2018 Chevy Malibu Buyer’s Guide

When the current-generation Malibu debuted in 2016, it was a pleasant surprise, combining stylish aesthetics and cutting-edge technology. Although most of its competitors have been entirely revamped, the 2018 Chevrolet sedan remains one of the top mid-size choices.

Chevy delivers neat sheet metal with attractive curves that disguise a big passenger cabin with the Malibu. It’s comfy and well laid out on the inside.

Several Malibu’s models are available, including L, LS, LT, and Premium versions that range from austere to encroaching-on-Cadillac territory. Chevrolet has filled everything but the most basic trim with desired amenities, so you won’t have any problem finding what features you are looking for.

All models score well in crash tests, and the LT and Premium variants include two kinds of autonomous emergency braking. Most models have a great infotainment system and many active safety features, while cheaper trims are less privileged.

Despite its mid-size status and family-sedan qualifications, the Malibu is attractive and sporty. It comes with three advanced powertrain options.

2018 Chevrolet Malibu Overview

Most Malibu models are powered by a 1.5-litre engine paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox. The standard engine in the Malibu isn’t especially powerful, but it provides adequate acceleration for daily driving. Sufficient credit should go to the fact that it weighs roughly 3,100 pounds, making it one of the lightest mid-size cars. Unlike several competitors, the Malibu is exclusively available with front-wheel drive.

The available 2.0-litre engine, however, is the more capable option for highway driving. It builds up speed effortlessly and delivers a comfortable ride.

The Malibu’s trump card, though, is its available hybrid powerplant. It has a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It’s smooth and polished, can drive up to 55 mph on electricity alone, and gets an outstanding 48 mpg combined.

All new Malibu models are incredibly quiet, thanks to the continuous use of dual-pane glass to keep things peaceful and relaxing. That attitude continues to the handling, not a barge but not a sports car, striking an all-around sweet spot that should appeal to most consumers. In summary, the Malibu provides a pleasant ride while being more agile than many of its peers.

Overall, the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu is a competent mid-size car with no major flaws.


TrimsOriginally MSRP
2018 Chevrolet Malibu L$22,555
2018 Chevrolet Malibu LS$24,195
2018 Chevrolet Malibu LT$27,240
2018 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid$28,795
2018 Chevrolet Malibu Premier$31,895

There are five trim levels for the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu: L, LS, LT, Hybrid, and Premier. The L, LS, and LT trims only have a turbo 1.5-litre engine. On the other hand, the 2.0-litre turbo engine is exclusive to the Premier model. There’s also a hybrid variant sitting just below the Premier trim, churning excellent efficiency figures. All-wheel drive is not available.



Length193.8 inches
Height57.6 inches
Width84.0 inches (with mirrors)
Wheelbase111.4 inches


The Malibu is both attractive on the inside and out. The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu may have a moniker that stretches back generations, but its design is fairly modern.

Its nose is low-slung, with a double grille design bordered on top by narrow headlights and on the bottom by optional LED running lights. Some may think it’s a little drooping, but others will appreciate the squat look.

It’s a similar story towards the back, where the Malibu’s short tail and swept-back window line combine to create a style that’s evocative of the Audi A7.


2018 Chevy Malibu Interior


Total Passenger Space103.2 cubic feet
Front head Room40.0 inches
Rear Head Room38.50 inches
Front Leg Room40.90 inches
Rear Leg Room39.90 inches
Front Shoulder Room57.20 inches
Rear Shoulder Room55.50 inches

Space and Comfort

What better synonym to describe a mid-size car like the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu than roomy and refined?

With its spacious interior and serene environment, this four-door will meet your functional needs. The front seats are so comfy, with enough side bolstering, that you could have driven for hours in them. Furthermore, the back seats are larger than many in the segment. The sloping roofline, however, makes that area feel a bit cramped.

There’s plenty of legroom for everyone, and we applaud Chevrolet for thoughtful features like well-placed cushioned areas where knees and elbows may rest. 

Interior design and quality

The Malibu has a clean, modern, and minimalist dashboard appearance and a straightforward control layout.

The inside of the Malibu L and LS versions is a touch low-rent, with some harsh and hollow plastics. However, that complain quick resolves if you choose the Malibu LT, Hybrid, or Premium; you’ll get finer materials, soft-touch surfaces, and more colours.


Like many sedans in the class, the broad roof pillars and high rear decklid restrict the outward view. The available beige dash top also produces annoying reflections. Therefore black is preferable. Except for the base trim, all models have a rearview camera.

Cabin Insulation

The 2018 Chevy Malibu is sealed off from the outside world, and its smooth ride quality conveys a refined, affluent sense that several competitors lack.

Engine and wind noises are nicely muffled, and even the Hybrid’s occasionally-on engine doesn’t hum and draw attention to itself. However, road noise might be bothersome on coarse asphalt. Overall, quieter than typical.

Air Conditioning

Even with the hybrid, which has an engine that shuts off when the vehicle stops at signals, the air conditioning maintains the vehicle cool on a hot day. Additionally, you won’t feel the need to keep tinkering with the system. Optional ventilated seats are available.

