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?

2022 Chevrolet Malibu 2022: πŸš™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

Best Deals on Malibu

2022 Chevrolet Malibu Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
LS
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$23,400
RS
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$24,400
LT
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$26,800
Premier
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$33,500

Chevrolet Malibu Exterior

The onslaught of crossovers and SUVs in the $20,000 to $35,000 price range has left manufacturers with two choices: either drop whatever sedan you have competing in that segment or up the game to make it more exciting and appealing to the buying public. Ford chose the easy way out while Chevrolet decided to make the Malibu sexier.

It's not particularly interesting, but it is sleek and elegant. All models have a large grille with the RS featuring a blacked-out grille and a black Chevy bowtie emblem. The rear is less successful, but you do get alloys as standard across the range. The base LS come with 16-inch wheels and the LT has 17-inch items - although you can exchange them for 16s if you prefer. The sportier RS has 18-inch wheels and the range-topping Premier gets 19-inch alloys that do the best job of filling out those arches.

2022 Chevrolet Malibu Front Angle View Chevrolet
2022 Chevrolet Malibu Rear View Driving Chevrolet
2022 Chevrolet Malibu Side View Chevrolet
See All 2022 Chevrolet Malibu Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Chevy Malibu is 194.2 inches long, housing a wheelbase of 111.4 inches. The width without the side mirrors is 73 inches, and the Malibu stands 57.9 inches tall. The track width at the front is 62.6 inches wide, while the rear is 0.1 inches smaller. The lightest Malibu is 3,135 pounds, while the heaviest is 3,223 lbs. Compared to two of its main competitors, the Malibu's weight is similar to that of the Honda Accord that starts at 3,150 lbs, but lighter than the Mazda 6 that starts at 3,437 lbs. Oddly enough, all three of these cars have the same wheelbase of 111.4 inches, yet packaging differences mean that not all offer the same amount of interior space.

  • Length 194.2 in
  • Wheelbase 111.4 in
  • Height 57.9 in
  • Max Width 73.0 in
  • Front Width 62.6 in
  • Rear Width 62.5 in
  • Curb Weight 3,135.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

There are seven colors in the Malibu's palette, but specific colors are only unlocked in the more expensive trim levels. The base LS is available in five colors. These are Summit White and four metallics: Silver Ice, Mosaic Black, Mineral Gray, and Dark Ash - the latter two new for 2022. Cherry Red Tintcoat is available from RS trim upwards and retails for $495. The LT and Premier trim levels additionally add Northsky Blue Metallic.

Chevrolet Malibu Performance

All models bar the top Premier trim in the Malibu lineup are powered by the same 1.5-liter turbocharged four-pot, delivering the power to the front wheels via a CVT transmission. The engine produces 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration is adequate rather than brisk, with independent tests showing the Chevy returning a 0-60 mph sprint time of 7.8 seconds. That's on par with the segment but getting to the top legal speed requires some level of patience. The Malibu shines when you order it with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, though. Sadly, this engine is only available in Premier guise, but it would have been lovely to see it in RS trim as well. It packs a 250 hp/260 lb-ft punch, also sent to the front wheels. The big difference is the power being transferred via a traditional torque converter automatic with nine speeds - none of that droning nonsense. The nine-speed Malibu auto is smooth shifting as it feeds the power to the wheels effortlessly. The results speak for themselves. No other drivetrain configurations are on offer, which is a pity since rivals like the Toyota Camry can be ordered with AWD.

2022 Chevrolet Malibu Front Angle View 1 Chevrolet
2022 Chevrolet Malibu Rear Angle View Chevrolet
2022 Chevrolet Malibu Wheel Chevrolet

Engine and Transmission

We don't want to be mean to the 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, as it serves a specific purpose. That purpose is to offer sufficient forward momentum without making too much of a fuss while using as little gas as possible. There's a noticeable amount of lag, and the CVT's calibration doesn't help it. Still, it feels perfectly happy around town, and it gets up to highway speed without being annoying and the power delivery is gradual rather than immediate. This engine delivers 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque.

The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 250 hp and 260 lb-ft is much better, and it's such a pity it's only available in the top-end model. The nine-speed automatic does a much better job of exploiting the available power as well. With so many gear ratios to choose from, some gearboxes can feel slightly dimwitted. However, the Malibu's nine-speed always seems to be in the right gear, whether accelerating away from a dead stop or passing slower traffic.

  • Engines
    1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmissions
    9-Speed Automatic, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrain
    FWD

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.

Malibu Gas Mileage

The 1.5-liter turbocharged four-pot and CVT transmission work together to deliver some seriously impressive gas mileage figures. The smaller engine has an EPA rating of 29/36/32 mpg city/highway/combined. The Honda Accord manages to be more frugal, with an EPA rating of 30/38/33 mpg for the equivalent 1.5-liter turbocharged engine mated to a CVT.

