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2019 chevrolet Malibu

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.

 Recent Changes

For the latest model year, the Chevrolet updated the Malibu's styling, upgraded the infotainment system, and added an eight-inch touch screen.

Overview

The Malibu competes in a segment of the market that's declining. Buyers are leaving sedans behind to buy crossovers. Chevrolet tried fighting that trend by making the Malibu a compelling car, not just a compelling car in its segment. It's 300 pounds lighter than its predecessor and it wears a clean, understated front-end design that makes it instantly recognizable as a Chevrolet. The sloping roof line gives it an almost fastback-like design, though the firm mercifully stopped short of calling it a four-door coupe.

Malibu buyers want space and the model delivers in spades. It seats five passengers with plenty of room for everyone on-board. Trunk space checks in at 15.8 cubic feet, though the hybrid model only boasts 11.6 cubes.

The Malibu's dashboard houses a touch screen that runs Chevrolet's MyLink system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, allowing smartphone users to link their phones up directly to the on-board infotainment system. This gives them access to car-enabled apps directly through the vehicle interface.

The Malibu also offers Chevrolet's Teen Driver System, which lets owners 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.

Technical specifications

Chevrolet offers three engine options for the Malibu. 

The base engine surfs the industry's downsizing wave. It's a turbocharged, 1.5-liter four-cylinder rated at 163 horsepower at 5,7000 rpm  and 184 pound-feet of torque between 2,500 and 3,000 rpm. It shifts through a continuously variable transmission.

Buyers who want more power can step up to a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque on tap. It's bolted to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Chevrolet estimates the turbo four returns 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

The efficiency champ is the Malibu Hybrid, which returns 49 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway. It achieves this with a direct-injected, naturally-aspirated 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 122 horsepower and 130 pound-feet of torque and a pair of electric motors that join forces to add 136 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. 

Front-wheel drive is the only configuration offered regardless of the drivetrain selected.

standard and optional features

The Malibu is offered in L, LS, RS, LT, Hybrid, and Premier trims.

Essentially rental car-spec, the base Malibu L comes with the 1.5-liter engine, 16" steel wheels with plastic hubcaps, 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.

More features become available as buyers move up in the trim hierarchy. For example, LS models gain 16-inch steel wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, plus Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. 

Buyers have a few option packages to choose from. The Convenience package 2 bundles a tablet holder for rear-seat passengers, all-weather floor mats, and a cargo net. 

Occupant safety

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.

Key competitors

The Malibu is aimed at the heart of the midsize sedan segment, putting it in direct competition with the Toyota Camry, the Honda Accord, the Hyundai Sonata, and the Volkswagen Passat.