The Chevrolet Malibu has been redesigned for the third time in eight model-years. The 2016 sheds 300 pounds, adds 3.6 inches to the wheelbase and boasts an engine lineup that includes two turbocharged four-bangers and a hybrid option.
Three years ago, the eighth-generation Malibu gained enough size and power to compete with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and a host of others, including the newly redesigned Kia Optima in the midsize sedan category. The new car brings added rear legroom and styling borrowed from the larger Impala.
The 2016 also includes “Teen Driver,” a built-in telematics system designed to allow parents (and fleet owners) to set alarms off above a certain speed, limit stereo volume and track speed and miles driven, among other features.
The base L, LS and 1LT get a 1.5-liter turbo that delivers 160 horsepower (hp) and 184 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque. The 2LT and Premier (née LTZ) get a 2.0-liter turbo that carries over with some refinements, upping the ante to 250 hp and 258 lb.-ft. EPA testing was not complete at press time, but General Motors projects 27 miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway for the 1.5-liter and 32 mpg for the 2.0-liter.
The Malibu Hybrid features a 1.8-liter inline four paired with an electric drive unit with two electric motors to deliver 182 hp and 277 lb.-ft. of torque. GM estimates 48 mpg in city driving and 45 on the highway.
The L comes with push-button start, A/C, cruise control, a six-speaker stereo and (gasp) no USB ports. The LS adds a 7-inch touchscreen, a stereo with USB inputs and a rearview camera. The LT and Premier editions bring bigger touchscreens, eight- and nine-speaker audio, dual-zone climate control, driver memory and more. Teen Driver is optional on LT and standard on Premier.
The exterior styling is a step up from the 2015’s comparatively cartoonish mug. The Impala’s visage and sheet metal fit the smaller car well, and the Malibu adds wave-like sculpting to the side panels. The bubbly interior doesn’t quite match the more refined exterior, but it does away with the prior-generation’s cumbersome, flight deck-inspired center console.
The gas-powered 2016 Malibu will be available by year’s end. Prices will start at $22,500 for the base L and top out somewhere north of $33,000 for a Premier. Pricing is not yet available for the Hybrid, which goes into production in the spring.