The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu finally Spices its Rum [First Drive]

2016 Chevrolet Malibu
Usually a fleet-car regular, the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is vastly improved in every measurable way. General Motors has been quietly stiffening and reducing weight on many of their vehicles. It weighs less than 3,200 pounds despite feeling rigid and planted. It’s a lovely design that, when paired with a sprightly 1.5-liter turbo, moves with just enough gusto to be considered entertaining.

Let me put it this way: The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is one of the quietest, best responding, efficient vehicles in its class. It took everyone at TFLcar by surprise and the model we received isn’t even the top-of-the line. Our tester was a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu LT with a MSRP of $27,985.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu
Here’s where things get interesting: power comes from a small, 163 horsepower, turbocharged 1.5-liter, four-cylinder that makes 184 lb-ft of torque. The power is fed through a six-speed automatic transmission that’s smooth-shifting and seems to always be in the meat of the torque band. It never feels out of breath and efficiency is impressive.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu interior
On the road, the chassis feels tight. There are no squeaks or rattles and noise levels are near Cadillac levels. The 111.4-inch wheelbase looks long, but it feels compact when maneuvering. It’s a nice driving compromise that’s not sporty, but it can be spirited. Sure, the tires are not particularly sticky, but it still can spice things up when called upon. The steering response is surprisingly good for a vehicle in this class.

The only question that GM left me was, what’s with the tiny 13-gallon gas tank? Usually this class has 16-gallon (or more) fuel tanks. Odd. Still, I had no problem meeting the EPA’s 31 mpg combined rating. With a 27 mpg city and 37 mpg highway rating, 31 mpg was easy to maintain in mixed city/highway driving. It makes one wonder, why would you ever need to spend the extra dough for a hybrid? Over our tester, a similarly-equipped 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid commands about a $3,000 premium.

2016 Chevrolet MalibuThe interior is comfortable with great legroom throughout. Interior materials are much better than the last Malibu with interior design elements that feel premium. Even on this lower trim model, the use (and look) of cloth on the dash and door-panels is impressive. The 16 cubic-feet trunk matches many best-in-class vehicles in this bracket.

As I said earlier, many of us at TFL were impressed. Sure, it’s not quite as beautiful as the Mazda6, nor is it as advanced feeling as the Honda Accord or as familiar as the Toyota Camry. What this 2016 Chevrolet Malibu finally accomplishes is its ability to challenge the top cars in this segment. No excuses or apologies necessary here, this new 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is that good.

Well done Chevrolet!

Check out this first drive review of the 2016 Chevy Malibu.