The Malibu LS starts off with the 2.5-liter engine producing 197 horsepower and mated to a six-speed automatic. A full raft of power accessories and safety equipment is included, as is GM's OnStar telematics system with the Directions & Connections package. LS also gets 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, air conditioning, automatic headlamps and a six-speaker touchscreen audio system with SiriusXM satellite radio and Bluetooth.
The LT comes in two forms, 1LT and 2LT, and standard on both is the MyLink infotainment system that incorporates iPod integration and a USB port, as well as apps to control things like Pandora radio. Also included is ambient lighting and premium cloth seats. The 2LT adds a power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels and a spare tire. The LTZ is the most premium Malibu and throws in heated leather seats and a power passenger's seat. The Eco is equipped with GM's eAssist engine that has an electric motor to boost fuel economy to 37 MPG highway. All Eco cars get 17-inch alloy wheels, premium cloth trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, MyLink and ambient lighting.
The Toyota Camry is a hugely efficient vehicle that's also refined, but is very plain-looking. The Nissan Altima's standard engine gets better MPG than even the Malibu Eco, but the V6 is thirsty. The Hyundai Sonata is stylish and well-priced, but the hybrid and turbo models could use more refinement. And the Volkswagen Passat offers a manual transmission and clean diesel engine, neither of which the Malibu offers, but the standard five-cylinder is not efficient and it can get expensive.
In short, the Malibu offers muscle car-looks with great efficiency in a market segment that is full of look-alike cars. The standard Malibu is well-equipped yet can turn into something rather luxurious, and the Eco is downright efficient and offers the ability to go silent when stopped. All in all, the Malibu merits serious consideration if you're in the market for an up-to-date family sedan.
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