There's nothing about 2019 Chevrolet Malibu that makes it radically different from its predecessor. The mid-sized sedan cycle renewal largely focuses on propulsion and technology improvements, with some styling tweaks to round out the updated package. The end result is a Malibu that is so spacious and easy to drive as it always has been. But a number of inherent shortcomings will continue to prevent Malibu from being more than at best a midpack pick.
The great news for 2019 is the addition of the RS trim you see here, with unique 18-inch wheels, a rear spoiler, double exhaust outlet, black marks and a black gloss lattice. It's a styling package ̵
Turboraft, now with CVT
Like most Malibu models, RS is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged I4 engine, with 163 horsepower and 184 pound-foot torque. A continuous variable gearbox replaces the previous six-step automation, which should result in improved efficiency. EPA has not released official fuel economy for the 2019 Malibu with the 1.5 liter engine, but the 2018 model was rated at a respectable 27 miles per gallon city, 36 mpg freeway and 30 mpg combined.
Only premium Premier trim features the more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, with 250 horsepower, 260 pound-foot torque and a 9-speed automatic transmission. If you're looking for fuel efficiency above all, Chevy will continue to offer a Malibu Hybrid, with its impressive 49 mpg city rating. With only 1.5 liter models available at this test station, I can not talk much about the driving experience of these Malibu models, so stay up to date for in-depth reviews as these cars roll into different Roadshow offices.
As for 1.5, it's largely unoffensive and mostly quiet, with enough power to get Malibu up and move, but certainly not busy. CVT tends to hang between 2500 and 3500 rpm during normal acceleration, but dig deep into the throttle, and the transmission will "shift" at higher revolutions, and mimic the effect of a conventional auto.
Although it's upgraded 18-inch wheels and the P245 / 45 series throughout the season, Malibu has a perfectly compatible ride. There is enough cushioning to throw out less imperfections on the highway, and the car does not fall apart when pushed through more engaging corners on the beautiful triangular roads in my test route south of Seattle, Washington. With easy steering and solid, progressive braking feel, Malibu is effortless and comfortable to drive. It's not as engaging as a Honda Accord or Mazda6, but provides a solid rear wheel experience.
Excellent tech, kill accommodations
Chevy's new Infotainment 3 setup finds its way into Malibu for 2019, with an 8-inch touchscreen standard above all the trim levels. I like this interface – the high definition display uses nicely organized and intuitively labeled icons, and the inputs are met with immediate response. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come as standard, and a Wi-Fi hotspot and built-in navigation are available at higher trim levels. 2018 Malibu's Chevy MyLink system is already one of the better inboard technology offerings offered today, and Infotainment 3 is only enhanced on this great design to make it even easier to use.
Too bad that the rest of Malibu's interior is not & # 39; so beautiful. The Infotainment 3 screen sits on top of a dash covered by some very cheap materials, from the bad plastic that constitutes the switch of the fabric that stretches the passenger side dash and flows below the center stack. Buttons and rings are nicely organized, and all car controls are easy to find quickly, but seriously, this whole cabin looks like it's a decade old.
Much of the interior consists of thick black and gray plastic that looks as bad as they feel. Common touch points like the windscreen wiper and turn signal bars, as well as the center console storage cover, feel flimsy and cheap, or just broken.
The gray cloths are comfortable enough, but offer no real support for the thigh or back. But at least they are power-driven, even at $ 25,000 RS level. Malibu offers generous accommodation for rear seat passengers, with ample head and leg space and 15.8 cubic meters of load in the trunk to handle a family's valuable luggage.
Same as it was
2019 Malibu Awards start at $ 22,965, not including $ 875 for destination, and the new RS trim comes in at $ 24,995. It's a bit less than $ 25,780 of an Accord Sport 1.5T, although $ 785 is a small price to pay for Honda's significantly better interior and more engaging driving dynamics.
Honestly, I can not blame Chevy for not spending much effort in Malibus midcycle update. As more and more customers go out of sedans and into more functional, equally reasonable transitions and SUVs, it's a more valuable investment to boost the giant vehicle lineup. Malibu 2019 is no different than its predecessor, with sufficient driving on the way and accommodating five adults. But I'd rather have an Equinox. And I'm pretty sure most new car dealers would also.
Editor's Note: Roadshow accepts multi-day car loans from manufacturers to provide editorial reviews. All evaluated vehicle reviews are carried out on our turf and on our terms. But for this feature, the manufacturer covered travel expenses. This is common in the automotive industry, as it is far more economical to send journalists to cars than to send cars to journalists.
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