Stacking Up the Options of the 8th Generation Chevy Malibu

March 20th, 2020 by

A white 2018 Chevy Malibu is parked in a beach parking lot at sunset.

When you buy used cars in Indianapolis, you know you’re making a smart choice to save money. Every new car you drive off the lot loses value immediately, so purchasing used cars is a great way to save thousands on the investment of your next new ride. Speaking of new rides, have you looked at the Chevy Malibu lately? We’re going to tell you everything you NEED to know about the Chevy Malibu so you can make your next car purchase with confidence that you’re getting a great deal. First, a little history about the Malibu.

History of the Chevy Malibu

The Chevy Malibu is now on its ninth-generation, but when it first came onto the car scene in 1964, it was only offered as the high-end trim for the Chevelle. The Malibu was a powerful and stylish machine, with either a V6 or V8 engine and all the latest luxuries like bucket seats or an 8-track player were available by ’67. Between 1968-72, the Chevelle Malibu introduced it’s second-generation, where it remained the high-end model, but then in ’73, the Malibu trim was bumped down to the mid-level with a V6 in its third generation. 1978 drove the Malibu onto its own, for the first time separating from the Chevelle line. This was when the Malibu body length was shortened by a foot, but then in 1983, the Malibu was retired.

In 1997, the Malibu came back as a sedan, still touting a V-6 in its fifth-generation. The sixth-generation came out in 2004 with few changes, and then in 2008, the seventh-generation arrived with the first 4-cylinder engine option, paired with a slightly more luxurious set of features, almost in a return to its roots. By the time the Malibu reached its eighth-generation in 2012, it had started taking on a more sporty appearance and feel, with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. This is the generation that will be our focus now, as the eighth generation Chevy Malibu is a great option for used car buyers.

A 1960s couple is walking up stairs behind a light blue 1964 Chevy Malibu.

Eighth Generation Chevy Malibu Exterior and Engine Options

First, let’s establish the dates of the 8th generation. When Chevy came out with the first models of this generation, it was 2012. This same generation model lasted through 2015, and there were new additions added each year the Malibu hit sales lots. Even though the Malibu never gained much traction against competitors in its class, this generation had a lot going for it. 2012 is the last year the Malibu was offered with a 3.6-liter V6 as an option; the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine was standard, and thrilled drivers with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The V6 got nixed in 2013, but that opened the door for the new mild-hybrid Chevy offered until 2014.

Unfortunately, even though the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder Eco model will offer significant savings in gas mileage in comparison to the standard 4-cylinder engine, the loss of 3 cubic feet of trunk space to the lithium battery in the trunk seemed like too much of an inconvenience for critics. Models that were the more expensive trim levels above the LS base could have added the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine if not opting for the Eco model. For all models, 16-inch alloy wheels are standard except the 2012, which has 17-inch wheels standard, and some models could have the upgraded 18-inch wheels. All models are front-wheel drive.

The appearance of the body in the eighth-generation has a more aggressive grille, and a nod to the Camaro tail lights, which is certainly leaning toward a sportier look than previous models. Dual exhaust pipes on the back end and the attention to a design with less drag both lean toward attempts to attract buyers who enjoy the fun of a spirited driving experience.

Interior Features of the Malibu

Every year of the eighth-generation Malibu enjoys the tranquility of a quiet cabin and a smooth ride. Though cabin space got better with the next generation, trunk space for any year of this generation is generous enough to allow for large luggage and allows for expansion with 60/40 split seats that fold down into the cabin. Despite having less legroom than other sedans, the comfort of the seats in most models is still plush.

In 2012, the Malibu had yet to receive the infotainment system we now expect to see as standard options in new vehicles today, but even the base models of 2012 had some tech to make modern drivers happy, like Bluetooth and charging for smartphones. Starting with 2013 models, even the base trim offers a touchscreen and smartphone connectivity through Chevy MyLink, and anything beyond the LS trim will have an infotainment system as standard.

All models will come standard with automatic headlights, powered driver seat (except the base model of 2012), keyless entry, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, On-Star, and a six-speaker audio system. Higher-end trim levels could include steering wheel-mounted audio controls, remote start, heated front seats, and rear seat AC power outlet. Other additional features could include foglamps, heated wing mirrors, sunroof, automated climate control, leather seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, or eight-speaker Bose audio system. 2016 models could have added Apple CarPlay or Android Auto with LS, LT, and Premier trims.

Critics who drove the eight-generation Malibu found the interior seats comfortable, particularly the models from the years 2013-15, as the body was widened for slightly more space, and the 2014 models gained more legroom. The 2012 is the most problematic for size in the seating areas, though mostly for those who are particularly tall. Driving the Malibu is pleasant in terms of ride comfort in the cabin, and the steering is responsive while cornering.

Safety Features of the Malibu

A grey 2012 Chevy Malibu, which is a popular buy for used cars in Indianapolis, is driving on a winding road.

Across the board for all years of the eighth-generation Malibu, one exceptional feature was braking. Every year this model was tested for brake speed, the Malibu shaved time away from other sedans in its class. Edmunds states in their description of vehicle testing that the 2012 Malibu stopped from 60 to 0 in 122 feet. While airbags, stability, and traction control are also important safety features to be found in all trim levels, brake reliability is the strongest feature of safety on the Malibu, and all model years of the eighth generation Malibu were rated with stellar braking speed.

Each year of this generation scores above or on average with safety ratings, starting with the rating of “good” for the 2012 model, which is a four out of five stars from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, awarded for front and side-impact testing, as well as for whiplash prevention. Starting with 2014 models, the potential for extra safety features was added with options like a rearview camera, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

A Used Chevy Malibu

Whether you discover the base or high-end models of the eighth-generation of the Chevy Malibu, a sense of luxury with the cabin comfort and appearance will make for a pleasant ride. Drivers will enjoy responsive acceleration, braking, and steering, as well as some options like cruise control, Bluetooth, and Satellite radio. More recent years may have added safety features, but all years of the Malibu enjoy good safety ratings, and all passengers are protected with airbags on the front and sides. Plenty of space in the trunk allows for the storage of large items, and this generation went for a sporty and more aggressive stance in appearance. The Chevy Malibu is a great option for used car buyers seeking a sporty, mid-range sedan.