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2019 Chevrolet Malibu

$22,090 - $31,820
Price Range (MSRP)
Chevrolet Malibu

2019 Chevrolet Malibu Review: Not The Family Vacation you Were Looking For

by Adam Lynton

Much can be said for the Malibu - with a fresh new look for 2019, and a brilliant Hybrid option included in the range, this mid-size sedan faces some fierce competition in the segment where the brilliance of the Mazda 6, Honda Accord, and Ford Fusion is clearly seen. Sporting a 1.5-liter four-pot on all but the top model where a more impressive 2.0-liter powerplant is housed, the Malibu manages either 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque or 250 hp and 260 lb-ft. With a spacious cabin, fantastic infotainment system and a generally smooth ride, the Malibu manages to hang onto its appeal - for the most part. Frustratingly, the Chevy loses points against rivals for not having standard safety features that are, in this day and age, really expected as factory-fitted on vehicles intended to carry your family; and this, after a very comprehensive redesign for 2019. Add to that glaring negative that the cabin - although well-appointed, and technically ergonomic - is simply quite boring, and one is left wondering whether the Malibu is still quite as exciting as its name would suggest.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu Changes: What’s the difference vs 2018 Malibu?

The Malibu has had a full redesign for the 2019 model year and is now boasting modern front and rear styling, as well as an upgraded infotainment system featuring an eight-inch touchscreen monitor. A similarly-sized instrument panel screen can also be optioned on additionally. In an effort to lower fuel consumption, the outdated six-speed automatic fitted to the base 1.5-liter engine last year has now been replaced by a new CVT unit. A sporty RS trim has also been added to this year's lineup.

Pros and Cons

  • Spacious cabin with ample headroom
  • User-friendly, updated infotainment system
  • Smooth and pliant ride
  • New RS model
  • Punchy 2.0-liter engine on top-end Premier trim
  • Below average rear cabin space
  • Drab and dull cabin
  • Only two top trims have access to active driver aids
  • Mediocre safety scores

Malibu Exterior

The Malibu is a sleek and elegant sedan with upward-curving halogen projector-beam headlamps, power-adjustable black or color-keyed exterior mirrors (depending on the trim), and daytime running lights. It rolls on 16-inch steel wheels on the entry-level trim, 17-inch wheels on the mid-level variant, and 18-inch aluminum rims on the top-end Premier and sporty RS models, the latter boasting a black chrome-finish. The RS stands out with a rear spoiler, blacked-out grille, black bowtie emblems, and dual exhausts with polished tips. A power sunroof and 19-inch aluminum wheels can be added as an optional package.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu Front Angle View
2019 Chevrolet Malibu Rear View Driving
2019 Chevrolet Malibu Side View
See All 2019 Chevrolet Malibu Exterior Photos

Dimensions

At 193.8 inches in length, the Malibu shares typical midsize sedan dimensions with its sibling, the Impala, for the most part. Set on a 111.4-inch wheelbase, and with a width of 73 inches, the Malibu fits in with the measurements of both the Ford Fusion and the Honda Accord. The Malibu is only fractionally lower than most rivals, standing 57.6 inches in height. One of the lighter sedans in this segment, it weighs in at 3,126 pounds in its base configuration, and 3,223 lbs for the Premier edition, around 200-odd pounds lighter than both its Fusion and Accord counterparts.

Exterior Colors

Nine colors are available to equip your Malibu, ranging from white through to silver and gold, and on to the livelier shades of blue and red. The current palette includes Summit White, Silver Ice, Sandy Ridge, Shadow Gray, Pacific Blue, Northsky Blue, and Mosaic Black metallics at no extra cost, although only the first two can be optioned onto the L trim, and some of the above are not available for the LS either. A stunning Cajun Red Tintcoat and the Iridescent Pearl Tricoat are also available but have a surcharge of $395 and $995 respectively, and can only be had on the top-end trims. The sporty-RS has a limited number of paint options available as well but looks particularly good in Cajun Red, offsetting its black accents.

