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2018 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader October 2017

If you're seeking the fuel economy of a compact car but need the room and power only a midsize sedan can offer, the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid has you covered. The Malibu Hybrid shares the same sleek styling and feature-rich interior as the conventional Malibu, only with a sophisticated hybrid powertrain that makes it more fuel efficient and eco-friendly. Competition in the field is fierce, however, with rivals such as the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Kia Optima Hybrid and the all-new Toyota Camry Hybrid and Honda Accord Hybrid all vying for a piece of the environmentally-friendly pie. With better fuel economy figures than the Kia or Ford, the Malibu has a right to brag, although both the Ford and Kia cost less than the Chevy.

If the Malibu Hybrid wasn't on your shopping list the last time you looked for a midsize sedan, we think it definitely should be now, especially for those interested in maximizing fuel economy and minimizing their carbon footprint.

What's New for 2018?

For 2018, the Malibu Hybrid remains largely unchanged.

What We Like

Strong fuel economy; competitive interior design and materials; handsome sheet metal; well priced for the equipment

What We Don't

More hybrid trim levels would be nice; trunk space surprisingly reduced due to hybrid batteries

How Much?

$28,750-$35,000

Fuel Economy

The Malibu Hybrid offers one powertrain: a 122-horsepower 1.8-liter hybrid 4-cylinder, which is mated to front-wheel drive and a fuel-saving continuously variable automatic transmission. Gas mileage is rated at 49 miles per gallon in the city and 43 mpg on the highway, which places the Malibu Hybrid near the top of the hybrid midsize sedan segment.

Standard Features & Options

The Malibu Hybrid ($28,750) is offered in only one trim level. It comes standard with dual-zone automatic climate control, a backup camera, a 6-speaker MyLink radio with a 7-in touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite radio, Bluetooth and OnStar with a Wi-Fi hotspot. Also standard are 17-in alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, a power driver's seat, steering wheel audio controls, keyless access and start and 10 airbags.

Options include a remote starter, an 8-in touchscreen, a wireless device charging system, forward-collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping assist, a blind spot monitoring system, low-speed automatic braking, front and rear park assist, automatic high beams, a power sunroof, a navigation system, heated leather front seats, a power passenger seat and a 9-speaker Bose sound system.

Safety

In crash testing carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu earned a perfect 5-star overall score. The sedan also earned the coveted Top Safety Pick designation from the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

While the Malibu Hybrid only offers basic safety features as standard equipment -- including side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and a backup camera -- optional safety items abound. The Malibu Hybrid boasts forward-collision warning with low-speed automatic braking, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear park assist, lane-keeping assist and automatic high beams.

Behind the Wheel

The Malibu Hybrid's cabin is comfortable, roomy and quiet (although concrete surfaces bring some road roar). The ride quality is serene and unruffled, and power delivery is responsive and capable. This car is no high-performance freeway blaster, but it takes a lot of the drudge and quite a bit of the expense out of commuting. The only small complaint is that some of the cabin materials show signs of cost cutting.

Regenerative brakes in hybrids and electric cars usually have a tendency to feel strange, but these have what Chevrolet calls blended action. They feel pretty much identical to the brakes of a regular car, though they still gather energy that would otherwise have dissipated.

Trunk space is somewhat curtailed by having to accommodate the hybrid system's battery pack. While a regular sedan can hold up to 15.8 cu ft., this variant offers 11.8 cu ft. Though this is not exactly a deal-breaker, the extra annoyance is that this battery pack is still in the way, even with the rear seats folded down.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Ford Fusion Hybrid -- The Ford Fusion hybrid is an excellent midsize hybrid sedan that offers handsome styling and a comfortable ride. Fuel economy is strong -- and as a bonus, the Fusion Hybrid is even offered with a plug-in powertrain.

2018 Honda Accord Hybrid -- The Honda Accord Hybrid is all-new this year, with sleek styling, a massive trunk and rear seat and class-leading fuel economy figures. It will also likely hold its value better than any other hybrid in the segment.

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid -- The Camry Hybrid offers a reliable, familiar package, a roomy interior and better fuel economy figures than the Malibu Hybrid. Unlike the Chevy, the Camry Hybrid offers three trims from which to choose. Like the Accord, the Camry comes standard with a host of driver-assist safety features optional on the Malibu.

Used Toyota Avalon Hybrid -- The Avalon Hybrid is an impressive, fuel-efficient full-size sedan that offers a larger interior (and a more comfortable ride) than the Malibu Hybrid. Prices are higher, though, so you may have to consider a used model.

Autotrader's Advice

The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid only comes in one trim level, so that's the one we'd get. But we'd make sure to add a few luxury and safety features too, as they're surprisingly affordable -- and highly desirable.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid: New Car Review - Autotrader