Is the 2023 Chevrolet Malibu Being Passed Over Because It’s Bad?
A lot of people hate on the 2023 Chevrolet Malibu. Yes, it’s not the best midsize sedan sale, and no, there isn’t a sport-tuned model stocked with the latest and greatest tech features. It’s all but certain that the Malibu is slated for discontinuation in 2024 ahead of General Motors’ (GM) electrification plans. But is the latest Malibu really that bad, or is it because it’s a forgotten model, overshadowed by more contemporary offerings?
What’s good about the Malibu?
The Malibu comes stocked with one of the smallest engines Chevrolet has ever made. It’s an uber-efficient turbocharged 160-horsepower 1.5-liter four-cylinder. The powerplant is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.
U.S. News says it’s rather weak, but its max 184 pounds-feet of torque comes in at 2,500 rpm. Therefore, there probably won’t be many instances where highway passing is problematic unless you want to do it fast. The Malibu is built for exceptional value at the pump, and nothing sporty, despite its semi-racy looks. The EPA rates the Malibu at 27 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway, which is pretty good for the segment.
While the Malibu doesn’t give drivers much power, it gives them oodles of space inside. The aging cabin has plenty of hard plastics to grieve, but there’s more room than others in the class. Its 15.7-cubic foot trunk won’t impress, but it’s certainly on par with its competitors and will easily suck up everything you need for a weekend away.
Moreover, few cars boast the ease-of-use mentality the Malibu does. At a time when more and more manufacturers are pumping out fiddly, overly-sensitive touchscreen infotainment systems, the Chevrolet features an interface with enough physical control buttons and knobs to quell learning curve concerns.
What are the drawbacks?
Chevrolet hasn’t done much with the ninth-generation Malibu since it entered production for the 2016 model year. In turn, potential buyers won’t be met with dazzling features; for instance, the comfortable but rather scant interior. One issue Edmunds points out is the obstructed outward visibility in the 2023 Chevrolet Malibu. Pillars in vehicles have become larger and more reinforced to make cars safer, and visibility issues are primarily due to stricter safety requirements and the company’s lack of innovation for the sedan.
The Malibu has never been known as a sporty sedan, more like an increasingly aggressive-looking Buick. While it’s not necessarily a significant downfall, the Malibu is a bit of an outlier in the class. Nearly every offering in the segment—from Honda, Kia, Toyota, and others—provide the chance to select a more athletic sedan variant. Chevrolet does not.
While there’s a bevy of standard safety features, it would be nice to pair them with exciting driving dynamics. For instance, like Toyota does in the Camry TRD, and Kia in the sleek K5 GT.
Are there any recalls on the 2023 Chevrolet Malibu?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued a recall for the 2023 Chevrolet Malibu, along with the 2022 model. An improperly welded front impact bar is the culprit and may result in the front crash sensors not working correctly. Despite the Malibu’s five-star crash safety rating, it’s a danger to drivers.
Whereas manufacturers would typically roll out a recall campaign and fix the issue, GM is handling business a little differently. Dealerships will inspect the impact bar, but it’s apparently too short to be fixed through welding. Instead, the company is buying back the cars through Lemon Law. If potential buyers are concerned the Malibu they’re looking at has been retitled by GM, repaired, then put back on sale, warning stickers on specific parts of the car are an indication.
Should you pick the 2023 Chevrolet Malibu over the Toyota Camry or the Honda Accord?
While the Malibu isn’t a bad car, it’s an average car. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it’ll sell any better or be more desirable to customers than others. With such impressive midsize sedans like the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord, it’s tough to see why one would pick the Malibu.
The Camry and the Accord provide much better gas mileage through hybrid variants, more engaging driving dynamics, and state-of-the-art tech. While the Accord can’t be had with all-wheel drive, the Camry can fill that need, as can the Nissan Altima and the K5. But the Accord has one of the nicest interiors for the segment, yet all are much better than the Malibu.
If the 2023 Chevrolet Malibu could offer midsize sedan space for a subcompact price, the benefits would be apparent. But with a starting MSRP of $26,095 for the base model and $32,595 for the range-topping 2LT, it’s the same price as much more pleasing sedans.