2018 Chevy Malibu

Accomplishes average perfectly.

When I rented the Regal Sportback 3 weeks ago and my co-worker said it’s just a Malibu in disguise, I had to scope one out.  After a short jaunt around town, he wasn’t too far off base.

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The dashboard would be hard to differentiate between the Regal and this Malibu.  They both have the same font, same gauges, same digital display.  Oddly enough, I liked parts of the Malibu better than the nearly $4000 more expensive Buick.  I liked the Neopryne dash inserts that matched the seats, but I think that summer sun will deteriorate that quickly.

The driver’s seat was comfortable and had a 10-way power seat like last weeks Encore should have had.  Challenging, to say the least, is trying to figure out how and why GM options it’s fleet.

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The Buick also didn’t have the indirect LED door handles and overhead lighting of this Malibu.  It reminded me of how great that worked on the Audi A4.

A big gripe about the Regal was the excess dead/blank buttons on the interior.  The Malibu had only 2 I could find thanks in part to the HUGE traction control button that replaces 6 blank buttons on the Regal.  Give props to the team and Chevrolet that fixed that eyesore.

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The rear glass and trunk of the Malibu would lead you to believe it is also a hatchback, but it’s not.

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It features a real deal trunk with back seat collapsible knobs for long cargo, but the trunk lining material is very thin and not aging well.  Granted, this is a 30,000+ mile used and slightly abused rental car, but a little thicker trunk insulation would also help immensely with tire noise coming from the back end.

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The back seat had generous legroom for 3 adults and the ever popular directional rear air vents.

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Since this is my 3rd General Motors rental in a row, the center stack controls are almost 2nd nature.  Noticeably absent again is the automatic climate control, but the A/C is very capable even in direct sunlight and no window tint.

The Malibu isn’t an identical twin to the Regal, but they could easily be fraternal twins.  The base price of a 1.5 liter turbo Honda Accord or 2.5 liter Toyota Camry would be about $2000 more.

Things of note:
The Malibu doesn’t do anything poorly.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t do anything exceptionally either.
Exactly 30mpg on my city local trip exactly in line  with the EPA stated 27CITY/36HWY
40mpg on a freeway jaunt wouldn’t be difficult.
Buy it? Rent it? Avoid it?
Full disclosure:  Early on in many of our fleet of 2018’s life, they had a problem with the engines dying and having to be towed.  Our location had 3 alone and required dealer work.  To make matters worse, just last week GM issued a safety recall involving a faulty tire inflation kit in some Cruze, Malibu, and Impala models.  As a result, about $200,000+ worth of Chevrolets are parked and useless.  The competition in this segment is way too fierce to have anything but the best of the best a company can muster.  No way I’d ever buy one and I’d choose something else to rent if given the option.  The worst car I EVER rented was a 2000 Malibu in Atlanta.  Fast forward 18 years and it has improved exponentially, but it still has a long way to go to win over new customers.
Chevrolet if you’re listening . . .
Keep the 2.0 liter for Buick and the 1.5 liter for Chevy.
On a scale from 1-100: (1- Child, please – 100- YES!  Please!)
Buy it now – 5
Buy it later at half the current price – 15
F.E.D. (Fun, Efficiency & Desirability) – 40
Oooh and ahhh factor – 10
Recommended – (20 to buy if you have to buy American / 50 to rent)

 

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