While crossovers, SUVs and minivans are hugely popular with buyers, there's still a substantial market for good, old-fashioned family sedans. Chevrolet's midsize Malibu and full-size Impala are both solid, competitive offerings. The Malibu was significantly revised for the 2014 model year, with an upgraded suspension, improved interior and new front-end styling. The Impala was fully redesigned the same year. Size and price are among the biggest differences between the two sedans. Buyers looking to save money and maximize fuel economy will be attracted to the Malibu, while those in need of maximum interior space and cargo room should check out the Impala.
The Malibu was 191.5 inches long, 73 inches wide and 57.6 inches high, with a 107.8-inch wheelbase. The Impala was 201.3 inches long, 73 inches wide and 58.9 inches high. It rode on a 111.7-inch wheelbase.
The Malibu's front seats provided 39 inches of headroom, 57.5 inches of shoulder room, 55 inches of hip room and 42 inches of legroom. The backseat provided 37.5 inches of headroom, 57.1 inches of shoulder room, 54.3 inches of hip room and 36.8 inches of legroom. The larger Impala's front row offered 39.9 inches of headroom, 57.9 inches of shoulder room, 54.9 inches of hip room and 45.8 inches of legroom. Backseat passengers got 37.4 inches of headroom, 56.9 inches of shoulder room, 54.1 inches of hip room and 39.8 inches of legroom. The Malibu's trunk had a maximum capacity of 16.3 cubic feet. The Impala had space for 18.8 cubic feet worth of cargo in its trunk.
Like the majority of mainstream, family-oriented sedans, the Malibu and Impala both employed a front-wheel-drive layout. The midsize Malibu was powered by either a standard ECOTEC 2.5-liter inline-four or an optional turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four. The base engine produced 196 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 191 horsepower at 4,400 rpm. The turbo engine bumped power to an impressive 259 horsepower at 5,300 rpm and 295 foot-pounds of torque at 3,000 rpm. Either engine came with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The full-size Impala offered buyers the choice between a version of the same ECOTEC 2.5-liter inline-four used in the Malibu and a 3.6-liter V-6. In the Impala, the ECOTEC engine made the same amount of horsepower but five fewer foot-pounds of torque. The Impala's V-6 put out a healthy 305 horsepower ta 6,800 rpm and 263 foot-pounds of torque at 5,300 rpm. As with the Malibu, a six-speed automatic was the sole transmission available.
Features & Options
The Malibu came in six different trim levels: LS, 1LT, 2LT, 3LT, 1LTZ and 2LTZ. The base LS included 16-inch aluminum wheels, cloth upholstery, cruise control, 4G LTE Wifi capability, GM's OnStar system, Bluetooth connectivity, steering-wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls and a six-speaker stereo. The 1LT added premium cloth upholstery, ambient interior lighting, Bluetooth audio streaming, projector-style headlights, the MyLink smartphone integration system with 7-inch touchscreen display, carpeted floor mats and heated outside mirrors. The 2LT trim added 18-inch painted alloy wheels, fog lamps, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat, remote start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and dual-zone automatic climate control. The 3LT was identical to the 2LT in terms of equipment, but featured the upgrade, 2.0-liter turbo engine. The 1LTZ added 18-inch machined aluminum wheels, heated, leather-upholstered front seats, chrome door handles, LED taillights, a rearview camera with rear park assist and an auto-dimming inside rearview mirror. Finally, the range-topping 2LTZ added a sunroof. A number of electronic safety aids -- including a lane departure warning, forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring assist and a rear cross-traffic alert -- were available bundled together as an option package.
The Impala was sold in five trim levels: LS, 1LT, 2LT, 1LTZ and 2LTZ. The LS came with cloth upholstery, projector-beam headlights, Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio, the OnStar system and an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat. The two LTs featured the same equipment, just different engines. The 1LT came with the inline-four and the 2LT with the V-6. The LTs offered buyers 18-inch painted aluminum wheels, the MyLink smartphone integration system with eight-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth audio streaming, an SD card reader and two USB ports; dual-zone automatic climate control and heated outside mirrors. The LTZs were the premium, upscale Impalas. As with the LTs, the number preceding the numerical designation indicated which engine was under the hood: 1 for the inline-four and 2 for the V-6. They featured 19-inch machined aluminum wheels, leather seating surfaces, dual exhaust tips, chrome exterior mirror caps, chrome exterior trim accents, keyless entry with push-button start, heated front seats, a rearview camera with rear park assist and the Advanced Safety Features package, which included rear cross traffic alert, forward collision alert, side blind spot alert and a lane departure warning function. Unlike with the Malibu, GM's innovative 4G LTE hotspot feature didn't come standard with any Impala trim level. It was available as a stand-alone option, however.
Both the Malibu and the Impala featured a grand total of 10 airbags, including the requisite dual front airbags, front side airbags, rear side airbags, front knee airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Both models also came standard with four-wheel ABS, traction control and stability control. In addition, both models offered an available rearview camera and a suite of electronic safety assists.
The 2.4-liter Malibu received an EPA fuel economy rating of 23 mpg in city driving and 35 mpg on the highway. The turbocharged, 2.0-liter Malibu was rated at 21-30. The 2.5-liter Impala was rated at 22-31, while the V-6 model received a 19-29 rating.
The base LS version of the 2014 Malibu had a starting price of $22,340. The 1LT began at $23,610, the 2LT at $25,470, the 3LT at $27,005, the 1LTZ at $28,195 and the 2LTZ at $30,355. The Impala began at $26,910 for the base LS, $29,160 for the 1LT, $30,135 for the 2LT, $34,315 for the 1LTZ and $35,290 for the range-topping 2LTZ.
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