Overview & Reviews
Since its debut back when the Beatles were singing about holding hands, the Chevrolet Malibu has gone through several iterations. The initial lineup consisted of rear-drive midsizers that included coupes, sedans, wagons and the legendary, high-horsepower SS-badged muscle car. After a downsizing in the late 1970s and a quiet death in the early '80s, the Malibu was reincarnated as a smaller, anonymous, front-wheel-drive favorite of rental fleets.
The two newest generations of the Malibu have been much improved, however, and are more deserving of some "Love Me Do." Though it generally falls a little short of class-leading status, a new or late-model used Malibu is still a solid choice for a midsize family sedan thanks to its strong performance, composed and quiet ride, handsome styling and advanced electronics features.
Current Chevrolet Malibu
The current Chevrolet Malibu comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 196 horsepower. From there, shoppers can go either the performance or fuel economy route. The former is satisfied by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 259 hp. The Malibu Eco, on the other hand, features a 2.4-liter four-cylinder (182 hp) connected to a mild hybrid system that helps return nearly 30 mpg combined. The base engine achieves the same fuel economy, however, so we see no reason to select the Eco for this model year. All Malibus come standard with front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission.
Four Malibu trim levels are offered: LS, LT, LTZ and Eco. The base LS is nicely equipped with alloy wheels, cruise control, air-conditioning and a power driver-seat height adjuster. The LT has three sublevels (1LT, 2LT and 3LT) that add perks like dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver seat, a 7-inch touchscreen, the MyLink interface with smartphone integration and upgraded audio with iPod/USB connectivity. The LTZ boasts leather upholstery and heated front seats. Aside from its hybrid hardware, the Eco is equipped much like a 1LT. Options, depending on trim, include xenon headlights, a navigation system, Pioneer audio and safety features such as lane-departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert.
In reviews of the latest Chevrolet Malibu, we've identified its ride quality and refinement as particularly strong points. Impacts rarely filter into the cabin, which remains whisper-quiet at highway speeds. Moreover, all Malibus enjoy an abundance of soft-touch materials, decent-quality switchgear and an attractive dashboard. The main downside is a relative lack of rear-seat legroom. Overall, the Malibu doesn't fully stand out from the talented crowd in this segment, but it's still a solid choice for family sedan shoppers.
Used Chevrolet Malibu Models
The current-generation Malibu was introduced for 2013. It brings welcome improvements in refinement, feature content and efficiency relative to its predecessor, though shortcomings like limited backseat room persist. For 2014, this Malibu received numerous revisions aimed at quelling early criticism, including a fuel-economy bump for the base four-cylinder, more torque for the turbocharged engine, revised suspension tuning and some new interior features. These changes didn't make a big difference in terms of the car's place in the family-sedan pecking order, but they do render the 2013 model marginally less appealing as a used option.
The previous-generation Malibu was produced from 2008 through 2012. With its crisp, tailored lines, this Malibu looked more like a luxury sedan than its forgettable predecessor. Its cabin was similarly handsome, with a stylish design and two-tone color schemes that stood out from the crowd (while disguising less-than-ideal materials).
Throughout its life, this Malibu was available in four trims (LS, 1LT, 2LT and LTZ) and with a choice of two engines. A 169-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder was initially standard on all but the LTZ, but for '09 it became available for every Malibu. That year also saw a six-speed automatic transmission replace the original four-speed unit on all but the LS and 1LT trims, though every Malibu got it a year later.
A 3.6-liter 252-hp V6 served as the optional engine upgrade (though it was initially standard on the LTZ). This always had a six-speed automatic, as well as a different steering system than the four-cylinder. Its hydraulic steering (versus electric) offered more weighting and a bit more road feel, but neither system was really a standout in the class. Similarly, this Malibu's handling in general was responsive enough, but few would deem it sporty.
Our staff was impressed by many aspects of this Chevrolet Malibu. Its combination of handsome looks, a spacious and attractive cabin, competent performance and a quiet ride gave Chevy a serious player in this tough segment. Subpar rear seat space and hit-or-miss interior construction were notable drawbacks, along with a few missing features like a navigation system. Besides its transmission, changes were restricted to features availability, with items like Bluetooth and an iPod interface eventually added.
The previous Chevy Malibu was offered from 2004-'08. As there was that one-year overlap, Chevrolet distinguished the two different Malibus by calling the retiring version the "Malibu Classic." In addition to a sedan body style, the outgoing Malibu was also offered in a longer-wheelbase hatchback version called the Malibu Maxx. Compared to earlier Malibus, this one came with more powerful engine choices, a roomier layout and safety features like available side curtain airbags and adjustable pedals.
