Since its debut back when the Beatles were singing about holding hands, the Chevrolet Malibu has gone through several iterations. The initial lineup consisted of rear-drive midsizers that included coupes, sedans, wagons and the legendary, high-horsepower SS-badged muscle car. After a downsizing in the late 1970s and a quiet death in the early '80s, the Malibu was reincarnated as a smaller, anonymous, front-wheel-drive favorite of rental fleets.
The two newest generations of the Malibu have been much improved, however, and are more deserving of some "Love Me Do." Though it generally falls a little short of class-leading status, a new or late-model used Malibu is still a solid choice for a midsize family sedan thanks to its strong performance, composed and quiet ride, handsome styling and advanced electronics features.
Current Chevrolet Malibu
The current Chevrolet Malibu comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 196 horsepower. From there, shoppers can go either the performance or fuel economy route. The former is satisfied by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 259 hp. The Malibu Eco, on the other hand, features a 2.4-liter four-cylinder (182 hp) connected to a mild hybrid system that helps return nearly 30 mpg combined. The base engine achieves the same fuel economy, however, so we see no reason to select the Eco for this model year. All Malibus come standard with front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission.
Four Malibu trim levels are offered: LS, LT, LTZ and Eco. The base LS is nicely equipped with alloy wheels, cruise control, air-conditioning and a power driver-seat height adjuster. The LT has three sublevels (1LT, 2LT and 3LT) that add perks like dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver seat, a 7-inch touchscreen, the MyLink interface with smartphone integration and upgraded audio with iPod/USB connectivity. The LTZ boasts leather upholstery and heated front seats. Aside from its hybrid hardware, the Eco is equipped much like a 1LT. Options, depending on trim, include xenon headlights, a navigation system, Pioneer audio and safety features such as lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert.
In reviews of the latest Chevrolet Malibu, we've identified its ride quality and refinement as particularly strong points. Impacts rarely filter into the cabin, which remains whisper-quiet at highway speeds. Moreover, all Malibus enjoy an abundance of soft-touch materials, decent-quality switchgear and an attractive dashboard. The main downside is a relative lack of rear-seat legroom. Overall, the Malibu doesn't fully stand out from the talented crowd in this segment, but it's still a solid choice for family sedan shoppers.
Read the most recent 2015 Chevrolet Malibu review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Chevrolet Malibu page.