Generations Timeline, Specs and Pictures
The ninth generation of the Chevrolet Malibu was introduced in 2015 at the New York Motor Show and it was updated in 2018 for the 2019 model year.
Chevrolet did badge engineering since forever. In Europe, Opel and Vauxhall are one example. It was the same situation with other cars that crossed the Atlantic and received different names. One good example was the 2015 Malibu, which was an Opel Insignia with some aesthetical and technical improvements.
The facelifted version featured a new front fascia. The Chevrolet bow-tie was installed on a new chrome bar. A bigger lower grille was installed on the 2019 Malibu. A new signature LED lights for the DRL was installed in the front apron. The headlights were available with LED technology as well. The back of the car was slightly changed, but not significant for the LS trim level, but different for the LT, which featured LED taillamps. There was a new set of 18” light-alloy wheels fitted on the new RS trim level, which offered a sportier look.
Inside, the new 8” touch-screen was fitted as standard for the entire range. Another comfort feature that was changed was the access in the cabin. The 2019 Malibu, in LS trim, didn’t feature unlock buttons on the exterior door handles.
The biggest changes came under the hood. The base engine, a 1.5-liter turbocharged unit, was mated to a CVT instead of a 6-speed auto as the non-facelifted version. The Premier trim level received a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, paired to a 9-speed auto.
In 2015, at the New York Auto Show, Chevrolet unveiled the 2016 Malibu.
It was based on the European platform of the Opel Insignia, but with a completely new design.
The Malibu had a long history in the GM portfolio. In 2015 the American company announced that the Malibu hit the 10 million cars sold worldwide since 1964 when the Malibu was introduced to the market. The ninth-generation had a difficult task to keep the name going on a very crowded market of mid-size sedans.
The Malibu used the same design language and similar cues with the larger Impala. Its sleek look and raked A-pillars placed the car into the sport-sedan segment. All the aerodynamic changes were made for a better fuel-efficiency, and not for high-performance. To lower the drag coefficient, the car was fitted with active shutters for the grille for the LS and TS trim levels. The upper trim level, named Premium, featured LED taillights.
Due to its long wheelbase, the 2016 Malibu offered more interior room than its predecessor. Inside the cabin, the car-maker installed new equipment including an industry-first „teen-assistant”. That could be controlled by a parent to limit or check speed or driver behavior.
The Malibu was fitted as standard with a small, 1.5-liter, turbocharged engine. It offered the same performances as a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter unit, but with a better fuel-efficiency. The top model was the Hybrid version, but that was not so well received by the market and it was cut from the production lines in 2020.
The Chevrolet Malibu ECO got introduced at the 2011 New York Auto Show as part of the Earth Day celebrations.
The model is built on the standard Malibu but thanks to eAssist “light electrification” technology it was the most fuel efficient mid-size sedan at the time, being able to deliver an estimated 26 mpg in city and 38 mpg on the highway without cutting the performance factor.
Apart from the electric aid, the Malibu ECO is also gifted with enhanced aerodynamics, using underbody panels, and active grille shutter and other small shape adjustments.
The eight-generation of the Chevrolet Malibu was launched in 2012 as a 2013 model.
It featured a new front fascia and it set a new direction toward the mid-size sport sedans.
The Malibu history goes back to the first generation in 1964 when it was available in four body shapes: sedan, station-wagon, coupe, and convertible. Fast forward to 1997 and the Malibu reached its fifth generation after almost 15 year of absence on the market. The model was front-wheel-drive instead of rear-wheel-drive as before.
The 2013 model was not that much longer than the 1997 model, but it was greatly improved. Its design evolved into a much rounded bodywork with a grille split in two parts by a horizontal line where the classic bow-tie badge was installed. Prolonged headlights and sculptured side panels led to an image of a bigger car. In the rear, it featured Camaro-inspired LED dual-element taillamps.
The Malibu interior featured an all-new dual cockpit design that created an inviting, roomy and comfortable environment. The increased width of the vehicle led to a more spacious cabin. The Malibu featured metallic, chrome or wood accents located around the shifter, surrounding the center stack, around the instrument cluster and on doors and the steering wheel.
For the engine compartment, depending on the market, it was available with engines ranging from a small, turbocharged, 1.5-liter unit up to a 3.0-liter V6. It was available with either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic.
Chevrolet introduced the seventh generation of the Malibu in 2008 and built it on the same platform as the Pontiac G6 and the European Opel/Vauxhall Insignia.
The bow-tie brand needed a gamechanger to counteract the drop in sales. Once a respectable name on the market, Chevrolet struggled to increase its car sales via various incentives offered to the customers, and the world financial crisis was just begun.
