2022 Chevrolet Malibu

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2022 Chevrolet Malibu Review: Struggling For Relevance

The Chevrolet Malibu is about as unpretentious as cars get. It doesn't try to be anything other than a humble sedan with a comfortable ride, seating for five, and a trunk. The most interesting thing about the Malibu is that it perfectly represents the sedan's rise and fall. From the big, dazzling V8-powered car launched in 1964, all the way through nine variations to the current vehicle powered by an efficient 1.5-liter turbocharged four-pot. Not all the fun has been lost yet. The top-spec Malibu is powered by a turbo-four with 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft but it never stirs the soul, even in this guise. The Malibu's main problem is the existence of cars like the Mazda 6 and Honda Accord in the USA. Does the 2022 model offer anything new to make it stand out above its competitors?

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 6 /10
  • Performance 6 /10
  • Fuel Economy 7 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 5 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 7 /10
  • Reliability 6 /10
  • Safety 8 /10
  • Value For Money 8 /10
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2022 Chevrolet Malibu 2022: What’s the Difference vs the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu?

The biggest news this year is that last year's base L trim has been discontinued, making the LS the new base trim. Furthermore, an electronic parking brake is now standard equipment across the board. The LT trim still runs on 17-inch alloy wheels by default but this year, buyers can opt for 16-inch alloys if they prefer. Finally, two new paint colors - Dark Ash and Mineral Gray - join the palette.

Pros and Cons

  • Ride and handling are refined
  • The exterior is understated, in a good way
  • Ample space for front passengers
  • Infotainment is easy to use
  • Frugal
  • Dull cabin
  • Somewhat cramped rear legroom
  • Not the best safety ratings
  • Meager driver-assistance features

What's the Price of the 2022 Chevrolet Malibu?

The base LS has an MSRP of $23,400, while the RS comes with a price tag of $24,400. The LT retails for $26,800, and then it's a giant leap to get to the Premier trim, which has an MSRP of $33,500. All these MSRPs are unchanged from last year. The price of the Chevrolet Malibu excludes the brand's $995 destination charge. The cost of the Malibu will naturally increase if you opt for one of the available packages.

The Chevy was once considered competitively priced, but the Honda Accord can now be considered the value option. By comparison, the Accord range has a trim that matches every available Malibu. Considering that the Honda is mostly just a few hundred dollars more but comes standard with the Honda Sensing driver-assistance suite, it represents better value for money.

Best Deals on 2022 Chevrolet Malibu

2022 Chevrolet Malibu Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
See All 2022 Chevrolet Malibu Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

With vehicles in this segment, it's crucial to get the ride/handling balance right. You want the ride to be as smooth as possible, but you don't want it to lean too much or feel disconnected. You want the steering to feel direct and precise, but not so fast that it's unnerving. The Malibu is a nicely balanced vehicle which soon becomes apparent on a quick test drive.

The ride quality isn't firm, but it feels planted enough for cornering with some verve. The steering doesn't provide much feedback, but it is light and the Malibu is a car that turns in eagerly. It would not be intimidating to the average driver, but there is some fun to be had if you're the kind of person who likes driving. It's fun but far from sporty. The Mazda 6 and Honda Accord both provide a more rewarding driving experience, while the Malibu tends to err on the side of comfort.

The brakes deserve a special mention. The brake pedal is firm, providing just the right amount of resistance.

Verdict: Is the 2022 Chevrolet Malibu A Good Car?

The Chevrolet Malibu does have standout features that might lure potential buyers away from the competition. The first is the styling, which is handsome without being flamboyant. The second upside is the available engines. The 1.5-liter is good for fuel economy, while the 2.0-liter will please those in search of something reasonably powerful. The infotainment system is fantastic, and the ride is spot on.

On the downside, the Chevrolet is not a value proposition. Other cars offer way more for less, mostly on the safety side. Active driver aids have become the norm in most segments, especially those aimed at families. Oddly, Chevrolet charges you extra for these safety features, even on the most expensive model in the lineup.

The interior is comfortable, if somewhat bland. There are some cheap plastics in there as well.

The Malibu sedan is a good car, but to be considered class-leading, a vehicle has to be great. There are great cars in this segment. You won't regret the Malibu as your vehicle until the moment one those rivals drives by. Considering the volume sold in this segment, that's going to happen quite frequently.

What Chevrolet Malibu Model Should I Buy?

With its powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, the Premier might be the most appealing, but its MSRP of $33,500 places it amid more successful driver's cars. The standard Civic Si retails for less, is a smidgen slower, but way more fun to drive, while even a similarly-sized Accord is more enjoyable.

For the Chevy to make sense, it has to be equipped with a 1.5-liter engine. And it has to be as cheap as you can go to add the safety kit while still ending up with a reasonably priced car. The good news is that the Driver Confidence Package is available from the LS trim, which means you can get a Malibu with all the driver assistance systems for under $25,000. That's similar in price to the RS with its leather-wrapped steering wheel and power-adjustable driver's seat, but we'd gladly forego these items in favor of safety.

2022 Chevrolet Malibu Comparisons

Honda Accord
Mazda 6 Sedan Mazda

2022 Chevrolet Malibu vs Honda Accord

The Honda Accord does the same job as the Malibu, albeit with a bit more pizazz. It's more fun to drive, and both the turbocharged 2.0-liter and hybrid models are cheaper than a top-spec Malibu. Honda has a history of making even its blandest vehicles fun to drive, and the Accord is no exception. It's also more refined, and equipped with more safety features. Shoppers in this segment will likely care about fuel consumption, so it's worth pointing out that the Accord has a hybrid variant that has EPA-estimated consumption of 48/47/47 mpg city/highway/combined. While both of these vehicles are similar, Chevrolet has stuck to a tried and tested recipe, but to its own detriment. Honda upped the game with the new Accord, making it more spacious, more capable, and more memorable. That's where we'll spend our money.

See Honda Accord Review

2022 Chevrolet Malibu vs Mazda 6 Sedan

The Mazda 6 remains a class act and even runs the Accord close. Spanning a price range of between $24,000 and $33,000, it offer far better value than the Malibu, with items such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, LED headlights, and dual-zone climate control being standard, even on the base car, while offering a handy 187 hp. The Mazda is genuinely fun to drive and far classier inside than the Malibu and offers a level of sophistication and finish that the Chevy cannot match. It might not quite match the Malibu in trunk capacity but it beats it for rear leg room. The Mazda is where the smart money is.

See Mazda 6 Sedan Review
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