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Malibu evokes thoughts of sunsets, oceanviews, and a tropical breeze. The 2018 Chevy Malibu, however, doesn’t strike the same chord.

Recently, Chevy discontinued most of its sedans. This isn’t a huge surprise, since many of its models didn’t live up to expectations, and sedan sales have severely decreased throughout the industry. However, there are undoubtedly gems in the used car market, and many of these sedans come at an ultra-affordable price.

Those looking for a cheap midsize car may be intrigued by a used 2018 Chevy Malibu due to its economical price and impressive gas mileage. But it might not be the best bang for your buck.

Consumer Reports’ review of the 2018 Malibu noted low scores in owner satisfaction (58%) and reliability (16%). What issues plague the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu, and is there still value to be had in this midsize sedan?

Beauty is only skin deep

The 2018 Chevy Malibu driving down the road with the ocean and a town in the background.
2018 Chevrolet Malibu on the road | Photo via Chevrolet

The 2018 Chevy Malibu has a sleek and sophisticated design, but it’s what’s inside that counts. Low- and mid-level trims feature hard plastics and cheap materials throughout the cabin, negating the illusion of luxury.

One Kelley Blue Book review from a 2018 Malibu owner states, “The lower-trim levels have cloth as a replacement for (quality) materials on the dash and armrests. It might have worked back in the 70s, or not, I don’t really know. But all I know is that it shouldn’t be on the dash and armrests.”

Meanwhile, poorly designed dimensions reduce the driver’s visibility, especially when it comes to the small side windows. Buyers can help remedy the situation by choosing a model equipped with the available blind spot warning system. Thankfully, a rearview camera is standard on all trim levels.

The 2018 Chevy Malibu has long-term questionability

Dependability is a significant factor when it comes to shopping for a used car. Unfortunately, the 2018 Chevy Malibu brings up the rear in its class in this category. Chevrolet’s mediocre warranty doesn’t do it any favors either.

The 2018 Malibu’s most problematic issue has been its drive system, which includes the driveshaft, transfer case, traction control, and more. Meanwhile, its electric system – comprised of the alternator, starter, and more – also earned an unremarkable rating.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued four recalls for the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu. Potential issues include airbags that don’t inflate properly, reduced brake performance, leaky fuel line, and disabled fuel injectors. Used car buyers should ensure these recalls have been fixed before purchasing the vehicle.

Highlight reel

The 2018 Chevy Malibu has some questions marks, but it has redeeming qualities as well. This midsize sedan won’t blow you away with thrilling performance, but it’ll impress you with its efficiency. Its standard 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine gets an EPA-estimated 30 MPG city/highway combined.

Drivers can also add a wealth of premium features. For instance, it offers available leather upholstery, wireless smartphone charging, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a WiFi hotspot.

A used 2018 Chevy Malibu could also be a good starter car for new drivers. It has an available Teen Driver system that allows parents to set a maximum speed limit and a volume limit to encourage safer driving.

Do its positives outweigh the negatives?

The 2018 Chevy Malibu isn’t necessarily a bad car; it certainly has its bright spots. However, there are better alternatives on the used car market, such as the reliable 2017 Nissan Altima.

Dependability and ownership satisfaction are important factors to consider when purchasing a vehicle. Unfortunately, this midsize sedan falls short in both categories without providing enough value elsewhere to make up for it.