By Eve Pickman
The very names tell the story. Think Malibu, think beach, surf, sun, tan bodies, a bit bold, brash and in your face. Sonata, on the other hand, strikes a gentler cord, relaxing music, romantic, soft and subtle. The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu 2LTZ and 2013 Hyundai Sonata Limited hold true to their namesakes. Both offer a lot of car for the money, with big differences in style, handling and options.
The 2013 Hyundai Sonata Limited, with its available 2.0-liter Turbo GDI I4 engine that makes 274 hp and the 269 lb.-ft. of torque is rated for an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. The 2.0L Chevy Malibu 2LTZ generates 259 horsepower with a healthy 260 ft.-lbs. of torque, all while delivering an EPA rating of 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway. Both cars run on regular fuel, no need for premium here.
Outside, the Hyundai Sonata features side-mirror integrated turn-signals, chrome grille and door handles, chrome tipped dual exhausts, fog lights and 18-inch alloy wheels. Sonata Limited comes with a standard tilt sunroof, a panoramic sunroof is optional. The Chevrolet Malibu, with its Camaro-like hood bulge, tail lights, spoiler and standard sunroof is sportier than the Sonata, dual chrome-tipped exhaust tips are the only giveaway that the 2LTZ turbocharged.
Everything about the Malibu seems bigger, from its 16.3 cubic feet trunk, to the oversized sunglass holder. The Malibu is big on storage, with lots of places to hide valuables out of sight, including the storage space behind the flip up touch screen. At 191.5-inches long, Chevy Malibu is bigger than the 189.8-inch Sonata; parked side by side the size difference seems even larger. The Hyundai Sonata’s trunk is a tad larger than Malibu’s at 16.4-inches and easier to load, thanks to the size and shape of the trunk opening.
Malibu’s interior finishes are nicer than the Hyundai Sonata, with soft touch materials on the dash and other interior panels. The available two-tone interior adds a touch of distinction, with cocoa piping trimmed the front row buckets and 60/40 split rear seats. Bits of chrome brighten the dash, center console and door panels. The heated front seats in the Chevy feature three heat settings, the 60/40 split-folding rear seats feature a ski pass-thru. The interior of the 2013 Hyundai Sonata Limited features a leather-trimmed steering wheel, shift knob and leather seating surfaces. A big win for Sonata, both the front and rear seats are heated.
Sonata’s rearview camera and navigation system is part of the $ 2,900 Premium Package, along with navtraffic and weather, an upgraded 9-speaker Infinity sound system and Hyundai’s Blue Link system. Blue Link includes SOS emergency service, maintenance reminders, remote access, stolen vehicle recovery and a host of other features. It can be accessed via smartphone, app or the in-car infotainment system. There is no additional cost or service contract required for the Blue Link system. Malibu 2LTZ comes with 6 months of OnStar service, including Turn-by-Turn Navigation. Keyless access and push button start are all standard. Malibu, with Chevy’s MyLink interface features SiriusXM, Pandora and Stitcher radio. Subscription fees vary with individual plans.
With a base MSRP of $30,510, the 2013 Chevy Malibu 2LTZ can get pricey fast. The Electronics and Entertainment Package with the Pioneer® premium 9-speaker system, Rear Vision Camera and 19-inch tires and aluminum wheels adds $1,350 to the bottom line, the LTZ Premium Package another $1,000 and the excellent Advanced Safety Package, with Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning $395. The 2013 Hyundai Sonata Limited equipped with 2.0-liter engine starts at $27,595, with the $2,900 Premium Package the only factory installed package. From a dollars and cents point-of-view, Hyundai Sonata Limited is the clear cut winner, though the Chevy Malibu 2LTZ is a worthy competitor.