By on August 27, 2018

2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS front quarter

I thumbed the start button, adjusted the mirrors, and backed away from the coffee shop. A couple of miles later, my co-driver/navigator was distracted and we missed a turn on our route guide. I hustled around an unexpected roundabout, trying to make up time, and the mid-sized sedan dove into the corners like a much smaller car.

It’s remarkable how unremarkable the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu RS really is. I expected a dull car with dull responses and no power — which would provide ample opportunity for devastating snark. And yet, I can’t stop thinking about how surprisingly well this Chevy drives.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS profile

Chevrolet invited journalists to Seattle to drive both this Malibu RS and the facelifted Camaro (more on that later this week) and, honestly, I wasn’t particularly jazzed to drive the Malibu. After all, when you look at it on paper, it’s a relatively low-powered midsize sedan, tarted up with big wheels and “sporty” trim, with a new transmission that should (again, on paper) negate any sportiness.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS rear quarter

Disclosure: As if the preceding paragraph didn’t tell you already, Chevrolet flew me to Seattle, fed me, and put me in a hotel for two nights.

The 1.5-liter turbo-four found in the Malibu produces 163 hp and is exclusively mated to that CVT. That’s a power deficiency of at least 29 peak horses from the Accord and 40 from the market-leading Camry. Oddly, it doesn’t feel underpowered. The continuously variable transmissions’ ratios feel perfectly matched to the power available, and the driving experience is marvelous.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS front seats

This is, by far, the best CVT I’ve ever driven. Most transmissions of this nature make the driver feel as if there is something wrong with the car — the engine hangs at a higher RPM level, causing noise, or the needle might move up and down the tachometer in steady-state driving on the freeway. Disconcerting noises plague most CVTs. Not this one. Had I not read the literature on this car or attended a morning briefing before hopping behind the wheel, I don’t know if I’d have noticed the lack of traditional gears.

I did notice that little has changed on the inside of the Malibu. It’s well thought out, and the cloth seats are comfortable enough for a long day behind the wheel, but the materials do lend a rental-car feel throughout. Hard plastics, tough-wearing cloth seats, and rubbery bits abound. All likely to wear well over time, but competitors do a better job of making the things you look at every day feel a bit more premium.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS interior

Save the front corners — where a large A-pillar intrudes near the mirrors — outward visibility is good, especially to the typical blind spots over the shoulders. I was pleased with the easy-to-use infotainment system. Apologies for the awful photo of the screen — I forgot that the door was open, and thus the map lights were shining down on the touchscreen.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS center stack

Chevrolet has tweaked the styling front and rear on the refreshed 2019 Malibu. The horizontal bar that divides the upper and lower grilles — body color in years past — is now chrome in most trims. In this RS package, that bar wears a blacked-out chrome finish, one that Chevrolet calls “Black Ice.” It neatly pairs with the black grille formed with interlinked rhombuses.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS grille detail

Out back, the taillamps were reworked with dual elements, and LEDs on higher trims. This RS trim also adds dual exhaust tips — wholly unnecessary for a four-cylinder engine, but it gives balance to the rear view.

The Malibu RS slots neatly between the LS and LT trims, offering a nice visual upgrade via the 18-inch alloy wheels at the very least. Priced at $24,995 (U.S. dollars) plus delivery, it’s $1,000 more than the LS, and adds those alloys, a power driver’s seat, dual exhausts, black bowtie logos front and rear, and a spoiler. The LT trim is another $2,345 over the RS trim, and adds heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, a remote starter, satellite radio, LED lighting front and rear, and heated outside mirrors.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS front 2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS rear

The RS trim doesn’t get navigation, but Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on all but the most basic L trim level. As smartphones are upgraded more frequently than automotive infotainment systems, I don’t see this as a serious concern — the smartphone makers do a great job with the various navigation options. Turn-by-turn directions are available via OnStar, but that does require a subscription.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS gauges

The RS trim will likely be the one you see on dealer lots soon — Chevrolet spokespeople expect fully 25 percent of all Malibus sold will carry the RS badge. I have to imagine it will be subject to some seriously attractive lease deals. Unlike some automakers, Chevrolet sees a future in the traditional car market, and has doubled down with this refreshed Malibu.

