crates I saw last week when I turned in our leased A6.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            CJ
            You’re not a stupid guy no matter what anyone says… You leased that A6, nicely done sir

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            28: “2040 historian: It was the compliance to US gov’ts CAFE mandate which finally helped kill Cadillac.”

            Will our 2040 Historian also record that CAFE killed Lexus, BMW, Audi, Infiniti and Mercedies?

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Ultimately, this is why new cars come with warranties. Crap happens. How they stand behind the product is what is important.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @PonchoIndian

            Thanks for those links, for shame especially on Toyota. I was aware of the earlier consumption issue I think on the old 3.0 V6 and it was due to retuning the existing reliable motors for emissions worship (this is not an excuse for Toyota but merely a fact). The fact that in the 2008 time period is unfathomable.

            @Kix

            Lexus of all brands is in the best position to overcome this due to its use hybrid technology. I believe the German brands pay the CAFE penalty but I’m prepared to be wrong. Even so, they all are in a good position to leverage diesel technology and since they are all lease only, the [original] end user won’t deal with diesel issues down the road. Cadillac since 1980 has struggled in part because of GM’s unwavering compliance to this law – nothing new under the sun for them.

            @krhodes

            But in the case of GM, they *can* and do build motors/models without such catastrophic consequences. Cadillac division specifically has experienced an alarming number motor failures since 1980 whereas the rest of GM has not experienced the same level of issue. Why is this?

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @28

            Because Cadillac is the division that pioneers new tech at GM for the most part. Work with cutting edge stuff, and you sometimes get cut.

            And certainly some of it is the beancounter mentality at GM.

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      Hilarious. GM is truly dysfunctional. They can’t engineer a reliable 4 cylinder turbo? Hmmm. Oh yeah, they owned that company once…what was it??….right…Saab. Been turbocharging small displacement 4 cylinder engines since Mary Barra was in Pampers. Drop a B235R in an ATS and you have 250hp that pulls like a freight train and reliability of an anvil. Where do I pick up my check?

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        You are WAY too rational to be qualified to work at General Motors, dude.

        If you really want a job there, you need to learn to STOP MAKING SENSE!

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Like the 9-5 Aero piston failures?

        This some sort of fragile anvil…?

        • 0 avatar
          PartsUnknown

          OK Mr. Smartypants – early B235Rs did have PCV issues, some suffered piston failures (as you so helpfully pointed out), but they sorted it out. From 2004 forward, it enjoys standard (non-fragile) anvil-like reliability. Point is, GM had an excellent 4 cyl turbo in their grubby paws.

          • 0 avatar
            PonchoIndian

            Yes, and GM should have put a 2 decade old Saab engine (that never made the kind of power currently being put out by modern 2.0 4cyl’s) into a new Cadillac…that would have gone over just great.

          • 0 avatar
            PartsUnknown

            Exactly, thanks. Glad to have some support around here.

    • 0 avatar

      2015 Nissan Altima 2.5 4dr Sedan 0-60 7.9 sec 1/4 mile 16.2
      2015 Chevy Malibu LT w/1LT 4dr Sedan 0-60 7.8 sec 1/4 mile 16.2

      My source: http://autofiles.com/0-60-times.html

      I am sure there is some differences in measurements out there, and in the interest of non-bias I have to disclose that I HATE the Nissan Altima. I have read and understand that the 3.5 is an entirely different animal, but I would rather have a 78 VW Rabbit Diesel 4 door. But then again, so would most of us…

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I’m putting this out there in interest of complete, full disclosure:

        If given a choice at the rental counter (not buying, that’d never happen in either case) between this and an Altima, I’d almost certainly take this Malibu.

        (Assumptions & brain matter explodes KABOOM!)

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          I’m wiping my screen off now.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          You are not alone, Deadweight.

          The only redeeming value of the current Altima is that they really do get outstanding gas mileage. But if I am driving one, someone else is paying for the gas so I could not care less! An ugly, not terribly nice to drive car with a rat fur interior. I’d rather drive a Sonic, actually.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        ” in the interest of non-bias I have to disclose that I HATE the Nissan Altima.”

        Didn’t have to disclose that, it was easy to read into. Disclosing it also doesn’t make it non-biased, it just openly affirms there is one :)

        My wife’s car is a 2012 Altima and while there are tangible faults it is a decent drive for a base four-pot midsizer. Haven’t bothered to try the current generation but most reviews suggest it changed for the worse so your Haterade may well be justified.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          My dislike of the Altimas I’ve had stems from NVH, ride quality and interior fit/finish issues.

