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Aug27

2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS First Drive Review

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2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS First Drive Review

SHELTON, Wash. — Contemplating that almost each story we write today begins with one thing like, “As crossovers proceed to crush sedans in gross sales …,” it would be obtuse to disregard the very actual headwinds that face the 2019 Chevy Malibu. Crossovers march steadily on to gross sales data, and the nonetheless-sizable cadre of sedan consumers has eroded. However these remaining have a robust number of fascinating, properly-designed, and environment friendly sedans to select from – the fittest of the breed are hanging on.

And in addition, the Malibu. Whereas it debuted in 2015 as a 2016 mannequin, the Malibu felt a bit previous when it was model new. A number of years later, this refreshed Malibu — and the RS trim degree, particularly, which is new to the nameplate — looks like it is recent out of an alternate universe, the place sedan gross sales have been wholesome sufficient to help a bunch of backmarkers. Keep in mind, Ford is killing the Fusion, as soon as a strong mid-packer. In the mean time, it looks like the automakers have determined that being fourth or sixth fiddle to the large canine is not well worth the effort.

And but, the Malibu. It’s right here, and it has a brand new face. The RS trim — which consists of a black grille, a blacked-out bowtie badge, distinctive 18-inch alloy wheels, and a twin-outlet exhaust — takes purpose on the Accord Sport and Passat R-Line. It, like different Malibus, additionally ditches the previous six-velocity auto for a brand new CVT. The engine stays a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-4, and in addition stays one way or the other properly-matched to this car’s size and weight. There’s nothing totally different of observe concerning the RS’s interior.

In comparison with the previous Malibu’s face, the brand new Malibu has bigger higher and decrease openings, crammed with a distorted-diamond mesh. Chevy calls it black chrome, however for all of the world it appears like black-tinted plastic. The headlights are comparable, however enhancements in low-beam lighting pressure some parts to maneuver down into the reshaped decrease lamps, just like the daytime operating lights. There’s much less brightwork and extra aggression to the entrance fascia general, mirroring Chevy’s present company design language.

Round again, twin exhaust ideas poke out from a revised decrease fascia, changing the tucked ideas hidden behind the previous Malibu’s bumper pores and skin. They’re rounded, rectangular quadrangles, loosely resembling the taillights, which themselves are unchanged. A spoiler juts above the trunklid. The 5-spoke wheels cut up at their ideas. Is that this what counts as sporty within the midsize phase?

Do not anticipate any contribution to the sportiness from the powertrain. The 1.5-liter engine and CVT are satisfactory — however neither rises past that descriptor. Frankly, the Malibu feels immense, however as we came upon in 2016, it isn’t terribly heavy, so the 1.5 works simply fantastic right here. Its experience, dealing with, and energy supply are unremarkable — few demerits and positively no plaudits. Steering duties are begrudgingly dealt with by a leather-based-wrapped steering wheel that appears a bit like a caricature of itself – cartoonish and distorted. The profound adequacy extends to the seats, which help properly for about an hour after which start to put on on the again. Little offends, however little impresses – the preliminary, virtually impartial pleasantness of the Malibu RS wears off, such as you’ve been inside it too lengthy and it’s making an attempt to let on, quietly, that you’ve got overstayed your welcome.

The CVT itself has no obvious vices, but in addition is not almost as refined or slick as the newest models from Nissan and Subaru. What’s surprising is that the RS is not obtainable with the two.0T and 9-velocity automated — a extra pure match for a “sporty” trim. It isn’t even an choice. Identical to the phrase “coupe” has been twisted to embody a broad number of vehicle varieties, within the sedan world, “sporty” just isn’t what it appears. From a dynamic standpoint, “sporty” is an antonym for “Malibu RS”.

The existential query for the Malibu is whether or not the RS trim will transfer the needle. Based mostly on what we noticed throughout our time with the RS, it does not seem like there’s sufficient “there” there for the Malibu RS to steer the cost and conquer the phase. For these already intent on shopping for a big sedan from Chevy, the RS will probably be an interesting various to the extra boring decrease trim fashions. It’s, in any case, for all intents and functions a base car with some upmarket taste — however not an excessive amount of! — for round $25,000.

In the meantime, the competitors looms conspicuously on this price level. The 2018 Accord Sport, with a 1.5-liter turbo engine and a no-value CVT choice, is only a smidge extra at $26,675 — however critically outperforms GM’s 1.5, making 192 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, and has some actual dealing with modifications like bigger entrance and rear stabilizer bars, a faster steering ratio, and upgraded brakes. Simply redesigned, it feels slicing-edge with out being overly controversial. It is a wonderful selection within the phase. The identical might be stated for the equally aggressive 2018 Camry SE, with much more energy (however barely much less torque) and an eight-velocity auto for $26,270. Camry, by the best way, virtually doubled the month-to-month gross sales figures of the Malibu in July.

The Malibu RS does not supply sufficient, with sufficient pizazz, to supply a critical problem to equally-priced and -positioned rivals. Some actual speak right here: If Chevy needs to maintain promoting Malibus a couple of years on, it is going to want greater than a revised grille and a few exhaust ideas — or a shady plot within the graveyard of runner-up sedans, subsequent to the Fusion, awaits.

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Chevrolet Malibu

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