Malibu Performance

Exclusively available in the front-wheel-drive format, the Malibu range has various powertrain options. A 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine is equipped as standard across the bottom of the range and it features direct injection and stop/start technology. Producing 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, all but the Premier make do with this mostly average engine. Not the most enthusiastic powertrain, the four-pot manages to move the vehicle along at an unhurried, yet comfortable, pace. It's the top-end Premier trim that shines a little brighter; equipped with the more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, it manages the 0-60 sprint in 5.8 seconds, a significant improvement on the Ford Fusion's eight-second time. It is also slightly quicker than the six-second Honda Accord. While performance isn't key for the sedan, the Malibu nonetheless manages to get going when it counts and can maintain a capable, consistent speed on the open road with ease. The 2019 Malibu also has a Hybrid variant, which - surprisingly - is the star of the range for its brilliant performance, and is reviewed separately.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu Front Angle View
2019 Chevrolet Malibu Rear Angle View
2019 Chevrolet Malibu Wheel

Engine and Transmission

Two powertrains are available across this range, but the better-performing 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder unit is relegated to the top-level Premier trim only. The base engine, a 1.5-liter four-pot, manages 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque through a newly incorporated CVT, which sees better fuel economy than the older automatic it replaces but results in mostly average performance. As a base engine, it is quite flat and bland, with tangible delay in acceleration and some gear-hunting going on - still, it does what it needs to do for a daily commute, and is fine for those not focused on performance. The 2.0-liter Premier trim also offers a much better experience than the base engine thanks to peak outputs of 250 hp and 260 lb-ft. In this guise, the Malibu's straight-line acceleration is more than adequate for this segment. Paired to a nine-speed automatic and using front-wheel-drive exclusively, the 2.0-liter enables smooth upshifts and competent overtaking, even at highway speeds.

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

Handling and Driving Impressions

A vehicle such as the Malibu has been designed for comfort over distances, and while it isn't necessarily performance-oriented, it does offer some sportier characteristics. This is evident in the precise and accurate handling characteristics which the Malibu possesses, and the punchy 2.0-liter engine that allows for it to accelerate, overtake, and generally maneuver with enthusiasm. Pliant and composed handling, even when thrown into a sudden corner at speed, is quite impressive for a mid-size sedan. Steering is a little lacking in terms of feedback, but it only needs a light touch to make placing the vehicle easy enough for even inexperienced drivers; more spirited pilots will find it adequate - maybe even fun. One excellent aspect of the Malibu is its braking prowess, beating rivals to a 113-feet emergency stop from 60 mph. The brakes are firm and inspire confidence, although some may feel like they need to apply more pressure than usual. Chevrolet has done a good job with the Malibu; it rides comfortably and absorbs most road imperfections to create a stable and poised overall feel.

Malibu Gas Mileage

When it comes to fuel economy, the Malibu does really well in comparison to the likes of the Ford Fusion, achieving EPA estimates of 29/36/32 mpg in its base guise with the 1.5-liter engine equipped. The Fusion's entry-level model manages a 21/31/25 mpg city/highway/combined offering from its 2.5-liter engine. The Malibu Premier's bigger powertrain results in a marked drop in economy, averaging 22/32/26 mpg. It's Honda competitor, when equipped with a 2.0-liter engine, has almost exactly the same EPA estimates, while the Ford Fusion trails behind by two or three points for each cycle. With a gas tank 15.8 gallons in size, the Malibu would be able to cruise for around 505 miles with the smaller engine before needing to refuel. In the top-spec variant, that number drops to only about 410 miles per tank.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    15.8 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 29/36 mpg
* 2019 Chevrolet Malibu Sedan L w/1VL

Malibu Interior

Designed to seat five, the Malibu boasts a spacious front cabin area with an uncluttered and ergonomic design for the driver. The rear, being quite cramped, is probably best suited for smaller adults or children, but otherwise provides a comfortable and pleasant environment for all passengers. The Chevy Malibu isn't quite up to luxury sedan standards and offers mostly textured plastic and good quality cloth or faux-leather throughout the cabin, and while it isn't woefully disappointing, it is a little dated in comparison to other more contemporary cabins available. On the plus side, two full sets of LATCH car-seat tethers are available for the moms who want a classy cruiser to ferry the kids around in; this ties in nicely with the adequately-spaced trunk which a working mom will undoubtedly also need.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu Dashboard
2019 Chevrolet Malibu Front Seats
2019 Chevrolet Malibu Rear Passenger Seats
See All 2019 Chevrolet Malibu Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

