In the super competitive midsize family sedan segment, the 2011 Chevrolet Malibu remains a popular pick thanks to its nice balance of ride comfort and handling, stylish and well-equipped interior, user-friendly features, solid crash test ratings and choice of either a strong V6 engine or a capable four-cylinder that's good at the pump.
This is still the same generation Malibu that won the prestigous North American Car of the Year award in 2009. Even so, making the best and most informed final buying decision is usually enhanced by also taking a look at other top choices. Worthy rivals that may deserve a look include the Ford Fusion, the Honda Accord, the Hyundai Sonata, the Mazda 6 and the Nissan Altima.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2011 Chevy Malibu is offered in four trims: LS, 1LT, 2LT and LTZ.
Standard features on the already well-equipped base Malibu LS include power windows, power mirrors, power doorlocks, air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, 17-inch steel wheels, OnStar, a tilt/telescoping steering column, automatic headlights and a 6-speaker audio system with satellite radio, a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
Moving up to the Malibu 1LT adds steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, chrome and color-keyed body accents, 17-inch alloy wheels and optional feature accessibility, while the 2LT adds still further with a power driver seat, premium upholstery, remote engine start, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and Bluetooth.
The top-of-the-line LTZ then adds leather upholstery, automatic climate control, a power front passenger seat, a rear window shade, a rear 110-volt power outlet, upgraded instruments, heated outside mirrors, 18-inch cast-aluminum wheels, LED taillights and an 8-speaker Bose audio system with MP3 playback and a USB audio jack.
Many of the LTZ's features are available to other trims via grouped packages. Additionally, there's an optional sunroof available for all trims except the LS.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
All 2011 Malibus can be outfitted with a fuel-efficient 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 169 horsepower and 160 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. The EPA-estimated gas mileage for this engine is a very good 22 mpg city and 33 mpg on the highway.
Also available for the Malibu LT and LTZ is a 3.6-liter V6 that generates a robust 252 horsepower and 251 lb-ft of torque that is also mated with the 6-speed automatic. Gas mileage for this engine is rated at 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. In performance tests, the V6 Malibu was timed from a standstill to 60 mph in only 6.7 seconds, one of the faster times in its class.
Standard safety features on all 2011 Chevy Malibus include traction control, stability control, antilock disc brakes (ABS), OnStar, front side airbags and head curtain airbags.
And in the new and more demanding government crash tests, the Malibu received an overall rating of four out of five stars, with five stars for overall side-impact occupant protection and four stars for overall frontal impact protection.
The 2011 Chevy Malibu's cabin is attractive, modern and well-insulated from noise. It's dual-cowl design and available two-tone color schemes makes for a more upscale look and feel. That said, there are several cheaper pieces that detract somewhat from the overall affect, but are not a major negative. The gauges and instruments are both easy to see and straightforward to use.
The front seating is both comfortable and supportive, although the seat bolsters can create a tight situation for wider passengers. Seating in the rear accommodates two average size adults comfortably, but three is a tight squeeze. Trunk capacity comes in at 15.1 cubic feet, about average for the segment, but the opening is on the narrow side.
The 2011 Malibu does a very nice job of balancing overall ride comfort with decent handling abilities. The ride is smooth and quiet on most surfaces, while also confident through the corners.
Models with the four-cylinder engine are also aided on the fuel economy front by a very good electric steering system as well as the 6-speed automatic transmission. Most drivers will likely be pleased with the power and performance of the four-cylinder, while the V6 is naturally much more powerful and will be appreciated by those who place a higher value on brisk acceleration and quickness.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
Best Negotiating Tactic: Well, there's definitely a 'best way' when it comes to new car buying. If you want to get the best bottomline, out-the-door price you need to know exactly who to talk to at the dealership, how to make the contact and how to make this person eager to quickly drop prices as low as possible to get your sale.
Those of you in the market for a used car may want to check out this article about how to buy a used car at the lowest price. It details a super effective buying method, one that often beats down prices to wholesale levels.
And somewhat related to this, here's another excellent method that identifies Price-Distressed Cars Right On Dealer Lots. These are vehicles they are so desperate to unload they would welcome your wholesale offer.
In addition, you can also try Open-To-The-Public Repossessed And Government Car Auctions in your own geographic area. While there can be a lot of junk vehicles at these auctions, there are often absolute gems sprinkled in as well. This article reviews what to expect at open-to-the-public car auctions and how to locate them in your own area.
Prices: 2011 Chevrolet Malibu:
LS: list price: $21,975, invoice price: $20,876
1LT: list price: $22,825, invoice price: $21,684
2LT: list price: $25,235, invoice price: $23,973