The 2016 Malibu is a complete redesign based largely on the well-received Impala. Five trim levels and a hybrid model are available to cover a range of expectations and price points. (The less-impressive previous generation is still available as the Malibu Limited. We strongly encourage buyers to limit consideration of it.)
One of Chevrolet's priorities was cutting that prior model's bulk, which led to some unconventional decisions for the new car -- no V6, no all-wheel drive -- and a curb weight fully 300 pounds lighter than the outgoing model. The diet pays off in both driving feel (unusually good for a mainstream sedan) and fuel economy.
For those further focused on getting the most from their gasoline, the hybrid Malibu uses a version of the Volt's driveline to return excellent mileage numbers -- EPA estimates are 48 mpg city and 45 mpg highway -- while offering a driving experience notably superior to the competition.
- The L, LS and 1LT are fitted with a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four and six-speed automatic transmission; the 2LT and Premier receive a 250-horsepower 2-liter turbo four-cylinder and eight-speed automatic.
- Option availability depends heavily on choosing the right initial trim level and sometimes require the selection of a few rather pricey packages -- the $895 Convenience and Technology package is a prerequisite for many driver-assist and comfort extras.
The base L model starts with an MSRP of $22,500 but is clearly intended for fleet use. The lineup progresses through LS ($23,995), 1LT ($25,895), and 2LT ($29,495) versions before topping out at the Premier trim level for $31,795. The hybrid stickers at $28,645 including destination. Even though base prices are agreeably competitive, keep an eye on the tendency of the option packages to bulk up the bottom line.