2018 Chevrolet Malibu

2018 Chevrolet Malibu Review

Searching for a roomy and stylish midsize family sedan? Check out the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu.
4 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Will Kaufman
Edmunds Editor

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.



what's new

There are no major changes this year. The only notable addition is a new appearance package, the Redline Edition.

we recommend

The Malibu 1LT with the Convenience and Technology package balances content and price. However, we found the 1.5-liter engine underwhelming, preferring the driving experience of the Hybrid. The Hybrid comes similarly equipped to the 1LT for only a moderate price premium, and it can also be equipped with the Convenience and Technology package.




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.



trim tested

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.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5.0

Driving

4.0 / 5.0

Acceleration4.0 / 5.0
Braking4.0 / 5.0
Steering3.5 / 5.0
Handling4.0 / 5.0
Drivability3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.0 / 5.0

Interior

3.5 / 5.0

Getting in/getting out3.5 / 5.0
Roominess3.5 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0

Driving

edmunds rating
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.

Acceleration

edmunds rating
The standard 1.5-liter engine feels just adequate. Those who prefer more punch can get the Premier model's 2.0-liter engine. The Hybrid's smooth acceleration makes it feel more like an electric vehicle than other hybrids; its gas engine is mostly noticeable when accelerating hard or climbing a hill.

Braking

edmunds rating
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 a car in this class. Confident-feeling hybrid brakes are the best in the segment, lacking the uneven pedal feel common to competitors.

Steering

edmunds rating
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.

Handling

edmunds rating
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.

Drivability

edmunds rating
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.

Comfort

edmunds rating
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. Strong air-conditioning along with a quiet interior add to the overall comfort level.

Seat comfort

edmunds rating
Firm, supportive front seats with sufficient side bolstering. We could happily have driven longer in them than our three-hour evaluation route. The rear outboard seats are comfortable for average-size adults, but the center seat is better suited to smaller passengers.

Ride comfort

edmunds rating
Impressive control over choppy, undulating pavement. Remains poised where some others might bound about or transmit sharp impacts. Isolates you from unpleasantness but not from the driving experience. Could be too firm for some.

Noise & vibration

edmunds rating
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

The air-conditioning keeps 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.

Interior

edmunds rating
The Malibu benefits from a pleasant, modern and uncluttered dashboard design and a simple layout of controls. Passenger room is on par with that of most other cars in the segment, which means there's an abundance of it. The Accord's best-in-segment backseat is only incrementally better.

Ease of use

Excellent climate controls are placed within easy reach with well-sized buttons and knobs. The MyLink screen is prone to harsh reflections and fingerprint smudges, but high placement makes it easy to see and reach. The manual-shift button on top of the shifter needs a rethink.

Getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
Front passengers are able to get in and out with ease thanks to a large opening and relatively tall ride height. Rear passengers of average height or taller will have to stoop a bit to clear the sloping rear roofline.

Driving position

Ample adjustability when equipped with the eight-way power seat. The seat adjusts far enough down and back for tall drivers. The steering wheel has good telescoping range. The pedals are naturally placed.

Roominess

edmunds rating
The front seats are quite spacious even for larger occupants. The rear seat is typical for the segment, providing enough head- and legroom even for tall adults. The sloping roofline, however, makes that space feel confining.

Visibility

edmunds rating
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 faux leather. 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. A 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-split 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

Blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning systems are unobtrusive. Optional adaptive cruise control can bring the car to a full stop, but at lower 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.