          I was never stranded by any rental Altima, and they got food fuel economy, but they were just too unrefined for my tastes, even as mainly highway cruisers.

          I’m not saying they’re bad vehicles or even that they’re bad choices for those with different tastes than mine, and the rentals I’ve had were Spartan trim.

          • 0 avatar
            Speedygreg7

            I can’t understand the Altima hate. We have a 2012 2.5SL that has 85,000 trouble free miles. It is an excellent A to B car. There is no NVH to object to, the ride is smooth and solid on crumbling roads, its spacious and efficient. The CVT works better than I ever would have imagined and the engine is more than adequate. Is the SL so much better than the rental spec version? Is the 2013 and up model that much worse than the 07-12?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I don’t “hate” the Altima; it’s just not for me at least in the trims I’ve driven it (all rentals).

            Similarly, I don’t hate the Malibu. It’s shocking to some, but there are certain GM vehicles (albeit few) that I’d rank as near the top of their respective segments (Cruze, new gen Impala, Stingray, Tahoe, Regal 2.0T even with piston issue – I like German Opels).

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            The loaded up ones are no nicer, they just have more tinsel.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    It can fit 4 just fine. But can it fit 5?

    Why is it that so many domestic sedans do not provide proper seating for 3 in the back yet the Asian manufacturers are able to do this?

    And we had a 2002 Malibu and I quite liked it, for what it was. Never a mechanical problem over 4 years and just under 100k. I even liked the exterior styling and still find it pleasant. There are a large number of these running as daily drivers in southern Ontario, however most seem to have a large rust spot just under the gas fuel cap. Can anyone explain this?

    If GM had offered that generation of Malibu with a manual, it might have actually provided some driving ‘fun’.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      I haven’t been in a midsize car…ever…that could comfortably fit 3 adults in the back seat. 2 adults and a small child…3 children…but in my decades of existence I can’t think of a domestic of foreign car that really truely seats 3 across with comfort.

      What is “proper seating”?

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @Poncho,
        3 children/teens, never said ‘adults’. All can fit in the back of a Civic, Accord, Corolla, Camry, Sonata, Elantra. And all get full headrests.

        Domestics still can’t figure this out. The ‘large’ Taurus doesn’t offer what the above have. Does the Malibu?

        How hard is it to create a back seat space in a sedan that will at least fit 1 adult and 2 children in some comfort and safety?

        Again, why can’t the domestics overcome this? Although I do have to admit that neither does the Jetta, because it does not offer a flat floor for back seat passengers.

        “‘Proper” (def): correct, suitable, decent, respectable.
        Take your choice of any of the above.

    • 0 avatar
      PonchoIndian

      The gas filler cap rust spot is because GM used a expandable foam like sealant to seal the fuel filler neck to the inner wheel well. If you don’t spray out the wheel well (and sometimes even if you do) of salt and crap than the fender rusts from the inside out because the foam holds the salt and moisture in.

      This was a piss poor manufacturing choice that didn’t show up as a problem until years after unfortunately.

      This is up there with Honda quarter panel rot because of design, W-body rocker panel rot, Taurus wheel well rot, Panther fender rot…the list is almost endless

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @ Poncho,
        Thanks for the information.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Everything you just said about this being a non-GM specific problem that affects many brands/makes/models is true.

        I see rear wheel and 1/4 panel tin worm on so many vehicles out there due to idiotic manufacturing spec/engineering-design decisions.

        This is why so many heavy duty pickup users (regardless of make) roll their fenders.

  • avatar
    JMII

    “Speaking of great work, how about these photos? No crappy iPhone pics for the B&B this time. As I promised my buddy Nick Boris gets credit for every shot.”

    Hate to be “that guy” but since you brought it up… the pictures are too dark and the soft focus/blurred edge effect is not helping either. The iPhone actually has a really decent camera.

    • 0 avatar

      In fairness to you, I looked at this on my phone and some of the interior shots do look dark. But on my PC I think they look great. I really think the soft edges bring the details of the car to light.

      I do appreciate the criticism, but I am really digging these pictures, not just because Nick is a friend. As others pointed out, the styling is a bit bland, the color doesn’t help and I think the pictures add a nice dimension to a potentially boring subject.

      Yes, the iPhone actually has a good camera, but a constant feedback from Bertrel, Jack and Derek was for me to get a “big boy” camera. In response to that, I borrow my wife’s…when she lets me.

      This was a unique chance to have a real photographer snap some shots, and I am really glad he did.