Base LS and midlevel LT models made up the bulk of the Malibu's production. The lack of style and performance was addressed in 2006 when the lineup was beefed up with the leather-trimmed LTZ and high-performance SS. For power, this generation offered a 2.2-liter four-cylinder rated at 144 hp (LS and LT models), a 217-hp 3.5-liter V6 (standard on the LTZ and optional on LT) and a top-dog 3.9-liter V6 with 240 ponies for the SS. All were hooked up to a four-speed automatic transmission, and the SS featured a manual-shift mode.
In reviews, we commented favorably about the car's smooth ride quality and roomy interior. Noted downsides included a lackluster cabin and subpar braking and handling. We'd suggest choosing one of the V6 engines, which provide an agreeable combination of performance and fuel economy.
The preceding Chevrolet Malibu generation was sold during the 1997-2003 model years. In 2000, the front styling was modified to be more Impala-like and the 3.1-liter V6 was improved with more power. Minor detail changes like exterior/interior trim revisions, automatic headlamp control, new audio systems with a CD player and new colors carried the Malibu through its next few years. We were fans of this Malibu at the time, viewing it as something of an overlooked gem in GM's lineup, but its advancing age and spotty consumer reviews make it a tricky used-car selection.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 2,001.00
My first Chevy... Great car. - 2014 Chevrolet Malibu
By Ado.V - January 14 - 8:26 am
I am in love with this Malibu. It is a great car... interior is much better than Toyota, Honda, Ford or Mazda. Great gas mileage. Comfy smooth ride.
In the shop every month - 2013 Chevrolet Malibu
By Tommy - January 13 - 9:57 am
Bought this car with 48k miles and now has 78k. Since I've had it I've replaced a wheel bearing, the heat is climate control and when you turn it on 60 it feels like it's on the highest setting and the only way to turn it down it to turn the ac on. Not fun when it's 15-20 degrees outside in the winter and 85-90 in the summer. The radio will freeze from time to time. Won't let me turn it down, change the station, or even turn it off! I'm constantly on the road mostly highway miles and only get 28-29 mpg. Being that it's supposed to be a type of hybrid I'm not very impressed. This is my first and last time owning a Chevy sedan.
Do People Really Test Drive These Cars - 2015 Chevrolet Malibu
By Fred Hartz - January 8 - 10:24 am
Since its just the two of us interior is ok. Dash easy to read, front end hard to tell where that's why you notice other cars crunched. Mirrors are limited have to double check. Road noise is like driving with windows down you can hear everything like the Kia Rio they loaned us. The turbulence of mirrors is annoying and in a head wind drowns out radio. GM has known about this since 2014 did not fix till now on all 2016 models. With 7800 miles already have loss in power does not roll over hills as easy. Dealer say everything normal we only notice since we`ve driven from start. I`m glad they got rid in eco system nothing like sitting in 110 degrees and it shuts off takes more power to cool down.
No Feul Economy - 2014 Chevrolet Malibu
By Ali - January 7 - 10:05 pm
The car consumes a lot and I have complained about it to GM several times but it was not useful. Although I drive most of the times on highways with a lot of care not to consume a lot the MPG is all the time around 25 which is a catastrophe. The quality and every this looks fine except the fuel economy. I also do not feel comfortable and safe drive on snowy weather and several times I was going to slid out of the road although I was driving with 30 miles per hour speed. The car also lacks a lot compared with its competing models' even the basic models. Overall I believe the Chevy has done a perfect job with a lot of parts of the car, but I guess these issues pushes the car down the ranking chart.
Test one out for yourself - 2015 Chevrolet Malibu
By Manny - January 4 - 7:15 pm
This was my first car right out of college. AND I LOVE THIS CAR. I had driven a 2004 malibu classic with a 2.2 engine for the past 6 years and got to say the 2.5 engine was a pretty good upgrade in performance. I would admit the start-stop tech took a while to get used to, but with the upgrades to the starter and engine gaskets you will be safe from the constant on and off feature. I use this car everyday for work and look to keep it for some time.
