2018 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Review

Malibu Hybrid

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2018 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Overview

Chevrolet remains one of the lesser-known players in the hybrid midsize sedan marketplace, in large part due to its to difficulties in achieving the same high fuel-economy figures as competitors. In order to avoid these pitfalls the second time around, the automaker took what it had learned from the plug-in hybrid Volt and created the Malibu Hybrid, which was first introduced for the 2016 model year. The end result is a real threat to the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, and Toyota Camry hybrid variants. For 2018, Chevrolet isn’t making any changes to the thrifty Malibu Hybrid apart from the introduction of a new exterior color: Sandy Ridge Metallic.

Power for the Malibu Hybrid comes from a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a 2-motor drive unit borrowed from the Volt. Electric power is provided by an 80-cell 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack for a total system output of 182 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. If you keep a light foot on the throttle, the Malibu Hybrid can reach 55 mph on just electric power alone. For situations where you need a bit more oomph, the hybrid system will smoothly come on to provide the extra power of the gas engine. The regenerative braking system is smooth, without any of the grabbiness found in other hybrid vehicles—the Malibu Hybrid features the same braking system as the Volt, which reviewers say feels like that of a regular gas-powered vehicle. Fuel economy is impressive for the class, with EPA figures of 49 mpg city, 43 highway, and 46 combined. Only the Honda Accord Hybrid beats the Malibu Hybrid at 49, 47, and 48.

Unlike other hybrid midsize sedans, the Malibu Hybrid doesn’t shout out its hybrid status. From the exterior, you would hard pressed to tell the difference between the standard Malibu and its hybrid variant. It features the same low front end with dual grilles and LED lighting and a side profile similar to that of an Audi A5 or A7 Sportback, with a sloping roofline and short rear deck. The only giveaway of the Malibu Hybrid’s true identity is a small “H” badge on the trunk lid.

The Malibu Hybrid’s interior is likewise much the same as that of its gas-powered sibling, although it does feature a unique instrument cluster that displays power usage and regeneration. Sitting inside is a pleasant experience, as the cabin sports an attractive design with a good mix of cloth and leatherette materials. Space is plentiful up front, and the seats provide the right amount of comfort for long trips. Rear passengers receive less headroom due to the sloping roofline, but legroom is quite good. Cargo space measures out to 11.6 cubic feet, which is about average for the class.

On the technology front, a 7-inch touchscreen with Chevrolet MyLink comes standard, with a larger 8-inch screen and navigation available as options. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility and OnStar 4G LTE with a Wi-Fi hotspot are also included as standard. MyLink has come a long way since its introduction a few years ago, where it was plagued with performance and overall stability issues. Thanks to Chevrolet’s updates and tweaks, MyLink is now one of the best infotainment systems, complete with a user-friendly interface and fast response times.

The Malibu Hybrid is a solid choice when it comes to safety. Standard equipment includes a full suite of airbags, traction and stability control, tire-pressure monitoring, a reversing camera, and the Teen Driver system. Teen Driver allows a parent to set up a special key with limits on speed and volume and provides a driving report with key details like maximum speed and whether the traction and stability control were activated. An optional Driver Confidence package adds automatic high beams, blind-spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, lane-keep assist, and pedestrian detection with automatic braking. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the Malibu a Top Safety Pick for 2017, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the 2018 model a 5-star overall rating.

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Ask William Maley how he started as an automotive writer and he would say he just fell into it. Based in Michigan, William has driven vehicles of all sizes and shapes. His work has appeared on Autobytel, CARFAX, Cheers & Gears, and U.S. News Best Cars.

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