Redesigned for the 2016 model year as the ninth generation, Chevrolet updated its midsize sedan by lengthening it, giving it a sleeker, more upscale design and putting it on a 300-pound diet, thanks to an aluminum hood and the use of high-strength steel in the frame, among other things. There are a host of new tech features, such as a MyLink touch screen atop the dashboard.
Chevy offers the 2018 Malibu in five trim levels: L, LS, LT, Hybrid and Premier. The former three come standard with a new, efficient 1.5-liter turbo engine and six-speed automatic transmission, while the standard engine on the Premier is a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine mated to GM's new-for-2018 nine-speed automatic transmission. The Hybrid version shares parts with the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid and Bolt battery-electric.
With this buyer's guide, Autoblog aims to help you make an educated decision about whether to buy the 2018 Chevy Malibu. We'll include safety and reliability ratings, engine specs, horsepower, fuel-economy ratings and pricing, and we'll conclude with a summary of Autoblog's most recent test-drive of the Malibu.
Is the Chevy Malibu safe?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2018 Chevy Malibu an overall top rating of five stars for protecting the driver and passengers against injury for both frontal and side crash protection, and four of five stars for rollover crashes.
It earns a coveted "Top Safety Pick" nod from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the second-highest award possible from the organization. IIHS gives the Malibu "good" ratings for all crashworthiness tests save for the passenger-side small overlap front crash, where it gets a "marginal" mark. Front crash-prevention measures earn it a "superior" rating, with optional equipment, while headlights were rated "poor" and child-seat LATCH anchors got a "marginal" rating for ease of use.
Ratings may differ for Malibus from other model years, so be sure to visit the NHTSA and IIHS websites to review ratings on the specific vehicle you're researching.
Is the Chevy Malibu reliable?
J.D. Power issued ratings most recently for the 2017 Malibu, which isn't materially different from the 2018 model.
It gave the Malibu three out of five possible stars — "about average" — for both overall quality and overall performance design, and four stars — "better than most" — for predicted reliability. It gave the vehicle two stars in a metric that evaluates reported problems with the engine, transmission and driving experience.
We should note that Autoblog has voiced some concerns with the way J.D. Power weighs serious and less-serious reliability issues, which you can read about here.
There have been no recalls of the 2018 reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
How much interior and cargo room does the Chevy Malibu have?
Head room in the 2018 Malibu is 39.1 inches in front and 37.5 inches in the rear, while you get 42 inches of leg room in front and 38.1 in back. Cargo volume in the trunk is 15.8 cubic feet.
By way of comparison, let's look at the 2018 Honda Accord, another popular midsize sedan. Its base trim model offers 39.5 inches of front and 37.3 inches of rear head room, 42.3 inches of front leg room and 40.4 inches in the rear, with 16.7 cubic feet of trunk cargo volume.
Chevy Malibu engine specs and horsepower
The standard 1.5-liter direct-injected turbo engine makes 163 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. If you opt for the Premier and its 2.0-liter direct-injected turbo engine, those figures jump to 250 hp and 260 lb-ft.
The Hybrid model comes with a 1.8-liter direct-injected inline-four cylinder joined by two electric motors borrowed from the Volt and a 1.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. Total output is 182 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. Electric-only propulsion is possible at speeds up to 55 mph.
How fuel efficient is the 2018 Chevy Malibu?
When fitted with the standard 1.5-liter engine, the EPA rates the 2018 Malibu at 27 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway for 30 mpg combined.
With the 2.0-liter engine, those figures are 22 mpg in the city, 32 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined.
The Hybrid version is rated at 49 mpg in the city and 43 on the highway for 46 mpg combined.
How much does the Chevy Malibu cost?
The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu starts at $22,555 for the L model, including the $875 destination fee. The Hybrid version starts at $28,795, while the Premier starts at $31,895. All prices include the $875 destination fee but don't includes tax, title, license and dealer fees.
Use Autoblog's Smart Car Buying program powered by TrueCar to search out competitive local pricing and savings on the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu.
What does Autoblog think of the Chevy Malibu?
Autoblog last reviewed the Malibu when the current generation debuted for the 2016 model year. Reviewer David Gluckman credited Chevy for acknowledging its mistakes with the smaller previous generation of the car and praised it for its quiet ride, "everyman" handling and technology features.
"There are certainly more exciting choices in this segment, but history has shown that exciting isn't necessarily what family-sedan buyers want," he wrote. "Thankfully for Chevy, the Malibu is at least good again."