"For the first time, the Malibu is available with front-crash prevention systems that include automatic braking," the Institute said in a statement on Thursday. "When equipped with both front automatic braking and city-speed front automatic braking, the Malibu earns a superior rating for front-crash prevention."
Both systems are optional.
The 2016 Malibu is on sale now at Chevrolet dealerships.
It also earned the highest five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The 2016 Malibu received five stars in NHTSA's front and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover crash test.
Standard equipment on the 2016 Malibu includes antilock brakes, stability control, traction control and 10 airbags. A rearview camera is standard on LS, LT, Hybrid and Premier models.
Optional safety equipment includes new forward-collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert and new lane-keep assist and lane-departure warning.
Edmunds says: Car shoppers keeping score should note that the 2016 Honda Accord and Toyota Camry also are Top Safety Pick+ award winners.