The Chevrolet Malibu is a mid-size car manufactured and marketed by Chevrolet from 1964 to 1983 and then again since 1997. The Malibu began as a trim-level of the Chevrolet Chevelle, becoming its own model line in 1978. Originally a rear-wheel-drive intermediate, GM revived the Malibu nameplate as a front-wheel-drive car in 1997.
Named after the city of Malibu, California, the Malibu was marketed primarily in North America, with the eighth generation marketed globally.
Fifth generation (1997–2003)
A new front-wheel drive Malibu was introduced in 1997 on an extended wheelbase version of the GM N platform shared with the Buick Skylark, Oldsmobile Achieva, Oldsmobile Alero and Pontiac Grand Am. It was intended as a placeholder model to fill the gap left by the discontinuation of the aging Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, before the all-new Alero arrived in 1999. The Malibu itself replaced the compact Chevrolet Corsica. Power came from a 2.4 L 150 hp I4 or 3.1 L 155 hp V6.
The 3.1 L V6 was updated in 2000 with a new power rating of 170 hp, and the 2.4 L 4-cylinder was dropped after that year. However, a 4-cylinder was reintroduced in 2004 when the 2.2 L Ecotec was offered on the Classic. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fuel mileage estimates for the 2.2 L Ecotec engine are 21 mpg city – 31 mpg hwy.
Sixth generation (2004–2007)
The Malibu name was moved to the new Epsilon platform for 2004. The Epsilon-based Malibu came in two body-styles, a standard 4-door sedan and a 5-door Malibu Maxx station wagon. The Maxx was advertised as a “five-door extended sedan”, designed to have the utility but not the stigma of station wagons, and it was the first mid-size Chevrolet hatchback since the 1980s.
Base power came from a 2.2 L Ecotec inline 4 cylinder producing 144 hp. LS and LT trims originally had a 3.5 L 201 hp V6 while both Sedan SS and Maxx SS models were powered by the 3.9 L 240 hp V6. For 2007, the LX9 was replaced with the LZ4 V6, which in the Malibu produced 217 hp. The Ecotec was also updated for the 2007 model year with many improvements. A remote starter was also available, which was introduced on several other GM vehicles for 2004.
The Malibu Maxx was discontinued for 2008; however, the Malibu sedans remained in production for fleet orders for the 2008 model year. GM refers to these models as the Chevrolet Malibu Classic. The cars themselves bear Malibu badges, unlike the past generation Classic.
A special SS trim was available on the Malibu and Malibu Maxx with the 3.9L V6 from 2006 to 2007, developing 240 hp and 240 lb·ft and channeled through a four-speed automatic with Tap-Up/Tap-Down shifting, sport suspension with tower-to-tower brace, 18″ alloy wheels, universal home remote transmitter, rear spoiler and hydraulic power steering. Changes to differentiate the SS from the lower trims include three-spoke, leather wrapped steering wheel with SS badge, chrome-trimmed instruments, sport cloth and leather seats, side skirts, chrome tip exhausts, more aggressive front and rear clips and fog lights.
Seventh generation (2008–2012)
The Malibu was redesigned for the 2008 model year. Extensive engineering and design went into the remodel. This generation of Malibu came in many trim levels: the Base (2008 only) (1SB), the LS 1LS (or 1FL for fleet models 2011 and 2012), the LT 1LT (or 2FL for fleet models 2011 and 2012), the Hybrid (2008 and 2009 only), and the LTZ 1LZ.
The seventh generation Malibu is built on a revised version of the long-wheelbase Epsilon platform shared with the Saturn Aura, the Opel Signum, and Pontiac G6. Overall, it is three inches longer, with a six inch longer wheelbase. Interior room remains mid-size, like the previous Malibus, and has been decreased from 101 cubic feet to 97.7 cubic feet, despite having a longer wheelbase, although front legroom has increased. The interior design has also been completely reworked, with a selection of two-tone color combinations (brick and tan two-tone), telescoping steering wheel, higher-quality materials and a twin-cowl dash design.
The 2.4 L I4 and 3.6 L V6 engine have aluminum blocks and heads, dual overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, twin balance shafts, and variable valve timing. The 3.5 L V6 has aluminum heads, an iron block, overhead valves, and limited variable valve timing. For 2009 models, the six-speed transmission mated to the 2.4 L 4-cylinder engine or the 217 horsepower 3.5 L V6 mated to the four-speed automatic were made available on the 1LT; the six-speed became standard on 2LT models the same year. LS models were equipped with the four-speed transmission only. A manual transmission was not offered. All models are front-wheel-drive sedans, as Chevrolet dropped the Malibu MAXX station wagon model.
