2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS First Review
- All-new trim level
- Sportier grille, 18-inch wheels, rear spoiler and more
- New face and transmission part of 2019 Malibu facelift
- Priced from $24,995
Adding a touch of sporty appearance to the midsize sedan lineup, the 2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS is a new trim level for the GM brand that combines dual-exhaust outlets, a rear spoiler, new 18-inch wheels, plus gloss black accents on the grille surround and Chevy bowtie logo. Inside, the RS is fitted with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, cloth accents on the dash and door inserts and an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, which is now standard across the Malibu lineup.
The Malibu RS also benefits from the new headlamps, larger grille and new continuously variable transmission rolled out across the entire Malibu lineup for 2019.
Slotted between the LS and LT trim levels, the 2019 Chevy Malibu RS is an affordable mid-$20,000 sedan designed to compete with the likes of the Honda Accord Sport and Nissan Altima SR.
Turbo power mated to CVT
The 2019 Chevy Malibu RS is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 163 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. That output is delivered to the front wheels via a new CVT automatic that has a sequential shift button atop the center mounted gearshift lever. If you choose, you can shift through 7 gear ratio steps, which gives the transmission the feel of a conventional stepped gear unit.
While the horsepower figure may seem a bit light for a midsize sedan, the torque has enough pull to get the Malibu off the line smartly. The combination of seamless acceleration and the availability of the stepped ratios lessens the traditional drivability issues of CVTs—there’s less of an elastic feel on initial throttle tip in and not as much high-speed droning when the gearless gearbox is in its sweet spot delivering maximum efficiency. Although Chevy didn’t have fuel economy figures, it said it expects about a five-percent gain over the 2018 model’s combined fuel economy of 30 mpg as a result off the switch from a traditional torque converter automatic.
Competent road manners
While the RS has a more performance-oriented look, the car handles and drives like you’d expect from a midsize family hauler. The ride is smooth, well-controlled and supple. The steering is a bit on the light side, but overall, the Malibu RS goes where you point it with little in the way of muss and fuss. If you’re looking for a sportier sedan, both the Accord and Altima offer slightly tauter suspension settings and do-it-yourself manual transmissions.
The bottom line on the 2019 Chevy Malibu RS is that it is a sporty looking value play. Priced at $24,995 excluding $875 delivery, the RS is positioned above the 2019 Malibu L ($22,965) and Malibu LS ($23,995), but below the Malibu LT ($27,340), Malibu Premier ($32,545) and Malibu Hybrid ($28,795).