The Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu got its start as the top-of-the-line-trim-level Chevrolet Chevelle, one of the company’s most successful vehicles. The name Malibu comes from the coastal community of Malibu, California and was used to connect the community’s lifestyle with the car. In 1978 the Malibu replaced the Chevelle and became its own model line.
First Generation (1964-1967)
The Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu was produced with a variety of body styles: four-door sedan, two-door sport coupe hardtop, two-door convertible, and two-seat station wagon. It was marketed to appeal to buyers who wanted a youthful, fun car to drive. The marketing campaign worked, and 200,000 cars were sold in the first year.
The exterior design changes for this generation included a new grille, tail sections, and tail lights. The interiors of the convertibles and station wagons were done in upgraded vinyl, and the interiors of the other body styles were manufactured with elevated upholstery and carpet choices that gave the cars a rich feel.
The Malibu SS body style only came as a two-seater—a sport coupe hardtop or a sport coupe convertible. The Malibu SS came with special wheel covers, bucket seats, and a center console with engine gauges. Under the hood, buyers could choose either a V6 or V8 Chevelle engine coupled with a power glide transmission or a four-speed manual transmission. The top engine option was the 5.4-liter V8 with 300 horsepower.
The end of the first generation Malibu saw additional changes. Front disk brakes and a stereo eight-track tape player became additional options. A four-door sport sedan hardtop was added to the lineup as well as a station wagon with exterior side panels trimmed in simulated woodgrain. The sport version, the Malibu SS, was replaced with the Chevelle SS-396.
Second Generation (1968-1972)
The Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu was completely restyled for its second generation. The exterior body styles featured semi-fastback rooflines and rear decks as well as new grills and tail lights; the Malibus became more rounded and less boxy.
Within the cabin, front seat headrests became standard due to a federal safety mandate, and the instrument panel introduced round gauges in square pods. The ignition switch moved from the instrument panel to the steering column which allowed it to double as a steering wheel lock. The luxury option for sedans and coupes, the Concours, included woodgrain trim on the dashboard and door panels, carpeted lower door panels, and upgraded cloth or vinyl seats.
New engine options were available for this generation Malibu – the 5.0-liter V8 with 200 horsepower and the 5.7-liter V8 with 300 horsepower. All the engines for this second generation Malibu were altered to use lower-octane, unleaded gasoline. This engine change was the result of a company-wide corporate policy directing that all vehicles prepare for catalytic converters and the use of unleaded fuel. The three-speed turbo hydra-matic transmission was now available for all models and all engines.
Third Generation (1973-1977)
The third generation of this vehicle was still under the Chevelle umbrella. The Malibu and Malibu SS were mid-range trim levels with Deluxe as the entry trim level and Laguna as the top trim level. In 1974, the Deluxe option was dropped. Malibu became the entry-level trim option, and the new Malibu Classic became the top trim option, replacing Laguna.
Changes to this generation of Malibu included dropping the convertible model and changing the overall size of the Malibu line. In order to adhere to the new federal safety and crash regulations, the length was increased by five inches and the width by one inch.
The design changes to the third generation were all about becoming more aerodynamic. These changes were seen on the NASCAR circuit as this streamlined Malibu made it to the winner’s circle an amazing 25 times.
Fourth Generation (1978-1983)
During the previous generation, the Malibu started to separate from the Chevelle name. This separation became complete when Chevrolet discontinued the Chevelle in 1977. The company looked for a vehicle to fit in its “downsized midsize” car slot, and the Malibu was selected.
In order to better fit this classification of vehicle, the Malibu was redesigned to be more streamlined, 12 inches shorter in length, and, depending on the model, between 500 and 1000 pounds lighter. There were three body styles to choose from – the sedan, coupe, or station wagon, and two trim styles – the Malibu and the Malibu Classic. These changes made the Malibu a powerful and agile vehicle with good fuel economy. Many police departments took notice and chose it for their fleets.
In 1983, the Chevrolet Malibu was discontinued and replaced with the Chevrolet Celebrity.
Fifth Generation (1997-2005)
After being on hiatus for about 14 years, the Malibu was brought back for a fifth generation in 1997 to replace the Chevrolet Corsica. That same year Motor Trend magazine gave the Chevrolet Malibu its “Car of the Year” award, and more than 164,000 vehicles were sold.
Within this generation, all the Malibu body styles switched to front-wheel drive. The power base for the vehicle was a four-speed automatic transmission with two engine options—the 150 horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or the 155 horsepower 3.1-liter V6 engine. Midway through the generation, the four-cylinder engine option was dropped and the current V6 engine was replaced with the new 170 horsepower 3.1-liter V6 engine.
Sixth Generation (2004-2008)
The sixth generation of the Chevrolet Malibu came as a sedan with three trim options—Base, LS, and LT—as well as a new five-door hatchback or station wagon called the Malibu Maxx. The entry-level Malibu came with a 144 horsepower 2.2-liter Ecotec engine while the other two trim levels used a 201 horsepower 3.5-liter V6. The Malibu Maxx contained a 240 horsepower 3.9-liter V6.
