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2017 Chevrolet Malibu Review

This Malibu is a solid and stylish sedan that's significantly more appealing than its predecessor.
4.0 / 5
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Brent Romans
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

If you're searching for a roomy midsize sedan that's also stylish, the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu fits the bill. It's got a sharp new look that's backed up by a refined driving experience, and there's also an available Hybrid model with superior fuel economy. The Chevrolet Malibu was redesigned for 2016, so this marks the second year of its current generation. The previous-generation Malibu spanned the years 2013 to 2015.


What's new for 2017

Chevrolet has discontinued the feature-heavy 2LT trim and replaced the Premier trim level's previous eight-speed automatic transmission with a new nine-speed automatic. Otherwise, the Chevrolet Malibu is unchanged for 2017.

We recommend

The Malibu LT with the Convenience and Technology package is well-priced and gets you a nice assortment of luxuries, though we're not big fans of the 1.5-liter engine. Happily, the Malibu Hybrid is equipped similarly to the LT, and it too can be outfitted with the Convenience and Technology package.



Trim levels & features

The 2017 Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan is offered in four main trim levels: L, LS, LT and Premier. The Hybrid is a stand-alone trim level.

The base L is indeed pretty basic. It comes standard with a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine (160 hp and 184 pound-feet of torque), a six-speed automatic transmission, 16-inch steel wheels, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, OnStar, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker audio system. Notably, Bluetooth streaming audio is not provided.

You'll likely be happier with the LS and its 16-inch alloy wheels, laminated (i.e., quieter) side windows and windshield, 4G LTE connectivity with mobile Wi-Fi, Bluetooth audio, and the MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen that includes smartphone integration.

Upgrading to our recommended choice, the LT trim, will also get you 17-inch wheels, heated mirrors, an eight-way power driver seat, rear climate vents and satellite radio.

We like the Hybrid, too, because it's essentially comparable to the LT in terms of equipment and additionally boasts a gas-electric hybrid powertrain consisting of a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor (for a combined 182 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque).

If you can swing it, we recommend opting for the Convenience and Technology package, which includes remote ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an upgraded 8-inch touchscreen, wireless smartphone charging and two additional USB charging ports. This also opens the door for the Leather package, which adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, a six-way power passenger seat (with power lumbar) and a nine-speaker Bose audio system.

Or if you just want to get everything, the Premier includes all of the above features plus a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque), a nine-speed automatic transmission, 18-inch wheels, upgraded exterior styling details, ventilated front seats, driver memory settings, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control and a navigation system.


Trim tested

There are typically multiple versions of each vehicle, although many aspects are shared. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Premier Sedan (2.0L 4-cyl. Turbo 8-speed Automatic).

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5

Driving

4.0 / 5

Acceleration4.0 / 5
Braking4.0 / 5
Steering3.5 / 5
Handling4.0 / 5
Drivability3.0 / 5

Comfort

4.0 / 5

Seat comfort4.0 / 5
Ride comfort3.5 / 5
Noise & vibration4.0 / 5

Interior

3.5 / 5

Getting in/getting out3.5 / 5
Roominess3.5 / 5
Visibility3.0 / 5

Driving4.0

The current Chevrolet Malibu is a bold step forward for this previously disappointing family sedan. Its long-distance comfort and capable performance are what you expect for the segment, while its sharp handling and available advanced hybrid powertrain are standout elements.

Acceleration4.0

Standard 1.5T engine feels just adequate. Those who want more can get the Premier model's 2.0T, which accelerates quickly when you stomp on the gas. The Hybrid's smooth acceleration makes it feel more like an electric vehicle than other hybrids; its gasoline engine is mostly noticeable when accelerating hard or climbing a hill.

Braking4.0

Pedal action is smooth and predictable around town and firms up in panic situations. Our non-hybrid test car stopped from 60 mph in 113 feet — excellent for all-season tires. Confident-feeling hybrid brakes are the best in the segment, lacking the odd uneven pedal feel common to competing hybrids.

Steering3.5

The steering is low on feedback, and its initial turn-in is a bit rubbery, but the turning effort is consistent and appropriate for this type of car. It's responsive enough to instill confidence and can keep up with those who drive exuberantly.

Handling4.0

Despite its size and non-sporty positioning, the Malibu corners with more athleticism than most family sedans. The all-season tires howl loudly when pushed, but the car remains composed and predictable. It's confident in evasive maneuvers and even provides some fun for the driver.

Drivability3.0

The base six-speed automatic transmission can feel sluggish and isn't always smooth, with occasional clumsy downshifts and lurches as it rolls to a stop. We prefer the generally seamless powertrain of the hybrid version, especially at city speeds.

