The suspension soaked up rough Mississippi farm roads with grace and competence, and kept the car straight and flat without a lot of pitching and body roll. On pockmarked Chicago streets, though, we did experience some jolts in the rear suspension, but they were pretty rough streets.
The steering is reasonably quick and precise, but without much real road feel. The steering wheel is a bit too large in diameter for our preferences; a smaller steering wheel would give a sportier feel.
The V6 is smooth and quiet and very pleasant, indeed. The thoroughly modern V6 has 252 horsepower and delivers performance that is good, if not sparkling. Most families will find no shortage of power or performance. With the V6, the 6-speed automatic is quick to shift, up and down, smooth, lurch-free and quiet.
With the V6 engine, the driveline exhibits some torque-steer at full throttle: Stand on the gas when turning at low speed, turning right from a stop sign, for example, and you'll feel a tug on the steering wheel.
The Ecotec 2.4-liter four-cylinder is not as sprightly as the four-cylinder engines offered by Honda or Nissan, lacking their torque. However, the Malibu's four-cylinder is aided greatly from having the 6-speed automatic.
The 6-speed automatic works well with the four-cylinder engine. Having six gears increases fuel economy and improves acceleration. Plus, it comes with GM?s TAPshift manual shift control, controlled by rocker switch on shift knob, allowing drivers to shift down to a lower gear manually when planning to pass.
The four-cylinder engine comes with electric power steering, to save drag on the engine, which helps both fuel economy and performance, while the V6-powered models come with hydraulic power steering. A no-cost option makes the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine E85-compatible, meaning it can operate on either gasoline or a mixture that includes up to 85 percent ethanol.