Chevrolet refreshed the 2019 Malibu with redesigned front and rear ends, an optional 8.0-inch instrument panel screen, a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen displaying Chevrolet's updated infotainment system, and a new CVT that replaces the outgoing six-speed automatic on the base engine.
The Malibu is the automaker's second-largest sedan, slotting below the full-size Impala and above the smaller Cruze, Sonic, and Spark models.
2019 Malibu L: The Malibu's base trim includes 16-inch steel wheels, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a proximity key, push-start ignition, three USB ports, a six-speaker audio system, and a 3.5-inch instrument cluster display.
2019 Malibu LS: Move up to the LS and the Malibu adds 16-inch aluminum wheels, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and the Teen Driver feature (allows owners to track a driver's driving habits and set driving restrictions).
2019 Malibu RS: Building off the Malibu LS' features, the RS goes for a sporty look with 18-inch alloy wheels, an eight-way power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, black exterior bowties, dual-exhaust outlets, a rear spoiler, a unique black grille, and RS badging.
2019 Malibu LT: Also building off the Malibu LS' features, the LT comes equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, an eight-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, SiriusXM satellite radio, remote engine start, and LED taillights.
2019 Malibu Hybrid: The Malibu Hybrid includes LT features and adds a hybrid powertrain, the new 8.0-inch instrument panel display, an upgraded version of the infotainment system, and an electric parking brake. Unlike the non-hybrid Malibu LT, the Malibu Hybrid base model doesn't include heated seats or remote start as standard.
2019 Malibu Premier: Offered with the 2.0-liter turbo-four engine, the Premier is the top trim of the Malibu that includes 18-inch alloy wheels, six-way power passenger's seat, ventilated front seats, perforated leather-trimmed seats, an 8.0-inch instrument panel display, interior ambient lighting, a Bose audio system, a navigation system, heated rear seats, a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, wireless phone charging, and LED headlights.
The front-drive 2019 Malibu is powered by a base 1.5-liter turbo-four that produces 163 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Now backed by a CVT, the EPA's fuel economy rating is 29/36 mpg city/highway (better than last year's 27/36 mpg). The optional 250-hp, 260-lb-ft of torque 2.0-liter turbo-four is backed by a nine-speed automatic and is rated at 22/32 mpg. The Malibu Hybrid's powertrain consists of a 1.8-liter I-4 engine, a CVT, an electric drive motor, and a generator motor. The 2018-model-year hybrid sedan is rated at 49/43 mpg and total system output is 182 hp and 277 lb-ft.
The 2018 Malibu was awarded the NHTSA's highest overall safety rating of five stars. In IIHS testing, the Malibu received the highest rating of Good for all crash tests with the exception of the Marginal score for the passenger-side small overlap front crash test. The highest rating of Superior was issued for the front crash prevention test because the sedan avoided a 12-mph collision and reduced the speed of a 25-mph collision by 24 mph with the optional emergency automatic braking feature found in the Driver Confidence II package. With the less advanced low-speed emergency automatic braking feature found in the Driver Confidence package, the sedan received the second-highest score of Advanced by avoiding a 12-mph collision and reducing the speed of a 25-mph collision by 9 mph.
Available on the LT, Hybrid and Premier trims, the Driver Confidence package consists of blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking sensors. Also available on those same trims, the Driver Confidence II package includes forward collision alert, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, automatic high-beams, and low-speed emergency automatic braking with pedestrian detection. The Premier trim's Driver Confidence III package adds adaptive cruise control, an automatic parking system, an electric parking brake, and automatic emergency braking.
The 2019 Malibu can fit 15.8 cubic feet of cargo in the trunk, but the hybrid holds less at 11.6 cubic feet due to the battery pack. Front- and rear-seat legroom is 45.3 and 38.1 inches, respectively.
The 2019 Malibu's standard tech is ample and includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen displaying the brand's latest infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, three USB ports, proximity key, and a 3.5-inch instrument panel display. The LS trim adds a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and the Teen Driver feature. Remote engine start and SiriusXM satellite radio are equipped on the LT trim. The Malibu Hybrid includes the new 8.0-inch instrument panel display and an upgraded version of the infotainment system. Opting for the top Premier trim will get you a nine-speaker Bose audio system, a navigation system, two additional USB ports for the rear seats, wireless phone charging, and LED headlights.
In First Drive review of the refreshed 2019 Chevrolet Malibu, we enjoyed the sedan's comfortable highway ride in RS form, but wished it had more passing power and less road noise. Also, at full throttle, the engine gets very buzzy. On back roads, the Malibu offers competent handling dynamics with accurate steering and linear braking responses. Overall, we felt the RS model offered good value even though the Malibu's dull interior and underpowered base engine hurt the sedan's competitiveness. We concluded by saying, "…the Malibu, and especially the sporty RS trim, delivers a well-rounded package that will likely attract paycheck-restricted buyers who wince at the content-packed but more-expensive Honda and Toyota."
In a First Test review of the 2017 Malibu Premier, we liked the quick acceleration of the 2.0-liter turbo-four backed by the nine-speed automatic (even with four passengers). On winding roads, the Malibu was nimble and performed well. The interior is spacious and standard tech on the Premier trim is plentiful. With the exception of poor headlight performance and lots of interior chrome that can blind the driver during daylight, we had very few complaints and said, "…the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu with the 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 and nine-speed automatic combo should be on every midsize family sedan's to-drive list."