Comfort4.0

The Malibu's ride is smooth and composed, and it deals well with rough roads and undulations. Some might also describe it as firm, but that doesn't make it uncomfortable — it's just not a Camry-esque couch. Strong air-conditioning, and the seats and interior quietness won't disappoint.

Seat comfort4.0

Firm, supportive front seats with sufficient side bolstering. Held up well during our three-hour evaluation route, and we could happily have driven longer. Rear outboard seats are comfortable for average-sized adults, but the center seat is better suited to smaller passengers.

Ride comfort3.5

Really impressive control over choppy, undulating pavement. Remained poised where some others might bound about or transmit sharp impacts. Isolates you from unpleasantness but not from the driving experience. Not pillowy, though. Could be too firm for some.

Noise & vibration4.0

Engine and wind noises are nicely muted, and even the Hybrid's sometimes-on engine doesn't drone excessively and call attention to itself. Road noise can be intrusive on coarse asphalt, though. In total, a little quieter than average.

Climate control

A/C kept the car cool on a very hot day, even in the Hybrid, whose engine shuts down when the car stops at signals. And we never felt the need to constantly fiddle with the system. Ventilated seats are optional.

Interior3.5

The Malibu benefits from a pleasant, modern and uncluttered dashboard design and a simple layout of controls. Its space is on par with most in the segment, which means there's an abundance of it. The Accord's best-in-segment backseat is just incrementally better.

Ease of use

Excellent climate controls are placed right at hand, with buttons and knobs of a just-right size. MyLink screen is prone to harsh reflections and fingerprint smudges, but high placement makes it easy to see and reach. Manual shift button on top of the shifter needs a rethink.

Getting in/getting out3.5

Front passengers are able to get in and out with ease thanks to a large opening and relatively tall ride height. Average or taller rear passengers will have to stoop a bit to clear the sloping rear roof line.

Driving position

Ample adjustability when equipped with eight-way power seat. Seat motors far enough down and back for tall drivers. Steering wheel has good telescoping range. Pedals are naturally placed.

Roominess3.5

Front seats are quite spacious, even for larger occupants. Rear seat is typical for the segment, providing enough head- and legroom even for tall adults. However, the sloping roof line makes that space feel more confining than it actually is.

Visibility3.0

As with many sedans in the class, the thick roof pillars and high rear decklid obstruct outward visibility. The available beige dash top also causes distracting reflections — we'd get black. A rearview camera is standard on all but the base trim.

Quality

Acceptable but far from a class leader. Hard plastics up front are at least nicely textured and don't look cheap. (Those in back do and are scratchy.) Other surfaces are covered in lightly padded cloth or pleather. Feels sturdy and well put together.

Utility

If you have stuff to carry around — big or small — the Malibu is far from the best family sedan. The trunk is simply average, and the various interior bins are not ideal for the smartphones and the odds and ends we all carry around these days.

Small-item storage

For a midsize sedan, the Malibu's small item storage is poor. Tiny glovebox, merely average center armrest bin, smallish door bins, one-size cupholders without grippers and a media bin too small for even an iPhone 5. Rivals are better, more clever.

Cargo space

The Malibu's 15.8-cubic-foot trunk is average for the segment — good enough for golf bags and luggage. The much smaller Hybrid trunk is too narrow for golf bags, and the batteries fill up its aft portion. Still OK for a hybrid sedan, though, and there's technically a 60/40 pass-through.

Child safety seat accommodation

Four LATCH anchor points and three upper tether mounts are arranged to serve all three rear seating positions. Anchor points are easy to find under a flexible flap in the crook of the seat.

Technology

The 2017 Chevrolet Malibu might have as much available technology as any car in the segment, with most trims including a MyLink touchscreen interface, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, onboard Wi-Fi and the range of OnStar services. A full gamut of high-tech driver aids is also available.

Audio & navigation

The Chevy MyLink touchscreen system is much quicker than earlier iterations, and we appreciate its large virtual buttons and general system layout. We think most users will find it easy to use. There are 7- and 8-inch MyLink screens available.

Smartphone integration

Up to four USB ports are available, along with an auxiliary jack and Bluetooth phone and audio (though the base L is phone-only). Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the LS and above; they work as expected.

Driver aids

Typical blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning systems are unobtrusive. Optional adaptive cruise control can bring the car to a full stop, but at slower speeds in slow-and-go freeway traffic it makes awkwardly abrupt throttle and brake adjustments.

Voice control

Standard voice controls are a bit stilted and require the use of specific phrases, but if you are using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, you can push-and-hold the same button to get to Siri or Google Voice, both of which are much better at responding to natural-language requests.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.