USED: 2013 Chevy Malibu LTZ: Bigger Is Not Always Better

Lots Os People Enjoy Minivans As Their Family Vehicle, But I Prefer A Sedan.
Lots os people enjoy minivans as their family vehicle, but I prefer a sedan.

Minivan Anxiety Led Me to the Chevy Malibu LTZ

Lots Os People Enjoy Minivans As Their Family Vehicle, But I Prefer A Sedan.

Lots of people enjoy minivans as their family vehicle, but I prefer a sedan. Photo: Amanda Topinga

In the small suburban town where I live, every third or fourth car I pass is a mom in a minivan or SUV, sunglasses on, latte in the cup holder, and a cell phone pressed to her ear. You know the ones I’m talking about, right? Unfortunately (or fortunately) I am one of those moms. Don’t judge. Only one difference – I am the mom that isn’t in the minivan or SUV. I’m in a 4-door sedan. And I LOVE it.

However, last summer my husband and I made the joint decision that we are going to bury our little grocery-getter and start looking for something bigger and newer. Our old car had seen its fair share of Rocky Mountains, Ozark horizons, Kansas prairies, and even the Gulf of Mexico. But it was time to move on. Our boys aren’t getting smaller anytime soon. Soccer and baseball games just won’t slow down. And summer road trips are just starting.

Related: Our best tips for a nausea-free road trip

So many reasons to look at SUVs, but…

An SUV just seemed logical. They were more spacious, they had all the cargo room I would need for groceries, sports equipment, strollers, etc. I’ve always said that I would never drive a minivan. Nothing against minivan drivers. I think you’re all beautiful, brilliant, and brave. But I don’t dig the seating arrangement in them. I only have two kids – not ten. And maybe I don’t want to haul my children’s friends around. Having a minivan just opens that door for people to assume that you’ll do that for them. Okay, maybe that’s just my fear. But it’s a real fear, y’all.

So when I recently traveled to Disney World’s Yacht Club Resort for a business retreat partly sponsored by Chevrolet, they gave me the opportunity to test drive some new autos before venturing out into the car lots to try and figure out what it was I was really looking for. They brought everything from soccer mom cars to cool mom cars to a car that every woman should drive at least once in her lifetime.

I vowed when I saw the fleet of cars that I would remain open minded even though I was dead set on taking home the Chevy Traverse. I went for a spin in the Volt. But it was too complicated for me. I have a toddler – so he obviously needs my attention more than how much regeneration my battery was getting. Plus I have a short attention span and a husband with ADHD. A Volt is just not in the cards for us right now. Although I do find that car extremely Eco-awesome and in ten years, I will totally be calling up Chevrolet to find out about their newest plug-in car.

I test drove the Equinox and the Traverse and, predictably, I dug them. They had everything I wanted. Bigger, roomier, comfortable, and trendy. And then I test drove the Chevrolet Malibu LTZ– just to say that I did. Here’s me to the Malibu expert: “How the heck do I unlock it?” The expert guy: “You touch the door handle with the key.” Me: “Shut the front door! Not literally. Figuratively.” The expert guy: “Now put the keys in your pocket and click that button on the car.” Me: {clicking the button} “Holy Batman! I just started the car from my pocket!” So there’s that. Sometimes it’s the little things.

The Chevrolet Malibu is designed with this in mind: Protection is great. But prevention is better. So when the Malibu received double honors for safety including a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it came as no shocker.

The Secret Compartment In The Chevy Malibu Ltz.

The secret compartment in the Chevy Malibu LTZ. Photo: Amanda Topinga

What we loved in the Chevrolet Malibu LTZ:

  • Eight standard airbags including side-curtain airbags, pelvic/thorax side-impact airbags for front and rear passengers and front knee airbags
  • Large four-wheel disc brakes with standard anti-lock which help ensure reliable stopping performance
  • Standard traction and stability control systems to keep you on the straight and narrow
  • Advanced Safety Package: forward collision alert and lane departure warnings – I was blown away by the lane departure warning. We were on a designated course and I had open road. I was checking out another feature when I slowly veered to the left without signaling. The Malibu yelled at me. Okay, beeped. But still. I was alerted. And I corrected my mistake.
  • Tire pressure monitor system
  • Daytime running lights
  • OnStar with turn-by-turn navigation assistance, crash response and theft deterrent
  • Rear Vision Camera – The available rear vision camera on Malibu displays a rear view on the touch-screen conveniently in the center stack for easy viewing. This feature helps you see stationary objects behind your Malibu when traveling in reverse at low speeds. This is key for little ones who don’t like Mom to leave without them. Ahem.

Other things worth noting:

  • Extremely comfortable seats that I didn’t want to get out of
  • Her beautiful sleek leather interior
  • It has this really cool secret compartment behind the navigation screen. Shhh!
  • She’s easy to drive and has plenty of power. The smoothness and quietness of the drive was almost nostalgic.
  • Very family friendly: Large wide opening doors. Plenty of head and legroom (the seats move back, forward, up, or down). The cargo space is large enough I can fit a body … err … a giant bag of sports equipment in.
  • It’s a car that everyone will get along in – hey, at least we can dream about that, right?
  • Retail price for this model: About $35,000

The Chevy Malibu LTZ has the brains to match the beauty. It has an ECOTEC 2.4L engine with eAssist technology that works subtly with the vehicle’s mechanics, capturing energy to help support the powertrain. The result is a noteworthy EPA-estimated 37-MPG on the highway and up to 580 highway miles per tank. It’s a vehicle that uses fuel when you need it, and preserves it when you don’t.

GM has “gotten it.” They put together a team of Moms called the Malibu Moms to help enhance the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu. And boy, did they! Fuel Efficient and Aerodynamics engineer Suzy Cody worked on giving the 2013 Chevy Malibu a superior wind drag rating. As a mom of two boys, making the Malibu a fuel efficient-choice for frugal moms was important to her. “Every dollar I spend on gasoline is a dollar I’m not investing in my boys’ futures,” Cody said. She’s like the female equivalent of Einstein!

Enjoying a drive has never been so easy and entertaining. There’s a choice of audio systems, an optional navigation system, and plenty of device connectivity on hand. Chevy calls its newest advanced connectivity system “MyLink.” My Link’s focal point is a bright, clear seven-inch full-color touch screen, allowing you to manage the audio functions, which include Pandora and Stitcher Internet radio apps. You can load your own music via a flash drive or CDs, and if you don’t want to futz with the screen, call the shots via GM’s latest, enhanced hands-free voice recognition system. I love it when I tell a thing what to do and it actually does what I ask.

This Is How We Test The Trunk Space Around Here.

This is how we test the trunk space around here. Photo: Amanda Topinga

I’ve certainly thrown out all preconceived notions about the Chevrolet Malibu. Before, I had this not-so-good perception that all it was was the boring rental car you’re given at the airport. Or the family car your grandparents once drove while you and your sister fought in the back seat. It’s not that at all! And I’ve also realized that bigger is not always better. I don’t need the SUV as my family vehicle if I have the Malibu. She’s perfect for my growing (size-wise, not people-wise) family.

Now I just need to convince the mister into taking her for a spin. Maybe if I crank some Guns n’ Roses on the Pioneer® premium 9-speaker 250-watt amplified sound system will help a little bit. It definitely can’t hurt.

Disclosure: Chevrolet provided the Malibu LTZ for this test drive and was a partial sponsor of our event at Disney.

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