The 2019 Chevrolet Malibu has an updated look outside, but it’s what’s underneath that counts. For 2019, most versions of the Malibu gain a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) and all variants feature an updated infotainment system.
The 2019 Malibu will go on sale later this year in L, LS, RS, LT, and Premier trim levels. A fuel-sipping Malibu Hybrid returns as well.
Outside, the Malibu’s front bumper, headlights, grille, rear bumper, and wheels have been redesigned. The look doesn’t mark a major departure from last year’s Malibu, but overall the mid-size sedan benefits from a cleaner, crisper look. LT and Premier trim levels feature standard LED running lamps, while the range-topping Malibu Premier includes full LED headlights.
Review continues below
Inside, the Malibu’s styling is unchanged at first glance, but a newly standard 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment features revised software with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A rearview camera is newly standard on all versions of the Malibu, too.
Most Malibus leave the factory with a 1.5-liter turbo-4 rated at 163 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Last year, the engine was paired to a conventional automatic, now jettisoned in favor of the CVT.
We’ve not yet driven the 2019 Malibu and thus cannot comment on the new transmission. Previously, however, we’ve found the turbo-4 engine to provide adequate acceleration that’s about par for the mid-size sedan segment. We’ll update this space when we’ve had an opportunity to sample the 2019 Malibu.
The Malibu Premier retains its 2.0-liter turbo-4, which is rated at 255 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. With its 9-speed automatic transmission, the Malibu Premier accelerates quickly. However, a suspension tuned more toward comfort than sporty driving seems at odds with its zesty powertrain.
Chevy hasn’t released fuel economy estimates for the 2019 Malibu with either non-hybrid engine, but the CVT is likely to improve upon the 30 mpg combined rating for the 2018 model.
For 2019, the Malibu Hybrid remains its own trim level—and it should boast the same impressive 49 mpg city, 43 highway, 46 combined as last year’s model. The Malibu Hybrid uses a 1.8-liter inline-4 paired to an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery, a setup that’s good for 182 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque.
2019 Chevrolet Malibu features and safety
Chevrolet hasn’t detailed exact trim level specifications for the 2019 Malibu and the automaker is holding back pricing, so we can’t comment on the mid-size sedan’s value equation for the new year. However, the Malibu L’s newly standard rearview camera is a welcome upgrade—and a newly federally mandated one, at that.
The lineup grows with the addition of a new RS trim level, which builds on the Malibu LS with its own exterior styling cues, 18-inch alloy wheels with a machined finish, black emblems, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel inside. Unlike many of its rivals’ sport trim levels, the Malibu RS doesn’t have different suspension tuning compared to other variants of the Malibu.
On the safety front, it’s much the same story as last year. Chevy groups its collision-avoidance tech in two packages that build on one another. The Driver Confidence package adds blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, and parking sensors. The creatively named Driver Confidence package II tosses in low-speed automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and automatic high-beam headlights.
The IIHS rated last year’s Malibu a Top Safety Pick and the NHTSA scored it five stars overall, figures unlikely to change for 2019. However, many rivals now include automatic emergency braking as standard equipment and most offer adaptive cruise control. We’re disappointed that Chevy makes buyers pay extra for important safety equipment.