Initially a trim level of the Chevelle, the Chevrolet Malibu was able to deviate from its former lineup and develop a model of its own. The 1978 model year marked Chevrolet Malibu’s first independent model, marketed primarily in North America. Throughout its life, the Malibu has experienced both ups and downs in terms of sales. However, a new shed of light had come upon the Malibu when it was reincarnated as a smaller, anonymous, front-wheel-drive favorite of rental fleets.
First generation: 1964 – 1967
A full range of body styles were initially offered, including a four-door sedan, a two-door Sport Coupe hardtop, a convertible, and a two-seat station wagon. The first Malibu came with patterned cloth, vinyl upholstery, and deluxe steering wheel. From 1964 to 1966, only minor changes were received by the Malibu. In 1967, however, the top 5.4-liter V8 engine dropped from 350 to 325 hp, making 0-60 in 6.2 seconds.
Second generation: 1968 – 1972
A complete redesign was made on the 1968 Malibu and other Chevelles. The second generation Malibu came with a new engine, the 5.0-liter V8 engine rated at 200hp. In 1969 and 1970, internal updates gave the Malibu a new standard six-cylinder engine, offering users an increased power of 155hp. GM’s corporate policy detuned all engines to use lower-octane unleaded gasoline in all 1971 model years. The year 1972 marked the final year for hardtops and convertibles as the redesigned Chevelles were to feature new Colonnade styling for their 1973 model year.
Third generation: 1973 – 1977
In its last generation as a Chevelle trim level, the Malibu experienced a redesign. By 1974, the Deluxe was dropped from the Chevelle lineup, making Malibu the entry-level Chevelle. The Malibu Classic trim level came with the unusual appearance of having four square headlights, and replaced Chevelle’s Laguna, which was available in the market in its 1977 model year. The Malibu Classic offered its users the Chevy inline-6 250 CID as its base engine.
Fourth generation: 1978 – 1983
The year 1978 seemed to be Malibu’s golden year. Being the best-selling badge in its lineup, Malibu replaced the Chevelle nameplate. The new platform used was over a foot shorter and 500 to 1000 lbs lighter. The Malibu and the Malibu Classic were the only trim levels offered, while the body styles available included a station wagon, a sedan, and a coupe.
Fifth generation: 1997 – 2003
The 1997 Malibu came with a new front-wheel-drive, replacing the compact Chevrolet Corsica. The fifth generation Malibu was available on two power options. Users could choose from a 2.4-liter inline-4 engine, which produced 150 hp, or a 3.1-liter V6 engine, which offered 155 hp.
Sixth generation: 2004 – 2008
More powerful engine options marked the sixth generation Malibu. Two body styles were offered, a standard 4-door sedan and a 5-door Malibu Maxx. Aside from a more spacious layout, the sixth gen Malibu possessed state-of-the-art safety features such as side curtain airbags and adjustable pedals.
The 2006 Malibu’s style and performance received a revamp with its new leather-trimmed LTZ and high-performance SS. Engine options now include a 2.2-liter four-cylinder rated at 144 hp, a 217-hp 3.5-liter V6, and a 3.9-liter V6.
Seventh generation: 2008 – 2012
Redesigned for the 2008 model year, the seventh generation Malibu came with crisp, tailored lines that made it look like a luxury sedan. Aside from its new, stylish design, the seventh gen Malibu expanded its engine choices to include the Ecotec inline-4, the Ecotec Hybrid inline-4, the High Value V6, and the High Feature V6.