The four-cylinder Malibu was updated with a six-speed automatic transmission that improves fuel economy and throttle response for this model year. Otherwise, Malibu remains well rounded overall. The car handles well and has a competent powertrain, along with a very quiet, spacious and well-trimmed cabin.
Alerts
There are 3 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit,
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
NA
2001
NA
2002
NA
2003
NA
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
NA
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
NA
2001
NA
2002
NA
2003
NA
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
NA
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS available, standard from 2008. Head protection air bags available from 2004, standard from 2007. Side air bags available from 2005, standard from 2008. ESC available in 2008, standard from 2009.
Road Test

The four-cylinder Malibu was updated with a six-speed automatic transmission that improves fuel economy and throttle response for this model year. Otherwise, Malibu remains well rounded overall. The car handles well and has a competent powertrain, along with a very quiet, spacious and well-trimmed cabin.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
Front
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
sedan
Transmissions Available
  • 6-speed Automatic
Engines Available
  • 2.4-liter 4 (169 hp)
  • 3.6-liter V6 (252 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2012 Chevrolet Malibu owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

"additional problem with the rear fuse box. Had to be replaced"

Anonymous, IL (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)
Headlights

"Lights have to be changed by someone who is highly experienced, as it is very difficult. Front of car needs to be disassembled"

Anonymous, OH (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LS 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"To replace a $6.00 light bulb, you have to take your car to the dealership and pay over $100.00 in labor. I chose to replace the light bulb myself. Did research online. It required removing entire front end of car 20+ bolts/clips, it took 3+ hours to complete this task. It use to take a few minutes"

Lisa M., FL (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LS 3.6-L V6)

"Replacement of Headlamp Bulb requires expensive disassembly and reassembly"

Joel L., GA (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"Headlight went out & in order to replace it, you have to drop the front bumper. Labor cost was $100. Bad design!"

Marianne P., IL (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)
Wiper motor or washer

"Wiper transmission broke where it connects to the wiper motor"

Anonymous, MA (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LS 2.4-L 4 Cyl)
12V power plug

"Plug replaced due to no power to plug"

Anonymous, MI (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"Factory recall, not exactly sure why"

Anonymous, IL (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)
Exterior lights (other than headlights)

"Recall"

Anonymous, NC (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"Ignition, brake lights, air bags, suspension, GM brakes recalls"

Anonymous, GA (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"Lights do not come up automatically, delayed. Still not completely corrected by Chevy"

Anonymous, IA (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LS 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"There was a recall having something to do with the rear brake lights"

Anonymous, IL (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT Unsure)
Warning lights

"recall brake lamp, switch wire harness update"

Anonymous, CA (2012 Chevrolet Malibu Unsure 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"thermostat occasionally seems to stop working then spontaneously starts working again. Happens more in cold weather"

Anonymous, PA (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LS 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"I washaving problems w/the check engine light & my car shutting off while driving and the car jerking when pressing on the gas pedal from a start, & as long as my check engine light was on, the remote starter would not work"

Anonymous, MN (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 3.6-L V6)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Premature brake wear

"Brakes wore only after about 6 months"

Chuck S., CT (2012 Chevrolet Malibu Unsure 3.6-L V6)

"I have never before had to replace rotars and pads on a leased vehicle. Only 30000 miles on them, with no indication of problem at previous inspection"

Anonymous, NY (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 2.4-L 4 Cyl)
Rotors

"I have replaced the rotors in this car twice in less than a year, and it now feels like I will have to replace them a third time in less than 2 years. I have no idea why they are wearing out so quickly"

Joanne P., ME (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"wound not stop warping had to replace with aftermarket rotors"

Loyd W., VT (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 3.6-L V6)

"they had a problem with the rotors warping"

Asa B., MA (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"brake calipers needed to be ground off due to excessive buildup"

Anonymous, WA (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"Apparently when someone fixed the brakes previous to my owning the car, they failed to oil the driver's side front calipers"

Anonymous, ME (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"Car needed new brakes after 52000 miles"

Jon D., MI (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"pads needed replaced"

