Is the 2024 Chevy Malibu 1LT Trim Worth $2,000 Over the RS?
The 2024 Malibu is Chevy’s only remaining sedan and one that many observers anticipated leaving the lineup years ago. A significantly reimagined Malibu is reportedly in the works for 2025, but that’s one rumor we’ll have to see to believe. In the meantime, the current Malibu hasn’t seen a major redesign since 2016, so this staple of rental car companies and government agencies is showing its age. Still, with America’s penchant for trucks, SUVs, and now EVs, traditional sedans aren’t exactly growing on trees, and the Malibu is spacious enough and cheap enough to (sorta) forgive its geriatric platform.
Shoppers’ favorite Malibu trim for the 2023 model year was the mid-level 1LT, but the athletic RS has surpassed the 1LT’s popularity among 2024-model shoppers. The RS is sportier and about $2,000 cheaper than the 1LT, so which 2024 Chevy Malibu trim is better?
2024 Chevy Malibu trims offer many choices, except under the hood
First, regardless of the trim level, every 2024 Chevrolet Malibu has the same powertrain. It’s a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a continuous variable transmission (CVT). With 163 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, it’s not exactly a drag-strip terror. On a more positive note, all 2024 Malibu trims have a suite of advanced driver-assistance systems. They include lane-keep assist, forward collision alert with automatic braking, electronic stability control, and more.
The base model is the LS, starting at $26,195. For that, you get typical entry-level features, like air conditioning and power windows and door locks. The LS also has remote engine start, an 8.0-inch infotainment screen, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The next trim level up is the sporty-looking RS, which we’ll cover in greater detail below. According to Edmunds, it’s the most popular 2024 Chevy Malibu trim, starting at $27,095.
Then there’s the 1LT. It lacks the sporty elements of the RS but touts more luxury trappings in addition to the standard LS features. At $29,195 MSRP, this was the most popular pick among 2023 Malibu shoppers and one we’ll also dissect in the next section.
Finally, the 2LT boasts nearly everything a driver could want. That includes 19-inch alloy wheels, an LED lighting package, a wireless charging pad, a 110-volt power outlet, power-adjustable and heated/ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, and a nine-speaker Bose audio system. This range-topping 2024 Chevy Malibu trim starts at $32,595.
What is the difference between the RS and 1LT?
Way back when, “RS” in Chevy-speak stood for “Rally Sport.” Perhaps it was most famous as an option package for the first-generation Camaro, where it delivered special trim, taillights, and slick hideaway headlights that retracted sideways into the grill. Sadly, the 2024 Malibu has regular fixed headlights, but its RS package is nonetheless true to its sporty heritage. On the Malibu, checking the RS box adds handsome 18-inch wheels, a blacked-out grille and badging, an eight-way power driver’s seat, dual exhaust tips, a rear spoiler, and a few other small items.
The 1LT also has alloy wheels, but they’re a slightly smaller 17 inches, supporting a taller tire sidewall that’s likely softer-riding than its 18-inch counterpart, if somewhat less adept around the skidpad. What the 1LT lacks in sportiness, it makes up for with a few extra luxury features, such as heated seats and outside mirrors, dual-zone climate control, and an armrest and air-conditioning vents for rear-seat passengers.
Opting for the 1LT also unlocks the opportunity to add extra-cost options like a large power sunroof and the Midnight, Redline, and Sport appearance packages unavailable on the RS.
So, is the 2024 Chevy Malibu 1LT trim worth $2,000 more than the RS? That ultimately depends on your wants and needs. But we suggest taking the cheaper route.
Why do we recommend the 2024 Chevy Malibu RS trim?
Unless you simply must have the few extras like heated seats and dual-zone climate control that the 2024 Chevy Malibu 1LT brings, we’d recommend saving $2,000 and getting the sportier RS. Sure, the 1LT can be made equally sporty with one of the three appearance packages, but that’ll tack on $895 to $1,195 to the window sticker.
A car like the 2024 Malibu is one you buy because it’s a value proposition, so adding a ton of upcharges defeats the purpose.