2018 Malibu New Car Test Drive
The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu is on the third year of its generation. It was redesigned for 2016 to bring substantially improved handling and road manners. Malibu is relatively small on the outside but space efficient on the inside.
The 2018 Malibu gets an appearance package called Redline, but otherwise it's unchanged.
The base engine is a 1.5-liter turbo four making 163 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, working with a 6-speed automatic. The 1.5-liter gets 30 miles per gallon combined, the 2.0-liter gets 26 mpg, and the hybrid gets 46 mpg.
The stronger engine is a 2.0-liter turbo four that makes 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, and feels like a V6. It's mated to a 9-speed automatic.
There's also a Malibu Hybrid, with a 1.8-liter engine making 182 horsepower, tied or wired to two electric motors with a battery pack.
Malibu gets five stars in crash testing from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it a Top Safety Pick award.
There are quite a few active safety features available in the top models. Malibu's systems work in a manner that might be described as subtle and firm. Not all such systems are the same, some seem to be always snatching at you and scolding you.
A Front Pedestrian Alert can identify pedestrians ahead, and brake automatically. Adaptive cruise control works with front automatic braking. Also offered are blind-spot monitoring with lane-change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and active lane keep with lane-departure warning. Front and rear parking sensors are available, as is automatic parking assist.
Base L trim level targets fleet buyers. In the showroom, customers can choose a Malibu LS, LT, Premier, or Hybrid, all of which include a rearview camera as standard. All Malibus have 10 airbags.
Malibu L ($21,680) uses the 1.5-liter engine with basic features, six-speaker radio, cruise control, power windows/locks, and 16-inch steel wheels. (All prices are MSRP and do not include $875 destination charge.)
Malibu LS ($23,225) adds a rearview camera, MyLink radio with 7.0-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, OnStar with wife capability, 16-inch alloy wheels, and an acoustic windshield. A Teen Driver feature can track misbehavior of young drivers. Malibu LT ($25,125) comes with 17-inch wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights, satellite radio, heated power mirrors, and power driver's seat.
Malibu Premier ($30,975) steps up to the 2.0-liter engine, as well as an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Bose nine-speaker premium audio, rear-seat USB charging, power heated/ventilated front seats, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, LED taillights, and 18-inch wheels.
Malibu Hybrid ($27,875) features the gasoline/electric powertrain and is similar to LT trim level, with dual-zone automatic air conditioning and hybrid-specific instrument cluster.