Ease of Getting In and Out

Large doorway and relatively high ride height make it easy for front passengers to enter and exit the vehicle. Back passengers taller than normal will need to stoop a little to clear the rear roofline.


2018 Chevrolet Malibu Entertainment

An absurdly simple infotainment system is available in Base Malibus. The good news is that touchscreens and smartphone connectivity are available in every other trim. Chevrolet equips those vehicles with its fantastic MyLink infotainment system. It comes with several of the most in-demand features of the day, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a portable Wi-Fi hotspot.


The trunk space of the Malibu is 15.8 cubic feet, which is normal for a mid-size vehicle. The usual 60/40 split-folding seating allows you to increase the storage space, and the trunk is deep. Nevertheless, it is challenging to make the most of this capacity due to the sedan’s high bumper, narrow luggage floor, and obtrusive trunk hinges.

Furthermore, the battery pack in the Malibu Hybrid reduces it to only 11.6 cubes while ruining the usually flat trunk floor. However, it’s still good for a hybrid sedan. That is the price to be paid for better mileage.

What’s the best Trim Option on the 2018 Chevy Malibu?

Chevrolet Malibu L

The Malibu L is primarily a fleet special created for corporate and municipal consumers to order. Here’s what it offers:

  • Six-speaker audio system
  • Keyless entry
  • Push-button start
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Chevy’s Rear Seat Reminder
  • 16-inch steel wheels
  • Cruise control
  • 3.5-inch instrument cluster info display

As a result, unless you’re searching for the cheapest sedan imaginable, it’s wiser to upgrade to the LS or 1LT.

Chevrolet Malibu LS

The Malibu LS costs around $1,500 extra, which gets you a more modern infotainment system and some other handy amenities:

  • 7.0-inch touchscreen My-link infotainment system
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity
  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • Rearview camera
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Wi-Fi hot spot
  • Teen Driver

Chevrolet Malibu LT

The Malibu LT adds certain luxury touches for a more premium cabin and various packages that increase safety features and technology.

  • LED running lights
  • Heated exterior mirrors
  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Eight-way power driver’s seat
  • Satellite Radio
  • Ambient lighting
  • Rear Aircon vents

 The 1LT may also be equipped with several packages, such as the Convenience and Technology package, a leather package, and the Driver Confidence package.

The Redline Edition aesthetic option, which is exclusively available on the 1LT and is new for 2018, includes blacked-out 19-inch wheels as well as black and red trim elements in place of chrome.

Overall, the sweet spot is likely an LT, but like lesser trims, it relies on a smaller engine, with only the Premier trim receiving the most powerful motor. So, if performance isn’t your primary priority, the LT trim is hard to overlook.

Malibu Hybrid

The Malibu Hybrid, the second-highest model, includes the same equipment as the LT trim, plus its distinctive instrument cluster and dual-zone temperature control. It, too, may be updated using the same packages as the LT. If you want optimal fuel efficiency and a smooth driving experience, there is no better choice than the Malibu Hybrid.

Chevrolet Malibu Premier

The top-tier Premier model has nearly every possible feature and is the only trim level with the sprightlier 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine.

The Premier trim contains all of the amenities of the 1LT and the Convenience, Technology, and Leather packages. It’s well-outfitted with goodies such as:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • LED Tailight
  • Genuine leather upholstery
  • Leather-wrapped heated steering wheel
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Heated and ventilated front seats
  • 8-inch touch screen
  • Navigation
  • Nine-speaker Bose audio system
  • Two rear-seat USB charging ports
  • 120-volt household-style power outlet
  • wireless device charging
  • Six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat

The Premier can be enhanced with the Driver Confidence package and the Driver Confidence package II which includes adaptive cruise control, electronic parking brake, automated front collision avoidance system, and parking assist. The Premier Sun and Wheel package consists of a motorized panoramic sunroof, 19-inch alloys, and enhanced floor mats.

Engine and performance

The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu provides three different engine choices:

1.5-liter turbocharged inline-4

• Power: 163 hp @5,700 rpm

• Torque: 184 lb-ft @2,500 rpm

• Transmission: 6-speed automatic

A turbocharged 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine and six-speed auto gearbox are standard on most Malibu variants. The 163 horsepower of this combination is sufficient for the majority of daily driving demands, and it can accelerate the car rather swiftly. It is among the class leaders in terms of fuel efficiency too.

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4

Power: 250 hp @5,300 rpm

Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm

Transmission: 9-speed automatic

If you are a driving enthusiast, it’s best to upgrade to the 2.0-litre turbo powertrain, one of the best engines in the class. 

Its 80-plus horsepower increase over the regular engine provides incredible, chirp-the-tires acceleration off the line. In fact, with V-6-level power, this turbo-4 gives the Malibu extra capability for rapidly ascending a mountain pass or overtaking. Despite being an inline-four, it’s also pleasingly smooth and polished.

However, this engine is restricted to the Malibu Premier.

