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FWBP Drive 2016 Chevy Malibu Hybrid

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The 2016 Chevy Malibu hybrid is a much improved and much better looking midsized sedan than the 2015 model. This is the ninth-generation of the Chevy Malibu, which started out in 1964 as the top-of-the-line Chevelle model. Over time, the Malibu became known as a fleet or rental car, but this 2016 will likely put an end to that.

What’s new for 2016

First, it is 4 inches longer, it’s wider, it has a longer wheelbase, and while it was getting bigger it shed 300 pounds. The 2016 has much more technology and a much more chiseled exterior. In fact, at first glance the new Malibu doesn’t really look like a Chevrolet; I find it reminiscent of a Lexus.

Under the hood

The Malibu hybrid comes with a 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder engine and two electric motors that combine to put out 182 horses. It also has a 2-mode automatic transmission. One mode is to maximize fuel economy and power at low speeds, while the other works at high speeds. Although GM doesn’t call it a CVT, it works similarly to one. The transmission is smooth to the point that you barely notice it. The Malibu hybrid will operate on battery power up to 55 miles per hour, which is pretty amazing.

Interior

The 2016 Malibu comes in four trim levels, but the hybrid only offers one, and you can start adding options from there. The interior is nice, but it is very dark on my test vehicle and borders on the plain Jane side. While there is some noticeable plastic, most of the areas you actually touch are soft. The cloth seats are comfortable and appear to be very durable as well. The center console is nicely done, and I love the old-school knobs for the air conditioning and radio volume.

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

There is an 8-inch color touchscreen that operates the Chevy MyLink system to hook up your telephone to Bluetooth, and you can activate Apple CarPlay or Android Auto depending on your phone. You also operate the AM FM SXM radio, turn on the 4G LTE hotspot, use Onstar turn-by-turn navigation, and configure the settings of the car to fit your needs. This new Malibu has increased legroom for front and rear seat passengers thanks to the longer length. The rear seats will fold down to make the trunk space even bigger, but you do lose some room to the hybrid battery pack.

Notable standard features

Here are the most notable standard features on the 2016 Malibu: 10 airbags, rearview camera, keyless entry, power seat with power lumbar support, 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights and theft deterrent system.

Teen Driver

If your kid likes to borrow your car, this Malibu will be his or her worst nightmare. In the settings on MyLink, you can set up Teen Driver, which can only be changed by the use of a personal identification number you choose. The settings take effect when you hand your kid, or a valet, a particular key fob.

From there, you can learn how far he or she has driven, how fast they’ve gone, and how many times he or she braked hard. Teen Driver automatically mutes the radio until front safety belts are fastened. Additionally, the radio system’s maximum volume can also be set. The system will make sure all safety features are automatically turned on. You can select a maximum speed between 40 and 75 mph that, if exceeded, activates a visual warning and audible chime, letting the teen know that the info will be recorded on his or her driving report card. This could be a lifesaver.

Review vehicle options

My review vehicle has iridescent pearl paint, which costs $995. It also has the Driver Confidence Package for $1,195, which gives you automatic high beam headlights, front and rear park assist, forward collision alert, lane keep assist, low-speed automatic braking and blind spot monitoring.

The only other option group is the Convenience and Technology package, and for $895 you get remote start, the 8-inch color screen I mentioned, wireless phone charging, a leather steering wheel and shift knob, and a 110-volt electrical outlet.

Performance

The 2016 Malibu really drives and handles well, and I was surprised at the acceleration it has considering it is a hybrid and weighs over 3,000 pounds.

Fuel economy

Fuel economy is exceptional; it is getting 47 miles per gallon in the city and 46 on the highway, for a combined 46 mpg overall. At times I am actually getting better mileage. As I normally do, I looked at the math on the hybrid versus the 4-cylinder gasoline engine. For the average 15,000-miles-per-year driver, if gas stays at $2 gallon, it will take 13 years to break even on the hybrid. If gas goes to $3 per gallon, it will only take 8 years, and should gas prices go beyond that, it wouldn’t take long for the hybrid to pay for itself.

The Malibu hybrid at 46 mpg combined beats the Toyota Camry hybrid at 41 mpg combined and Ford Fusion at 42 mpg, and comes in just under the 2017 Honda Accord hybrid, which is rated at 48 mpg combined.

Price and value

Coming in at just over $31,700 on the window sticker, given the size, the safety features and the fuel economy, the Malibu is an exceptional value in my view.

As a side note, the Malibu hybrid has many of the same powertrain components as the new Chevy Volt that I reviewed recently, and if you are interested in the gasoline version of this car, I reviewed it also. You’ll find both reviews at www.carprousa.com.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Test Drive

What I liked most: Fuel economy, safety features and the Teen Driver function

What I would change: I would make the interior just a little nicer.

MSRP: Base price $27,770; as equipped $31,730

Fuel economy: Rated at 47 mpg city/46 highway/46 combined

Odometer reading when tested: 790 miles

Weight: 3,097 pounds

Length-width-height: 193 inches long/73 inches wide/57.6 inches high

Fuel tank capacity: 13 gallons, with the filler on the passenger side

Towing capacity: N/A

2016 Malibu hybrid in a few words: A great value and a really fuel-efficient sedan

Warranty: 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty with roadside assistance and 96-month/100,000-miles on all hybrid components

Final assembly location: Kansas City, Kansas

Manufacturer’s website: www.chevrolet.com/malibu-mid-size-sedan.html

Jerry Reynolds is the nationally syndicated automotive talk show host of the Car Pro Show, heard coast-to-coast and locally Saturdays on News/Talk 820 AM and 99.5 HD2 FM WBAP, as well as KRLD 1080 AM. Jerry is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association and is the automotive expert for CBS 11 TV in DFW. www.carprousa.com

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