Wayne H., PA (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Air or water leaks

"Water pump had to be replaced"

Anonymous, NY (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 3.6-L V6)

"wind noise in drivers door"

Anonymous, CT (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)
Squeaks or rattles

"Rattles as it picks up speed. Squeaks as I brake. Las Vegas has high winds and this adds to the rattle. Handbrake does not work, and did not work from the first day I bought this used car"

Anonymous, NV (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 3.6-L V6)

"excessive noise; has not been remedied"

Gary S., TX (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Fuel cap

"Original cap was broken due to wear and tear, then replaced with a generic cap that didn't fit and the problem re-emerged"

Anonymous, NV (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LS 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"Check engine light came on 5 times in 3 years. 2 times for e-vap sensor, 2 times for gas cap, once for fume canister issue"

John K., NY (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

"Engine light comes on when gas gap is not secured properly. Gas cap needed to be replaced"

Anonymous, PA (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)
Fuel injection system

"electrical problem caused fuel injection system to fail?"

Anonymous, CA (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LS Unsure)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Electronic or air suspension

"Factory recall involving ECU"

Chris W., NY (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 3.6-L V6)
Power steering pumps and hoses

"electronic power steering sensor problem, repaired under warranty"

Anonymous, CA (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LS 2.4-L 4 Cyl)
Wheel bearings

"whirring noise"

John G., OH (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 3.6-L V6)

"wheel bearings replaced with 50k miles"

Loyd W., VT (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 3.6-L V6)

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

What Owners Say

Engine rebuild or replacement

"Engine kept shutting down and loosing power. After several repairs/diagnostics it was found that carbon chip/flakes built up in the engine causing problems. Had to tear down engine and rebuild"

Chuck S., CT (2012 Chevrolet Malibu Unsure 3.6-L V6)
Timing belt or chain

"The timing chain shield came lose and rubbed against the chain which then put aluminium shavings into the engine oil and the shaving closed the oil pump which caused the engine to fail. under warranty got new engine"

Leann C., OH (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)
Cylinder head

"Warning lights and many electronic functions weren't working correctly. Chevrolet Dealer found problem to be cracked cylinder head and rebuilt top half of engine under warranty. The blower motor has failed twice in the last year and replaced"

Bruce L., NH (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 3.6-L V6)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Oil leaks

"Oil leak creates insecurity, since one does not know when it is time for ol change. It is a nuisance and a costly affair"

Anonymous, NV (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 3.6-L V6)

"axel leakes"

Robert P., IL (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LS 2.4-L 4 Cyl)
Accessory belts or pulleys

"Misaligned belt from the factory caused the engine to shut down. Pulled over, restarted the car and drove to the dealer"

James V., TX (2012 Chevrolet Malibu Unsure 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Slipping transmission

"When shifting from Park to Reverse, to Drive, the car jerks a little. When the RPM is low and I press the gas, the car also jerks at low speeds"

Brad M., BC (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 3.6-L V6)
Transmission leaks

"Right transaxie leak covered by extended warranty"

Joel L., GA (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)
Transmission computer

"would not recognize reverse"

Anonymous, AB (2012 Chevrolet Malibu Unsure 3.6-L V6)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

CD player

"does not work; will not eject"

Gary S., TX (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 2.4-L 4 Cyl)
Radio

"Channels would turn by themselves"

Larry B., KS (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Automatic climate control

"The lighting around the knobs went out"

Brad M., BC (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 3.6-L V6)

"The resistor on low fan speed failed. Had the same problem on 2003 Malibu"

Marianne P., IL (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

Transmission Major

Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.

What Owners Say

"Typical Cheverolet piece of shit"

Anonymous, ON (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Loose exterior trim or moldings

"The under mounting that's black and beneath the front bumper and front end fell off while traveling on the interstate. This in turn ripped the front bumper section, which will require replacing the entire front end since it is all one unit"

Mary B., KY (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 3.6-L V6)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Seat belts

"recall"

Anonymous, MI (2012 Chevrolet Malibu LT 2.4-L 4 Cyl)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

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