Having seen 37 years of American history pass through its rear-view mirror, you’d think Chevrolet’s experienced Malibu would find luring new buyers to be a breeze.
But the most recent generation of the bread-and-butter sedan failed to dominate the midsize market, and struggled to arrest declining sales amid strong competition from the likes of Fusion, Sonata, Camry, and Accord.
Well, Chevy clearly doesn’t like the idea of the Malibu becoming an overlooked wallflower at the school dance. Their response to the problem is the 2016 Malibu, which will arrive – dressed to impress – in the fourth quarter of this year.
Bigger, roomier, and more efficient, the 2016 Malibu promises to remedy the criticisms levelled against its predecessor – mainly, that legroom was lacking, the styling too lacklustre, and the mild hybrid too mild.
As the photos here show, the new Malibu has borrowed some duds from the Impala’s closet. Elements of the design language of its bigger stable mate can be seen in its creased, flowing flanks – especially towards the rear.
With a wheelbase nearly four inches longer, the 2016 ‘Bu will allow occupants to stretch their legs a little.
A new 1.5-litre turbo four-cylinder will make 160 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque, and is supposedly good for about 37 mpg (U.S.) highway, or 6.4 litres/100 km. Optional is GM’s well-known turbo 2.0-litre four, making 250 hp.
Helping the newly lengthened Malibu roll along efficiently are grille shutters, a nearly 300 pound weight loss, and (in 2.0-litre guise) a new 8-speed automatic transmission.
To wring maximum efficiency out of the Malibu, buyers can opt for a ‘heavy hybrid’ version that uses a modified version of the new Chevy Volt’s drivetrain and can travel up to 88 km/h in EV mode.
A 1.8-litre direct injection engine and two electric motors return an estimated 48 mpg (U.S.) in the city and 45 mpg on the highway, for a combined rating of 47 mpg (5.0 litres/100km).
Numbers like these, coupled with a new skin, should help the Malibu do battle with its competitors.
On a personal note, I can’t give the design an A+, though it is a definite improvement.
The 2016 Malibu does a good job in keeping visual interest (and I do find its design muse, the Impala, to be attractive), but the front end seems awkward to me – too many diverging angles, and a catfish mouth.
Viewed side-on or from the rear, well, different story.