2022 Chevrolet Malibu Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons.
Chevy has axed every sedan from its line-up save for the Malibu. Like some automakers, Chevy has shifted their focus to building better trucks and SUVs. In fact, the Malibu is the only mid-size sedan made by a traditionally domestic manufacturer left on the market in 2022. You still get plenty of rivals built in the US, but they aren't the traditional domestic companies building them.
The Malibu is kind of an old-timer in its segment too, having gone through the past seven years without a redesign. And there is no revamp in sight. So, what you get on the 2022 Chevrolet Malibu is exactly what you got on the 2021, save for the electronic parking brake finally becoming standard. The only real change is that the base L trim level has been shaved off of the line-up (likely due, we assume, to poor sales performance).
That leaves the Malibu with four trim levels to choose from: the LS, RS, LT, and Premier. The base 1.5-L 4-cylinder engine that comes on the three lowest trim levels might be somewhat disappointing to the average buyer, but paying more for the Premier's 2.0-L 4-cylinder might not be an option when shopping on a budget. You also have to deal with advanced driver aids not coming standard, poor outward visibility, and the outdated interior design.
You do at least get a spacious interior design with a user-friendly infotainment touchscreen display. And, yes, this 8-inch model comes standard starting on the base trim. There is a respectable smattering of infotainment features, as you will soon find out. Read on to learn more about the 2022 Chevy Malibu and whether you should pass it over for another mid-size sedan.
Compare the LS vs RS Trims. What is the difference?
Let us start this review off by comparing the base LS trim with the RS, which slates one trim level above it. As we already went over above, these trims are powered by the same lackluster 1.5-L 4-cylinder engine. Its power output sits at 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, and it is paired with a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT), which is meant to aid in fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, it comes off as somewhat clunky.
Other standard mechanical features on these two trims include an electronic parking brake, engine stop/start, a front-wheel-drive drivetrain, a push-open fuel door, a MacPherson strut front suspension and four-link rear suspension, and traction control. The only real difference is that the RS adds a dual exhaust outlet. Automatic emergency braking and frontal pedestrian braking are optional but not standard equipment.
Their exteriors look pretty similar as well. The LS rides atop standard 16-inch aluminum wheels, but the RS receives 18-inch aluminums instead. Both have an acoustic laminated windshield to help keep wind and road noise at a minimum inside of the cabin. There are automatic on/off headlights, a compact spare tire, daytime running lights, and halogen headlights. The LS features power side mirrors while the RS has them done in the body color. It also comes with a rear spoiler, which is unique to the RS trim level.
Available options include wheel locks, IntelliBeam automatic high beams, and the Driver Confidence I & II Package. That package bundles in rear park assist, the IntelliBeam headlights, rear cross traffic alert, a side blind zone alert with the lane change alert, lane keep assist and lane departure warning, and a following distance indicator. There is a Floor Liner Package that gives the vehicle a cargo mat and all-weather floor liners.
There are a few more differences inside of these two Malibu trim levels. Standard features inside each cabin include one 12-volt power outlet, a 6-speaker sound system, a 6-way manually adjustable front passenger seat, a bench seat in the rear that is 60/40-split folding, and an 8-inch diagonally placed color touchscreen display. Air conditioning is standard as well. The Buckle to Drive system keeps the vehicle from shifting out of Park until the driver has fastened their seatbelt.
Chevrolet Connected Access capability, an 8-inch touchscreen display with the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 System, cruise control, a driver information center, a day/night rear-view mirror, keyless entry and ignition, a manually tilting and telescoping steering column, power windows and door locks, a rear-view camera, a rear window defogger, the Teen Driver System, and a tire pressure monitoring system are standard issue. WIFI hot-spot connectivity is equipped as well.
The differences? The RS gives you an armrest in the rear seat, power lumbar control for the driver's seat, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Remaining options include the Convenience Package 1 and the Convenience Package 2. The former offers a cargo net and remote start kit while the latter includes all-weather floor mats.
Compare the RS vs LT Trims. What is the difference?
How does the LT build onto what the RS trim level has to offer? Do its upgrades and additions justify the jump in price? These trim levels do have the same 1.5-L engine powering them, so there are no changes in that regard. In fact, just about all of the mechanical specs look the same, save for the fact that the LT reverts back to the standard single exhaust outlet found on the LS.
