2013 Chevrolet Malibu, 2013 Chevrolet Camaro
2013 Chevrolet Malibu and 2013 Chevrolet Camaro Review:
In the passionately competitive automotive world, embellishment often trumps originality.
There’s usually excitement when a manufacturer introduces an all-new car or truck. As with a movie debut, the enthusiasm soon fades, at different rates depending on the public’s attention span.
That’s why the automakers carry alterations in their hip pockets, ready to go when needed. They go by various descriptions, which Automotive News, the industry’s independent newspaper, has categorized as: re-designed (all-new), re-engineered (extensive makeover of components), restyled (extensive exterior and interior changes), re-skinned (minor sheet metal changes) and freshened (new grille, headlights or taillights).In addition, manufacturers sometimes simply add a new model, as Chevrolet has done with the 2013 Malibu family sedan and its monster performance car, the Camaro ZL1. With the latter, the new model is a supplement: a convertible to join the existing coupe. Moreover, as a less expensive alternative to the ZL1, the company also assembled a new track-intended performance package for the Camaro SS coupe, called the 1LE.
With the Malibu, it’s a sort of reverse-English pool shot. When the 2013 model was introduced, the only version available was the Malibu Eco, a mild hybrid with 182 horsepower from gasoline and electric motors that had an EPA city/highway mileage rating of 25/37 miles to the gallon.
Now it has been joined by a conventional mainstream version with a 197-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a city/highway rating of 22/34 miles to the gallon. Tested was the well-equipped 1LZ model, which had a starting price of $28,590 and, with options, had a bottom-line sticker of $32,035.
A front-drive sedan, the new Malibu competes in the crowded and highly competitive mid-size territory against a plethora of good machinery: Ford Fusion, Chrysler 200, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Volvo S60, Volkswagen Passat, Subaru Legacy and Mazda 6.
With the addition of the tested 1LZ model and an upcoming turbo, the Malibu offers eight versions. The 1LZ actually is an LTZ with the 1LZ option package, if you can follow the confusing Chevy nomenclature. It slots in just below the top-of-the-line 2LZ with the 259 horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo.Like the Eco model before it, the 1LZ’s distinguishing characteristic is silent running. There’s barely any engine or road noise, and even tires on rough roads don’t intrude much into the interior. It makes for serene long-distance cruising.
There’s decent acceleration, enhanced by a button-operated manual-shift mode for the six-speed automatic transmission. Unlike some others of its ilk, the Chevy manual mode stays in the selected gear. It doesn’t annoyingly shift on its own.
Handling is competent, with a compliant ride that soaks up bumps but floats and pitches on undulating roads.
The front seats are supportive in a stylish interior with leather upholstery and automatic climate control. There’s comfort for two in back except for a shortage of knee room. A giant, 16-cubic-feet trunk features protected C-hinges.
The new Camaro ZL1 convertible is simply an open-air version of the coupe, albeit with strengthened underpinnings to make up for the lack of a steel roof. The alterations succeed. There is virtually no cowl shake—that dreaded wiggling of the steering column and hood on some ragtops.
Like its coupe sibling, the ZL1 convertible—with a 580 horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 engine and six-speed manual gearbox—delivers scary performance with acceleration that hammers the shoulder blades into the seatbacks. Car and Driver magazine measured the coupe’s zero to 60 time at four seconds, with a top speed of 181. The heavier convertible would be marginally slower.The surprise with the ZL1 convertible is how tractable it is in everyday driving. It’s easy to modulate the throttle, the clutch is tight but somewhat grabby and the short-throw shift linkage is stiff but positive.
For many enthusiasts, however, the ZL1 convertible’s as-tested price of $62,245, including a $1,300 gas-guzzler tax, will prove daunting. So the Camaro engineers put together a performance package for the Camaro SS model, called the 1LE. It costs $3,500 and bumps the SS Coupe’s price to $37,035.
Of course, it is nowhere near as powerful as the ZL1 but it’s no Milquetoast either. With a 426-horsepower V8 linked to a six-speed manual transmission—there’s no automatic—the 1LE is intended as Chevrolet’s answer to Ford’s Boss 302 Mustang, which has a 444-horsepower V8 with a six-speed manual.
The ZL1 is distinguished by an arrest-ready color scheme that includes a matte black hood and black alloy wheels.
The 1LE’s power is the same as on the SS. Modifications are all related to handling and racetrack duty, including a high-capacity fuel pump that won’t starve the engine in turns, as well as suspension system modifications, Brembo front brakes and high-performance tires.
Al Oppenheiser, the Camaro’s chief engineer, says the 1LE is intended for the enthusiast who perhaps cannot afford a ZL1 but enjoys bashing his Camaro around a racetrack on weekends.