Efficiency is steadily trickling into mainstream vehicles, and the results get more promising by the year. The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid is a strong specimen, with excellent fuel efficiency and looks that won’t have everyone asking about your favorite flavor of wheatgrass juice.

Best Value

The Hybrid is its own trim level on the Malibu, which means that the standard features are set from the start. Luckily, it’s the trim we’d have anyway – the Hybrid is essentially a Malibu LT with the hybrid powertrain (and standard automatic climate control, which is a welcome bonus). It rolls on 17-inch alloy wheels and has just enough luxury goodies like heated side mirrors and a rearview camera.

It can be improved slightly with judicious package selections. We like the Driver Confidence Package, which adds automatic emergency braking and other useful safety technologies. It requires the Convenience and Technology Package be added first, which isn’t much of a burden.

  • Model: 2018 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
  • Engine: 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, 1.5-kWh battery
  • Output: 124 hp / 129 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Single-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 43 City / 49 Hwy
  • Options: Convenience and Technology Package ($995, remote start, auto-dimming rearview mirror, eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, wireless charging, 120-volt outlet, leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather-wrapped shift knob, 4.2-inch driver display, USB charging ports), Driver Confidence Package ($1,245, intelligent headlights, front and rear parking assist, distance indicator, forward collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, front pedestrian braking and low-speed automatic emergency braking)
  • Base Price: $28,795 (including an $875 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $31,035

Performance

Chevy Malibu Hybrid

The Malibu Hybrid won’t win many drag races, but it’s a respectable performer for a hybrid. It can get from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, and the torque from the electric motors makes the power easily accessible. The car is capable of going 55 miles on electricity alone, and it’s refined and quiet even with the gas engine. There’s not even much of a weight penalty – the hybrid weighs about 3,500 pounds, which is just a few hundred more than the regular sedan. At 46 miles per gallon combined, fuel economy is excellent.

Still, the Malibu Hybrid doesn’t have all the bases covered. There’s no selectable EV mode, so drivers can’t choose when they want their engine to avoid the gas. The handling is composed but numb, and it'll disappoint those who look for entertainment in the driver’s seat.

Style

The Malibu doesn’t wear its fastback design with the grace of more upscale models, but it’s still a sharp package. A low nose is decorated with a large twin grille and narrow headlights, whose angles complement the gently sloping roofline. The interior is understated and simple, and the cabin is spacious and quiet. Both touchscreen options are responsive and intuitive, making them among our favorites to use.

But don’t let that roofline fool you – the Malibu is not a hatchback. In Hybrid form, it loses some of its already underwhelming cargo capacity, leaving just 11.6 cubic feet in the trunk. The interior materials also feel a bit cheap in places, though the Hybrid is better off than lower trims.

The Best and Worst Things

The hybrid powertrain is impressive and civilized, but the minimal cargo capacity limits practicality more than we’d like.

Right For? Wrong For?


Chevy Malibu Hybrid

The Malibu Hybrid is perfect for the commuter who wants to go longer between stops at the gas station. It sips daintily from its tank and behaves in traffic, and it'll still look good at the office parking lot. With plenty of leg room and cabin space, it’s comfortable carrying friends as well.

It’s not a good choice for those who need to carry more than a briefcase or two in the trunk. For carrying much more than people, the batteries take up too much cargo space. Those looking to carve corners should also look elsewhere – the Malibu is refined, but the fun factor isn’t as high as it is in competitors like the Mazda 6.

The Bottom Line

The 2018 Chevy Malibu Hybrid doesn’t go shouting from the rooftops, but it’s a quietly excellent car. Mileage is top notch, the feature set is right, and Chevy’s efforts in the styling haven’t gone amiss. The only major downside is the downsized trunk, but that’s a small price for many buyers for a sedan this efficient and pleasant.