When it started developing Malibu, the American carmaker aimed directly at the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord. While it was longer by 2.6” (66 mm) than the former, it was shorter than the latter by 2.3” (58 mm). Its long wheelbase made and the cab-forward design matched the customers’ preferences, but the rental car companies still preferred it. Its elliptic, swept-back headlights created a dynamic image of the mid-size Malibu. The front grille sported a wide horizontal slat for the golden bow-tie badge and a wrapped-around plastic bumper with an integrated lower apron and side-scoops. From its profile, the Malibu revealed a wide C-pillar, resembling other luxury cars from the past. Its raked-forward windscreen and short trunk lid.
Inside, Chevrolet installed a wide dashboard that sported a three-dial instrument cluster in a binocular style, with a center-mounted speedometer flanked by the tachometer and the fuel and coolant temperature gauges. Its multi-buttons steering wheel controlled the audio system and the onboard computer functions. Thanks to the long wheelbase, the Malibu offered enough room on the rear seats for three adults.
Under the hood, depending on the trim level, Chevrolet installed either an inline-four or a V-6 powerplant paired with a four, or six-speed automatic, respectively. Unlike its European sibling, it was available exclusively with a front-wheel-drive system.
Chevrolet introduced the SS badge on the Impala ‘61, and ever since, it attached that “Super Sport” plate on many performance car versions, including on the fleet-oriented Malibu.
While the Chevrolet Malibu was more of a salesman or car-rental choice. The bow-tie brand tried to expand the range with an SS version, produced in both body versions: the Malibu and the Malibu Maxx (hatchback) built on the same platform as the Pontiac G6 and the European Vauxhall/Opel Vectra.
The design department installed a new front fascia for the SS version. The headlights were similar to those from the regular model, but the black mesh-grille featured a chromed surrounding and the bow-tie gold badge in the middle. On the lower side of the apron, the carmaker installed a broad grille and two side scoops for the fog lights. Moreover, the four-door sedan sported a small lip spoiler on the trunk’s lid and dual chromed exhaust under the bumper.
Inside, everything was black. Its sport bucket seats with high bolstering gave a clue about the car’s performance, and the three-spoke steering wheel just confirmed it. Inside the instrument cluster, the carmaker installed a wide speedometer in the middle between the tachometer and the fuel and temperature gauges. Chevrolet included the “Malibu” lettering on the right dial to remind the driver what car he or she was driving. The bolstered bucket seats provided some side support to prevent its occupants from sliding during high-speed cornering. The Malibu SS had the power to go way faster than a regular econobox found in most fleet vehicles.
Under the hood, GM installed a choice of two engines with a 3.9-liter displacement with variable valve timing, which produced 243 hp. In addition, the carmaker paired a four-speed automatic transmission as standard on the SS version.
Chevrolet launched the 6th generation Malibu in 2003, developing the new model on a brand new Epsilon platform (replacing the N platform and serving as base for cars like Opel Astra or Cadillac BLS).
The Malibu was available with two body styles, the 4-door Malibu and the 5-door Malibu Maxx hatchback. The new Malibu featured a redesigned front grille (that underwent further modifications in 2006) and was fitted with a standard 2.2 L Ecotec L61 I4 delivering 145 hp. Despite being discontinued in 2007, GM produced the Malibu sedan for one more year under the name of Malibu Classic.
GM dug into its nameplates box and found the Malibu after more than a decade since the last third-gen model rolled-out from the assembly lines and revived it in 1996 with a new model.
While the Malibu nameplate was not used since 1983, customers didn’t forget it. After all, it’s an exotic destination, even if the car was not. It played in the mid-size sedan segment against Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, or Ford Taurus.
Chevrolet tried to play it safe with the Malibu and designed it with soft lines. Its horizontal headlights sported rounded corners, flanking the four-slat grille with a chromed line at the top. The fog lights were standard only on the top trim level. Its body-colored door-handles and mirrors were standard across the range, which comprised two trim-levels. In the back, the sloped windscreen and tall trunk gave the vehicle a cab-forward design with a dynamic look but not aggressive.
Inside, the customers found two choices of trims: Base and LS. The leather bucket seats were fitted as an option. Chevrolet installed an AM/FM radio as standard for the former trim level and a radio-cassette player for the latter. The dashboard and instrument panel layout was friendly and easy to read and understand, with large dials for the speedometer and tachometer.
Under the hood, the Base level received a standard 2.4-liter inline-four, while the LS version received the 3.1-liter V-6 unit. Both were paired to a four-speed automatic transmission. The Malibu offered four-wheel anti-lock brakes as standard for the entire range and dual-airbags for the safety systems.