2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ review:

Chevy's new Malibu is satisfying, but a bit pricey

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MyLink and Pandora
Pandora integration allows users to browse their stations, bookmark songs, and give Thumbs Up or Down. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

MyLink also supports app integration with Pandora and Stitcher streaming audio apps on your connected smartphone. I tested with Pandora on an Android smartphone, which was connected to the MyLink system via Bluetooth. I was able to access all of my preset Pandora stations, view metadata for the currently playing song, skip, and assign a Thumbs Up or Down to songs that I liked or disliked.

Navigation is available on the Malibu, but was not equipped on our LTZ model. Opting for navigation requires the deletion of the MyLink system, so I'm not sure if it's a worthwhile investment. Even without the map-based navigation system, you can still take advantage of the standard OnStar telematics system's turn-by-turn directions if your subscription level supports it.

MyLink opens
Behind the MyLink display is a hidden cubby for your phone or toll tag. Josh Miller/CNET

The Pioneer-branded premium audio system that our Malibu was equipped with is a loud stereo, but I noticed quite a bit of buzzing coming from either the front speakers or door panels at certain midbass frequencies and a sort of splatty, raspberry type of bass distortion coming from the rear speakers at the bottom end of the audio spectrum. This was not the worst-sounding stereo system I've tested, but after going through the trouble of slapping on a brand name, I'd have hoped that Chevrolet and Pioneer would have come up with something that sounded better. I'm not sure whether to blame the Pioneer audio system -- in my experience, Pioneer's systems usually sound pretty good -- the quality of the Malibu's interior, or both for the buzzing and splatting. (Perhaps even a previous reviewer damaged the system with too much volume.) Whatever the case, this is definitely not the audio system for those who like it loud.

In sum
To get out of the door with a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ with the 2.5-liter engine, you have to start by spending $28,590 -- that's before the $760 destination charge. If you want one in the Crystal Red Tintcoat paint that our tester was coated in, add an additional $325 to the bottom line. Add $150 for our Black and Brownstone leather seats and you'll have a decently appointed Malibu that's packing a dashboard full of MyLink tech. It's a handsome ride and, at $29,065 plus destination charge, you probably won't be disappointed.

The Crystal Red Tintcoat paint is gorgeous in the sunlight, but it is a $325 option. Josh Miller/CNET

However, our tester's option list didn't stop there. We've also got a $1,900 Electronics and Entertainment package that adds a rearview camera, the Pioneer stereo system that I didn't particularly care for, a universal home remote, a 110-volt AC power adapter, and a power sunroof. There's also the $1,000 LTZ Premium package that adds HID headlamps, keyless entry and push-button start, and driver's seat memory. Finally, there's the $395 Advanced Safety package that brings onboard Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning driver aid technologies.

All in, our as-tested price totaled $32,360, which still isn't a bad price at all for what you get. However, the Malibu is a few thousand bucks more expensive than a fully loaded Hyundai Sonata or a similarly equipped Toyota Camry with Entune. In fact, you could put yourself behind the wheel of a 2013 Honda Accord EX-L V-6 with navigation for what you pay for the 2.5-liter Malibu. It's a tough sell even if you want to buy American, because for about what you pay for the LTZ, you could find yourself in a fully loaded 2013 Ford Fusion Titanium with more power and more tech.

The Malibu LTZ is good car, but it faces some pretty stiff competition.

Tech specs
Model 2013 Chevrolet Malibu
Trim LTZ
Power train 2.5-liter, inline 4-cylinder, direct-injection, 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, front-wheel drive
EPA fuel economy 22 city mpg, 34 highway mpg, 26 combined mpg
Observed fuel economy 25.5 mpg
Navigation Available
Bluetooth phone support Standard
Disc player Single-slot CD
MP3 player support Standard analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, USB/iPod connection, Bluetooth audio streaming
Other digital audio SiriusXM Satellite Radio
Audio system 9-speaker Pioneer-branded premium audio
Driver aids Optional Lane Departure Warning system, Forward Collision Alert, rear camera
Base price $28,590
Price as tested $32,360

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