Enjoyable car, but not best of the best - 2015 Chevrolet Malibu
By Brad - December 29 - 3:53 pm
I've had the car for a year now. I've never owned a car that had an MSRP of over 25k, so I only have so much to compare it to. Overall I have greatly enjoyed owning this car. For the bad: In that time, I have had it in the dealership for issues three times. The first was the airbag module gave up the ghost (it just popped the warning light, nothing bad occurred). Second time was for an OnStar module recall. Third time was for the hands-free calling not working. Turned out the hands-free calling not working was because they put in the wrong OnStar module during the recall appointment. All of the work of course was done for free as it was under warranty. Each time they arranged a loaner car that was in impeccable condition. Each time the dealership was friendly and polite. For the good: I have found this car to be quite comfortable. It is by no means a luxary sedan, but six hour drives in it didn't overly fatigue me or expose uncomfortable parts of the seats. It handles quite competently under all the weather conditions I've had it in (hot, cold, rain, and wintery mix) and has always made me feel safe. It has plenty of power to get up to highway speed by the end of the on ramps. I was originally skeptical of the electric power steering but have come to enjoy how precise it seems to be. I personally like the stop-start tech, and it does seem to legitimately boost MGP. Of course, it remains to be seen what the extra starts does in terms of engine wear. I like the styling in general, and I like the accent lighting and size of the buttons on the various dash controls (for when wearing gloves). I especially like that it has power seat high adjustment on the base model. Annoyances: in the base model, bluetooth does phone calls but doesn't support music streaming from your phone. This seems to be purely a software roadblock put in place to try to sell the higher trim levels. The times the start-stop does NOT kick in seem to be a bit random sometimes. I know it is based on battery levels and accessories in use and whatnot, but I see no reason why after driving 20+ minutes highway time in mild weather, with minimal accessory and HVAC use, why it would not stop the engine when you pull up to a stoplight at the bottom off your off-ramp, when you are not doing stop-and-go traffic. Also, while the transmission is largely competent, it does not seem as smooth or as intelligent as comparable Mazda models that my friends have.
MALIBUS SUCK - 2009 Chevrolet Malibu
By Tank - December 18 - 8:52 am
Do not buy a Malibu!!! I bought a 09 Chevy Malibu with 88,000 miles on it. It was great for the first month but afterwards it started to give me nothing but problems. The headlights continuously to go out which is a major issue seeming that the person that designed the car thought it was okay to make it to where you have to take the whole bumper off just to change a light bulb!!!!!! The brake lights also go out but thank god that's an easy fix and you don't have to pay over 100$ just to get it changed as you have to do with the headlights. The radio system sucks all my aux cords and devices do not work plugged in. My back doors do not unlock when pressing the unlock button. The tire pressure light is always on no matter what. The traction in the car sucks. I have took my car to the dealership over 3 times because in the front drivers seat every time it rains it gets wet. The cup holders are placed in a odd way to where there is not enough room for 2 cups. The turning signals do no turn off automatically when turning ever. This car sucks!!!!!!!!!! I hate it and thinks Chevrolet should be ashamed for making such a bad car.
A Chevy Family now! - 2011 Chevrolet Malibu
By Dennis - December 16 - 6:52 pm
I can't say enough good things about this car! It runs super quiet, has great pick up and passing power, rides smooth, gets great gas mileage (27/mpg combined for me with 50/50 city/highway), looks sharp and has awesome audio system. I'm thinking of buying another one right one for one of my teenagers. It's been a while since we've owned a domestic car but the 2011 Malibu has changed our minds - we're a Chevy fall now!!
Just hit 30,000 miles and not a glitch. - 2013 Chevrolet Malibu
By email@example.com - December 10 - 4:07 pm
This is my third Chevrolet product and never a problem. They really build a great truck and automobile. I was and wax regulary and it looks like the day I drove it out of the showroom. So many standard featrues and great comfort. I always service at the dealer and feel like I've saved a ton of money and issues. Absolutley care free driving these past 3 years for me. If you find a clean, low mileage one, buy it.
Not A Family Car - 2012 Chevrolet Malibu
By Matt - December 9 - 9:23 am
I bought my 2012 Chevy Malibu LS new in 2012 due to us losing a company car, and we went cheap on the trim. I have 2 children (under 5), and I can't say that I'm all that impressed with my Malibu, especially when comparing it to my wife's 2009 Ford Fusion SEL. The Malibu's 2.4L engine is very underpowered for a sedan. The transmission has never downshifted smoothly when approaching a light/stop sign (I'm assuming GM programmed the transmission this way to improve fuel economy). The fuel economy isn't as advertised (especially around town). We've had 3 recalls on the car, and for only having 39,500 miles, there are more squeaks and rattles than my wife's Fusion. The brakes and tires have worn very quickly. My friend has complained about the same issue with the same car. The throttle hesitates, and it seems the torque converter has a difficult time applying power to the wheels at lower RPMs. The paint scratches very easy, and the trunk opening is so small. We cannot the same types of items in my Malibu as we can in the Fusion (stroller, infant's swing, etc). On the positive side, we haven't had any major issues with it so far, and it is a very comfortable car to drive. The cabin is very quiet, and the car is easy on the eyes. The car is good in the snow, and the Bluetooth technology works great. The car warms up quickly in the winter. It is probably a nice vehicle for a single driver, but for a family it doesn't quite get the job done. I wouldn't recommend buying this vehicle.