Chevrolet redesigned its midsize family sedan for the 2016 model year, making it larger and nearly 300 pounds lighter. Also new is a Hybrid offshoot. Chevrolet has offered a Malibu Hybrid before, but not since 2009. This one features a new, admirably-efficient gasoline/electric powertrain, along with the latest sleek Malibu styling and comfort.
What's New for 2016
Considered "all-new" for 2016, the latest-generation Malibu sedan comes with a choice of regular four-cylinder gasoline engines, but also offered as the Malibu Hybrid. The wheelbase of the redesigned Malibu sedan has been lengthened by almost four inches, expanding interior space.
Choosing Your Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
The Hybrid powertrain leverages technology borrowed from the second generation of Chevrolet’s plug-in Volt. A 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, rated at 124 horsepower, mates with twin electric motors and an 80-cell, 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. Combined system output is 182 horsepower (136 kW).
The gasoline engine automatically starts at higher speeds, and under heavier load. The two-motor electric drive unit provides extra energy, especially when needed for acceleration, augmenting the gas engine. For brief periods, the Malibu Hybrid can travel at up to 55 mph, using battery power alone. Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery uses exhaust-system heat to warm both the engine and the cabin, to keep fuel economy consistent in cold weather. Blended regenerative braking, also adapted from the Volt, provides maximum kinetic energy recovery while braking, to help maintain the battery’s state of charge.
Fuel economy, as estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is 47 mpg in city driving and 46 mpg on the highway, or 46 mpg combined. In comparison, the Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata Hybrids are both estimated at 41 mpg; the Kia Optima Hybrid at 38 mpg; and the Ford Fusion Hybrid at 42 mpg. The thriftiest gasoline-engine Malibu gets an estimate of 27/37 mpg (city/highway), or 31 mpg combined.
Standard equipment includes an 8-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar adjustment, 60/40 split-folding rear seat with center armrest, tilt/telescopic steering column, steering-wheel controls, remote keyless entry, and keyless start. Dual-zone automatic climate control, an electronic parking brake, six-speaker audio, SiriusXM satellite radio, automatic headlight control, heated power mirrors also are included. OnStar with 4G LTE and a built-in wi-fi hotspot lets passengers connect to the internet. Alloy wheels hold 17-inch tires.
In Chevrolet’s MyLink connected infotainment system, a 7-inch color touchscreen not only controls operations, but displays the image from the standard rearview camera. Connectivity includes both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Ten airbags and a rearview camera are standard. So is a Driver Efficiency Guide.
Pricing starts at $28,645 (including the $875 destination charge). A Convenience & Technology Package costs an additional $895. The $1,195 Driver Confidence Package includes parking assist, cross-traffic alert, forward collision alert, lane-change assist, side blind-zone alert, lane-keep assist, pedestrian detection, and automatic braking. Leather upholstery is available for $1,395.
Naturally, increased fuel economy is the main attraction of the Malibu Hybrid; but you also get all the expected features of the regular Malibu sedan, in its latest form and size. Considering what’s included, and the gas-mileage advantage (especially in city driving), the new Hybrid sounds like a sensible alternative.