Expanding the Malibu: 2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS review

Chevrolet engineers made substantial improvements with their most recent redesign of the Malibu, introduced for 2016. Well, the Malibu is the first CVT-equipped Chevy for sale to the public (the CVT was already available in some fleet vehicles), and CVTs themselves are a big deal because they tend to deliver more mpg, though typically at the cost of some responsiveness. While we don’t have official EPA estimates for the 2019 Malibu yet, Chevy says we’ll see a distinct improvement in fuel economy. For that reason alone, we’re likely to see this CVT spread to more of Chevy’s consumer lineup.

Chevrolet Malibu RS

The Performance

The 2019 Malibu has a variety of options for you when it comes to performance, that way, you’ll be sure to get exactly what you’re looking for. The standard engine on the Malibu is a 1.5-liter turbo engine with Continuously Variable Transmission. The Malibu Premier gives you a 250-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged ECOTEC engine with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Also, if you want to go green, you can get the Malibu Hybrid with a 1.8-liter hybrid engine to give you great efficiency and more miles per gallon.

The Turbocharged

At the top of the range, the Premier replaces the existing powertrain with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot equipped with 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque through a nine-speed automatic transmission. It rolls on 18-inch wheels, re-equips the chrome-tipped outlets from the RS, and dons bright sill plates to add emphasis. The infotainment system gets some attention on this trim, upgrading to a premium Bose nine-speaker setup, and adding an enhanced driver information center with an eight-inch diagonal display. Wireless charging, ambient lighting, and heated seats round out this model, making this the most comprehensively specced variant in the range.

Chevrolet Malibu RS

The Interior

Designed to seat five, the Malibu boasts a spacious front cabin area with an uncluttered and ergonomic design for the driver. The rear, being quite cramped, is probably best suited for smaller adults or children, but otherwise provides a comfortable and pleasant environment for all passengers. The Chevy Malibu isn’t quite up to luxury sedan standards and offers mostly textured plastic and a good quality cloth or faux-leather throughout the cabin, and while it isn’t woefully disappointing, it is a little dated in comparison to other more contemporary cabins available. On the plus side, two full sets of LATCH car-seat tethers are available for the moms who want a classy cruiser to ferry the kids around in; this ties in nicely with the adequately-spaced trunk which a working mom will undoubtedly also need.

The efficient powertrain in the 2019 Chevy Malibu Hybrid is rated at just over 180 hp and less than 280 lb-ft of torque. The all-new Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery improves the performance of the hybrid system by recycling energy that’s given off under the hood. Carrying an 80-cell lithium-ion battery that’s rated at 1.5 peak kWh, this economical sedan has an impressive fuel economy of 49 MPG in the city and 43 MPG on the highway. Just like in the Premier edition, the Chevy Malibu Hybrid offers the Infotainment 3 system with an 8.0-inch touch screen and voice commands.

Chevrolet Malibu RS

Chevrolet has the 2019 RS priced at $24,995, undercutting by $1680 the 2018 price of its most obvious bogey, the Honda Accord Sport, which also packs a turbo 1.5-liter four and a CVT. In addition, 2019 RS has a bright lighting illumination headlight technology, housing with low beam 9005 led bulb conversion kit, emitting around 6000 lumens. Taking on the Accord Sport, which well may be the best bang for the buck on four wheels, is a fool’s errand, so it’s not surprising that Chevy didn’t try too hard with the RS. Its dark chrome trim, 18-inch wheels, and black bow tie look menacing, but that’s all for the show, with no mechanical upgrades over the stock Malibu. The Accord Sport, on the other hand, gets 19-inch wheels, a sport suspension tuning with upgraded brakes, and a manual-transmission option. Accords have 29 horsepower more than the 163-hp Malibu, too, with more stylish and upscale cabins.

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