The Malibu RS carries the weight of an ignoble heritage. For most of the last 50 years, the RS has been a “tape stripe” or otherwise appearance-focused package. Indeed, Chevrolet refers to the Malibu RS as the affordable sport-appearance package. But it’s an exceptionally attractive car at an attractive price. Before, if asked by a friend for a recommendation on a midsizer, I’d have a short list of three or four models. I’ve now added the Malibu to the top of that list.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS badge

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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94 Comments on “2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS First Drive – Curiously Viable Transportation...”


  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    It’s Remarkably Unremarkable Day at TTAC!

    Most reviews of the Malibu are positive, suggesting GM did something right with this car. And I like the fabric on the dash even though I should probably be ashamed of that. Exterior looks very good too. However, I think HypnoToad despises this car and I’d love to see a detailed response of why.

    Also, if a builder of formerly reliable cars like Nissan cannot source a reliable CVT for their cars, there is no way I’m trusting one here either. Lease cheap, then chuck.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      “The driving experience is marvelous”?!

      I can buy “surprisingly decent.” But we’re talking a midsize FWD sedan with a 1.5L engine and a CVT here. Methinks a quick mid-test butt recalibration in, say, a Cayman or Miata would have been helpful in curbing someone’s hyperbole.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        “Driving experience” isn’t “hooning”, though.

        A midsize sedan can be marvelous to drive without being Like A Sports Car; marvelous can be and is a contextual statement.

        Marvelous for a proper GT and marvelous for a full-size pickup don’t describe the same behaviour!

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Is one forced to take engine auto start-stop with this car? And, if so, can it be overridden?

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      Times change.
      GM has been winning a lot of reliability awards on the most popular automotive segments. While Nissan has bèen trying to build its vehicles cheaply as possible so they can compete in 3rd world markets.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Times don’t change in that I wouldn’t touch this Malibu out of warranty with a 10-foot pole. Until proven otherwise, this is a vehicle you pay the manufacturer to use for 36 months and then turn in. Anything beyond that is out of JD Power’s scope.

        Cars in this segment aren’t worth taking chances on.

  • avatar
    SixspeedSi

    YAWN

    I know midsize sedans don’t evoke much emotion, but I felt tired just reading this review. I’ve driven the pre-refresh one..and it’s a car. Interior was too dark and reeked of cheapness. Drove fine, once again nothing offensive or revolutionary, just meh.

    Good to hear the CVT performs fine, but I just don’t see the point. The Malibu is the official car of rental companies and pharmaceutical reps. I don’t think they care about the small improvement in mpg.

    Also, that last sentence is a bit much. Yes the ‘Bu is a fine car, but it hasn’t earned enough for my recommendation.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Camry and Altima have higher percentages of fleet sales, also Corolla and Sentra. Wait, now they’re not so bad.

      • 0 avatar
        SixspeedSi

        For sure, drive past any Enterprise and count how many Nissan there are on the lot. I just don’t seem to see a ton of personal owned ‘Bu’s in my area. I have two in my parking lot and they’re both company cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      The buyers might not care, but every little thing to raise the corporate average helps GM sell more hyper-profitable trucks and SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Not everyone needs their cars to excite them, and frankly that’s a good thing. I used to drive sports cars and ride motorcycles… now I drive a boring midsizer… and yet, my life still has pleasure and meaning. It’s actually been liberating. You should try it.

      • 0 avatar
        SixspeedSi

        Driven plenty of midsizers and mostly agree. However, if you’re picking between boring cars, I still would want the best one. The Malibu is not that. My problem is more so with the cheap interior of this car than the powertrain/driving experience.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “You should try it.”

        I tried it. Traded a V8 Firebird for a Buick Lucerne. I did not enjoy the “boring” experience at all. I want a car I find exciting or interesting.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    They may be listening if they are making the nose less ugly. The current car looks great from the front wheel backwards.

    I might return to the Malibu faithful if they would put a V6 in it and stop playing the GM game of forcing you to buy the Impala to get power.

  • avatar

    All Chevrolet has ever really had to do is remember what made them so beloved back in their glory days, and then do the modern-day equivalent of that.

    50-60 years ago, period tests of many of their offerings noted the handling, or the “jet-smooth ride,” or the acceleration or fuel economy or resale value, relative to each car’s respective class of course.