      But I do listen to feedback and appreciate the input, so maybe next time less artsy shots and more detailed ones.

      BTW, most of the shots on my next review are lifted from the OEM or iPhone.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Maybe your PC is the monitor that is “off” then. I’m in the graphics biz and use a calibrated display and deal with these kinds of issues all the time. Sure its subjective and I realize getting decent interior shots ain’t easy but these aren’t very good at all. The combo of a black interior with a bright exterior is messing up the contrast. Maybe the photographer was going for that “look” but I’m not impressed and it just doesn’t work here. The highlights are blown out (over exposed) and the shadows have no detail (under exposed). Compare these against the shots of the ’15 Pathfinder, those are GREAT.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        It looks to me like like the camera has a stepper ring on the lens, and a clear filter (for lens protection) that is “cropping” the corners of the photos due to a wide-angle zoom setting – I could be wrong, but I’ve actually flubbed this in the past (with a 28mm lens)

        Also – you should have opened up +2 stops on the interior photos.

        /nitpick

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Mechanically competent with a killer product flaw (the back seat). Not sure what they were thinking when this came out.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      My guess is they were thinking they’d upsell people to the larger and costlier Impala they knew was coming.

      Typical pathetic GM thinking, not accounting for the off chance that buyers would realize they had options outside the Chevy showroom.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I get it that they had reason to believe this sort of thing 45 years ago, but there can’t be anyone there that was there when they weren’t losing market share annually.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        No, they did it to save development costs. They wanted the Malibu to be a world car.

        The only problem with that is that midsize sedans are exactly the types of vehicles that should not be world cars. The US needs the bigger back seat, and the Chinese need that and an optional longer wheelbase.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      DEFENSIVE MALIBU OWNER ALERT (ahem)…

      Yes, the back seat is tight, but the ‘bu offers 2 more inches of front seat leg room than several competitors (well, in 2013, when I bought mine) – if you move the front seats forward for 41″ of legroom, the back seat is much more useable.

      I bought it for that very reason.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    Sounds as if they’ve probably improved the Malibu since my last Enterprise outing over a year ago, sadly that experience left me free of any desire to try one again.

    Just this morning Enterprise has shocked me, considerably, by providing a ’15 Mustang Ecoboost as my service loaner on Ford’s behalf.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    I’m sorry Christian, but the pictures are just horrible. Honestly if I paid someone for those interior shots and got those results, I’d ask for a refund. They’re so underexposed that I can barely see what’s even there, and the pinhole/toy camera Instragram vignetting effect is unprofessional at best. Depth of field is nice, but otherwise pictures get a D- Grade.

    As for the car, I put about 7 hours on one of these I had as a rental, and didn’t care for it at all. Everything about it just felt indifferent, like not a single person who worked on this car at the design stage cared one bit about it. I had a previous gen Chrysler 200 rental not long before, and even though the interior of that car seemed like it was from around 2002, everything else about it was definitely better than the “who cares” Malibu. I could see out of the rear, for one. I hate bunker window cars with a passion.

    • 0 avatar
      eamiller

      Agreed on the photos. A camera and image filter software does not a photographer make.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Tjey’re very *artsy*, in composition and technique (hello, shallow depth-of-field).

        None of which is especially context-appropriate, is the problem.

        And *vignetting is always a terrible idea*.

        I don’t even like it when it’s a side effect of real antiques; doing it deliberately in software on a modern system is like nails on a chalkboard.

  • avatar
    Chan

    Right, this is a good car, in a class of very good cars. There is no aspect of a Malibu that outclasses its competitors.

    When a class of cars sells on interior space, you cannot be this lacking in rear seat room. Let’s say this car matches a Honda Accord in all aspects except rear seat room. Unless you offer an amazing price, why wouldn’t a buyer go with the Accord which has more space and [technically, the Earth Dreams engines aren’t really] proven reliability?

    • 0 avatar
      zaxxon25

      As a 2014 Malibu owner I’ll say the one thing it did much better than any other vehicle I tested was create a quiet interior environment. It was by far the quietest vehicle I tested. I also thought (in LTZ trim) it had the most comfortable interior.

  • avatar
    Phil A. Ofish

    The Malibu really is a decent car. It’s maybe is not the greatest value if you are buying new. As a used car, the savings are fantastic since GM depresses the price by leasing and selling so many as rentals.
    Carmax has Malibus coming out their butts.

    So, I have a 2008 and my in-law has a 2012.

    Malibu is very good at eating up highway miles quietly, comfortably and hanging around 30 mpg.


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