In the last four years alone, the Chevrolet Malibu has taken leaps and bounds in terms or quality and refinement. In fact, if you parked a 2015 example next to a 2003 version, you would have never guessed they were technically the same model, much less, built by the same manufacturer.
But thanks to vigorous strides to not only bring the mid-sized sedan up to snuff with its competitors from Ford and overseas manufacturers, GM is looking to excel in literally every category with their latest version. In fact, it’s been deemed not only larger, roomier, more fuel efficient, but get this, it’s actually 300-pounds lighter than the outgoing model!
OK, we admit, it’s not a 700 hp musclecar, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s a modern, contemporary, stylish vehicle that ticks all of the right boxes if you’re in the market for a new family car that’s fuel efficient. We can evaluate further, but Chevrolet gives us the tall and skinny in their official release below.
2016 Chevrolet Malibu – Larger, Lighter and More Fuel Efficient
DETROIT – Chevrolet today introduced the all-new 2016 Malibu – a completely restyled midsize sedan engineered to offer more efficiency, connectivity and advanced safety features than ever.
An all-new hybrid powertrain, which leverages technology from the Chevrolet Volt, will help offer a GM-estimated 48 mpg city, 45 mpg highway – and 47 mpg combined, unsurpassed in the segment. The Malibu’s standard 1.5L turbo powertrain is projected to offer 37 mpg highway.
The 2016 Malibu is also longer and lighter, with more interior space and improved fuel efficiency. Its wheelbase has been stretched close to four inches (101 mm), and it is nearly 300 pounds (136 kg) lighter than the current model.
“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.
The 2016 Malibu goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2015. Additional vehicle highlights:
- Available segment-exclusive OnStar 4G LTE in-vehicle connectivity as well as available wireless phone charging
- Agile, sophisticated and sleek exterior design incorporates sophisticated details that advance Chevrolet’s signature cues
- Standard preventive safety technologies include 10 standard air bags, with available features such as Forward Collision Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Automatic Parking Assist is also available
- All-new Teen Driver feature, which allows parents to view their kids’ driving statistics, such as maximum speed, warning alerts and more
- All-new, power-dense Ecotec 1.5L turbo engine with fuel-saving stop/start technology is standard, offering a GM-estimated 160 hp (119 kW)
- High-output 2.0L turbo with GM-estimated 250 hp (186 kW) is available and is mated with a new eight-speed automatic transmission.
The new Malibu will be offered in L, LS, LT and Premier trims, as well as the Hybrid model. The Premier trim, Chevrolet’s new uplevel designation, debuts in the 2016 Malibu. Additional model and trim details will be announced closer to the start of production.
Malibu Hybrid technology
The 2016 Malibu introduces new strong hybrid technology that leverages components and knowledge directly from the plug-in Chevrolet Volt. The Malibu Hybrid offers a GM-estimated 48 mpg city, 45 mpg highway and 47 mpg combined – while maintaining the styling, comfort, driving dynamics and connectivity as gas-only models.
An all-new, direct-injection 1.8L four-cylinder engine mated to a two-motor drive unit, slightly modified from the 2016 Chevrolet Volt drive unit, powers the Malibu Hybrid. The drive unit provides additional power to assist the engine during acceleration, for 182 horsepower (136 kW) of total system power.
The engine also features Chevrolet’s first application of Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery, or EGHR, technology, which uses exhaust heat to warm the engine and cabin. EGHR improves engine warm up and ensures consistent fuel economy performance in cold weather. Additional fuel economy benefits come from Exhaust Gas Recirculation, or EGR.
An 80-cell, 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides electric power to the hybrid system. It can power the Malibu Hybrid up to 55 miles per hour (88 km/h) on electricity alone. The gasoline-powered engine automatically comes on at higher speeds and high loads to provide additional power.
In addition to the drive unit, the Malibu Hybrid also shares the 2016 Volt’s blended regenerative braking system, which provides maximum kinetic energy recovery during braking to be stored into the battery system to help maintain charge, and drive unit power electronics.
Turbocharged performance and efficiency
An all-new, Ecotec 1.5L turbo is the standard engine in the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, offering a GM-estimated 37 mpg on the highway. It is part of a new global family of small-displacement gas engines designed with greater power density to deliver confident performance with excellent efficiency.
The new 1.5L turbo employs the stop/start technology introduced on the 2014 Malibu, which enhances efficiency in stop-and-go driving, contributing to a GM-estimated 27 mpg in city driving – an 8-percent increase over the current model. On the highway, 1.5L-equipped models also feature active grille shutters that reduce aerodynamic drag to optimize efficiency.
The Malibu’s more-efficient standard engine delivers a GM-estimated 160 horsepower (119 kW) and 184 lb-ft of torque (250 Nm). The torque is comparable to the current model’s standard 2.5L naturally aspirated engine in a vehicle package that’s nearly 300 pounds lighter.
A higher-output 2.0L turbocharged engine is available, offering a GM-estimated 250 horsepower (186 kW) and 258 lb-ft of torque (350 Nm), for a higher degree of performance – but not at the expense of good efficiency. Malibu 2.0T models are GM-estimated at 22 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway.
