A little inside the NFL, if you’ll indulge: Automakers typically send out well-optioned versions of the cars auto scribes test. There’s a simple reason for that. Carmarkers want us to write about all the bells and whistles so you, the car buyer, to fall in love with the car and liberally check those pricy option boxes. They want you to go for the upmarket trim, the more powerful engine, fancy wheels.
But the reality is that most buyers look at their needs, check them against their desires and cross reference their budget as they decide between a nicely equipped LT1, like the Malibu tested here, an LTZ with the hot V-6 and leather or something inbetween.
Malibus start at $22,695, including destination for the base LS. The LT1 starts at $23,545. With just one option – $250 for a USB port for the stereo and a rear 110-volt outlet – the as-tested price is $23,795.
But even without many options, the Malibu has some unexpected features. How about cool green ambient lighting illuminating the center console. Gas struts to hold up the hood and trunk lid. Power lumbar support and height adjustment for the driver’s seat. Seventeen-inch aluminum wheels.