2013 Holden Malibu CD and Malibu CDX reviewed

Holden Malibu CDX

Holden Malibu CDX

The Holden Malibu is Holden’s new competitor into the heavily competitive mid size car market, over the last couple of weeks Ive been lucky enough to test the both models powered by the 2.4L petrol 4 cylinder engine to see how well the Holden Malibu stacks up.

Many Australians buy mid size family cars as they want or need something a little bigger then a small car but don’t feel the need to go something bigger like a Commodore or Falcon so I’ve put both CD and CDX through it’s paces over the last few weeks just to see how well suited it is to family duties and as a day to day ride to work in back.

On the outisde the Malibu offers some decent looks not over to the top stand out looks but certainly enough to make it stand out against the rest of the cars in it’s class, I’ve lost count over the last two weeks of the comments I’ve had from people on how good it looked which was something I was not expecting when I picked up the Malibu CD in week one.

The Holden Malibu comes to market in two models the entry level CD and the range topping CDX and is available with two engine choices a 2.0L Turbo Diesel and the 2.4L naturally aspirated 4 cylinder that I tested.

Priced at $28490 the petrol CD Malibu not only offers great value but comes very well equip for an entry level model,

  • 2.4L 4-cylinder petrol engine
  • Optional 2.0L 4-cylinder common rail turbo diesel engine
  • Six-speed automatic transmission with Active Select
  • 6 airbags
  • ESC, ABS and TCS
  • 17” alloy wheels (4)
  • Climate control
  • Rear view camera
  • Rear park assist
  • Holden MyLink Infotainment System with 7” colour touch-screen display
  • Embedded apps including Pandora® and Stitcher SmartRadio®
  • USB with iPod® connectivity
  • BluetoothTM connectivity
  • GracenoteTM music recognition
  • Steering wheel audio controls
  • Sensor key technology and push button start
  • Jet black interior cloth trim with vinyl bolsters
  • 9 speaker premium sound
  • Auto-on/off headlights
  • Power height adjustable sports sculpted seats

The CDX pricing starts at $31990 for the petrol model and adds the following over the CD model.

  • 18” alloy wheels (4)
  • Jet black leather appointed seats
  • Dual zone climate control
  • Rain sensing wipers
  • Fog lamps
  • LED rear brake tail-lamps
  • Leather steering wheel and gear selector
  • 8-way adjustable power front heated seats

Yes I can hear what your thinking, I’ve given you all the info but I’m answering the main question and that is what is the Malibu is like to live with on a day by day basis.

Holden Malibu CD

Holden Malibu CD

TO me a lot of the cars in the mide size class look very similar kind of like at times they were all cut from the same chunk of steel, now while the Malibu’s looks aren’t over the top it doesn’t look like your average mid size car either. The Malibu is sold as a Chevrolet in every other market around the world but Holden have given it the Holden treatment at front and combine that with the the muscular lines across the bonnet ( which really you really notice when viewing it from side on) give it a more up market look, The CDX adds chrome surround fog lights and the extra chrome lifts the look just that little bit higher.

While Holden have managed to blend the Holden family face to the front walking around to the back and it’s all Chevrolet the Camaro inspired tail lights look exceptionally good specially LED versions on the CDX model, the high belt line on the rear quarter completes the look and is really my favourite part of the car.

I lost count of the number comments I got during the two I had both models on how good people thought the Malibu looked, several epople were very surpirsed when I told them how much the CD was worth as they expected it to cost a lot more. I even had several people go tot he extent of telling me they thought the CDX looked extremely classy. Tell you the truth I really wasn’t expecting the kind of response I got and it did surprise me at first.

On the inside the Malibu to me looks rather nice to me and plenty of people commented on good they though it looked there is some hard plastics across the top of the dash but as I’ve said before that never worries me I don’t tend to fondle the top of dash on cars I’m driving.

Slip behind the wheel and you can’t miss it’s Chevrolet origins as the instrument panel pays homage the Camaro once more which I really did like in between the gauges is a colour multifunction screen which is used to display information from the on board computer.

Holden Malibu at night

Holden Malibu at night

The steering wheel was one thing i thought was a let down in the CD model it felt plasticy and cheap to me, the CDX on the other hand gets a leather bound wheel which I found the perfect fit for me comfortable, not to thin and not to thick. The steering wheel on both models has controls for the Cruise control, audio system and phone which means you virtually never need to take any of your hands off the wheel while driving.

The centre stack is dominated by the Holden Mylink system and i can’t say enough about how good i find this system specailly in easy of operation, the soudn from the 9 speaker sound system is rather good specaiily for a factory system and I found myself not wanting to touch any of the factory settings.

The bluetooth is so easy to use and took all of about 15 seconds for me to have my phone connected to the Mylink system and start live streaming music from it.

The dark grey trim around the centre stack give a great contrast to the darker plastics of the dash board, one thing that many people commented on was the lines across the dash that start at the door trim and runs from one side to the other. At night these lines are lit with ice blue lighting which one of my favourite parts on the interior.

There plenty of storage places aroudn the cabin including a rather nifty hidden away spot behind the touch screen, the CD gets cloth seats with vinyl bolsters and electric height adjustment are rather comfortable indeed but the 8 way electric adjustable leather seats on the CDX are just so much more comfortable and have a heating function to keep you warm on those cold mornings. One let down I did found with the seats in both models was I thought the seat bases where a little short and the shape specially in the CDX did stick into the back of my legs mainly because of the shape of the front of the seats.

