The last time I attend a launch of the Chevy Malibu at the New York Auto Show, I was (like many commentators) underwhelmed by the car GM showcased. The mild-hybrid system was all compromises, whether it be fuel economy or performance, and GM quickly reshuffled its cards for the 2016 relaunch. And this time, I think they got it right.
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu looks like an all-new car, because it is an all-new car, and it all starts with a new hybrid drivetrain derived from the Voltec system found in the 2016 Chevy Volt. According to GM, this new drivetrain will be good for 48 MPG in the city, 45 MPG on the highway, and a combined 47 MPG, making it the most-efficient midsize sedan you can buy. Even if the hybrid powertrain proves too costly for you, the standard 1.5 liter turbo engine will still allow up to 37 MPG on the highway, comparable to what my much, much smaller Chevy Sonic is capable of. GM also managed to increase interior room while shedding some 300 pounds of weight compared to the outgoing Malibu, a major factor in those impress MPG numbers.
Want more details on the hybrid drivetrain? Well I’ve got them, and it looks mighty good to this writer. Using a 1.8 liter engine mated to a slightly-modified two-motor drive unit from the 2016 Chevy Volt, GM claims total output of 182 horsepower and the ability to drive in all-electric mode at speeds up to 55 MPH for about a mile or so of driving. If that’s not enough motivation for you, a 250 horsepower 2.0 liter turbo engine will also be offered, through fuel economy will drop significantly, to 22 city and 32 highway.
Perhaps the most important change are the looks though. For the longest time, the Chevy Malibu has been the awkward-looking neglected middle-child loved only by rental agencies. That changes with the 2016 Malibu, a car that looks good from just about any angle. While GM didn’t exactly blaze any trails when it came to the redesign, it has obviously learned from competitors like Hyundai and Ford when it came to the Malibu’s new look.
I never thought I’d say this about a Chevy Malibu…but I like it. A lot. Am I alone here, or did GM finally make a midsize sedan worth buying?