Chevrolet’s all-new 2016 Malibu features an aggressively-stylish design, loads of on-board tech, a four inch longer wheelbase, and greater rear leg room. It does all this while also increasing efficiency compared to its predecessor. The bump in efficiency comes in no small part from the use of a high strength steel structure that sheds 300 pounds, greater use of aluminum, a lighter engine, and lighter accessories.
Upping the efficiency ante is Chevy’s Malibu Hybrid variant, which was distinguished at this year’s Washington Auto Show as Green Car Journal’s 2016 Connected Green Car of the Year™. The Malibu Hybrid won over finalists that included the Audi A3 e-tron, BMW 330e, Toyota Prius, and Volvo XC90 T8.
This model’s hybrid tech is packaged so discretely there’s virtually no differentiation from a conventionally powered 2016 Malibu. Power is delivered by a 1.8-liter direct-injected four-cylinder engine mated to a two-motor drive unit, providing 182 total system horsepower. The drive unit, which is slightly modified from the 2016 Chevrolet Volt powertrain and integrates propulsion and generating motors, kicks in at higher speeds and high loads to provide additional power for acceleration. Since it’s not a plug-in, the Malibu Hybrid has a significantly smaller 1.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack compared to the Volt’s 18.4 kilowatt-hour pack. This enables efficient hybrid operation plus a nominal mile or so of all-electric driving at speeds up to 55 mph.
Efficiency is impressive with the Malibu Hybrid achieving an EPA rated 47 mpg in city driving and 46 mpg on the highway. The conventionally powered 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder version of the Malibu nets 27 mpg city and 37 mpg highway fuel efficiency, with the 2.0-liter turbo variant achieving 22 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.
The Malibu Hybrid also shares the Volt’s blended regenerative braking system, which provides maximum kinetic energy recovery during braking to generate electricity stored in the battery pack for maintaining charge. The engine features Chevrolet’s first application of Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery (EGHR), technology that uses exhaust heat to warm the engine and cabin. EGHR improves engine warm-up and ensures consistent fuel economy performance in cold weather.
Advanced on-board electronics and connectivity are hallmarks of the new Malibu Hybrid. The mid-size sedan comes standard with Chevrolet MyLink Radio and an 8-inch diagonal color touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, rear vision camera, OnStar, and 4G LTE with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. That’s a lot of tech for a model that starts at an approachable $28,645 with much more highly desired technology available.
The Malibu features front pedestrian braking, low speed front automatic braking, and parking assist. When activated, adaptive cruise control maintains a set speed while also adjusting speed to keep you a safe distance from cars ahead. Selecting lane keep assist automatically provides steering input to help keep you from drifting from your lane unless a turn signal is activated,
Parents will appreciate Teen Driver, which encourages safe driving by muting the audio of any device paired with the vehicle when front-seat occupants aren’t wearing seat belts. It is also the first in-vehicle system in the industry that lets parents view stored information on how their teenagers drove the vehicle, which can be a useful teaching tool for young drivers.