All models, with the exception of the top-of-the-range Premier trim, feature premium cloth upholstery as standard, with the option of leather upgrades for the LT variant only. The Premier boasts the posh stuff, namely perforated leather seats that are both heated and ventilated in the front, and heated for the rear outboard positions. Heating is also available in the LT, but the other trims have to make do with body heat or the dual-zone climate control to keep them comfortable. With eight-way power-adjustment on the driver's seat (for LT and Premier only), seating can be quite good for the initial part of your journey - staying put on longer trips may need you to stop and stretch regularly, as the seats in the Malibu could do with some additional padding and bolstering. Five are seated comfortably in the Malibu's cabin, and even occupants in the rear will feel comfortable. It's not Accord levels of roominess, but it's pretty good nonetheless.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

Eight interior decor and upholstery color schemes are available but some are available to specific trims only. Entry-spec models L and LS have a choice between Jet Black and Dark Atmosphere/Medium Ash Gray cloth, while the RS leaves you with only the former option to complement it's dark and brooding looks. Nearing the top of the range, the LT has the same options, but leather can be optioned in Jet Black or variations of Dark Atmosphere with either Medium Ash Gray or Light Wheat. The same color schemes apply to the top-end Premier edition, with the exception that the premium perforated leather is used instead. Various other materials make an appearance in the cabin depending on trim level, including faux-wood inlays on the door handles and gear shifter, and - from the RS trim upwards - wrapping the shift knob and steering wheel in cow-hide.

Malibu Trunk and Cargo Space

For a mid-size sedan, the Malibu's available cargo volume is far from impressive. Still, 15.7 cubic feet in the trunk is enough for a few book bags and totes, your weekly shopping, or luggage for a weekend away with the family. Almost all rivals offer more space.

A rather diminutive glovebox, a medium-sized center armrest console, and thin door pockets make for less than ideal in-cabin storage, and although there are cupholders, they are likely to tip your refreshments out if you brake too hard. Competing mid-size sedans are equipped with more small-item storage options.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu Trunk Space
2019 Chevrolet Malibu Rear Bumper
2019 Chevrolet Malibu Taillights
  • Trunk Volume
    15.7 ft³

Malibu Infotainment and Features

Features

Starting off the feature-list with ten airbags on just the base model, each trim adds to the available features, convenience elements, and comfort levels. With electronic stability control, a rearview camera, capless fueling, keyless entry and start, as well as cruise control as standard, even the entry-level L model is not too badly equipped. The doors are power-programmable and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel has controls for audio and cruise control. At the base level, only single-zone climate control is available, although this is upgraded to dual-zone in the LT trim and up. A feature worth mentioning is the Teen Driver Technology, which comes included from the LS trim level, allowing parents to regulate driving styles and speed in case their hormonal youngsters decide to go on a joy ride. Heated and ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel only feature on the Premier as standard. Driver aids are a sparse afterthought, with park assist, lane change assist, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, automatic braking, and high beam assist needing to be optioned on at extra cost, and only in the top two trims.

Infotainment

The newly-rebooted Chevrolet Infotainment 3 System is installed from the base model in the Malibu range and offers a very intuitive, easy-to-use format. Making use of an eight-inch touchscreen, nicely-sized virtual buttons and user-friendly menus pop up and make for a competitive infotainment basis amongst rivals; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both compatible with the system, and Bluetooth streaming and USB input are featured on even the base model. SiriusXM Radio (with a three-month subscription) is included from the LT trim, and up to this point, the Malibu has a six-speaker default sound system. On the Premier trim, this is upgraded to a nine-speaker Bose sound setup, and a 120-volt power outlet and wireless charging slot get added.

Malibu Problems and Reliability

No recalls have been issued for the 2019 version of the Malibu, although approximately 177,300 vehicles of the 2018 model year were affected by a recall issued for an engine control module software error potentially disabling the fuel injectors. A few complaints pertaining to powertrain components and electrical systems have also been logged. J.D. Power provided an average predicted reliability rating of three out of five for the 2019 Malibu. Chevrolet covers the Malibu with a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty, five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and five-year/60,000-mile roadside assist package. The first service is also covered by Chevrolet.