    Today it’s a more enjoyable driving experience, not quite Mazda-level but with a much better ride.

    Even the wife’s 2011 Equinox with 150k on it remains enjoyable. Newer ones offer more power but this one’s almost paid off.

    Seems the dark decades are finally behind the General. But I wouldn’t misinterpret that to mean they’re completely out of the woods.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Can someone fill me in as to why GM is using a CVT here and not the 9-speed FWD normal automatic?

    It is my understanding that the 9 speed is brand new, and designed for exactly this type of car. I honestly had no idea GM was moving to CVT.

    I’m just a bit surprised to see 2 transmissions and am honestly curious the reason. Is the 9 speed on its way out before it ever really even got off the ground?

    Maybe I’m a moron, but I’ve been pretty happy with the GM sedans I’ve driven, from the Cruze to the Impala, but never had a Malibu. Doesn’t surprise me you like it as I really liked those other cars from GM. I’d probably still slightly prefer Fords as I think they do a better blend of handling/ride, steering, and brake feel than GM. But they seemed like good cars.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      “GM We’re Pioneers of Torque Converter Automatics” – now lets give you a CVT for no apparent reason!

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The 9A is being positioned as the “premium” FWD transmission for the V6s and 2.0Ts, while the CVT is for the poors.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Well, the new 9A transmission has provided worse fuel economy than the transmission it replaces in the vehicles it’s in so far, and apparently was bad enough that Ford refused to use it as designed (even though they paid for some of the development costs). Ford actually removed a gear from it and will be offering it as an 8 speed in upcoming vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        So Honda 10-speed must be really bad with one more speed than GM’s 9-speed…wait 2019 RDX has harsh 2-3 shifts.

      • 0 avatar
        NoID

        Understanding how automatic transmissions function, it’s more likely that they are simply opting not to use the 9th speed. I doubt they devoted one full planetary set to a single ratio, but I could be wrong.

        I predict a small underground market catering to hyper-milers wanting to jailbreak their Ford 8-speed transaxles in order to unlock the secret 9th ratio…

  • avatar
    Hummer

    The 2018 Malibu with the 1.5T was the worst car I’ve ever had the displeasure to drive. I can think of no redeeming attributes.

    • 0 avatar

      250,000 American buyers last year disagree with you. I test drove it and thought it the Camry’s equal. No more Ford sedans for me. I am back in the GM fold.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Sure if you want to feel like driving the modern equivalent of a diesel Mercedes with the cheapness of GMs cost cutter economy interiors, and without the smooth ride.

        I have no doubt they sold a quarter million, rental companies have no problem buying vehicles they don’t have to use. I’m sure some masochistic people have inexplicably purchased them as well.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    My first thought was that the Cruze needs this treatment…

    However, looking more into it…

    – this is only 200lb heavier than an equivalent Cruze
    – this has a multilink rear vs the Cruze’ torsion beam

    Problem is this is about a half size too big, while the Cruze is about right. Eh I go back to my original thought. With the multilink rear, more power and appropriate chassis tweaks a Cruze RS could be interesting. Hell, they could throw the 2.0T in and make an SS!

    Or just stop selling sedans in the US.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Meh – I resent that this is not a package for the Premiere with 2.0T.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    hay guis what shud we do for malibo

    how bout BIGGER GRILLEEEEEEEE

    HOLY WOW DO IT look we did it guys

  • avatar
    Fred

    When we talk about horsepower, we also need to bring up weight and gear ratios to understand how “powerful” a car feels. I’m use to fanboys ignoring this, but I expect more from reviewers.

  • avatar
    Funky D

    Having had a rental 2018 for nearly 2 weeks and almost 2000 miles, I can offer the following:

    Pros:
    – Roomy trunk
    – Decent gas mileage (30½ average) and ample fuel capacity gives it an almost 500-mile range
    – Decent seats

    Cons:
    – Barely adequate power, OK until you need to step on it, then it is just weak
    – Substandard (but not junk) stereo system
    – Unremarkable styling with an A pillar that required me to duck just to get in and out of the thing
    – Poor layout of floorboard made for a less than comfortable drive after about 500 miles
    – Just not as good as the Ford Fusion we drove last year, let alone the Camcord cousins

    I certainly can’t see a reason to buy one of these, not at all.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Where are the RS racing stripes and hideaway headlights?

