2016 Chevrolet Malibu Preview

FAST FACTS
  • Completely redesigned for 2016
  • Longer, roomier inside, lighter by almost 300 lbs.
  • Turbocharged 4-cylinder engines or new hybrid powertrain
  • L, LS, LT, Hybrid, and Premier trim levels
  • New comfort, infotainment, and safety systems
  • Built in Kansas, on sale in fall of 2015

Introduction

Want to know how important the Chevrolet Malibu is to General Motors? Just three years after a completely redesigned model arrived for 2013, another completely redesigned model rolls into showrooms for 2016.

A midsize sedan, the Malibu competes in one of the broadest yet most challenging vehicle segments. Dominated by the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Ford Fusion, this particular sales chart tells a story of haves and have-nots, and with the new 2016 Malibu, Chevrolet intends to reverse its sagging family car fortunes.

The 2016 Malibu goes on sale in the fall of 2015, offered in L, LS, LT, Hybrid, and Premier trim levels. The Premier replaces the LTZ trim level across the Chevrolet lineup for the 2016 model year.

Exterior Features

Longer and lighter than the car it replaces, the 2016 Malibu features styling that Chevrolet says is influenced by the current Impala full-size sedan. Vehicle weight drops by almost 300 lbs., and the new Malibu features both a 3.6-in. wheelbase stretch and 2.3 in. of additional length. The hood and the cowl (where the hood meets the windshield) are lower and the roofline is sleeker for improved aerodynamics. Active grille shutters are standard for some Malibu models.

Interior Features

Thanks to the 2016 Malibu's stretched wheelbase, Chevrolet was able to address a chief complaint about the outgoing Malibu by adding 1.3 in. of additional rear-seat legroom.

Front-seat occupants face a dual-cockpit dashboard design, and Chevrolet says that it has done a better job of separating the infotainment system controls from the climate system controls. Highlights include satin chrome accent trim and a dedicated storage slot for smartphones, and a Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system with a 7-in. capacitive touch display screen is standard in most versions of the car.

Optional Features

Perforated leather seats, wireless phone charging, a larger 8-in. MyLink screen, a navigation system, and new Teen Driver technology is optional for the Malibu LT and Malibu Hybrid, and standard for the Malibu Premier.

These three upper trim levels also get standard LED running lights in front, while the Premier trim level is exclusively equipped with LED taillights. The Malibu Premier also includes ventilated front seats, dual rear-seat USB ports, and a rear 110-volt power outlet.

Under the Hood

A turbocharged, 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission are standard on the 2016 Malibu. This powertrain makes an estimated 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque; it maximizes fuel economy thanks to automatic start/stop technology. Chevrolet says this engine provides similar performance to the current Malibu's 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine combined with an increase in fuel economy.

The optional engine is a turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder power plant generating 250 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. A new 8-speed automatic transmission is standard with this more powerful engine.

A Malibu Hybrid is also available, equipped with a powertrain that borrows technology from the 2016 Volt extended-range electric car. It uses a 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine and a 2-motor electric assist unit to make a combined 182 horsepower. A 1.5-kWh Lithium-ion battery can power the 2016 Malibu Hybrid up to 55 mph on electricity alone, and this version of the car uses the Volt's blended regenerative braking system to capture energy and recharge the battery. Chevrolet predicts that the Malibu Hybrid will get 45 mpg in combined driving.

Safety

The outgoing Malibu performs well in crash tests, so this new 2016 model has big shoes to fill. Until testing is performed, though, know that Chevrolet is doing just about everything possible to equip the car with the latest and greatest safety features.

Standard safety equipment includes 10 air bags, and all but the base Malibu L get a standard reversing camera. Options, depending on the trim level, include blind-spot warning and lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning with automatic braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, and pedestrian alert with automatic braking safety systems.

New Teen Driver technology is also optional for the Malibu LT and Malibu Hybrid, and is standard for the Premier. It allows parents of young drivers to monitor their kids' driving habits, including speed, distance driven, and the number of times that active safety features engaged, all displayed via a "Report Card." Teen Driver also mutes the stereo and prevents music streaming if occupants do not have their seat belts buckled, and prevents the driver from disabling any of the car's safety technologies.

To use Teen Driver, a parent selects one of the Malibu's key fobs, registers it with the technology, and sets a PIN code to access data or to make changes to settings. Thereafter, Teen Driver functions work only in conjunction with the use of that registered key fob.

Technology

In addition to safety technologies, the 2016 Malibu can be fitted with an OnStar 4G LTE Wi-Fi connection, wireless phone charging, front and rear park-assist sensors, automatic park-assist technology, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control.

Chevrolet promises more details about the 2016 Malibu as the car gets closer to going on sale.