For 2019, the Chevrolet Malibu Puts on a Happier Face

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

In redesigning the midsize Chevrolet Malibu sedan for the 2016 model year, General Motors shaved an impressive amount of weight from the not-so-well-regarded eighth-generation model. It also stretched the wheelbase, adding volume to a rear seat many found lacking. Now boasting carefully creased body panels, the lithe-looking new Malibu relegated the chunky, previous design to the Island of Bad Bodies.

That frowny face could still use some work, many said at the time. For 2019, GM takes care of that, updating — fairly extensively — the model’s visage in a mid-cycle refresh. The Malibu also sees the addition of a dedicated “sporty” trim.

As seen in these photos, the Malibu adopts a larger grille and a less compartmentalized front fascia for 2019. If the previous model looked a little ornery, the new one appears somewhat joyous. Gone are the LED-ringed side vents, replaced by secondary lights (and trim) that flow towards the bottom of the now-taller grille. Certainly, there’s more chrome to be found up front.

Redesigned headlights and taillights shine from both ends, with Premier models gaining LED peepers. LT and Premier models see LED running lights and taillights. Out back, GM pushed the exhaust tips, ringed by a new valence, towards the corners of the car.

While the 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinders carry over for 2019, the entry level six-speed automatic does not. All 1.5-liter Malibus swap the old ‘box for a continuously variable automatic. The uplevel 2.0-liters continue onward with a nine-speed automatic.

It’s this 1.5-liter/CVT combination you’ll find in the new RS trim, which brings sportier looks and no extra power to the Malibu line. That model, which should retail for around $25,000, slots between the LS and LT models, providing buyers with 18-inch machined wheels, rear spoiler, blacked-out grille and badge, dual exhaust, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter.

With the appearance of the RS, it doesn’t look like the Redline appearance package has much use in the lineup anymore.

You’ll find an 8.0-inch touchscreen running an updated infotainment system inside all new Malibus, replacing the 7-inch unit found in lesser 2018 trims. The base Malibu L gains a standard backup camera, while the Premier sees an 8-inch digital driver information center for the gauge cluster. That’s up from 4.2 inches. Outboard rear-seat passengers in the top-flight trim will now find a heated cushion below their derrieres.

Overall, the refresh’s intent is to make the Malibu more things to more people. A slightly more upscale appearance, greater standard content, and a nod to individuality in the form of the RS. Nevermind that it has a CVT and base engine — automakers aren’t in the habit of giving people everything they want. Still, Chevy has to do something to keep the model alive in a sinking segment.

The 2019 Malibu hits dealer lots this fall. Expect pricing details closer to the release date.

[Images: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Akear Akear on Apr 07, 2018

    The Malibu outsells the Mazda 6 by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. Mazda only sells about 40,000 6's a year.

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    • TMA1 TMA1 on Apr 07, 2018

      And there are only about 4,000 more Chevy dealerships than Mazda dealerships in the USA (4,200 vs 200). It's kind of pathetic that Chevy is only outselling Mazda 3:1.

  • Oldschool Oldschool on Apr 07, 2018

    I agree gasser. I’m used to driving big cars and honestly most midsize sedans still aren’t that spacious to me. But the Impala is “big enough” without feeling cramped inside like the majority of modern sedans do especially if you’re a large person. Once the Impala is gone, there’s not really going to be much of a choice for buyers that want a large affordable sedan besides for the 300 and Charger, which will be the only options available to buyers. The 300 is actually a great car mechanically besides for its aging and cheap feeling interior, it still has that big car feel that a lot of people still like and it rides extremely well. Now buyers will eventually have to fork down even more cash if they want a bigger car in the future since no American automaker will have anything available to offer consumers. The only other options would be a Kia Candenza, K900, a Genesis G90 or a Lexus LS460 which are all very expensive cars. So yes, GM is going to have to invest mightily into the Malibu’s future if it wants to stay relevant and competitive as it frees up its resources.

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