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Foley

      Gone the way of the Beatles and Hendrix, sadly.

      Best RS ever: ’70-’73 Camaro. That split bumper made a beautiful car even better.
      Worst RS ever: Those late-90s Cavaliers with “Rally Sport” in fluorescent script in front of the rear wheels.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Those grille shapes aren’t rhombuses (rhombi?).

    A rhombus is a four-sided parallellgram where all four sides are equal in length. (To put it another way, a square is a rhombus where the corners are right angles.)

    In this case, the top is a trapezoid (four sides, two of them parallel). The bottom is even farther off – it’s a hexagon (six sides).

    Euclid is spinning in his grave. Pretty slowly and boringly, if he’s got a 1.5 and a CVT there.

  • avatar
    Dan

    Had one last year as a rental, less the CVT. It was, charitably speaking, a piece garbage. All of the usual sedan drawbacks, and I could barely see out of it, and the seats were uncomfortable, and the gas tank was so small that I could almost see the needle moving. Seriously. I filled up at a hair under 1/8 of a tank and put TEN gallons in.

    Why someone would buy one of these in a world where the Camcord is on fire sale too is beyond me.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    We’re now getting a quite long series of reviews by TTAC staffers who’ve been flown to hotels (some spendy boutique ones) for over-nighters (sometimes two nights), had their gullets stuffed with meals (multiple, some haute cuisine ones), all paid for with automakers $$$, and now we’re getting reviews about great WALLOWY, BULBOUS, TUMOR-LADEN Honda Pilots, BUZZZZZY Hyundai Santa Fes (200 whole horsepower to motivate close to 4,000 pounds of metal and plastic), and 163-horsepower CVT driven (be still my beating heart) plastic-fantastic Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors (GM) Chrevy Malibus are.

    TTAC DEATH WATCH AND JALOPNIKFICATION STARTS NOW.

  • avatar

    This car is getting surprisingly positive reviews. It has leap-frogged the Fusion as America’s best family sedan. I wonder if the outstanding CVT transmission is Asian sourced. It would be great if it were an American CVT design. I just have a feeling it is Japanese. Due to chronic outsourcing German and Japanese engineering is simply superior.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I vaguely recall reading somewhere that it was a JatCo design.

      • 0 avatar
        Steve Biro

        If it’s true that it’s a Jatco design, it doesn’t bolster my confidence. Jatco CVTs are what Nissan puts in its vehicles. On the other hand, perhaps the issues Nissan has with its transmissions have more to do with the way they are installed at the factory.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Steve on the older jatco CVTs the failure mode is most definitely a serious material-spec and design issue, not much Nissan could do with any kind of tuning to prevent it IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      I may have missed it but perhaps it is time, with all the daily “CVT’s are crap” comments here at TTAC, that we need one of the reviewers to do an objective article on the current crop of these transmissions in the market without the speculation that, “It’ll fail in 60k miles using it to tow.”, type-commentary. Perhaps even some reliability data to support/reject the claims that this type of transmission (which basically uses the same variable sheave speed controlling technology used in manufacturing for many decades) is weak, prone to failure, et al. Most every manufacturer is using them in vehicles now. Nissan’s foray into CVT’s didn’t start out well but some reporting states that they learned their lesson and currently produced vehicles using CVT’s that are much better. CVT’s are the wave of the future that will continue to become commonplace. Or, we can continue to “shoot-from-the-lip” with personal opinions and unverified/unverifiable stories about CVT’s…

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        The “1st gen” Nissan Jatco CVTs that ran through 2012ish do indeed have a record of high mileage failure, even hooked up to the fairly benign 4cyls, to say nothing of ones shuttling power from a VQ35. I do believe the newer “PureDrive” generation is better on the lower power models, but the Pathfinders and some Quests were still having problems in 2013-2014, perhaps onwards. A CVT failure in the 140k range on something like a Sentra or Cube or Altima is basically a death sentence for the car it’s in as a reman unit plus installation is about $4k from Nissan. Thus the prevalence of cosmetically sound late model nissans in junkyards.

