2013 Chevrolet Malibu LSView Vehicle Profile
Road Trip: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu
KINGSTON, ONT.—Malibu, Calif., and Kingston, Ont., have a lot in common. They’re both on the water, and both communities have large buildings surrounded by high fences and barbed wire.
Hollywood celebrities live in Malibu, while Kingston is the birthplace of Don Cherry, a Canadian icon.
Since I’m a huge fan of Grapes and Coach’s Corner, that’s good enough for me. What better excuse for a quick road trip up Hwy. 401 in the new Chevy Malibu.
Based on the same platform as the Buick Regal, the 2013 Malibu has an overall length 10 mm shorter than the previous model, while the wheelbase is 114 mm shorter.
My car was the high-end LTZ model, with lots of bells and whistles and a price of $32,540. The base Malibu LS is reasonably equipped and starts at $24,995.
Pumping out 197 horsepower and 191 lb.-ft. of torque, GM’s workhorse 2.4-litre four-banger is a good fit for the Malibu. Acceleration is decent, considering the 1,615 kg it has to haul around, and getting up to freeway speeds isn’t an exercise in frustration.
The six-speed automatic also fits well. Upshifts are crisp, smooth and unobtrusive and it manages to find the proper gear when downshifting. Trying to manually shift, courtesy of a toggle on top of the gear lever, was a bit of a chore. Leave it in auto — it works better.
The interior is well-laid-out and attractive. And, thanks to the acoustic glass and sound absorbent material injected into virtually every body orifice (just like the Verano), it’s a very quiet place to be. Not quite up to Verano standards, but pretty decent.
The Malibu is also a slippery little devil, with a body shape that’s almost as aerodynamic as the Volt, likely another factor contributing to how quiet it is.
The car is not made to be sporty, since buyers seem to prefer utility and comfort over sportiness. But it handles pretty well, much better than the average family sedan from just a few years ago. The steering has decent feel and, although there’s a fair bit of understeer, it’s predictable and there’s very little body roll.
Located at the junction of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, Kingston started out as Fort Frontenac, a major fur trading centre in the late 1600s. In 1841, it was named the Province of Canada’s first capital by Governor Lord Sydenham,
The location is ideal for military purposes, since the St. Lawrence is narrow at that point and the Cataraqui River provides access to the Rideau Lake system. Old Fort Henry was built after the War of 1812 to protect our interests, and The Royal Military College of Canada was founded there in 1876.
Kingston also has the largest concentration of federal correctional facilities in Canada, so our main destination for this trip was the Penitentiary Museum. Located directly across the street from the ominous gray walls of the infamous Kingston Pen, the museum has a fascinating array of memorabilia from Canada’s penal history.
One display case has an amazing collection of horribilia — shivs, shanks, zip guns and tools of general mayhem fashioned by the inmates from regular household items. One enterprising individual even made a crossbow out of toothbrushes.
Other displays feature badges, insignias and uniforms worn by the guards over the years, as well as an inmate shirt worn by Edwin Alonzo Boyd, of the notorious Boyd Gang, who robbed several Toronto banks in the early 1950s.
The warden’s log book lists inmate infractions and subsequent penalties, ranging from bread and water for a week to solitary confinement or, in the worst cases, 20 lashes. Upstairs is some impressive artwork by inmates, including paintings and sculptures. If only they’d use that talent for good instead of nefarious purposes…
Museum docents are mostly retired guards and provide lots of supplemental information. It’s a wonderful museum and, since admission is by donation, give generously to keep it going.
We found the new Malibu quiet, comfortable and generally a nice place to be. The touch-screen navigation and stereo controls were intuitive and easy to decipher, although as with all touch screens, they soon get covered with splooge and needed frequent cleaning.
The car burned about 9 L/100 km over the entire trip, with one tank of mostly Hwy. 401 cruising netting 8.1 L/100 km.
Anyone looking at an Accord or Camry owes it to themselves to at least check out the Malibu. It’s not class-leading but at least it’s now in the mix.
2013 Chevrolet Malibu
PRICE: Base $24,995. LTZ $32,540
ENGINE: 2.4 L four cylinder, EFI, six-speed automatic
FUEL CONSUMPTION L/100 km: 8.1 to 9.2 combined
POWER/TORQUE: 197 hp/191 lb.-ft.
COMPETITION: Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion.
WHAT’S BEST: Quiet, comfortable, warm interior lighting at night.
WHAT’S WORST: Nav screen gets icky from all the touching.
WHAT’S INTERESTING: Second-quietest car in GM’s lineup.
The Malibu LT ECO starts at $27,940 and gets its propulsion from a 2.4-litre Ecotec engine and 15Kw electric motor powered by a 120-volt Lithium-Ion battery.
The electric assist (called E-assist in Chevy-speak) kicks in and supplements the engine power during acceleration. It also has a stop/start system that saves fuel while waiting at red lights — the most unobtrusive of these systems I’ve ever experienced.
The battery pack not only increases curb weight by 68 kg, it also reduces cargo capacity by 88 liters because it lives under the trunk. My hockey bag still fits and the split rear seat also folds down to accommodate hockey sticks or other long items.
A couple of tanks through the Malibu ECO returned 8.27 L/100 km — during virtually all city and short trips. The best I got on the regular Malibu was 8.1 L/100 km — all highway driving with cruise control.
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