This trim level does go down in wheel size to a 17-inch aluminum design. Multiple new wheel options open up though. You can choose from 18-inch bright machined aluminum wheels with pockets done in lunar gray, 19-inch painted black aluminums, 19-inch aluminums, and 19-inch black painted aluminums featuring red hash marks. Also optional are black mirror caps, a blacked-out grille, or a blacked-out grille with a surround done in dark chrome. A horizontal leading edge dark chrome grille is also available, as is a dual panel sunroof. A keyless entry keypad can be added, and LED daytime running lights and LED taillights are standard. You can choose to add the rear spoiler if you'd like.
A dual-zone automatic climate control gets upgraded to for heating and cooling the cabin. You do, however, lose the standard leather-wrapped steering wheel. Switchable interior lighting is added, as is express-up on the power driver window. Remote start is equipped on the LT, and you can use a trial subscription to SiriusXM services. There is a vent added to the rear console, and the visors get upgraded with dual illuminated vanity mirrors.
You can opt for the Leather Package, which adds on leather-appointed seats, the leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob, and the auto-dimming rear-view mirror. A few more optional seat trims get thrown into the mix to help you customize the look of your Malibu LT's cabin.
Compare the LT vs Premier Trim. What is the difference?
The line-topping Premier trim level is the one that shakes things up a bit. Its 2.0-L 4-cylinder engine adds more power with its 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, which certainly makes it more spunky than the 1.5-L engine. A 9-speed automatic transmission is matched up with this engine. You get the dual exhaust outlet that comes on the RS too.
On the outside, you can tell this is the Premier trim by looking at its standard 19-inch aluminum wheels and all-season blackwall tires. The body-colored side mirrors are power adjustable and heated, plus they incorporate turn indicators. This trim level is designed with bright front sill plates, chrome door handles with body-colored inserts, the dual pane sunroof, LED headlights, and a tire inflator kit.
A new package opens up on this trim level - the Enhanced Driver Confidence Package. This bundles together front pedestrian braking, adaptive cruise control, front collision warning, automatic parking assist, rear cross traffic alert, lane keep assist with the lane departure warning, the automatic high beams, the indicator for the following distance, and enhanced automatic collision braking.
Some changes have been made to the Premier's cabin as well. It upgrades to a 6-way power adjustable front passenger seat, plus you get the 8-inch diagonal color Driver Information Center. A 9-speaker Bose premium sound system gets tacked on for a crisper sound quality, and there is an extra USB charge-only port. The cargo area receives a carpeted trunk mat, and the infotainment system gets built-in navigation and voice recognition added to it. 2-position driver memory for the seat and side mirror comes with this trim level as well. An HD rear-view camera, the leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob, power lumbar control for the front passenger seat, perforated leather-appointed seating trim, ventilated front seats, and wireless phone charging round out the list of standard features.
Which Trim to Choose?
Buyers in the mid-size sedan segment are seemingly getting fewer and fewer choices by the year. Traditional US automakers have switched gears to focus more on what sells for them - SUVs and trucks. Is the American sedan segment swiftly becoming a thing of the past? And for how much longer can the Chevy Malibu hold on?
The 2022 Chevy Malibu is far from being our first recommendation for a mid-size sedan. Everything about it feels outdated, especially if you stick with the three lower trim levels. Much of what you will find as options are now standard on the Malibu's rivals. Most of them have a standard bundle of driver aids equipped since those are in high demand right now. Unfortunately, the Malibu seems prime for a scrapping if this trend (or lack of trendiness) continues.
That being said, if you absolutely want to get the new Malibu, go straight up to the Premier trim level. The lower trims are all vastly underpowered and leave way too many features as optional (or completely unincluded). The Premier at least makes quite a few things standard and swaps in a more powerful engine and smoother transmission. But the omission of a driver aid bundle as standard still seems like a cheap move.
This isn't to say there are no good things about the Malibu. In fact, its abundance of interior space feels quite generous. The trunk is moderately sized, but the cabin offers comfortable and spacious seating for adults in all five positions. The touchscreen interface is also incredibly user-friendly, making a very short learning curve for non-tech-savvy drivers out there.
When all is said and done, the Malibu probably won't be your top choice for a mid-size sedan in 2022. But if it at least remotely interests you, test driving the line-topping Premier trim level might not hurt. There are some decent features to be found in it, and it does offer enough in the way of comfort. The 2.0-L 4-cylinder engine delivers ample power to the front wheels, meaning you can at least merge and pass on the highway without any sort of hassle. The same cannot be said of the 1.5-L engine that powers the three lower trim levels.
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