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.
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.
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.
The rear glass and trunk of the Malibu would lead you to believe it is also a hatchback, but it’s not.
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.
The back seat had generous legroom for 3 adults and the ever popular directional rear air vents.
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)