Chevrolet Malibu LTZ Review

One week.

300-plus miles.

Ten or more hours of total seat time.

I confess.

I thought it was a V6.

Imagine my surprise, then, when breaking out my notes and the window sticker from GM to find that the more-than-adequate acceleration and creamy smoothness I loved so much in the Chevrolet Malibu LTZ...was from a four-cylinder engine.

The 2.4 liter DOHC Ecotec is nothing short of a revelation...and puts Malibu in the same ballpark as the Honda Accord (most of which are sold with fours).

But wait! There's more! Teamed (as the test car was) with a six-speed automatic transmission, the Malibu gets an EPA estimated 22 city/33 highway miles per gallon...which is 2 MPG better in both city and highway than the four-cylinder Honda and gets it a place on the TireKicker Top Ten Fuel Savers list. Or did, until it was bumped off by the Toyota Corolla XLE Sedan.

The LTZ brings a lot of features to the party...18 inch wheels, touring tires, chrome exhaust tip, automatic climate control, a premium audio system, XM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth and more. Base price: $27,550. Price as tested (with two options, the Rear Power Package...great for laptop or game-toting passengers...and Red Jewel Tintcoat paint): $28,745. And in my book, every bit a match for the Accord (which I love). And then there's the five-star crash ratings (four stars for rollover).

So which would I choose? Hey, if GM can build a family sedan this good, this satisfying, this right on the mark, I wouldn't penalize them (especially now, when their survival is at stake) by buying the competition. They've earned every dollar they can make on the Malibu.