Holden Malibu CDX

Holden Malibu CDX

Rear seat room is only average my kids never complained about the lack of room but when asked that said they had enough but didn’t have plenty, I have my seat back a fair bit when driving and i could fit behind the drivers seat but there wasn’t space between the seat back and my knee’s. The boot in the Malibu is rather big at 545 litres and gets even bigger when you take into account the 60/40 split fold rear seat.

So how do it drive the Holden engineers have done a great job tuning the suspension local conditions, I did find the Malibu rode very well and seemed to really soak up the bumps  there was a couple times it felt a floaty but nothing enough to unsettle the car. While it handles most bumps rather well you could feel slight imperfections in the roads. I didn’t push the Malibu extremely hard through corners but found it handled them really good. The electric power steering has a decent feel to and is light at low speeds which is great for wheeling it around the suburban car parks lots of Malibu’s will see duty in.

Now you would expect there wouldn’t be too much difference between both models on the road but there are slight differences the CD comes with 17 inch rims and CDX 18 inch and to me they did make a bit of a difference.  Normally you would expect the CD to feel more settled thanks to it’s slightly smaller rims and high profile tyres which help with absorbing the bumps but for some reason to me it was the opposite the CDX felt slightly more settled for some reason.

Under the bonnet the Malibu comes standard with a 2.4L cylinder engine rated at 123kw and 225nm of torque, the 2.0L 117km 350nm turbo diesel is a $4000 option on both models. I tested the 2.4L cylinder and came away feeling a touch unimpressed, the 2.4L can get away from the line smartly when pushed real hard (but I think that’s  more due to the gearing then anything else) but I found it rather lack lustre in performance. Driving in every day traffic in Sydney I came to a conclusion that either everyone in Sydney takes off like they are starting a F1 GP or that I had to give the Malibu a little more right foot the I wanted to keep up with them ( maybe I was being too light on the peddle or it is to do the with 1600kg weight). Once moving along the Malibu does behave rather well in traffic on the free way it sits nicely on 110km/h but i did find I really had to plan my overtaking as the engines lack of torque ment when i out my foot down to over take the engine was putting on the theatre but not offering much action.

Fuel economy was a mixed bag I was averaging around 11.5L per 100km in bumper to bumper traffic once again that could be attributed to the kerb weight, as once moving along in lighter traffic with not as many stopages the fuel consumption went down below 10L/100km and one the free way i saw it get down to the 6’s. One thing I did find rather weird was the CDX felt like it had a touch more power then the CD which had me puzzled.

The 6 speed auto transmission is not bad it shifts seamlessly in normal every day driving I did find it would hunt for the right gear going up hills but i think that could be attributed more the engines lack of torque. One thing I found rather annoying was the manual shift mode, In most cars I’ve driven to shift into manual shift or sport shift mode you move the shifter to the left on the Malibu you move the shifter all the way down so a couple I thought I was shifting into drive and got manual shift mode.

The other thing I was not impressed with the positioning of the up and down gear selection button for manual shift mode which is on top of the gear shifter, which meant I was in an uncomfortable position when using it so I basically used it once and didn’t bother using it again. One other thing was the placement of the electric park button which was the passenger side of the gear shifter which meant I had to search for it every time rather then put hand hand down instinctively like i have with other cars I’ve driven and like I do with my Captiva.

Safety wise the Malibu CD and CDX score full points from not only me but from ANCAP where they gave it a 5 Star Safety rating thanks to a wealth of safety features Holden has festooned on the Malibu such as 6 airbags, ABS, ESC, TCS I was specially impressed with the fact that both models are equip with rear parking sensors and a rear view camera.

Over all I found the Malibu rather good indeed its very well priced, 5 Star Safety rating, has a long list of features, the interior looks good and well set out (the Holden Mylink system is a big plus), it’s very comfortable to ride in and drive and offers some levels of refinement I liked I. The Malibu certainly would make an idea family car and good choice for somebody wanting a car bigger than a Holden Cruze but smaller than a Commodore.

But the engine is the weak point in an over all excellent package to me it lacks torque and refinement up high in the rev range and I did detect I slight vibration through cabin from it which. In saying that there is the diesel engine option which does offer you more torque and should give you better fuel economy as well it should help with some of the short comings of the petrol engine. I will add that I do take into account a cars performance levels more then most people do so somebody that doesn’t take these things into account may not have the same issues I did.

The long features list even in the CD model and rather impressive pricing makes the Malibu a very decent value plus option for anyone looking at a mid size car, and you definitely should take one for a test drive you will be surprised at how it good it is. I certainly did find myself certainly liking the Malibu a lot more then I though I would before I picked it up. Which one would I choose if I was spending my money I’d probably stump up the extra dollars and go for the CDX I thought the extra touches it gets over the CD model just makes it a more complete car for me, but if you are looking to spend under $30,000 the CD makes an excellent proposition.

Thank you to Holden for the loan of the CD and CDX Malibu’s for more info about the Malibu surf on over to Holden’s website http://www.holden.con.au or better still head down to your local dealership and have a look at one for sure.

Holden Malibu CDX

Holden Malibu CDX

Holden Malibu CD

Holden Malibu CD

Malibu Camaro inspired tail lights

Malibu Camaro inspired tail lights

Malibu CD front seat

Malibu CD front seat


Malibu CDX 18inch alloy


Malibu CD


Malibu CDX

Malibu CDX

Malibu CDX

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