Malibu Safety

The NHTSA put the Malibu through its paces and scored it an overall front start rating of five out of five. While it has not been rated for side crash safety, it has been given four out of five stars for rollover tests. The IIHS gave top scores of Good for all crashworthiness tests, except for a small overlap on the front passenger side which they rated as Moderate.

Key Safety Features

Ten airbags are installed throughout the Malibu range, and ABS brakes with corrosion-resistant technology are included as well. The nifty Teen Driver Feature allows for parents to keep an eye on the way their youngsters are driving, but is omitted from the entry model in the range. Electronic stability control, a tire pressure monitoring system, and a rearview camera comprise the basic safety features on the L-spec trim, although a rather short one-month subscription to the OnStar Safety suite is also available. Unfortunately for the Malibu range, one of the rather significant oversights by Chevrolet is the fact that advanced safety features need to added-on by means of the Driver Confidence packages - which, to make matters worse - add only certain features, to certain trims. Rear park assist, lane change assist and blind-spot monitoring can only be had from the LT trim and up, meaning that base models just have to do without.

Verdict: Is the 2019 Chevrolet Malibu a good car?

The Malibu has a long history of capably carrying American families on their daily commute, and with a newly refreshed design for this year, things were looking up for this sedan. Sadly, it doesn't score particularly high in crash tests or reliability, mostly because all the valuable driver aids need to be optioned on at extra costs, where almost all rivals include this as standard, with some crucial features not even available on the cheaper models. Still, it offers a decent ride quality, more than adequate performance when equipped with the available 2.0-liter engine, and favorable levels of fuel economy. With pricing as competitive as it is - and taking into account that you will need to add on packages to get the same level of safety as what main rivals offer - it makes sense to shop around before deciding on the Malibu. The Honda Accord offers much more value for money, coming in at a very similar price; so while the Malibu manages to tick some of the boxes, we'd be hard-pressed to say it manages them all.

What's the Price of the 2019 Chevrolet Malibu?

$22,090 is the MSRP you can expect to budget for when looking at the entry-level L sedan. Moving up one notch to the LS ups the price to $23,220, while the mid-ranger RS trim has a sticker price of $1,000 more, at $24,220. Jumping to $26,620, the LT model nears the top of the range, with the Hybrid model slotting in just above it. Right at the top, the Premier trim with the dialed-up engine is marketed at an MSRP of $31,820. These prices are all exclusive of Chevrolet's destination freight charge of $875 as well as tax, registration, and licensing fees.

2019 Chevrolet Malibu Models

The 2019 Malibu range consists of five trims: L, LS, RS, LT, and Premier.

As the entry point of the range, the L is equipped with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood and a CVT automatic, the L trim features a rearview camera, daytime running lights, and 16-inch wheels, as well as keyless entry and cruise control. The cabin features a six-speaker sound system, an eight-inch infotainment screen, and cloth upholstery.

Building on the available features, the LS model makes minor additions by equipping an acoustic-laminated windshield, teen driver technology, a compass and outside temperature display, as well as vanity mirrors for both front occupants.

RS models boast a sporty blacked-out grille, a darkened bowtie emblem, a rear spoiler, and 18-inch black chrome-finished wheels. Twin exhausts with polished tips highlight the shapely rear, and the driver's seat is upgraded with eight-way power adjustments and lumbar support. The steering wheel and shift knob are also given the leather treatment.

Next, the LT trim does away with the blacked-out embellishments of the RS and defaults to the features on the LS. Additional daytime running lights, LED taillamps, heated body-colored mirrors, and 17-inch wheels are added to the exterior, while a remote start system and dual-zone climate control make the interior seem much plusher.

