The Malibu is Chevrolet's entry into the competitive midsize sedan segment. It surfs the industry's downsizing wave, and it's also available as a hybrid.
For the latest model year, the Malibu receives an available sport package and three new exterior colors. Base models are now available with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The Malibu rides on a brand-new GM platform dubbed P2XX, which is a longer-wheelbase descendent of the platform on which the outgoing Malibu sedan was built. Despite the increase in footprint, the Malibu is nearly 300lbs lighter than its predecessor.
All Malibu models ride on a front-wheel-drive chassis with MacPherson struts up front and a four-link, independent rear suspension.
Inside, the Malibu offers the typical 2+3 midsize sedan layout. The interior is roomier than that of the outgoing model thanks to 3.6" of additional wheelbase, which translates to more than an inch of rear legroom.
The new Malibu offers Chevrolet's MyLink system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, allowing smartphone users to link their phones up directly to the on-board infotainment system, allowing access to car-enabled apps directly through the vehicle interface.
The Malibu also offers Chevrolet's Teen Driver System, which allows owners to monitor the Malibu's speed or send alerts when drivers exit a predetermined geographical area. An expanded subscription service allows owners to review past infractions in a consolidated report.
The Malibu boasts a fresh exterior look, inspired heavily by its big brother, the Chevrolet Impala. The Malibu's aggressively-sculpted sides flow into all-new front and rear styling. The nose shows off Chevrolet's tiered grilles, finished off at the bottom by a sporty air splitter. The angular fog lamp openings emphasize the presence of the thin LED lamps themselves.
In the rear, broad fenders give way to a scalloped trunk finish panel over framed, angled exhaust pipe finishers. The rear glass is aggressively sloped, enhancing the body's sleek lines.
Under the hood
The Malibu is available with two different gasoline-powered engines, allowing buyers to prioritize performance or fuel economy.
The first is a 1.5L, turbocharged four-cylinder producing 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. GM estimates this engine will deliver 27 mpg in town and 37 mpg on the highway. It's paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.
A two-liter turbo four is the next step up. This engine delivers 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, offering quite a bit more punch than the 1.5L at the expense of fuel economy. Unlike the 1.5, the 2.0 is mated to an nine-speed transmission. The EPA has certified this combination at 22 mpg city and 33 on the highway.
A hybrid is also part of the lineup. Featuring 182 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque from the combined hybrid system, this model offers an estimated 48 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway. This system utilizes some components found in the Chevrolet Volt.
Trim level breakdown
The Malibu is offered in L, LS, 1LT, 2LT and Premier trims.
The L model is the base Malibu, coming standard with the 1.5L engine, 16" steel wheels with covers, halogen headlamps, power-adjustable side mirrors, 6-way manual driver and passenger seat adjustment, a 60/40 split rear seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, power windows with auto-down (all), cruise control, a six-speaker, AM/FM stereo and single-zone air conditioning.
Stepping up to the LS adds a rear-view camera, 16" aluminum wheels, automatic headlamps, compass and exterior temperature displays, vanity mirrors, 7" touchscreen MyLink radio, and upgraded OnStar with 4G LTE.
The LT comes in two flavors: 1LT and 2LT. L, LS and 1LT models all come standard with a compact spare tire. 2LT and above omit the spare and substitute a tire inflation kit.
1LT models are based on the 1.5L engine, and add 17" alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, LED DRLs, an eight-way power adjustable driver's seat, driver's auto-up/down window, rear console HVAC vents, illuminated vanity mirrors, a monochromatic driver information display, rear ambient lighting and reading lamps, SiriusXM radio and a body-colored antenna.
2LT models jump up to the 2.0L engine and eight-speed transmission. Additional equipment includes the Convenience and Technology package, the Driver Confidence package, wireless device charging, dual USB charging ports, 8" MyLink touchscreen radio, a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, an AC power outlet, remote start, a color driver information display, 18" wheels, dual exhaust outlets and automatic IntelliBeam headlamps.
The Premier trim is new for the Malibu, and is effectively fully loaded. It adds 8" MyLink Navigation, a 9-speaker Bose premium audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control, driver's seat position memory, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, passenger lumbar support adjustment, 19" aluminum wheels, and LED tail lamps.
Several packages are available for the Malibu, including those built into the 2LT trim.
The Convenience and Technology package includes remote start, an auto-dimming interior rearview mirror, an AC power outlet, color driver information center, 8" MyLink radio, wireless device charging, USB charging ports and a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel. It can be added to 1LT models, but is standard on 2LT.
The Driver Confidence package includes front automatic braking, IntelliBeam automatic headlamps, front and rear park assist, side blind zone alert with lane change alert, lane keeping assist, following distance indicator, forward collision alert and rear cross-traffic alert. This is included with 2LT models. On 1LT models, it requires the addition of the Convenience and Technology package.
The Leather package adds heated driver and front passenger seats; the Bose premium audio system; and a power, six-way adjustable front passenger seat with lumbar support adjustment. It requires the Convenience and Technology package.
The Sun and Wheels package adds a power sunroof, home access remote and 18" alloy wheels. It can only be added to the 1LT package.
Stand-alone options include a body-colored grille insert, a chrome grille insert, all-weather floor mats, wheel locks, illuminated door sill plates and alternate-finish mirror caps. Availability depends on trim.
The Malibu comes packed with an impressive ten standard airbags including dual-stage front, pelvic/thorax side-impact and even knee airbags. There are also dual front and rear head airbags that offer rollover protection, and the rear passengers receive their own outboard pelvic/thorax side-impact airbags. The Malibu also features front automatic braking, which is a first for the model.
OnStar with Automatic Crash Response is included, and now boasts improved voice recognition technology, as well as a myriad of improvements aimed at ease of use rather than safety concerns. Traction and stability control systems are also standard.
Forward collision alerts, forward collision avoidance braking, low speed front automatic braking, front and rear park assist, front pedestrian braking, and lane change alert with side blind zone alert, lane departure warning, forward collision alert, adaptive cruise control and front automatic braking are all available at various trim levels.
The Malibu is aimed at the heart of the midsize sedan segment, putting it in direct competition with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Volkswagen Passat, and Ford Fusion.