Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A red 2023 Chevy Malibu is shown from the front at an angle.

First Things First: Why the 2023 Chevy Malibu Is a Great First Car

The Chevy Malibu is a good first car because it provides engineering efficiency, scalable luxury, and innovative safety technology. One of the challenges of purchasing a vehicle for the first time, especially for those interested in cars, is distinguishing your dream car from your first car. You may already know that your dream car is a Chevy Silverado 2500 HD. That’s great, but if you’re getting on your feet, chances are that will not happen right away. So, determining a vehicle that serves your basic needs while potentially providing a few nicer features to heighten the experience is the challenge of first vehicle buying.

Now, some cars scream, “first car.” We’ve all seen the cheap used sedan from some unrecognizable brand selling for less than $9,000, has a few thousand miles on it, and still has a cassette tape player. It may be cheap up front, but keeping that old thing up to date will cost way more than a few extra thousand dollars to purchase a drivable and safe vehicle. With some other cars, it’s harder to tell whether or not it’s a good first car. For instance, you might see a Chevy Malibu for sale and be unsure whether it’s first car material. The big question then boils down to “Is a Chevy Malibu a good first car?” In short, the Malibu is a good first car because it provides the makings of a great entry-level first vehicle. How does it do this? Let’s take a closer look at why this sedan is perfect for first-time buyers.

Engineering Efficiency

Alright, this one you probably hear about with relative frequency, but that doesn’t make it any less true of the 2023 Malibu. The vehicle’s 1.5-liter Turbo engine provides the car with an EPA-estimated fuel efficiency of 27 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway. Those are not necessarily typical sedan efficiency numbers, and that pays off big time, literally. With a starting MSRP of $25,000, it’s not necessarily a “budget” vehicle. However, that extra money towards the down payment buys you higher efficiency. And what does higher efficiency buy you? Lower gas bills. With a highly-efficient engine, you get more bang for your buck with each gallon of gas.

If you’re getting 19 MPG, you’re burning through gas at a higher rate, meaning you must stop for gas more frequently. More frequent gas stops mean far more money is spent on fuel. Gas prices are pretty atrocious right now; don’t participate if you don’t have to. Keep those bills down. Of course, such efficiency boils down to how much you drive the vehicle. If you work from home, you may only be driving the car once a week, so the cheaper down payment may make more sense. But, if you’re a daily commuter, somebody who likes to travel frequently, or just lives a more nomadic lifestyle, then the efficiency does pay off in dividends. Nothing says “first car,” like saving money. If you’re in the first-car period in your driving life, then you’ll want to save that money for your future to start a family, buy a house, and all the rest. Don’t spend it on gas.

The interior of a 2023 Chevy Malibu is shown from the passenger seat.

Scalable Luxury

So, what do I mean by “scalable luxury”? That is an excellent question. What I mean by scalable luxury is that the Malibu is as luxurious as you want it to be. If you’re looking for sheer functionality and savings, then you can go with the Malibu LS trim, the base-level trim focusing mainly on practicality and necessity. It’s not that the LS is not luxurious; it’s just that it’s not as luxurious as the higher-level trims. The higher-level trims include the LT and the 2LT. These trims include higher-level luxury features, such as heated front and passenger seats, an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, and the Chevy Infotainment 3 system with navigation. If the really profound and striking sporty luxury features intrigue you, the Malibu can certainly provide them, but you won’t find it in the trim lineup. Rather, you’ll want to turn to the special editions.

The 2023 Malibu offers three special editions: the Midnight Edition, the Redline Edition, and the Sport Edition. The Midnight Edition is as dark and mysterious as it sounds. With the front and rear bowtie emblem completely blacked out, as well as the nameplate badge, which blends right in with the Mosaic Black Metallic exterior color, this Malibu gives off some serious nighttime vibes. If you’re an urban dweller who likes the city better by night than by day, this may be the edition for you.

The Redline Edition focuses on fierce athletic features with dark, sleek features complemented by streaks of red here and there, such as the red outline around the black nameplate badge and Redline decals on the black exterior mirrors. The most exciting streak of red in the Redline edition are the red hashmarks on the 19-inch Black-painted aluminum wheels.

The Sport Edition takes cues from the Midnight and the Redline but directs them in a way that cultivates an overall level of sportiness without the specific themes of the previous models. The sportiness is cultivated through an overall dark complexion via black-painted aluminum wheels, front and rear blacked-out bow tie emblems, and a black nameplate. Rather than being paired with a blacked-out exterior like the Midnight Edition, it is paired with a sportier exterior color to cultivate a sports car aesthetic.

Now, these are the elements of the Malibu that accentuate a “dream car” aesthetic over a more basic “first car” one. It’s not that it can’t be a first car, but it shows the range the Malibu can cover. Maybe your first car will look more like your dream car than you thought. Of course, these luxury editions will come at a higher cost. The thing that makes the Malibu such a great first car is that you can scale your way up or down the ladder to accommodate your preferences, price range, current situation, and future.

Innovative Safety Features

Now, of course, the first and most important goal of all safety features is preserving your life. That’s why all 2023 Malibu models come with standard Chevy Safety Assist. This package includes leading driver awareness and assistance features, including automatic emergency braking, an ideal feature because the car can intervene with braking when you are unable to do so. This significantly reduces the risk of an accident and the loss of your life or someone else.

A car like the Malibu has a high chance of coming at a very good resale value, but this is only possible if the car is well-preserved. If the car is beat up or deprived of important features, it will increase the chances that you will take a significant loss on your first vehicle. If the car is well maintained, however, you could get a good chunk of the money spent on your vehicle returned to you and placed towards your next vehicle.

Repairs cost money even if you’re not looking to sell anytime soon. When you get in an accident, whether it’s enough to render the car useless without a repair or just enough to shake it up a little bit, your car running at a suboptimal level will decrease its life expectancy and long-term health. Having a variety of great safety features at your disposal will reduce your chances of getting into an accident. Don’t waste your money on repair bills; get your money back with a good resale value.

A red 2023 Chevy Malibu is shown from the rear after leaving a dealer that has a Chevy Malibu for sale.

The Malibu Offers Everything You’re Looking For in a First Vehicle

Buying a first car can be exciting; however, you want to make a prudent decision since it is a considerable investment that comes with ongoing expenditures. A low down payment can be a tempting offer, but low costs can be deceiving. What good is the low down payment if your gas bills exceed the down payment within one year? You want something efficient that offers a wide range of features to accommodate your preferences and is easy to maintain. That’s what the Malibu offers. Those three components of engineering efficiency, scalable luxury, and innovative safety make for a flexible, enjoyable, and sustainable first-car experience. For any drivers who are new to first-time ownership, consider the Malibu as your introduction.