        • 0 avatar

          Cannot they just send them to Mexico? Why to throw away decent car which requires only AT replacement. Well Nissan is not a decent car but still in Mexico it is. I remember in 90s there were shops in Poland that bought totaled cars from Germany and merged couple of then into one decent one which then was sold in Russia. Or they might just fix them and make profit.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    CVT durability aside, I kinda think this is a handsome car. A neighbors daughter has a mid level ‘Bu 1.5, it has been trouble free to date. My last GM product (09 Enclave) had terrible transmission programming, even after reflashing. The replacement Sienna 6spd auto was a revelation at the time.But it seems they have improved, as no professional auto testers seem to have complaints about GM trans.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    My first car was a Malibu, a ’78 sport coupe V8 4-speed. My friends had 67-71 Malibus. These were well made and attractive, fairly reliable cars for their day. My next Malibu was a 2004, which drove me to a used Lexus. As unlikely as it is I will ever drive an American car again, I have a soft spot for the Malibu and am glad they’ve put that 2004 generation in its grave. I think Chevy’s styling has gotten better. While everyone else is turning their cars into origami projects, Chevys are clean, well-proportioned and easy to look at.

  • avatar

    Ford will be out of this game soon. Chevrolet wins almost by default.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Well, if you simply must have an “American” brand, sure.

      But why wouldn’t I buy a Hyundai or a Kia if I thought a Camcord was too boring and didn’t hate myself enough to buy a VW?

  • avatar
    dwford

    No offense to Chevy, but having a $25k Malibu RS without XM radio, heated seats and mirrors, or remote start is just cheesy. On the Cruze the RS is an option package added to an LT or Premium, not a separate package, so you aren’t getting a stripped car to get the sporty trim. A nice Cruze LT RS is under $24k before incentives. The only thing the Cruze LT RS lacks are different wheels, an easy to fix problem.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    This car is MEH in every way. A pointlessly fast roofline that has helped doomed the midsize sedan. Chevy should be looking at the MB C-class for what a sedan roofline should be. If you really must have such a fast roofline, by VW’s upcoming Arteon, the same look done with much more finesse.

    Needless confusing side creases and that hideous spilt grille. Cap it all off with the blandest of colour combos, silver over black.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      A pointlessly fast roofline that has helped doomed the midsize sedan.

      This Dad has been realizing that there might be a real danger of constantly banging his head getting rearward facing car-seats in and out of sedans or while helping the other child get buckled into a forward facing car seat. I have a little bit of issue with Momma’s Terrain and I’m a hair under 5’11”.

      The Pro-SUV/CUV/truck & Anti-Sedan conspiracy continues.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Literally just saw a VW Arteon driving around with manufacturer plates.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      If you want the epitome of a pointlessly fast roofline, I invite you to (try to!) sit in the back of a Chevy Volt. I love mine but it’s hilariously bad in that respect: you’ll bump your head getting in and out, and the only way for an adult to fit back there is to crane their head back behind the headliner, under the hatch glass. Which is even more hilarious when you consider that the rear is equipped with two large, luxurious, adult-size bucket seats. It’s the perfect carpool car, if your carpool friends are obese 10 year olds. I used to get annoyed about the conspiracy theories that GM doesn’t WANT the Volt to succeed, but good Lord, the rear roofline situation makes me wonder if they have a point.

  • avatar
    Featherston

    “For most of the last 50 years, the RS has been a ‘tape stripe’ or otherwise appearance-focused package.”

    Is the qualifier ‘most’ accurate? I’m genuinely not sure. In any case, points to Chris for qualifying that remark. In some cases, the RS package *does* net you some sort of dynamic improvement. E.g., while I preferred looks of the non-RS versions, the 1LT RS was the Goldilocks of the 1st-gen Cruze family. The RS package netted you the improved suspension of the 2LT and LTZ (slightly stiffer springs and shocks along with a Z-link to locate the rear twist beam) while retaining the 1LT’s more sensible wheel/tire combo (16″ alloys vs 17″ and 18″ for, respectively, the 2LT and LTZ).

    Chevy’s not the only manufacturer who makes things confusing. I’m not sure about the current models, but I believe that Toyota concurrently offered a Corolla SE that was essentially a bodykit pacakage alongside a Camry SE that had an uprated suspension.

