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8.1

Overall

Scorecard

Overall: 8.1
Critics' Rating: 8.6
Performance: 8.0
Interior: 8.1
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.8
Safety: 9.8
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2018 Chevrolet Malibu Review

The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu has a roomy cabin, an uncomplicated infotainment system, and solid handling. However, an underpowered base engine and limited standards features are a few of the reasons the Malibu ranks in the middle of the midsize car class.

Pros & Cons

  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Spacious back seats
  • Fuel-sipping base engine
  • Few standard features in the base model
  • Some low-rent interior materials
  • Underpowered base engine

Is the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu a Good Used Car?

Yes, the Malibu is a good midsize car that will suit shoppers looking for a comfortable, fuel-efficient sedan with sportier handling than many rivals.

The 2018 Malibu has several positive traits:

  • Peppy available engine
  • Commuter-friendly gas mileage
  • Agile handling
  • Comfortable and quiet ride
  • Generous rear-seat space
  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Family-centered safety features (Teen Driver and Rear Seat Reminder)

It disappoints in some ways:

  • Meager base engine
  • No standard rearview camera
  • Below-average predicted reliability rating
  • Trunk space is tricky to access
  • Unremarkable interior design and quality

You could get more for your money with competitors like the 2018 Toyota Camry, or you could get more engine power with the 2018 Ford Fusion.

Compare the Malibu, Camry, and Fusion »

Why You Can Trust Us

Our Chevrolet Malibu review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from 26 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

The U.S. News Best Cars team has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our staff has more than a combined 75 years of automotive industry experience. To ensure our impartiality, we never accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team handles the advertising on our site.

How Much Is the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu?

Based on our site’s listings for the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu, the average price is $17,100, which is below average for the class. Prices range from $14,900 to $21,000 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu Cost to Own?

The 2018 Malibu’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be $24,100, or $4,820 per year. That’s a little above average for a midsize car.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Malibu?

For most buyers, the 2019 Chevrolet Malibu doesn't offer enough to justify paying the new-car price, which starts at $22,090. For 2019, the Malibu gets a styling refresh and gains an RS trim, but it doesn’t add any notable features or options. The 2019 model is also the first that offers the pairing of a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine and a continuously variable automatic transmission. If these modest upgrades don’t impress you, choose the 2018 model, which probably costs less.

Read about the new Chevrolet Malibu »

The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu is part of a generation that debuted for the 2016 model year. Changes over the years have been modest. The 2LT trim was discontinued for 2017, which is also when the Premier trim's eight-speed automatic transmission was replaced with a nine-speed automatic. The Malibu received no major updates for 2018. We recommend starting with the 2016 model. You’ll probably pay less, and you won't miss out on much.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Malibu »

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

How Reliable Is the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu?

J.D. Power gives the 2018 Chevy Malibu a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Read more about Malibu reliability »

2018 Chevrolet Malibu Recalls

At the time of writing, there are three recalls for the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu:

  • Rear brake caliper pistons may have insufficient coating
  • Air bags may be incorrectly suppressed
  • Fuel pump flange weld may fracture

Before buying any used vehicle, make sure all recalls have been addressed.

See more information on Chevrolet Malibu safety recalls »

Which Used Chevrolet Malibu Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Malibu sedan comes in four trims: L, LS, LT, and Premier. We review the Malibu Hybrid separately.

The base Malibu L trim lacks some technology features that most rivals include as standard. The LS trim offers a more advanced infotainment setup that includes a touch screen, smartphone integration, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. The Malibu LT adds some luxury touches for a more upscale cabin, and when it was new, it was available with some packages that add safety features and infotainment upgrades. The top-level Premier comes loaded with just about every feature available, and it’s the only trim level to come with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. All other trims come with the much weaker 1.5-liter four-cylinder.

  • Chevrolet Malibu L: The base Chevy Malibu L comes standard with a six-speaker audio system, keyless entry, push-button start, cloth upholstery, and Chevy’s Rear Seat Reminder.
  • Chevrolet Malibu LS: The Chevrolet Malibu LS adds the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, a USB port, a Wi-Fi hot spot, a rearview camera, and Teen Driver.
  • Chevrolet Malibu LT: The Chevrolet Malibu LT includes a satellite radio, heated side mirrors, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. This trim is also available with packages that include features like an 8-inch touch screen, wireless device charging, and more driver assistance technology.
  • Chevrolet Malibu Premier: The Chevy Malibu Premier is the only trim powered by the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. It's also the most luxurious of the bunch, adding genuine leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and heated and ventilated front seats. Technology upgrades include an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, a nine-speaker Bose audio system, a color display for the driver information center, two rear-seat USB charging ports, a 120-volt household-style power outlet, and wireless device charging.

See 2018 Chevrolet Malibu trims and specs »

What Does Chevrolet’s Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Chevrolet offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles six years old or less and with fewer than 75,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale’s date. For its certified pre-owned vehicles, Chevy extends the original new-car powertrain warranty to six years or 100,000 miles and provides a one-year/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper limited warranty. Chevrolet CPO vehicles must pass a 172-point inspection. Additional benefits like towing and roadside assistance may be available, so read Chevy’s warranty page carefully.

