Positioned between two popular sibling sedans -- the compact Cruze and the full-size Impala -- the midsize Malibu is a bit like the proverbial middle child. Both the bigger and smaller models seem to command more attention. Yet all along, Chevrolet has been initiating gradual updates that have made the Malibu a compelling choice, even in the ultra-competitive family sedan market. Now, the long-lived model has an opportunity to try once again, in a significantly revised form.
What's New for 2016
Totally redesigned for the 2016 model year, the Malibu is built on a longer wheelbase and weighs nearly 300 pounds less than before. The hood has been lowered. Two powertrain choices are offered, including a new 2-liter turbo four with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a revised 1.5-liter standard engine. A new Malibu Hybrid is estimated at 48 mpg in city driving. New Chevrolet MyLink has Android Auto and Apply CarPlay compatibility. A new Teen Driver feature can provide driving statistics to parents. Ten airbags are standard, and active-safety features are available.
Choosing Your Chevrolet Malibu
The most important decision a Malibu buyer makes is trim level. In addition to determining which features are included, that choice specifies which of two engines will provide power.
Enhanced for 2016, the standard engine is a turbocharged Ecotec 1.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 163 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, and includes start-stop technology. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, it's estimated at an impressive 37 mpg highway (27 mpg in city driving). This is the engine most Malibu trim levels receive.
Available only for LT and Premier trim levels is a new turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder that generates 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. With its eight-speed automatic transmission, fuel economy is estimated at a decidedly less-frugal 22 mpg city/33 mpg highway.
Active safety features are newly available, including forward collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control with automatic braking. Automatic parking assist also is available.
The Malibu comes in four trim levels:
We almost always recommend passing on Chevrolets in base-level trim, and the Malibu is no exception. The LT model represents the best value. So does the Premier edition, which adds a hefty selection of additional features, if you think of it as an alternative to more expensive near-luxury brands.
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