Outside of the battle on fuel economy, safety, and in-car technology that has become the battleground of the automotive industry over the last several years, other technology features are becoming important parts for certain consumer segments. Take, for instance, the ability to lock/unlock and start a car while never taking the key out of your pocket, also known as passive entry and push-button start.
The 2013 Chevy Malibu offers a four-door passive entry system that makes use of four small buttons that allow the driver to unlock the driver’s door with a single press and all four doors and the trunk with two presses — rounding out to the convenience of the midsize sedan.
The system, which was first only available on high-end luxury cars, uses the Malibu’s closed-loop wireless communication system, thereby verifying that the proper key fob is within acceptable range (of about three feet). Each fob is unique to its vehicle, so there is “practically no chance of false unlocks” according to General Motors.
“Available passive entry on all of the doors was a feature we wanted to offer our Malibu customers,” said Phil Carlisle, Chevrolet Malibu product manager. “It’s small things like this that can go a long way in making everyday use of your vehicle easier.”
A single press of the button on the driver’s door handle unlocks the driver’s door. Engineers decided against automatically unlocking the door upon the key fob holder approaching the vehicle since the tactile-based approach provided better functionality and increased control.
“This system truly keeps the driver in full control of the car,” said Ron Asmar, lead engineer for vehicle access. “We investigated fully passive systems where the key fob would automatically unlock the door when a person was within a certain distance, and decided against it. We wanted to make sure that the system prevented the car from unlocking just because the person and fob were close to it, such as when walking through the garage to take the garbage out.”
The passive entry system is available on the top-of-the-line Malibu LTZ as part of the LTZ Premium Package — a $1,000 option that also includes High-Intensity (HID) Discharge headlamps and driver memory seat and outside mirrors. However, the LTZ Premium Package currently requires the addition of both the Electronics and Entertainment Package ($1,900) and the Advanced Safety Package ($395) — thereby making the passive entry system a $3,295 feature. For reference, here is what each of the two required packages contain:
Electronics and Entertainment Package – $1,900
- Universal Home Remote
- Pioneer premium 9-speaker system
- 120-volt power outlet
- Rear Vision Camera
Advanced Safety Package – $395
- Forward Collision Alert – continually monitors the distance between you and the driver ahead; based on the proximity of the vehicle and your speed, a warning sound will alert you to a possible collision.
- Lane Departure Warning – a warning sound will alert the driver if the vehicle begins to cross a detected lane without signaling; an indicator light also flashes in the gauge cluster.
The 2013 Malibu is Chevy’s first global midsize sedan that’s sold in nearly 100 countries on six continents. Even though it possess many desirable and attractive qualities, such as being the first 2013 midsize car to earn a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from NHTSA and being selected as a 2012 Top Safety Pick by the IIHS, the vehicle launched to heavy criticism from the mainstream and automotive media. General Motors is working on refreshing the vehicle, which should see increased rear seat legroom and other improvements for the 2014 Malibu.
The GM Authority Take
We are big fans of passive entry and push-button start, but Chevy’s (rather asinine) configuration requirements for the 2013 Malibu — namely, the necessity to equip the car with three packages that all add up to over $3,000 — has us scratching our heads. Our recommendation to The General would be to give the range-topping LTZ the feature as standard equipment… and to stop nickel-and-diming its customers for features competitors (Hyundai Sonata SE and up) offer standard.