The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu stands out in the midsize sedan field for its sharp looks and mix of appealing qualities. It's loaded with technology and offers a roomy interior. There's also a range of engine choices, including a hybrid option. Overall, we think it's a solid pick.
Since its complete redesign for the 2016 model year, the latest Chevrolet Malibu is very competitive in the midsize sedan category. Some rivals might boast better driving dynamics or more features for the money, but the Malibu provides a solid and stylish all-around package.
Chevrolet has loaded all but the most basic trim with desirable features, which means you won't have trouble finding the features you want. We also like the way the Malibu handles, and acceleration from the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is surprisingly peppy. The Malibu Hybrid is a smooth and refined driver, which returns an impressive 45 mpg combined.
trim levels & features
For 2018, the Malibu has four trim levels. The base L trim is sparsely equipped, so unless you're looking for the least expensive sedan possible, it's better to step up to the LS or 1LT. Both add a considerable amount of content, although like the L, they rely on a smaller, slightly underpowered engine. The Premier trim comes almost fully loaded and adds a more powerful motor. The Malibu is also available in Hybrid trim with similar features to the LT.
The base L trim comes with a 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, and not much else. Notably, a rearview camera and Bluetooth audio streaming are both lacking.
The minor price hike to the LS trim adds quite a bit of equipment. A rearview camera, 16-inch aluminum wheels, and a Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility are all notable upgrades. You also get laminated side windows, which reduce noise, and a 4G LTE connection with Wi-Fi.
Upgrading to the 1LT trim gets you all of the LS' features, as well as 17-inch wheels, heated mirrors, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat, rear-seat air vents and satellite radio.
The 1LT can also be upgraded with several packages. The Convenience and Technology package adds remote-vehicle start, an auto-dimming mirror and wireless charging pad, and it upgrades the touchscreen interface to an 8-inch screen with navigation. A Leather package is also available, which adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, power front-seat lumbar adjustment, and, oddly, a nine-speaker Bose audio system. The Driver Confidence package adds automatic high beams, front and rear parking sensors, and forward collision warning.
New for 2018 is the Redline Edition appearance package, only available on the 1LT, which adds blacked-out 19-inch wheels along with black and red trim pieces in place of chrome.
The L, LS, and 1LT are all powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine (160 hp and 184 pound-feet of torque) mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The Malibu Hybrid uses a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor, producing a combined 182 horsepower and a noteworthy 277 pound-feet of torque. It comes with the same standard features as the Malibu 1LT and can be upgraded with the Convenience and Technology package, the Leather package and the Driver Confidence package.
Finally, the Premier trim includes all of the 1LT's features, as well as the contents of the Convenience and Technology and Leather packages. The engine is upgraded to a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque) and paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Also included are 18-inch wheels, ventilated front seats, driver-seat memory settings, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and unique exterior styling cues.
The Premier can be upgraded with the Driver Confidence package and the Driver Confidence package II, which includes an electronic parking brake, adaptive cruise control, parking assist, and an automatic forward collision avoidance system. The Premier Sun and Wheel package adds a dual-pane power sunroof, 19-inch wheels and upgraded floor mats.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our First Drive of the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Premier (turbo 2.0L inline-4 | 8-speed automatic | FWD).
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Chevrolet Malibu has received some revisions, including a new nine-speed automatic transmission for the Premier trim in 2017, and the deletion of the 2LT trim level. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Chevrolet Malibu.
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
child safety seat accomodation
audio & navigation
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.