Competition from the Accord and Camry keep Chevy Malibu turning out new features and refinements. In 2019, though, reviews are noting that the Malibu is essentially the same car as in 2018, but with some styling and functional changes which might make it more attractive to some. Compared to the Honda Accord and similar Asian competitors, some have noted, the Malibu provides a more relaxed, insulated and detached road experience -- a pleasant commuting car or highway cruising vehicle for those who just want a good ride.
What changes have been made to the styling?
Most noticeable is a huge front grille which is echoed in the lower turn signal assemblies with waves of thin slats. The RS model adds a bit more including a rear spoiler, black badges, and dual exhaust plus special 18-inch wheels for the package. It's an attractive option for those who don't want to overspend on performance just to get the look.
Are there changes to exterior features such as lighting?
The lower turn signal modules which echo the grille somewhat are relocated of necessity to make room for new, longer-throw headlights. New taillights grace the back as well, helping to accent the Chevy Malibu gently aggressive styling. A new RS package brings forward many of the features of the Redline and LT packages of 2018.
How has the interior been updated?
Responses to the interior of the 2019 Malibu are fairly uniform: it's dated. The materials are outdated and don't give a feel of quality that the car deserves. That being said, the Malibu's controls are functional and well-placed, the Infotainment 3 with Chevy MyLink may be a bit out of place in all this plastic, but it's a good tech offering which Malibu drivers will enjoy.
Is the infotainment center up to date?
The Infotainment3 system includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, and the inherited MyLink features are a pleasure to use. Embedded navigation and a Wi-Fi hotspot are available to buyers of the higher-end models. Steering wheel controls are an exception to the out-of-date interior theme, and make cruising in the Malibu a bit more enjoyable.
What kind of power does it have? Is there a hybrid version?
The Malibu is available with an economical 1.5-liter turbocharged I4 engine which in 2018 was rated 27 city, 36 highway, 30 mpg combined with 163 hp. The transmission is now a continuously variable one which could improve the mileage estimates for 2019, and it provides both smooth driving and a "downshift" mode in response to the driver's quick gas pedal push. A 2.0-liter turbo with 250 hp and a nine-speed automatic transmission graces the Premier trim level, and the Malibu Hybrid continues to be available with its 49 city rating.
What's the difference between the Premier, RS and Hybrid models?
The new sporty RS adds affordable style with dual exhaust, leather-wrapped shifter, black exterior accents, and a power driver's seat. The Premier has an ECOTEC 2.0-liter engine upgrade, and an 8-inch reconfigurable Driver Information Center which also is included in the Hybrid, plus interior extras and heated rear seats.
How do the models handle?
The Malibu's ride is smoothed enough to be enjoyable in the city, and the handling makes winding country roads fun to drive. Push it too far, though, and it will start to show excessive roll around corners and diving on hard braking. These are just part of the vehicle's philosophy of an easygoing driving experience, for the most part. Steering is lightweight and braking is progressive enough to avoid unnecessary hard stops, making it a good car for those who just want to relax and enjoy the ride.
What about storage? Is this a good vehicle for trips?
There is some discussion about whether buyers are turning to crossovers and SUVs and leaving sedans behind, but the Malibu does have head and leg room for passengers who need it and power controls to adjust it. It has 15.8 cubic feet of enclosed cargo space in the trunk, which can be preferable to open storage areas in SUVs. Comfortable, relaxing to drive, and with an available navigation system, the Malibu makes an excellent car for road trips.