Chevrolet Malibu is Larger, More Efficient

In desperate need of a segment winner, GM has replaced the Chevrolet Malibu for the 2016 model year. The new sedan will give Chevrolet a competitor in a segment led by Japanese competitors.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu
2016 Chevrolet Malibu (copyright GM Corp.)

So how to you repair a “broken” design? You don’t: you replace it. And that is precisely what General Motors has done with the next generation Chevrolet Malibu, a midsize sedan that is longer, lighter and more efficient that the vehicle it will replace for the 2016 model year.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

Just in advance of the start of the 2016 New York International Auto Show, Chevrolet unveiled the Malibu, a vehicle that is four inches longer and 300 pounds lighter than the one it replaces. Indeed, the extra inches will solve the main problem — lack of rear passenger room — and address another one — fuel efficiency.

Specifically, the 2016 edition, powered by a standard 1.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine is expected to achieve 37 mpg on the highway. Furthermore, a hybrid variant will make an estimated 48 mpg combined (city/highway), beating such segment contenders as the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

“Midsize customers tell us they want great fuel economy, connected technologies, wrapped in a gorgeous exterior. This is exactly what the 2016 Malibu was engineered to do,” said Jesse Ortega, Malibu chief engineer.

Advanced Technologies and Hybrid Availability

The new sedan goes on sale in the fourth quarter of this year. It will offer a number of technologies to include OnStar 4G LTE connectivity, wireless phone technology, a teen driver alert that allows parents to monitor teen behavior while on the road.

Under the hood is an all-new, 1.5-liter Ecotec turbocharged engine. Making an estimated 160 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque, it will be come with stop/start technology, a fuel saving measure. An optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder should achieve 250 horsepower. Moreover, it will be paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Chevrolet will offer the 2016 Malibu in L, LS, LT and Premier trims for both the gasoline and the hybrid models. Speaking about the hybrid, that car borrows technologies used in the Chevrolet Volt, including a two-motor drive unit. That unit will offer expanded pull to help the engine while accelerating and make a combined 182 horsepower.

Key Safety Features

Safety features will be composed of 10 standard airbags, including front-seat knee airbags. Other safety features available include: front pedestrian alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, side blind zone alert with lane changer, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear park assist, automatic headlamps, adaptive cruise control with front automatic braking, and automatic parking assist.

Chevrolet says that the Malibu received its styling influence from the full-size Impala sedan, itself extensively redone in 2014. The move to a fresh platform is a quick one for the Malibu, following an abbreviated three-model-year run, including a refresh.

The Chevrolet Malibu has struggled in a segment led by the Toyota Camry and also dominated by the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion. The new model should help Chevrolet move past other sedans, such as the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. The Volkswagen Passat, Chrysler 200, Subaru Legacy and Mazda 6 also compete.

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Updated to add torque number for the base engine as well as the fuel economy for the hybrid.

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.