2016 Chevrolet Malibu Test Drive: Moving Up the Mid-Size Sedan Ranks [Review]

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu has been redesigned with practicality and safety being its strongpoints. While it may not be super plush or able to tear up the tarmac with outrageous abandon, it will win you over for its no-nonsense driving experience, pleasant cabin, and frugal numbers where it counts.

Completely transformed with a 300 pound weight reduction, a subtle yet eye-catching design, and an interior that feels impressively spacious, the sixth-generation Malibu garners attention for all the right reasons.

The 2016 Malibu comes in four trim levels. The L is the most basic model, followed by the LS and LT trim levels. The nicest one is the Premier trim, used for this test drive, has replaced the LTZ of years past.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

All trims are setup with only front-wheel drive and are expected to face traditional challengers such as the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Optima, Toyota Camry, Mazda 6, and Honda Accord.

Standard engine for the 2016 Malibu is a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission that feels stronger and smoother than the previous model’s normally aspirated Ecotec 2.5-liter engine. If that doesn’t suit you, there is a 250 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine available, plus a hybrid version slated to be released Spring 2016.

Test car for this review has the beefier 2.0-liter turbo powerplant and 8-speed automatic transmission. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 22 mpg on city streets and up to 33 mpg on the highway. Observed gas mileage after several hundred miles roaming the San Francisco bay area was 26 mpg.

The redesigned Malibu features a new, longer body that incorporates Chevrolet’s global design language with low-profile, sweeping headlamps and the brand’s split intake grille. An aerodynamic shape and active grille shutters on the LS and LT models contribute to the Malibu’s favorable fuel economy numbers.

Adding four inches to the wheelbase gave the designers freedom to use a new low and away dashboard design that lends a feeling of spaciousness inside the cabin and 1.3 inches extra legroom for back seat passengers. The rear seats fold down to make the already large trunk space even bigger.

The interior is nicely done and has a lot of soft touch surfaces. The power adjustable seats, which are both heated and ventilated for the front occupants, are comfortable and appear to be very durable as well. The center console is nicely done, and I love the traditional knobs for the air conditioning and radio volume.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

The gauges are easy to read and there is a color driver info center right in the middle. The leather-wrapped steering wheel comes with lots of buttons and makes it really easy to operate features without taking your eyes off the road.

An 8-inch color touchscreen operates the MyLink infotainment system sets up pairing of your telephone using Bluetooth, and the use of Apple Carplay or Android Auto — depending on your phone. The bright touchscreen, which responds to the lightest touch, also operates the radio, turns on the 4G LTE hotspot, uses Onstar turn-by-turn navigation, and configures the settings of the car to fit your needs.

The Malibu’s Driver Confidence package ($1,195) is new for 2016 and includes forward-collision alert, forward-collision avoidance braking, low-speed front automatic braking, front park assist, rear park assist, front pedestrian braking, lane-departure warning, and lane-change alert with side blind-spot warning. The Malibu used for this review had the Driver Confidence II system ($1,295), which adds adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assist, and front automatic braking.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

Power from the turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec engine is perfectly at home in most situations, including merging into freeway traffic and climbing grades on suburban highways. The 8-speed automatic is quick-shifting throughout its range, without hunting for the right gear. Impressive is the quiet ride on all but the worst roads.

Handling is better than most, as the chassis feels very solid; both suspension and body rigidity are greatly improved, and I found it more responsive than expected. GM clearly focused efforts on improving ride and handling, and it shows. Even the electric steering has decent weight, accompanied by the typical numb feel.

  • Buy itOn the TFLcar scale of:
  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

The redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Malibu earns a ‘Buy It‘ rating. The turbo-4 gives it a sportier feel over a conventional V6, its new look is easy on the eyes, and comfort is top-notch.

MSRP $30,920
Price as tested $34,285
Engine 2.0L turbocharged DOHC I-4
Power (bhp) 250 @ 5,300 rpm (est.)
Torque (lb-ft) 258 @ 1,700 rpm (est.)
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Drivetrain layout front-engine / front-wheel drive
Curb weight 3,388 lbs
EPA-estimated fuel economy (mpg) 22 city / 33 highway / 26 observed


The 2016 Chevy Malibu directly competes with the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, and Toyota Camry. In this TFLcar ‘mashup’ review, Roman compares and reviews all four mid-size sedans to find out which one is the best buy.