Based on our analysis, Chevrolet has one of the best CPO programs among affordable brands. Kia and Mitsubishi also have excellent CPO programs.

See the best CPO programs »

Read more about the Chevrolet certified pre-owned program »

How Safe Is the Malibu?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2018 Malibu the highest rating of Good in five out of six crash tests. It earned the second-lowest rating of Marginal in the passenger-side small overlap front test. Chevrolet offers two types of headlights for the Malibu. Models with both types received a Poor rating for how well the headlights illuminate the road ahead. Properly equipped Malibu models earned the highest rating of Superior for front crash prevention.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Malibu an overall rating of five out of five stars. The Malibu also earned five stars in frontal and side crash tests, and four stars in the rollover evaluation.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rear Seat Reminder (alerts you to rear-seat passengers and belongings so you don't forget)

Available advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera
  • Teen Driver (lets you do things like set volume and speed limits for secondary drivers)
  • forward collision warning
  • front pedestrian braking
  • low-speed front automatic braking
  • automatic high beams
  • front and rear parking sensors
  • blind spot monitoring
  • lane keep assist
  • following distance indicator
  • rear cross traffic alert

See Malibu safety scores »

2018 Chevrolet Malibu Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Chevrolet Malibu or 2018 Toyota Camry?

The 2018 Toyota Camry is certainly a better vehicle than the Malibu. Redesigned for 2018, every Camry comes with Toyota Safety Sense, a suite of advanced driver assistance features that includes pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. On the other hand, Chevy requires you to purchase upper trims of Malibu to get most safety features. The Camry has nimbler handling, a nicer cabin, and a much better predicted reliability rating than the Malibu. Stick with the Toyota.

Which Is Better: 2018 Chevrolet Malibu or 2018 Ford Fusion?

If you need more engine power than the Malibu offers, you’ll probably prefer the 2018 Ford Fusion. Not only does its base engine have a higher horsepower rating than the Malibu’s, but it’s available with three stronger engines, including a muscular twin-turbocharged V6. The Fusion also has a higher predicted reliability rating. However, if you prefer a more comfortable car with better gas mileage, choose the Chevy Malibu.

Compare the Malibu, Camry, and Fusion »

2018 Malibu Performance

How Does the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu Drive?

The Malibu’s base engine isn't particularly powerful, but it has suitable acceleration for day-to-day driving. The available engine is the more capable option for highway driving. The Malibu delivers a smooth ride, and it's nimbler than many of its classmates.

  • Base engine: 163-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder
  • Available engine: 250-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • Drivetrain: front-wheel drive
  • Transmission: six-speed automatic (1.5-liter); nine-speed automatic (2.0-liter)
Does the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu Get Good Gas Mileage?

With the base engine, the Malibu gets some of the best fuel economy estimates in the class. Gas mileage takes a hit with the more powerful engine. Additionally, this upgraded power plant requires premium fuel. 

  • 1.5-liter: 27/36 mpg city/highway
  • 2.0-liter: 22/32 mpg

Read more about Malibu performance »

2018 Malibu Interior

How Many People Does the 2018 Malibu Seat?

The 2018 Malibu seats five people in two rows. The front seats are comfortable and provide good outward visibility, and the generously sized rear seats are roomier than most in the class. The Malibu’s cabin has appropriate styling and material quality for the class, but some rivals are more upscale on the inside.

Standard seating features:

  • cloth upholstery 
  • Rear Seat Reminder (prompts you to double check the back seat for kids and belongings)

Available seating features:

  • genuine leather upholstery
  • heated and ventilated front seats
  • leather-wrapped heated steering wheel
  • six-way power-adjustable front passenger seat with power lumbar control
  • eight-way power-adjustable driver seat with power lumbar control
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu?

The 2018 Malibu has two complete sets of LATCH child car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and an upper tether on the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this system the second-lowest rating of Marginal for ease of use.

2018 Chevrolet Malibu Features

Chevy's MyLink infotainment has one of the most user-friendly interfaces in the class. Physical buttons for climate and audio settings complement the touch screen, making it easy to adjust settings. On the downside, the standard feature’s list is thin.

  • Standard infotainment features: a six-speaker stereo
  • Available infotainment features: Chevrolet MyLink infotainment interface, a 7- or 8-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, a USB port and a Wi-Fi hot spot, navigation, satellite radio, a nine-speaker Bose audio system, Teen Driver (to set limits on speed and audio settings for young drivers), and wireless smartphone charging
  • Additional standard features: keyless entry and push-button start

See 2018 Chevrolet Malibu specs »

Read more about Malibu interior »

2018 Chevrolet Malibu Dimensions

Chevrolet Malibu Cargo Space

The Malibu has a 15.8-cubic-foot trunk, which is about average for a midsize car. The trunk is deep, and the standard 60/40 split-folding seats allow you to expand the available storage space. That said, this sedan’s high bumper, shallow cargo floor, and intrusive trunk hinges make it difficult to get the most out of this space.

These cargo dimensions are for comparative purposes. There is no substitute for visually examining the storage area in any car you’re considering.

2018 Chevrolet Malibu Length and Weight
  • Length: 16 feet, 2 inches
  • Curb weight: 3,103 to 3,298 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu Built?

Chevrolet built the Malibu in Kansas.

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