Striking styling distinguishes the Chevrolet Malibu, complete with sumptuous curves that evoke the luxurious Audi A7. Beyond the style there is true substance, with a comfortable ride, an almost absurdly quiet cabin, and undaunting controls. And, compared to the previous model, the rear seat now has more room. But there are several form and functional setbacks that result from this swoopy look, most notably visibility.
Sleeker-looking than many competitors, the Malibu compromises outward visibility compared to the more upright Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, or Subaru Legacy. Getting in and out of this slick cruiser requires more body contortions than we're used to. And the base cloth seats are not very supportive; this is a case where we'd spring for the optional, more comfortable leather seats.
Despite its wee 1.5-liter size, the turbocharged four-cylinder engine pulled the Malibu with confidence, and it managed to return a commendable 29 mpg overall when we tested it with the 6-speed automatic. For 2019 it got a continuously variable automatic transmission that's likely to improve fuel economy. Too bad the engine sounds a bit raspy when it's being worked. A 2.0-liter turbo is standard on the high-end version, making the car more powerful, effortless and quieter.