1.8-Liter Inline-4, Hybrid

Combined power: 182 hp

Combined Torque: 277 lb-ft

Transmission: CVT ( continuously variable automatic transmission)

However, the unexpected powertrain of the bonnet is the hybrid powertrain that combines the 1.8-litre 4-cylinder gas engine with a 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery that allows the vehicle to reach nearly 55 mph on electricity alone under ideal conditions. In practice, the smooth acceleration of the Hybrid makes it seem more like an electric car than other hybrids; the gas engine is most visible while accelerating quickly or ascending a hill.


The base six-speed automatic transmission can feel sluggish and isn’t always smooth, with occasional clumsy downshifts and lurches as it rolls to a stop. 

The 2.0T’s nine-speed automatic gearbox operates smoothly and seamlessly, blending into the background of the driving experience. It’s a perfect match to the character of the powerful 250-hp 2.0-litre engine. 

Ride and handling

The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu is a pleasant ride. Its handling is nimble and refined, unlike the bland handling that typically affects four-door sedans. It’s confident in evasive manoeuvres and even entertaining for the driver. Still, at its core, this is a family car. Expect a pleasant ride rather than a corner-carving grip.

The steering lacks input and has a rubbery initial turn-in, but the turning effort is consistent and adequate for this vehicle. It’s responsive enough to inspire confidence and fast enough to keep up with those who drive aggressively.

The Malibu’s large 19-inch wheel/tire combo should have resulted in a jarring ride, yet this is not the case. Credit goes to the well-tuned suspension, which absorbs bumps and road distortions as effortlessly as it handles tight turns and quick lane changes.

Fuel Economy

The Chevy Malibu has always been a very economical mid-size car, and the 2018 model is even better. The hybrid is the true star here, but all Malibus are quite frugal.

MPG figures

VariantEPA-Rated Fuel Economy (City/Highway)
1.5-litre27/36 MPG
2.0-litre22/32 MPG
1.8-litre hybrid43/49 MPG


Both independent and federal authorities give the 2018 Chevy Malibu high grades, and an assortment of safety measures are available as options.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Safety Ratings

Crash TestRating
Frontal crashFive-Star
Side CrashFive-Star
Overall RatingFive-Star

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration awarded Malibu a five-star safety rating.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Safety Ratings

The IIHS rates the 2018 Malibu as a Top Safety Pick when equipped with optional automated emergency braking. The system receives four points when used with the low-speed system offered on the LT; use the high-speed automated emergency braking system on Premier models, and you receive the full six points.

Crash TestRating
Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
Roof Strength TestGood
Front Crash PreventionSuperior
Small Overlap Front Driver TestGood
Small Overlap Front Passenger Test
Rear Crash ProtectionGood
Side Impact TestGood

Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rear Seat Reminder 

Available advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera 
  • Automatic high beams
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Forward collision warning
  • Front pedestrian braking
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Lane keep assist
  • Low-speed front automatic braking
  • Following distance indicator
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Ten standard air bags
  • Traction Control


The expected reliability rating for the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu is an average 80/100 from JD Power.


The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu is a mid-size sedan with front-wheel drive that sits above the smaller Cruze and under the full-size Impala.


  • Eye-catching, elegant design
  • Potent 2.0-litre turbo engine
  • Plush ride
  • Capable handling
  • Comfortable and room cabin
  • Great gas mileage
  • Hybrid powertrain option
  • Intuitive infotainment system


  • The base trim is quite basic
  • No interior trunk release button
  • Cabin materials can be improved


The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu does almost everything you need, from a mid-size sedan and more. Its sleek and elegant styling will get your eyes on the road. Meanwhile, the spacious cabin and plush seats will keep you cosy and comfortable.

The 1.5-litre turbo-four isn’t very powerful, but it has plenty of usable power for daily driving. It will also not hurt your pocket with hefty fuel bills. For maximum savings, opt for the hybrid. The hybrid system offers a smooth and uninterrupted driving experience.

However, if driving is your forte, upgrading to the high-class Premier trim is worth it. It’s a surprisingly sporty car with great handling and a zippy turbocharged engine. Despite its size and non-sporty stance, the Malibu turns with greater agility than other family sedans.

In terms of ride quality, the front-wheel-drive Malibu accomplishes the difficult feat of being both peaceful to travel in and pleasurable to drive. Its suspension system smooths out jolts nicely, and the interior is quiet.


How is the 2018 Malibu different from the 2017 model? 

For 2018, the Malibu receives modest changes. The Redline Edition is the primary draw. It is a cosmetic package with blacked-out wheels and trims exclusive to LT versions. Sandy Ridge Metallic is also new to the colour pallet.

Should you buy a used 2018 Chevrolet Malibu?

The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu distinguishes out in the mid-size sedan segment thanks to its sleek aesthetics and enticing blend of features. It’s packed with technology and has a spacious interior. There are also various engine options, including a hybrid. Overall, the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu is a fantastic used choice. 

What are some features of the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu?

– New Redline Edition
– Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity on most trims
– Potent 2.0-litre turbo along with sleek 9- speed automatic 
– Excellent Fuel Economy
– Hybrid powertrain
– Teen Driver monitoring system