Chevrolet has some ideas for its line-up of models going into 2019, evidenced earlier by the facelifted Camaro range, and now with the equally visual refresh given to the Malibu liftback. Though this overall design was first seen in 2015, Australians have only recently become accustomed to it via Holden’s ZB Commodore.
For the Americans, it makes sense for Chevrolet to deem it high time for a little makeover, which is presented via a new RS trim which is new to the model line. To that end, the front end receives an updated fascia that’s designed to look a little more athletic thanks to a larger grille, revised headlamp and daytime running light array, while the rest of the RS’ exterior is made a little livelier with new 18-inch alloys and dual-outlet exhausts.
Inside, the Malibu is outfitted with a newer infotainment suite called Chevrolet Infotainment 3 that’s displayed through an 8-inch touchscreen. A reversing camera is made standard across the range and there are new heated seats in Premier trim, but otherwise it remains as familiar the pre-update interior.
Under the bonnet the Malibu is powered primarily by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder Ecotec petrol engine with identical to non-V6 ZBs here. However, the 2019 Malibu flanks this with a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol with 120kW and 250Nm paired to a CVT.
There’s also the Malibu Hybrid, though, which is unaltered from the 2018 range. Taking some tech from its Volt plug-in hybrid, this variant is propelled by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol that’s augmented by two electric motors fed by a modest 1.5kWh lithium battery.
Little of what we see here can be interpreted as a shoe-in for GM to push to Holden as a worthwhile feature add for the new Commodore. The 1.5-litre engine making a local appearance wouldn’t surprise anyone too much, but let’s hope that CVT stays well out of our way.