2015 Chevrolet Malibu

What's new for 2015? The hybrid-powered Malibu Eco is no longer available, but all Malibus receive a 4G data connection with WiFi hotspot capability.

Ah, Malibu. We know it well. Sandy beaches, palatial estates, celebrities galore and winding canyon roads. All of which begs the question: What on earth does the 2015 Chevrolet Malibu have to do with its namesake? Well, like many Malibu residents, Chevy's family sedan received some front-end enhancements last year.

The 2.5-liter engine is one of the strongest base offerings in this segment, providing plenty of juice whether you're accelerating from a stop light or merging on the freeway. Still, the 2.0-liter turbo is a significant and desirable upgrade, imbuing the 'Bu with authoritative power at any legal speed.

Road and wind noise are things you're only distantly aware of in the Malibu's cabin. Chevy set out to make this Malibu the quietest one yet, and they nailed it. The suspension is a win as well, expertly soaking up bumps while preserving the driver's sense of control.

Exterior Highlights
Midsize sedan available in LS, LT and LTZ trim levels

The 2015 Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan is offered in three primary trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ.

The base LS starts with 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, keyless entry, full power accessories, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, a power driver seat height adjuster, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, OnStar (with 4G WiFi connectivity), Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player.

The LT is divided into three sub-trims: 1LT, 2LT and 3LT. Relative to the LS, the 1LT adds heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, cloth and leatherette (vinyl) upholstery, Bluetooth audio connectivity, the MyLink infotainment system (includes a 7-inch touchscreen, voice controls, Internet radio smartphone app compatibility and voice-to-text messaging capability for certain smartphones), satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.

The 2LT piles on 18-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, a compact spare tire (replacing the standard tire repair kit), dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar) and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The 3LT is essentially identical to the 2LT with the addition of the turbocharged engine.

The top-of-the-line LTZ has two sub-trims of its own: 1LZ and 2LZ. Either way, you'll get leather seating, heated front seats, an eight-way power passenger seat (with power lumbar), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a cargo net for the trunk. The 2LZ adds a sunroof and the turbocharged engine.

Many of the fancier features are available on lower trim levels via various option packages. Other add-ons (depending on trim) include the Advanced Safety package (consisting of forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems), xenon headlights, keyless ignition and entry, driver memory settings, a nine-speaker Pioneer audio system, a 120-volt power outlet, a navigation system and a rearview camera.

Upscale cabin, MyLink touchscreen interface with smsrtphone app integration, abundant trunk space, rearview camera

The 2015 Chevrolet Malibu is blessed with an unusually upscale cabin by segment standards, at least in terms of design. The dashboard's graceful curves are complemented by a tasteful smattering of metallic accents. The materials are mostly impressive as well, with ample soft-touch surfaces.

The central control layout looks a bit intimidating at first glance, but there's a logic to it; most drivers should acclimate quickly after a few miles behind the wheel. The MyLink touchscreen interface -- standard on all but the base LS -- scores points for its intuitive menu structure, and it also provides smartphone app integration, including radio apps like Pandora and Stitcher.

The Malibu's trunk measures 16.3 cubic feet, which a bit larger than the norm for a midsize sedan.

The 2015 Chevy Malibu comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front knee airbags, front side airbags, rear side airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard is the OnStar telematics system, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle assistance. A rearview camera is available, as is an Advanced Safety package with forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems.

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