2018 Chevrolet Malibu Driving Impressions

Even in base trim, the Malibu feels light and nimble, a pleasure to drive, compared to most midsize sedans. It’s impressively agile.

The 1.5-liter turbo gets by fine, even on long freeway jaunts, with its 163 horsepower. The only time it really works hard is on mountain grades. Even when it’s pushed, the engine stays quiet. The 6-speed automatic upshifts at the right time.

The turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is more powerful and refined. It will satisfy your need for a V6. It accelerates with enthusiasm. It doesn’t have or need driving modes, because the standard fixed calibrations deliver fine performance without fuss.

Among the lightest sedans in the midsize group, Malibu feels firm but well-composed, with its suspension tuned for comfort. There’s a minimal amount of engine drone. Most wind and road noises are suppressed, though rough surfaces might transmit some vibration.

The Malibu Hybrid borrows technology from the Volt, and can briefly run on battery power, but it’s intended to be driven in a conventional manner. It’s quite quick, accelerating to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds. And unlike many hybrids, nothing is lost in the sharpness of the handling, from the all-gas model. The steering feels no less vivid.

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