Toward the end of the generation between 2006 and 2007, buyers could select a high-performance Super Sport (SS) trim level. This trim level featured a four-speed automatic transmission coupled with a 240 horsepower 3.9-liter V-6, a sport suspension with a strut tower brace, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a three-spoke steering wheel.
Seventh Generation (2008-2012)
The length of the Chevrolet Malibu increased by three inches for the seventh generation making the Malibu the largest sedan in its class. The three trim levels for this generation were the LS, LT, and LTZ. In addition, Chevrolet introduced the Malibu Hybrid which came with a hybrid version of the 2.4-liter Ecotec engine that generated 164 horsepower. Unfortunately, little more than 6,600 hybrid models were sold between 2008 and 2010, so Chevrolet dropped the Hybrid from the Malibu line. Prior to dropping the Hybrid, Chevrolet also dropped the Malibu Maxx from the Malibu line in 2009.
Quite a number of features became standard for the seventh generation—antilock brakes, traction control, electronic tire pressure monitoring, and daytime running lamps. General Motor’s electronic stability control system, StabiliTrak, was also standard as well as OnStar and six different airbags, including head-curtain side airbags, to protect both front and rear seat passengers.
Near the end of the seventh generation in 2011 even more features became standard on the Malibu—an upgraded OnStar system, Bluetooth technology with stereo audio playback capability, a remote USB and iPod/iPhone port, remote start, and a security alarm. In the cabin the power-adjustable front driver’s seat, tinted windows and a single wood dashboard accent came standard. Under the hood a six-speed automatic transmission with overdrive and manual shift capabilities was standard as well as the exterior chrome hubcap wheel covers and body-colored side mirrors with power adjustments.
Eighth Generation (2013-2016)
The Chevrolet Malibu, one of the company’s best-selling models, has been sold in nearly 100 countries on six continents. This great selling vehicle celebrated an important achievement in August 2015 when Chevrolet marked its ten-millionth Malibu sold.
This generation of Malibu came in five trim levels—LT 1LT, LT 2LT, ECO 1SB, ECO 2SA, and the LTZ 1LZ—and offered improved efficiency four-cylinder 2.5-liter engines and six-speed automatic transmissions. With its eAssist “light electrification” technology, the Malibu ECO was the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan to date.
Navigation equipped models included SiriusXM Travel Link, and all models except the LT 1LT came with a large touch-screen display that used Chevrolet’s MyLink system. With an iPhone 4, 4S or 5 and a USB cable, the Malibu provided Pandora internet radio playback.
The safety bag system now offered front seat pelvic/thorax side-impact and knee airbags as well as dual-stage front airbags. Optional safety features included second-row head/thorax side-impact airbags, a lane departure warning system with forward collision alert, and a rearview camera system.
In 2015 the Malibu introduced stop/start technology into the vehicle line to combat unnecessary fuel consumption. This star/stop technology automatically shuts off the engine when the car comes to a stop or a standstill in traffic. When the driver removes his or her foot from the brake, the engine almost instantaneously restarts and prepares the car to move. The design engineers claimed that this technology improved the car’s fuel economy by five to ten percent.
Ninth Generation (2016-present)
The ninth generation of the Chevrolet Malibu was redesigned to offer numerous changes both inside and out. This generation of Malibu comes in four trim levels—the L, LS, LT, and Premier. The roofline features an aerodynamic fastback silhouette, and the car is nearly 300 pounds lighter and four inches longer than the previous models which provides more interior space and legroom for both front and back seat passengers.
Available features include in-vehicle connectivity with OnStar 4G, wireless phone charging, a standard ten-airbag system, and automated parallel and pull-in parking. Also available are a number of safety systems such as collision avoidance with front pedestrian braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane keep assist and lane change warning, a following distance indicator, and adaptive cruise control with front automatic braking.
This generation of Malibu introduced Teen Driver Technology. With this system, the car can be set with a speed warning alert, audio volume limit, seatbelt audio mute, and a speed limiter. The Buckle-to-Drive feature won’t allow a driver to shift out of park for 20 seconds unless the seatbelt is in use, and this feature generates audible and visual alerts when the car is driven while the driver’s seatbelt is unfastened. The MyLink interface can also generate a vehicle report card that gives a synopsis of the driver’s performance behind the wheel.
For the first time a full hybrid car, the Malibu Hybrid, debuted in 2015 for the 2016 model year. This vehicle’s power was created with a 1.8-liter inline-4 engine and electric motor system that could reach 55 mph on electricity alone and generate 182 horsepower using the combined system. The cabin and engine were kept warm in cold weather by an exhaust gas heat recovery system. Unfortunately sales did not meet expectations, and the Malibu Hybrid was discontinued for the 2020 model year.
With its great fuel economy and driving features, the Chevrolet Malibu is a great car for driving both long and short distances. If you have a Malibu in need of a windshield replacement, sidelite replacement, or backlite replacement, use Glass.com to help you locate a local and reputable auto glass repair technician to get your glass replaced and quickly get your Chevrolet back on the road.