2016 Chevrolet Malibu debuts with Hybrid Makeover

2016 Chevrolet

2016 Chevrolet

2016 Chevrolet Malibu debuts with Hybrid Makeover Chevrolet execs admit that in the midsize sedan segment, with 17 competitors all vying for the same customer, “it’s hard to win.”

They haven’t hidden themselves from the truth, either, acknowledging that the outgoing Malibu “lagged behind” the competition, and that to rectify that fact, they must do better.

This is what they’ve come up with, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu. Beyond the sizable makeover is now a hybrid model, a new lightweight body structure, and some clever tech for parents with teen drivers.

But will it be enough to rocket sales to the level of the all-conquering Toyota Camry? The signs point to Chevy heading in the right direction. In person, the new Malibu looks a world better than the one it replaces, appearing more grown up with a subtle hint of aggression.

It’s also four inches longer than the old car, which yields significantly better legroom for those in the back, and given the greater use of high-strength steel, less material was required for the body, shedding 300 lbs. of mass. That’s a lot, and an attribute that should benefit handling and performance on the road.

It’ll also help you out at the pump, too, with the 1.5-liter turbocharged base motor managing an GM-estimated 37 mpg highway, while the more powerful 2.0-liter turbo lands at around 32 mpg. The real news on the efficiency front, however, is the Malibu Hybrid. Borrowing much of its key technology from the Chevy Volt, the hybrid can travel a number of miles on electricity alone, utilizing its 80-cell, 1.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack before a 1.8-liter naturally-aspirated combustion engine arrives to helps out.

The motors are paired to a variant of the transmission in the Volt, replacing traditional stepped gears for a smoother, more linear power application. With regenerative braking and exhaust gas heat regen, GM estimates the new hybrid will surpass 45 mpg on the highway, net 48 mpg city with a combined estimate of 47 mpg, becoming one of the most efficient options in the midsize sedan segment.

As with all hybrids, you do lose some trunk space, though (down from 16 cubic ft. to 11.8), but the Malibu Hybrid will still carry a large suitcase without too much trouble. Beyond the number are the car’s available gadgets. Things like wireless charging for your phone is standard on the Premium trim models, along with rear-view camera (standard on all models), pedestrian alerts and lane change assist.

But perhaps the most important piece of tech for parents is the car’s new Teen Driver feature.

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