Add Chevrolet to the list of automakers striving to keep one of its traditional bread-and-butter segments -- the mid-size sedan -- alive with a slew of mid-cycle changes to the Malibu family car.
Chevy last gave the Malibu a full redraw in 2016, cutting nearly 150 kg from the car's curb weight and giving this formerly staid-looking car a dose of style to help it stand out in a field dominated by more recently redesigned cars like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
This year's update brings revised styling and introduces a new RS trim that takes the place of last year's sport package, bundling trim-specific 18-inch wheels, black exterior trim, a rear spoiler, dual exhaust tips, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shifter and black cloth seats.
There are new wheel designs across the line, and the entry-level 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder engine is now matched with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that replaces last year's six-speed automatic.
Inside, there's a new standard 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen to take the place of 2018's 7.0-inch display. That system is now simply called the Chevrolet infotainment system, instead of MyLink.
The rest of the Malibu's fundamentals are carried over. Most trims use the 1.5L engine, which makes 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. A hybrid model gets a 1.8L naturally aspirated engine that works with a pair of electric motors to generate a combined total of 182 hp. If you want more performance than that, Chevrolet forces you into the top-end Premier trim to get a 2.0L turbo motor (and its attendant nine-speed automatic) that makes 250 hp and 260 lb-ft.
Many competitors in the family sedan class use turbo engines of 1.5L or thereabouts, but Chevy's is behind the curve with its modest power output so that getting meaningful performance out of this car requires a heavy right foot. Most of the other entry-level mid-size cars you could spend your money on feel more responsive even if they're not actually all that much quicker.
Malibu's trim offerings are L, LS, LT, Hybrid and Premier.
All come standard with passive keyless entry and Chevrolet's rear-seat reminder, and LS and up get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration and a teen driver feature.
Premier gets dual rear-seat USB charging ports and a 110-volt power outlet plus heated front seats; all of those items are options in the LT and Hybrid. A sunroof is an option in LT, Hybrid and Premier trims, and Premier comes standard with ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
As of this writing, Chevrolet hasn't published fuel consumption estimates for the 2019 Malibu, but we expect the new 1.5L/CVT powertrain combo will be a little more thrifty than the 8.8/6.5 L/100 km (city/highway) ratings for that engine and its old six-speed automatic. The hybrid and 2.0L models should carry over with their estimates of 4.8/5.5 and 10.5/7.4 respectively.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed