With the 2018 Malibu, Chevrolet has a flavor for just about every taste—and budget.
The base model isn’t particularly well-outfitted for the money, but higher-end variants can be equipped with a wide array of features. That brings the Chevy Malibu to an 8 out of 10 in our eyes. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Malibu L is mainly a fleet special, meaning it was designed to be ordered by corporate and municipal buyers. Those meter maids and insurance sales people who wind up in one will find a basic audio system, cruise control, and power windows and locks but little more. The Malibu LS runs around $1,500 more, money that buys a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, 16-inch alloy wheels, a rearview camera, and Bluetooth connectivity. It’s not lavish, but it’s not missing much, either.
The Malibu LT goes further with LED running lights, heated exterior mirrors, 17-inch wheels, an eight-way power driver’s seat, and a few more goodies. The LT offers a few option packages that bundle goodies like a larger 8.0-inch screen, a wireless charging pad for Qi-equipped devices, leather seats, heated seats, Bose audio, automatic high beams, forward collision warnings with low speed automatic braking, and more. All told, the sweet spot is probably an LT with the Driver Confidence Package and the Convenience/Technology Package. That puts a mid-level Malibu well under $30,000.
Topping the lineup is the Malibu Premier, which is the only way to get the Malibu’s 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine. It’s well-outfitted with leather upholstery, 19-inch alloy wheels, and Bose audio, but it can be further upgraded with one of two safety packages. The Driver Confidence group adds automatic high beams, park assist, and low-speed automatic emergency braking. The Driver Confidence II group adds to that an electronic parking brake, adaptive cruise control, and full-speed automatic emergency braking.
Chevy considers its Malibu Hybrid to be basically an LT for about $2,750 more. Its specifications mirror the LT, as do its extra-cost options.
Notably, Chevy offers built-in navigation on any Malibu with the 8.0-inch screen for a hair under $500, which is quite reasonable. But given that most drivers these days will have an Android or Apple smartphone, the CarPlay and Android Auto capability on all but the base Malibu L may negate the need for navigation.
We’re smitten with both the 7.0- and 8.0-inch screens, however. They are both low glare units with intuitive menus and quick responses that put them toward the top of their segment.
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