OnStar was included on all Malibu models as standard equipment. Six air bags were also standard on the seventh generation Malibu; two dual-stage front bags, two side-impact curtain air bags protecting the heads of both front and rear passengers, and two side-impact thorax bags mounted in the front seats. Traction control, electronic tire pressure monitoring system, four-wheel disc brakes, antilock brakes, and daytime running lamps were standard included safety features on all Malibus. GM’s StabiliTrak brand electronic stability control was standard on all models including the very base LS model.
In 2011, the base LS 1LS Malibu gained more standard features, like Bluetooth technology with stereo audio playback capability, a remote USB and iPod/iPhone port, remote start, a security alarm, an upgraded OnStar system, power front driver’s seat, chrome hubcap wheel covers, body-colored side mirrors with power adjustments and body-colored accents, a single wood dashboard accent, tinted windows, and a six-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and manual shift capabilities. The LT 1LT model lost its available eight-speaker Bose premium sound system. The LT 2LT got a package that included a sunroof, leather power heated seats, and more convenience and comfort features.
Eighth generation (2013–2015)
The eighth generation Malibu was available in the trim levels LS 1LS, the LT 1LT, the LT 2LT, the ECO 1SB, the ECO 2SA, and the LTZ 1LZ. Both ECO models officially went on sale in the spring of 2012, with the gas-only models following in late summer 2012. The Turbo models followed in early 2013. It was offered with four-cylinder engines and six-speed automatic transmissions.
All models, aside from the LS 1LS, were equipped with a large touch-screen display using Chevrolet’s MyLink and offering Pandora Internet Radio playback capabilities via a USB cable and an iPhone 4, 4S, or 5. SiriusXM Travel Link was also included on all navigation-equipped Malibu models.
Standard safety features on the eighth generation Malibu include dual-stage front airbags for the driver and front passenger, along with pelvic/thorax side-impact and knee airbags up front also. Roof rail airbags with rollover protection are standard. Also available as option extras are second-row head/thorax side-impact airbags, lane departure warning system with forward collision alert and a rearview camera system.
On September 21, 2012. General Motors recalled 473,841 vehicles involving the Chevrolet Malibu, Pontiac G6 and Saturn Aura from model years 2007 through 2010 equipped with four-speed automatic transmissions. The problem is a condition that could make cars roll when in park. The recall affected 426,240 in the United States, 40,029 in Canada and 7,572 in other markets.
Ninth generation (2016–)
The latest generation Malibu features a sleeker, yet larger design similar to its full size sister Impala. Its wheelbase has been stretched close to four inches, creating more interior space; but the fuel efficiency is improved, as it is nearly 300 pounds lighter than the eighth generation model it is replacing. The 2016 Malibu comes in four trims: L, LS, LT, and Premier (replacing the LTZ trim).
In addition, a hybrid model will also be offered, featuring a 1.8L four-cylinder engine mated to a two-motor drive unit, providing additional power to assist the engine during acceleration for 182 horsepower of total system power. An Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery system allows the engine and cabin to warm up during winter conditions, while a 80-cell, 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides electric power to the hybrid system, powering the Malibu Hybrid up to 55 miles per hour on electricity alone, while the gasoline-powered engine automatically comes on at higher speeds and loads to provide additional power.
The Malibu will feature an all-new, LFV Ecotec 1.5L turbo that will be standard, while a 2.0L turbocharged engine will be offered as an optional feature. Other new features on the ninth-generation Malibu that will be introduced for the 2016 model year includes an available segment-exclusive OnStar 4G LTE in-vehicle connectivity as well as available wireless phone charging, preventive safety technologies include 10 standard air bags featuring forward collision avoidance system rear cross traffic alerts, and an optional automatic parking assist. It will feature Forward Collision Alert with Following Distance Indicator, Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Automatic Braking and Front Pedestrian Alert with last-second automatic braking.
The 2016 Malibu will also feature a rare first for the automotive industry, a first ever teen driver feature, which allows parents to view their kids’ driving statistics, such as maximum speed, warning alerts and more. In order to operate the vehicle a parent enables the feature with a PIN in the settings menu of the Malibu’s MyLink system, which allows them to register their teen’s key fob. The system’s settings are turned on only to registered key fobs. The 2016 Malibu will come equipped with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Capability features; however, only one of these phone brands at any one time can be used.
A few months ahead of the 2016 model arriving in dealerships, Chevrolet announced that the Malibu had hit a milestone, with more than 10 million sold worldwide since the car was introduced 51 years earlier.