With an upscale new front fascia, and some minor updates to the cabin, the Chevrolet Malibu has been refreshed and restyled for the 2019 model year. Most of the same familiar design cues carry over, admittedly; the front and rear fascia, grilles, exhaust tips, taillights, and headlights are amongst the most thorough updates, with the latter available as LEDs in the Premier trim exclusively.
If it’s something different you’re after in the 2019 Malibu, though, opt for the new RS trim. Spy photos captured the package testing back in January, but now we get our first real look at the brand-new trim in full. The 2019 Malibu RS is the fifth vehicle to adorn the sporty nameplate, and borrows cues from the Traverse RS and the Cruze RS before it. Features like a black sport grille, unique 18-inch wheels, black bowtie emblems, a rear spoiler, and a dual-outlet exhaust have been added to the exterior.
Similar styling elements can be found in the cabin, too. The steering wheel and shifter are now wrapped in leather, and black cloth seats come standard, as does an 8-inch touchscreen system with Chevy’s new Infotainment 3. The tech update includes better Bluetooth connectivity, faster processing, more apps, and improved graphics, as well as the same Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot.
Unfortunately, even with the aggressive new look, the Malibu RS doesn’t get any updates in the power department. The same 1.5-liter turbocharged engine is found under the hood, now producing 163 horsepower (121 kilowatts) and 184 pound-feet (249 Newton-meters) of torque and paired to a CVT. If you want the larger 2.0-liter engine, which pumps out 250 hp (186 kW) and 260 lb-ft (352 Nm), you’ll have to opt for the Premier trim.
Even though the Malibu RS isn’t any more powerful, it will be pretty affordable. Chevy promises a price tag of "about $25,000" when it goes on sale. The goal is to undercut both the Accord Sport and range-topping Toyota Camry.
Gallery: 2019 Chevrolet Malibu / Malibu RS
Updated styling across the lineup — led by the first-ever RS trim — introduces additional choices to the 2019 Chevrolet Malibu and improves its presence.
“We see an exciting opportunity with the 2019 Malibu to give customers new, distinctive choices, exemplified by Malibu RS,” said Steve Majoros, Chevrolet marketing director for Cars and Crossovers. “It offers athletic design and amazing features at an attractive price point starting between Malibu LS and LT trims.”
The first-ever Malibu RS offers a sporty, personalized appearance starting at around $25,000, driven by styling cues that include 18-inch machined wheels, black sport grille, black bowtie emblems, a rear spoiler and a dual-outlet exhaust. Inside, Malibu RS features a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, black cloth seats and a standard 8-inch diagonal color touchscreen running the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system.
Offered on five 2019 models, the RS trim is a Chevrolet success story that gives customers distinctive choice, strong value and performance-driven design.
The new, standard 8-inch diagonal touchscreen running Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system and new CVT transmission mated to the standard 1.5L Turbo engine further refine the 2019 Malibu line. The Premier trim retains its 2.0L Turbo paired to a nine-speed automatic.
The Malibu’s front fascia, grilles and headlamps are all-new. The headlamps are integrated with the upper grille and the larger, bolder lower grille, giving the car a more powerful presence. High-performance LED lighting are integrated into the headlamps for Premier models, and there are new LED signature daytime running lamps for LT and Premier. There’s greater attention to detail in the grille and headlamps, with bold chrome accents reinforcing Malibu’s premium appearance.
A new rear valance pushes the dual-exhaust outlets farther toward the corners, emphasizing the car’s width, while new taillamps deliver a more dramatic execution of Chevrolet’s signature dual-element design. The LT and Premier trims feature LED taillamps.
“The Malibu’s fresh look refines and enhances the sculptural beauty of the Malibu,” said John Cafaro, executive director, Global Chevrolet Design. “It will also be an obvious member of the Chevrolet car family.”
Additional 2019 updates across Malibu’s lineup include:
- A new, standard 8-inch diagonal color touchscreen radio running Chevrolet Infotainment 3
- New 8-inch diagonal reconfigurable driver information center display on the Premier model
- Rear Vision Camera1 system is now standard on the Malibu L model
- The up-level Malibu Premier features standard heated outboard rear seats
- New available interior and exterior colors
- New wheel designs available in multiple sizes, including 16-, 17- and 18-inch
The restyled Malibu joins the 2019 Cruze, Spark and Camaro as part of Chevrolet’s freshened car portfolio. It goes on sale this fall.