In April, my colleague Jock McCleary joined a select few media guests in Las Vegas
, where General Motors provided a sneak peak at some of the design changes for its Chevrolet brand of vehicles.
Included was the Malibu which for 2019 is getting a few tweaks. Chevrolet is also adding an RS model to the lineup to offer a sporty version of the sedan which has been a popular choice for Canadian drivers.
The 2019 Malibu will have a new eight-inch colour touchscreen and the 1.5-litre turbo engine will be paired with a new CVT transmission.
But before the 2018 models bow out of the showroom floor I had the chance to test the Malibu LT Sedan for a week.
The Malibu comes in four gasoline models and a hybrid model. The L, LS and LT models all offer a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, dual overhead cam engine matched to a six-speed transmission. The Premier gasoline model has a 2.0-litre turbo while the hybrid has a 1.8-litre four-cylinder hybrid engine.
The turbo is needed in the LT to get the 1,418 kg vehicle up to speed on the highway. The transmission shifts seamlessly between gears.
For a sedan that can fit five people, three adults comfortably in the back seats, the Malibu is an attractive car with nice flowing lines from back to front and a nice aggressive-looking front grille.
From the pictures I’ve seen it doesn’t look like Chevrolet has made too many changes to the exterior style of the Malibu for 2019 which I think is a good thing.
My test car for the week came with a $1,445 Redline Edition package which added 19-inch wheels to the car along with red hash marks on the wheels. Those two additions gave the Malibu an even more aggressive look.
The Malibu comes standard with 17-inch wheels but I think the Redline Edition is a good option as it also adds a blacked-out grille, black front and rear bowties and a black outside mirror patch. Those touches move the Malibu far away from being an “old-man’s” car.
As I mentioned earlier, the turbo helps get the Malibu up to speed and on the highway it provides a nice, quiet ride with very little outside noise getting into the cabin. Response when the steering wheel is turned is quick with very little roll. This is after all a comfortable sedan.
Inside, the Malibu reminded me of the Trax
I had driven the week before. The interior won’t wow you but everything is within easy reach and the seven-inch touchscreen doesn’t need you to have a PHD to operate it.
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It took me a few seconds to connect my iPhone but I was disappointed the Malibu did not offer a CD player. I know more and more companies are moving from CD players because most of us have our music on our phones but I still know a lot of people who don’t have a smart phone and would like the option of a CD player.
The Malibu’s instrumentation panel is easy to figure out with all gauges, including the gas gauge, featuring a needle instead of a digital light show to show you how much gas you have.
The controls on the steering wheel have nice heavy buttons which are easy to find while driving.
My tester for the week also featured the Leather and Convenience package which featured heated front seats, six-way power front seats with lumbar support and a Bose nine-speaker system.
At a cost of $2,620 that option seems a little pricey to me and unnecessary. Many other car companies now offer heated seats standard with their vehicles.
Other standard features on the Malibu include: power heated outside mirrors; six speakers; auto dimming rearview mirror; ambient interior lighting; leather wrapped steering wheel and remote start (on the LT).
And don’t forget the Malibu, like all GM vehicles, has 4G WiFi connectivity through OnStar which, according to my kids, continues to be one of the best features in any vehicle I have had the chance to test drive.
The Malibu LT starts at $26,695 which is a good starting price for a roomy, well-equipped five-passenger sedan. The LS starts at $24,695 while the Premier starts at $32,495.
With the Redline Edition and convenience package my tester for the week was priced at $30,860.
That may seem a little steep for some given that other comparable sedans can be bought for less than $30,00 with many of the same features but the Malibu is one of the roomiest sedans I’ve sat in and the name still means a lot to those loyal to the GM brand.
And before I end, a thumbs up to GM for offering a capless fuel system. More car manufacturers should follow GM’s lead.
2018 Chevrolet Malibu LT
Five-passenger, four-door sedan
Front-wheel drive, six-speed automatic.
1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo (163 hp, 184 lb/ft torque)
8.8/6.5L/100 km city/highway
447 litres in the trunk
$32,495, includes Leather and Convenience Package and Redline Edition.