  • avatar
    Tiptree78

    I had an LT for a month as a rental. I wasn’t sorry to drop it off. Seats are narrow and sometimes bottom out, you can feel metal support brackets through the cushion. Biggest grip is the engine/transmission responsiveness. It’s okay when you’re driving in relaxed fashion but jam the accelerator to merge with traffic or get out of someone’s way and for about a full second it does nothing at all. Very reluctant transmission that responds in its own good time. This is why I still drive manuals.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    That picture of the Infotainment screen is well representing the experience on a sunny day. The angle and location of the screen is such that afternoon sun basically washes it completely out rendering it nearly useless.

    Do they change the shift pattern on the RS? The LT Malibu that was foisted on me for 3 weeks had one of the worst CVTs I’ve ever experienced. It made an Altima appeared to be programmed well.

    I don’t see the current Malibu as competitive to anything in the class.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I just had a 41k mile Altima to drive to NYC, I will say I thought the CVT worked perfectly in that it’d give just the right amount of power for the hill in question, instantaneously and smoothly. Got an indicated 40mpg with three people and a trunk full of luggage. For reference I made this same trip in a factory fresh Optima LX-FE earlier in the summer just by myself and got an indicated 43mpg. The Optima felt more refined and the transmission felt more familiar, but for hill climbing the CVT was objectively more responsive.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Squashed fish crossed with an angry Pikachu. Or maybe that’s a lizard.

  • avatar
    gtem

    I’ve had a few rental LTs with the 1.5T and 9 speed (first year cars) and overall found them adequate but underwhelming. I like the interior and exterior design, but the drivetrain is one of the weakest in the class, fuel economy is underwhelming given the smalll hamster wheel engine, gas tank is small. Ride and handling is also thoroughly mid-pack. Doesn’t ride as smoothly as a Camry LE or Optima, can’t say it handles any better than anything else.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      It isn’t dangerously underpowered or anything (not that you said it was), but it is a nontrivial amount slower than the 8th gen 2.5L or any V6 Malibu (3.5, 3.6, or 3.9) going back to ’05. Pretty much equal to the 2.4L/6A introduced in ’09, but the world is a lot faster these days.

      In fact, I think an ’09 vs ’19 would be an interesting comparison. That and the Aura were probably GM’s best mainstream sedan effort since ’77 so it’d be cool to see how it stacks up 10 years later.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        A coworker has one of the maligned ‘14s, that car’s strength is definitely just how heavy and solid it feels, just a total bricksh*thouse on the road. Start stop is a rather clumsy and rough early implementation, the 2.5 in there feels and sounds a bit strained (in a muted way thankfully) and it’s no hot rod, but I’d definitely pick it over the 1.5t.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    ALSO, for an extra 7.7 seconds of HATE:

    THAT INSTRUMENT CLUSTER WITH GAUGES LOOKS LIKE IT WAS TACKED ON LITERALLY AT THE LAST MINUTE WITH 4 PHILIPS HEAD SCREWS AND ADHESIVE.

    This is a really, really cheap looking POS vehicle on the inside for 20k, let alone 25k.

    The thought of those surging 163 horsepower (at the crank; 142 at the front wheels) and CVT MAKES ME SALIVATE!

    A Sonata in lower-spec trim blows this away and can be had for 18k OTD all day long.

    Chrevy Maribru price really high with all the Chinese Lowest-Cost Bidder parts sourced from Provinces of Harbin, Heilongjiang, Fujian, and Changchun.

    • 0 avatar

      It is still better than the fusion. Chevrolet won the game because Ford forfeited by cancelling the Fusion. With the exception of a few interior materials, the Malibu does everything better than the Fusion. The Malibu beats the Camry hands down in appearance.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Fusion feels decidedly more premium to drive, even with its own hamster wheel 1.6 ecoboost (I haven’t driven one since they switched to the 1.5t). Feels more planted and “European” as does the Americanized Passat.

        • 0 avatar

          The Malibu’s engine is much quieter. I own a Fusion and trust me it had a noisy engine. Even my old 2009 Malibu had a quieter engine. GM simply has better powertrains than Ford.

