The Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan is stylish, roomy, and comes with turbo or hybrid power. With room for five, and a generous trunk, the Malibu aims to be family friendly and comfortable for long-distance driving. Key competitors include sedans such as the Toyota Camry. Honda Accord. Ford Fusion. and Hyundai Sonata .
The Chevrolet Malibu was originally a high-end trim of the Chevelle rear-drive midsize car that was produced from 1964 to 1978 in a variety of body styles including a four-door sedan, convertible, wagon, and a two-door coupe. Performance-minded SS variants with were offered for most of its production cycle. The Malibu name officially took over from 1978 until 1983, when production ended.
In 1997, a the Chevrolet Malibu returned as a midsize sedan aimed directly at the likes of the Toyota Camry. As a result, the car moved to a transverse engine layout and put its power down via the front wheels. The fifth-generation Malibu was Motor Trend’s 1997 Car of the Year. Four- and six-cylinder engines were paired exclusively to a four-speed automatic transmission. Chevrolet introduced the sixth-generation Malibu from 2004 and, alongside the sedan was a four-door hatchback body style called the Malibu Maxx. A high-performance SS variant was offered from 2006 to 2007 featuring a 240-hp 3.9-liter V-6 mated to a four-speed automatic. Features unique to the Malibu SS include a sport suspension with a strut tower brace, a three-spoke steering wheel, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
With the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu ’s introduction, the automaker also debuted the midsize sedan’s first mild hybrid variant. A four-speed automatic was initially offered as the only transmission offered but it was later replaced by a six-speed unit. The eight generation Malibu followed in 2012 with the mild hybrid variant called the eAssist being the first variant to go on sale. Unlike past Malibus, the eighth generation replaced the optional V-6 with a 2.0-liter turbo-four while a 2.5-liter I-4 succeeded the 2.4-liter as the new base engine. Due to widespread negative response, the eighth-generation Malibu underwent an emergency refresh after being on sale for only one year. This generation of the Malibu was also the first to be sold in other global markets including the Middle East, China, and Australia where it is sold under the Holden brand.
The Latest Generation
Introduced for the 2016 model year, the ninth-generation Chevrolet Malibu is a big departure from the more conservative outgoing model. Additionally, the new car is also much lighter and more fuel efficient than before. Featuring a swoopy fastback roofline and a front fascia that’s reminiscent of the larger Chevrolet Impala. The current generation Malibu’s base engine has also changed to a 1.5-liter turbo-four while the carryover 2.0-liter turbo-four is now paired to an eight-speed automatic. A full hybrid variant also debuted for the 2016 Malibu and it combines an electric motor with a 1.8-liter I-4. The car is now also offered with advanced safety features such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning. Chevrolet’s latest MyLink multimedia interface is also available on the new Malibu and it comes with Android Auto and CarPlay integration. One unique feature in the Malibu’s MyLink interface is a the Teen Driver app, which allows owners to program the car to track how their teenager is driving, put speed limits, and lower the radio’s volume.
In a 2016 First Test of a Malibu equipped with a 1.5-liter turbo-four, we noted that the car rode better but the interior of the lower trim levels are of lower quality compared to the higher grades. Malibus equipped with the 2.0-liter turbo-four offer strong acceleration and as we noted in a 2016 First Test of the range-topping Premier trim, the larger 19-inch alloy wheels ride smoothly. “Even with 19-inch wheels, the ride was smooth and any surface irregularities were well damped,” we said.
Why You’d Consider One
A big improvement compared to its predecessor, the current Chevrolet Malibu offers up excellent ride comfort, making it a great choice for long drives and as a daily driver. Chevrolet’s MyLink multimedia interface is also well-connected with smartphones, making ideal for those who value in-car connectivity.
Why You’d Look Elsewhere
Although the car handles fine, the Chevrolet Malibu is more of a cruiser. So if want more sportiness from your midsize sedan, consider the Mazda6 or certain Ford Fusion variants.
Body Types: Hatchback. Sedan