At the top of the range, the Premier replaces the existing powertrain with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot equipped with 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque through a nine-speed automatic transmission. It rolls on 18-inch wheels, re-equips the chrome-tipped outlets from the RS, and dons bright sill plates to add emphasis. The infotainment system gets some attention on this trim, upgrading to a premium Bose nine-speaker setup, and adding an enhanced driver information center with an eight-inch diagonal display. Wireless charging, ambient lighting, and heated seats round out this model, making this the most comprehensively specced variant in the range.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
L
1.5-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$22,090
LS
1.5-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$23,220
RS
1.5-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$24,220
LT
1.5-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
$26,620
Premier
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$31,820
See All 2019 Chevrolet Malibu Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

There are five relevant packages to the Malibu range, starting with the Driver Confidence Package aimed at only the LT and Premier models. For a price of $545, you can add the much-needed driver aids that include rear park assist, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change assist, and side blind-spot alert.

A Driver Confidence Package II is also available for the LT and Premier trims; for $550 extra, high beam assist, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, forward collision warning, following distance indicator, low-speed automatic braking, and front pedestrian braking can be installed.

A third Confidence Package is also on offer, but is exclusive to the Premier trim, adding adaptive cruise control, forward automatic braking, automatic parking assist, and an electronic parking brake for $1,000.

Still neglecting the lower trims, Chevy has also made a Leather Package available for the LT trim, comprised of leather-appointed seats that are heated in the front and power-adjustable, along with the premium Bose nine-speaker sound system. It has an additional cost of $1,590.

Adding a sunroof and upgrading to 19-inch wheels on the top-end Premier trim will set you back a further $1,500, while other, less significant interior conveniences can also be equipped.

What Chevrolet Malibu Model Should I Buy?

If you are fully convinced of your need to invest in a Malibu, ignore the bottom two trims entirely. Despite offering low prices and good in-cabin comfort, they are both devoid of any real advanced safety features, and none can be additionally specced. The RS trim, although sporty and quite cheeky in appearance, is a rather odd compromise of blacked-out style over driver aids and conveniences. To get any real value for money from the range, you need to start with the LT - with the addition of one of the driver confidence packages to cover your safety bases, at the very least. To be honest, if you aren't going to explore any of the rival sedans, rather go all in and spend on the Premier, as it opens up all the important safety aids and optional extras that would make this rather bland vehicle stand out, as well as giving you a more powerful engine to play around with. With all that said and done, we'd suggest you take a look at the Malibu Hybrid as a viable alternative to these gas-powered models as well.

Check out other Chevrolet Malibu Styles?

2019 Chevrolet Malibu Comparisons

2019 Chevrolet Malibu
2019 Chevrolet Malibu

2019 Chevrolet Malibu vs Chevrolet Impala

The Malibu's big brother, the Impala, seems like an odd comparison, and it may very well leave you with more questions than answers to compare the two. But it stands to reason that the larger sedan would be more spacious and comfortable, and with a lengthier body, the Impala has much more cabin space, and quite a bit more cargo volume. It also sports a much more impressive base engine, equipped with a 2.5-liter inline-four that supplies 197 hp and 191 lb-ft to the Malibu's 160 hp and 184 lb-ft. The downside of more power is the decrease in fuel efficiency, and with much more to worry about in terms of your fuel budget, there doesn't seem to be much to convince us either way. The Impala, with its bulkier size and heftier price tag, doesn't handle quite as nimbly as the Malibu does, and so, if we had to choose, we'd stick with the smaller sedan purely for its soft and compliant ride and better gas mileage.

See Chevrolet Impala Review

2019 Chevrolet Malibu vs Honda Accord

The Accord also offers two powertrain options, and at only a slightly higher price, it comes well-equipped with many advanced driver aids and safety features which are only available on the top-end Malibu. Both engine options on the Accord are impressive in their capabilities and their generally fuel-efficient nature, and together with adept and sporty handling result in a wonderfully engaging vehicle to drive. The cabin and trunk space on the Accord are only marginally better than what Chevy has managed to put together in the Malibu, but the Honda just presents a better package overall: a classy, roomy cabin a supple ride, good fuel economy and the things that the Malibu lacks the most - safety tech, included as standard from even entry-level models. There really is no contest in this regard - take the Accord, in any guise. It's worth the small increase in price.

See Honda Accord Review

Chevrolet Malibu Popular Comparisons

2019 Chevrolet Malibu Video Review