The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine in the Malibu isn't half bad either, given the performance potential. It has EPA estimates of 22/33/26 mpg city/highway/combined. The Malibu has a 15.8-gallon gas tank, which means the 1.5-liter should be able to do just over 500 miles on a full tank.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    15.8 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 29/36 mpg
* 2022 Chevrolet Malibu RS

Malibu Interior

The Malibu's interior is exactly what we've come to expect from Chevrolet in recent years. It's a logical interior with all the niceties, nearly ruined by substandard materials. It's dull but easy to operate, nothing spectacular to look at but with all the modern features. All of its rivals offer similar specification levels, but with a bit more imagination. The Mazda 6's minimalist interior is particularly striking and just as easy to operate.

The seating position for the driver is okay. All the buttons are easily within reach and the dials are clear. Visibility isn't perfect as the thick C-pillars create large blind spots on the car's side. Unfortunately, blind-spot monitoring and other driver assistance features are only available higher up in the range.

2022 Chevrolet Malibu Dashboard Chevrolet
2022 Chevrolet Malibu Steering Wheel Design Chevrolet
2022 Chevrolet Malibu Central Control Panel Chevrolet
See All 2022 Chevrolet Malibu Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Chevrolet says the Malibu is a five-seater, and, to be fair, it is. It just depends on the size of the three rear passengers. The rear legroom measures 38.1 inches, good for a tall person, but the shoulder and hip room (57.1 and 53.4 inches, respectively) is slightly tight. The legroom in the front is plentiful, measuring 41.5 inches. The front headroom is 39.1 inches and the rear headroom is 37.5 inches.

The seats are nicely cushioned, offering plenty of support. A six-way manually-adjustable driver's and a tilt and telescoping steering column make it easy for the driver to find a suitable driving position. The seat material quality isn't that great, with only the top-spec model receiving decent looking perforated leather seats as standard.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.5 in
  • Front Head Room 39.1 in
  • Rear Leg Room 38.1 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.5 in

Interior Colors and Materials

The Malibu is let down by its lack of premium materials low down in the range. A leather-wrapped steering wheel is only standard fitment on the RS and Premier, for example, and a leather-trim gear shifter on the flagship only. The LS and LT have a choice between a Jet Black interior with black premium-cloth seats or a dual-tone interior with a Dark Atmosphere and Medium Ash Gray color scheme contrasting nicely. The RS come standard with the Jet Black premium cloth only. Being the top-spec model, the Premier has perforated leather seats in either Dark Atmosphere/Light Wheat or Jet Black. The latter is also available as an optional extra on the LT but for an added cost.

Malibu Trunk and Cargo Space

The Malibu has a 15.7 cubic foot trunk, which is on the small side in this segment, although it is still big enough for a month's worth of groceries. When more space is needed, the rear seats can be folded down in a 60/40 split. The Honda Accord has a bigger trunk, offering 16.7 cubes of space.

The storage options in the cabin are more impressive. It has a large glovebox, large door pockets with bottle holders, two cupholders, and a space for small items in the center console and center armrest storage. Rear passengers get smaller bottle holders in the doors and two cupholders hidden in the armrest for trims equipped with this armrest.

2022 Chevrolet Malibu Front Seats Chevrolet
2022 Chevrolet Malibu Rear Passenger Seats Chevrolet
2022 Chevrolet Malibu Trunk Space Chevrolet
  • Trunk Volume
    15.7 ft³

Malibu Infotainment and Features

Features

The base LS trim is equipped with keyless entry and ignition, power windows, a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering column, six-way manually-adjustable front seats, manual air conditioning, a 12-volt power outlet, an electronic parking brake, a rearview camera, cruise control, visor vanity mirrors, and an outside temperature display. It enjoys a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot and allows you to delve into the options list. The RS trim comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a rear-seat armrest, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar control. The LT adds the nice luxuries, including remote start, heated front seats, front and rear reading lamps, express-up for the driver's window, and dual-zone climate control with rear-seat vents - but relegates that leather-trimmed steering wheel back to the options list. The top-spec Premier adds perforated leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a heated and leather-trimmed steering wheel, a 120-volt power outlet, a six-way power front passenger seat with power lumber control, a memory function for the driver's seat, an eight-inch driver-information display, an HD rearview camera, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a dual-pane power sunroof, and ambient interior lighting.

Infotainment

Chevrolet is known for offering some of the best infotainment systems in the industry. Its systems are logical, user-friendly, and come as standard with comprehensive functionality. All Chevy Malibu models are equipped with an eight-inch touchscreen interface. Even on the base car, you can also connect two phones, and it will respond to voice commands if you have a compatible phone. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and you can create a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot for up to seven devices. A six-speaker audio system is fitted. The LT adds SiriusXM. The Premier comes with a high-definition display and a nine-speaker Bose sound system. Navigation, voice recognition, wireless charging, and an additional charging-only USB port on the back of the center console are also included on this model.