        • 0 avatar
          rocketrodeo

          gtem, agreed. I’ve driven everything in the segment and own a 1.6T 6MT Fusion. Probably the quietest midsize sedan. European rather than Asian feel, more BMW than Volkswagen. With the 2.7T Fusion Sport, Ford owns the performance niche in this segment. Seriously quick car–13 second quarters stock and a mild tune puts it in the 4-second range 0-60. I don’t care for the shifter, but there isn’t much else to fault for $34K. There’s even a performance aftermarket.

          • 0 avatar

            The Fusion is a fine car, but Ford will cancel it soon. Ford won’t have any cars to compete with Skoda and Seat. Ford vehicles are about to take a giant step backward in performance.

    • 0 avatar
      Booick

      I’m aghast anyone would choose this vehicle over Camry, Accord, Sonata, Optima, Fusion, or any of the other decent midsizers. Its shape is incredibly wonky and its grill in incredibly ugly. The interior is so bad only a mother could love it, and it has a CVT?

      How is this anything but the ultimate boring mobile? How much compensation did GM give out for this puff piece?

      For 25k, I could go get a Dodge Charger that beat this vehicle in pretty much every way that matters if I wanted American, or choose from any of the aforementioned midsizers above.

  • avatar
    Oldschool

    Before I bought my 17 Impala, I test drove an 18 Malibu as well just to see which car was better.

    The Malibu was just OK, but the interior plastics and materials were absolutely terrible! Flimsy armrest and crappy seat materials. The gauges already looked dated and the entire car just felt low budget compared to other midsizers on the market. It seems like Toyota, Honda and even Hyundai all have much more sexy and lavish looking interiors (Although they too have super cheap feeling flimsy materials that just look nice until you start touching things) , while this Malibu strives to become soulless and basic.

    No wonder I never see them on the road either because they’re other way better midsizers to buy for people. I kinda feel like GM half assed this model and doesn’t care anymore to really compete with the competition since in many ways they probably lack the confidence within that the BU’s will even sell well. Also the interior space feels extremely tight compared to the Impala too. The lack of legroom and headroom sucks while the Impala feels very spacious.

    Speaking of the Impala, although it’s design and styling is older than the current Malibu, it’s a far superior vehicle! This is the car the Malibu should have been. With the Impala you get the smooth reliable V6, and a way nicer interior that is larger and much quieter inside. The Impala especially in the LT and Premier trims feel luxurious and premium in many ways. I honestly couldn’t believe GM could build a car like this, but I was sold once i took it for a spin. I really don’t understand why the Impala never sold well and the Malibu’s do, when the Impala is way better looking and constructed. Sure it’s a bigger car, but honestly the interior of the Impala isn’t that much bigger than the current Camry.

    Everyone should test drive an Impala just once and hop into the Malibu and you will all know what I’m talking about. Chevy really went backwards here and you wonder why nobody buys some of their vehicles because most of them honestly suck and are cheaply made in comparison to other brands. Their styling is bland and generic besides for the Paly. Their last true great sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      An Impala LT with cloth and the 2.5 really doesn’t stand out as any better in any way compared to most midsize sedans (Accord Camry et al) and in a few ways is a laggard (acceleration and economy with the 4 banger). Things change dramatically for the better once you spec the 3.6 and some leather.

  • avatar
    FWD Donuts

    How could those hideous wheels get through the design process without someone, anyone, at GM hitting the delete button for their CAD files.

  • avatar

    They need to put the 1.6L diesel from the Cruze in this car….

  • avatar
    SqueakyVue

    I just leased a 2018 1LT and couldn’t be happier with it. The reviews for this car are quite a mixed bag but it checked all the boxes for my family. The doors are nice and heavy and the ride is comfortable, smooth and quiet. Sure the 1.5t isn’t anything I’d call fast but it’s more than adequate. Let’s not forget this is the same motor powering the heavier Equinox/Terrain siblings.

    We test drove the Sonata, Fusion, Outback and a Camary. The malibu was by far the best value in the segment.

  • avatar
    Booick

    Might as well have copied the GM press release on this turd. I miss the old TTAC before it became the milquetoast shell of what it once was. Be sure to tell us how spectacular your lukewarm bath followed by dry toast dinner is as part of your labor day recap.

    Seriously, I find myself coming to this site less and less as the years have gone by, and each time I come back, I’m reminded why.

  • avatar

    Sorry Ford, you now lose to GM in just about every category. This is what happens when you surrender product lines to the competition.


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