Chevrolet Malibu RS test drive

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 The current generation  Malibu is now about 4 years old already. And it still is a very good looking sedan.
A huge improvement over the previous generation…
The “sporty” RS package ads great looking 18-inch wheels. A rather well integrated rear spoiler. And a blacked out grille.

The whole thing looks quite nice and rather upscale.

 That old fashion Chevrolet logo also looks 100 times better in black.

But even with the RS package, the steering wheel logo staring at you the whole time is still the same old cheezy gold…
Which is really too bad.

 Otherwise, the interior is very nice. Everything feels solid and well put together.
(Too bad the only color choice on the RS is black.)
But it is refreshing to see cloth and not leather.

The seats are very comfortable. I like the cloth finish on the dash.
Even at about $24 000, it comes with a power driver seat. An 8-inch screen.
And a surprisingly excellent sound system. (but no satellite radio)

Unfortunately, it doe not come with any new safety system like automatic breaking, side view warning, etc.
Which, I think is a big mistake from GM.
As most new cars do these days. (Even a base Civic has all that stuff…)

 The back seat is surprisingly roomy.
But very basic. With no center armrest.

 Driving this Malibu RS right after the Civic Coupe Turbo, I couldn’t help but comparing the two.
Even though I don’t think anyone would ever be cross shopping these two cars.
But they both came with a 1.5 Liter Turbo and a CVT. So why not…

The GM 1.5 Liter is both smoother and quieter than the Honda engine. Which was surprising.
And so is the CVT.
None of the droning I kept hearing in the Civic. The Malibu is just always very quiet.
And about as fast as the Civic.

Being a larger sedan, the ride is much nicer than the Civic coupe as well. This is a very smooth, great riding car.
Always very comfortable and very quiet.

The steering is very light but very accurate. And really, the whole thing is a pleasure to drive.

 But nothing about the “RS” is sporty.
It does look more upscale than the base model.
The Malibu is just a very smooth comfortable car. But at least with the 1.5 Liter, not a sporty one by any means. Even with the RS option.

It is a very honest, simple 4 door mid-sized sedan.

I think its main problem is that it exists in the same world as a base Honda Accord LX.
I have not driven the Accord with the 1.5 Liter. ( Hopefully is it quieter than the Civic with the same engine.)
But the Accord has one of the nicest steering feel in its class.
It also feels like a tank. And comes standard with Honda Sensing. Which includes a whole suite of driver assistance items. And a choice of interior colors.
All for about $1100 less than this Malibu RS.

The Malibu RS is rated at 29/36MPG.
I honestly don’t think it is possible to get 29 around town. But I got 26MPG which is fine for such a roomy car.
My average on the FWY was 36 to 38MPG.
I wish GM would include more safety items in the Malibu. Just because the competition does.
This is a great family car, but most potential buyers do their homework now. 
And I know that many would immediately dismiss the Malibu because of fo that.
This is mostly a problem for the base and RS. if you step up to the LT version, 2 “driver confidence” packages are available. But they are still options (About $500 each)

Here is everything you need to know about the Malibu RS price and features.

Again, a very nice car. But lacking in some safety equipment that most buyers expect these days.
Something GM could very easily fix if they wanted.

I mentioned the Accord LX which costs less than this Malibu RS. But lets’ not forget the Accord Hybrid.
Which costs only about $1000 more than the RS.
For that $1000, you get an even quieter, quicker car.
And one that will get 48 to 50MPG all the time. No matter what.

Which would be my choice…

Conversation 14 comments

  1. The seat cloth, appearance at least, is the type used 30 years ago. The Accord fabric is way nicer. This is the type of a car that drives by and I say…..meh….

  2. I'd rent one, but would never own one. You rent or lease GM's, buy them if you don't know any better.

  3. Old fart and lack luster in this day and age. Besides no armrest there is no air-vents in the back. Typical GM being cheap.

  4. The biggest problem with the RS imo, is not offering the 2.0T as an option. As it stands the Premier is the only trim that offers this powertrain which also includes an 9spd auto. Which would be fine I guess, if not for the absolutely dreadful fake wood trim. The RS is the sportiest trim on the new Blazer and includes the most powerful engine, so not exactly sure what gives here. The Malibu RS is a sporty aggressive looking car in search of an appropriate powertrain. 1.5T and especially a CVT is inexcusable.

  5. Very good review Vince, you did a good job of laying out the positives and negatives of the Malibu and addressed its primary failure (safety features) vs. the competition.

  6. GM prices always build in that $4-5,000 discount they always seem to be offering. A GM CVT in it's first model year? Not a chance.

    The problem with GM vehicles these days – at least the mid range models, is that they look great, but once you buy them and drive away, you discover that things you thought were standard on pretty much everything car aren't on a GM car. Like a telescoping sun visor. Or lumbar adjustment on the power seat. Or the tint stripe across the top of the windshield. Or a remote starter that doesn't engage the climate control, so the engine is warm but your interior is still ice cold.

  7. Not every wants all those driver assistance aids. They are mostly for those who are more concerned about their phone and driving safely is an inconvenience.
    Why would anyone buy this car with its little 1.5 turbo and CVT. I drove one and felt it couldn't get out of its own way. The Premier has brute power and the 9 speed shifts perfectly and still gets 35 MPG under my heavy foot.

  8. Would like to see a 2 door version for the RS but should also make n SS model with at least a 2.4 liter. Having a 1968 Malibu SS with a 396 cu in engine, please replicate some of the honor and stye the 1968 thru 1972 had to truly make a "sporty" car for us muscle car enthusiasts. RS is a Camaro insignia but can be used on a 2 door Malibu. . Not a 4 door please.

  9. Vince, you really like this? The omission of a rear arm rest is inexcusable. I don't mind cloth, but the interior looks cheap. This is GM's problem. Looks totally like a rental car. GM needs new leadership. Goodbye, Mary Barra; things are getting worse under your your direction.

  10. I seem to be the only one who preferred the sheetmetal of the previous generation. This one looks like an Asian car, not a Chevrolet.

    An all black interior says cheap to me even if made with whale scrotum trimmed in gold.

  11. Basic transportation at best. Outside looks better than inside. The RS badge is a phony way to attract the “sports enthusiasts” crowd.

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