Chevrolet Malibu Sedan Problems and Reliability

Reliability ratings for the Chevrolet Malibu are very good. The 2022 Chevrolet Malibu received 80 out of 100 points overall in the J.D. Power survey and a specific 84/100 rating for quality and reliability. It seems the people who own these cars like them very much. According to the NHTSA, the Malibu has suffered only one recall in 2020 and one in 2021, both for the same reason - an improperly secured rear seat-belt retractor. The Malibu is sold with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain/drivetrain warranty. Roadside assistance also runs for five years or 60,000 miles while complimentary scheduled maintenance covers a single visit in the first year.

Warranty

  • Warranty Note:
    Preliminary 2022 Warranty \ 
  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Rust-Through:
    6 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Maintenance Note:
    1 Year \ 1 Visit

Malibu Safety

The Chevy Malibu crashworthiness review from the NHTSA returned an overall four out of five stars. The IIHS gave it a good rating in most departments, but it scored "marginal" for both the LATCH system's ease of use and the small overlap front passenger-side impact. It's a reasonably safe car, but it's disappointing when you compare it to rivals like the Honda Accord which received five stars from the NHTSA.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

For what is essentially a family car, the Malibu has surprisingly little in the way of driver-assistance features. Every model comes standard with Buckle to Drive, which won't allow you to move the gear lever out of Park unless the seatbelt is secured. Other standard safety features include ten airbags (including dual front knee airbags and side airbags for all outboard seating positions), a rearview camera, automatic headlights, a teen-driver system, and cruise control. Automatic emergency braking is optional on all trims; in fact, all the good stuff is optional. Even on the Premier trim, you have to pay extra for the following distance indicator, front pedestrian braking, forward collision alert, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot alert. Most rivals outclass the Malibu in this area.

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'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.

New Chevy Malibu Models

This year's Chevrolet Malibu range loses last year's base L trim and now comprises four models: LS, RS, LT, and Premier. All three lower trims share the same 160-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged engine and CVT automatic transmission, while only the Premier gets a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with 250 hp and a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, with no AWD option available.

The LS runs on 16-inch alloy wheels and has automatic halogen headlights, an electronic parking brake, keyless entry and ignition, cloth upholstery, six-way manually adjustable front seats, a manually tilting/telescoping steering column, cruise control, manual air-conditioning, vanity mirrors, a 12-volt power outlet, and an outside temperature display. The infotainment system as an eight-inch touchscreen and includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth, voice commands, the ability to connect two phones, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot capability, and a six-speaker audio system. Standard safety features include ten airbags, Buckle to Drive, cruise control, automatic headlights, and a backup camera.

The RS is meant to be more sporty and adds 18-inch alloy wheels, blacked-out exterior trim and badging, color-coded exterior mirrors, and a rear spoiler. There is extra equipment inside too, notably a leather-trimmed steering wheel, an eight-way electrically adjustable driver's seat with power lumbar control, and a rear-seat armrest.

The LT runs on 17-inch alloy wheels with 16-inch items available as an option. It foregoes the RS' big wheels and blacked-out trim for more chrome and also gets LEDs for the daytime running lights and tail lights. Inside, it gains dual-zone climate control with rear-seat vents, remote start, heated front seats, express-up for the driver's window, reading lamps front and rear, and access to more packages. It loses the RS' leather-trimmed steering wheel. The infotainment system gains SiriusXM.

The top Premier trim gets 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, turn signals in the exterior mirrors, bright front sill plates, and chrome door handles. Additional equipment includes a leather upholstery, a six-way electrically adjustable passenger seat, ventilated front seats, a dual-pane power sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an HD backup camera, a 120-volt power outlet, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, ambient interior lighting, and an eight-inch driver-information display. The infotainment system gains navigation, an HD touchscreen, voice recognition, a center-console USB port, wireless charging, and a nine-speaker Bose audio system.

See All 2022 Chevrolet Malibu Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The LS can be equipped with six optional packages. Most of them add convenience features and protection against the weather, with the only notable option being the Driver Confidence 1 and 2 Package. It retails for $1,095 and adds all of the advanced driver assistance features we mentioned earlier, as well as IntelliBeam lighting. This package can be ordered on every trim except for the Premier, which comes with an Enhanced Driver Confidence Package ($2,095), which adds all of the safety features, as well as adaptive cruise control and enhanced versions of some of the driver assistance features. The most notable packages for the LT include the Leather Package ($1,590) with leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and more, and the Sport Edition package with a black Malibu badge, front and rear black bowtie emblems, a black grille with a dark chrome surround, 19-inch black alloy wheels, and a Jet Black interior. It retails for $895.

πŸš—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
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Chevrolet Malibu160 hp29/36 mpg$23,400
Honda Accord 252 hp22/32 mpg$26,520
Mazda 6 Sedan 187 hp26/35 mpg$24,475

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

Chevrolet Malibu Popular Comparisons

The most popular competitors of 2022 Chevrolet Malibu:

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