An all-new, GM-developed eight-speed automatic transmission – the first eight-speed automatic in a GM front-wheel-drive vehicle – contributes to the 2.0T’s balance of performance and efficiency. The 1.5L turbo engine is matched with a six-speed automatic.
Teen Driver and an expanded range of safety features
Teen Driver, a standard feature on most trim levels of the next-generation Malibu, supports safe driving habits by muting the audio or any device paired with the vehicle when front-seat occupants aren’t wearing their safety belts. Teen Driver also provides audible and visual warnings when the vehicle is traveling over predetermined speeds.
To use Teen Driver, a parent enables the feature with a PIN in the Settings menu of the Malibu’s MyLink system, which allows them to register their teen’s key fob. The system’s settings are turned on only to registered key fobs.
Chevrolet is the first in the industry with a built-in system that lets parents view on a display how their teenager drove the vehicle. Maximum speed reached, distance driven and number of times active safety features were engaged are among the parameters that can be confirmed.
Teen Driver complements a roster of standard and available safety features, including a rear-view camera system standard on LS, LT, Hybrid and Premier models.
- Ten air bags, including front-seat knee air bags, head-curtain side-impact air bags and seat-mounted side air bags, are also standard.
- Rear-view camera system is standard on LS, LT, Hybrid and Premier models.
Available active safety features include:
- Front Pedestrian Alert that uses a forward-looking camera to help avoid or reduce the harm caused by crashes with pedestrians ahead of the vehicle. The system can apply automatic last-second braking
- New Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning
- Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert
- New Forward Collision Alert with Following Distance Indicator
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Front and Rear Park Assist
- Intellibeam, which automatically switches the headlamps to high beam for better road illumination and improved visibility
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Automatic Braking
- Automatic Parking Assist.
Sleeker design with lighter, stronger body structure
With a wheelbase stretching 3.6 inches (91 mm) longer than the current Malibu, along with a 2.3-inch (58 mm) longer overall length and the same overall width, the 2016 Malibu strikes a sleeker-looking proportion. The added wheelbase helps provide better in-cabin comfort and functionality.
With styling influenced by the 2014 Impala, the all-new Malibu advances Chevrolet’s global design language with features such as slim, sweeping headlamps and a progressive take on the brand’s characteristic dual-port grille. Three body-side creases also add drama to the design and help distinguish the Malibu as a contemporary Chevy.
The hood and the cowl – the area where the windshield meets the hood – are lower than the current model and contribute to the Malibu’s greater aerodynamic performance, as do active grille shutters on LS and LT models.
Premium design cues are incorporated on all models, with contemporary lighting technology featured across the lineup, including light-emitting diode (LED) daytime running lamps on LT and Premier models. The Malibu Premier also receives LED taillamps.
Beneath the new Malibu’s athletic-looking skin is a stronger, lighter body structure that contributes to its efficiency and driving dynamics. Greater use of high-strength steels enabled engineers to design the body structure with thinner components in some areas, delivering comparable crash performance with lower weight. The all-new body structure accounts for more than one-third of the Malibu’s nearly 300-pound weight reduction.
Roomier, more comfortable and more connected interior
The longer wheelbase allows a more open execution of Chevrolet’s signature dual-cockpit interior. Rear legroom improves by 1.3 inches (33 mm).
The cabin’s open, expansive feel is reinforced with a greater emphasis on comfort, convenience and connectivity, allowing the Malibu to keep pace with customers’ connected lives. Highlights include:
- Chevrolet MyLink with a seven-inch-diagonal color capacitive touch screen is standard on LS, LT and Hybrid models
- Chevrolet MyLink with an eight-inch-diagonal capacitive touch screen is available on LT and Hybrid models and standard on Premier model
- Chevrolet MyLink with navigation is available with the eight-inch MyLink system and features three-dimensional map views for most major U.S. cities and attractions
- All-new Teen Driver feature is supported by the eight-inch MyLink system, allowing parents to restrict certain vehicle functions to support safer driving and to view their kids’ driving statistics such as maximum speed, warning alerts and more
- OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot is standard on all models with a three-month/3GB data trial (whichever comes first)
- Wireless phone charging available on LT and Hybrid and standard on Premier
- Dual rear-seat USB ports and a 110-volt power outlet is optional on LT and standard on Premier trim.
The instrument panel “center stack” is all-new, with greater delineation between the infotainment system and climate system controls for easier, at-a-glance operation. The Malibu’s interior is also features:
- Galvano (satin) chrome accents on the instrument panel and center console
- Dedicated storage slot for mobile phones, which incorporates wireless charging, if equipped
- Perforated leather-appointed seating surfaces available on LT and Hybrid and standard on Premier
- Ventilated seats – a first for Malibu – are standard on Premier.
The 2016 Malibu will be built from globally sourced parts at GM’s Fairfax Assembly Plant, in Kansas City, Kansas. The plant received a $600 million investment in paint shop and tooling upgrades in 2013.
Rick Seitz is the owner and founder of GMEFI Magazine, and has a true love and passion for all vehicles. When he isn’t tuning, testing, or competing with the brand’s current crop of project vehicles, he’s busy tinkering and planning the next modifications for his own cars.