2016 Chevy Malibu Review
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Spacious interior with tall-person-friendly front seats
- sporty handling around turns
- hybrid version is respectably quick to accelerate
- strong brakes
- responsive and intuitive 8-inch touchscreen interface with sharp graphics.
- Mediocre acceleration from base 1.5-liter engine
- some low-speed lurches from transmission
- sparsely equipped base L trim
- touchscreen prone to harsh reflections and obscuring fingerprints
- distracting sun reflections from interior trim.
It's a wallflower no more. If you're shopping for a midsize family sedan, the fully redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Malibu can be put on your test-drive list. It might not be as polished as some rivals, but you'll find it to be plenty practical and surprisingly fun to drive.
Though the previous-generation Chevrolet Malibu was a likable enough sedan, we found it came up short in a few key areas. For 2016, though, Chevy has gone back to the drawing board, and the result is one of the biggest generation-to-generation improvements in recent memory.
The first thing you'll notice about the 2016 Chevy Malibu is the striking exterior styling. To some eyes, it even evokes the Audi A7 with its sleek, faux-hatchback profile. In any case, it's safe to say this is the first Malibu since the early 1970s that won't look out of place in the tony California seaside town for which it's named, particularly in Limited trim with the 19-inch wheels.
A wallflower no more, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu has become a striking car by family sedan standards.
Chevy tinkered under the hood as well. There's a newly standard turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that replaces the previous non-turbo 2.5-liter base engine. It gives up 36 horsepower compared to the old 2.5, but its turbocharger supplies suitable low-rpm oomph plus improved fuel economy. The Malibu's engine upgrade, a smooth and strong turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, remains optional. But it might be the new Malibu Hybrid that impresses the most. It produces excellent fuel economy and smooth, quiet and surprisingly rapid acceleration. The fact it otherwise drives like the other Malibus is icing on the cake.
Inside, the quality of the materials is unremarkable, but standard and optional equipment are competitive for the segment. The front seats offer plenty of adjustability, even for tall folks. And in back, the previous-generation Malibu's shortage of rear legroom has been corrected thanks to a wheelbase that's nearly 4 inches longer, finally putting the Malibu on par with its primary competitors.
So, is the Malibu the new family sedan favorite? We wouldn't go that far. The Honda Accord’s thorough refresh helps it maintain its status as a very compelling car, especially in its value-packed lower trim levels. The Hyundai Sonata is another excellent all-around choice for the money, while the Ford Fusion strikes emotional chords with its sharp styling and engaging driving dynamics. We also like to introduce shoppers to the underappreciated Mazda 6, which is a great choice for a car with a bit more style and athleticism. But if the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu ends up feeling right to you, you'll certainly be driving one of the finer sedans in this class.
2016 Chevrolet Malibu models
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan is offered in four main trim levels: L, LS, LT and Premier. Note that the LT is technically divided into two sub-trims (1LT and 2LT), with the latter receiving the 2.0-liter engine, the eight-speed automatic transmission and a few other features noted below. The Hybrid is a stand-alone trim level.
The base L comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, keyless entry and ignition, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, manual front-seat height adjusters, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, OnStar, Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker audio system.
The LS adds 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, 4G LTE connectivity with mobile Wi-Fi, a rearview camera, Bluetooth streaming audio, and the MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen that includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration.
Although the base L trim isn't particularly well equipped, the higher trim levels raise their game with up-to-date features and even a two-tone color scheme.
The 1LT comes with 17-inch wheels, LED daytime running lights, heated mirrors, ambient interior lighting, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), rear climate vents and satellite radio.
The Hybrid is essentially equal to the 1LT, though it does come standard with dual-zone automatic climate control.
The 2LT is also generally comparable to the 1LT but adds a more powerful turbocharged engine, 18-inch wheels, dual exhaust tips and a larger fuel tank (15.8 gallons versus 13.0 for the 1.5T).
The Premier boasts 19-inch wheels, LED taillights, remote ignition, a color driver information system, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, driver memory settings, a six-way power passenger seat (with power lumbar), a heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, wireless smartphone charging, a 120-volt power outlet, two additional USB charging ports, an upgraded 8-inch touchscreen, a navigation system and a nine-speaker Bose audio system.
Some of the Premier's higher-end standard features are available on lower trim levels as options. Other options, depending on trim, include a sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels and a couple of advanced safety-related packages (see Safety section).
Performance & mpg
All 2016 Chevrolet Malibu models are front-wheel-drive. The L, LS and 1LT trim levels come standard with a six-speed automatic transmission and a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 160 hp and 184 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is EPA-rated at 31 mpg combined (27 city/37 highway), boosted slightly by a stop-start system that automatically turns off the engine when the car comes to a halt.
You can tell the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Limited by its propeller-style 19-inch wheels. Also, the powerful 2.0-liter turbo engine comes standard.
Standard on the 2LT and Premier trims are an eight-speed automatic and a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that cranks out 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. That's less output than this engine made in the previous Malibu, but the new eight-speed transmission makes the most of it. In Edmunds testing, it brought a Malibu Premier from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds--which is about average for a midsize sedan engine upgrade.
EPA fuel economy estimates for the 2.0-liter are 26 mpg combined (22 city/33 highway). We averaged a very impressive 32.2 mpg on the 116-mile Edmunds evaluation route.
The Hybrid, as the name suggests, includes a gasoline-electric system derived from the Chevrolet Volt. Most of the time, it sends its power through its 76-kW electric motor, which draws electricity from its battery pack and a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Overall output is 182 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. In Edmunds testing, the Malibu Hybrid went from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, making it one of the quickest hybrid sedans we've tested to date.
EPA-estimated fuel economy is 46 combined (47 city/46 highway) for the Hybrid. In terms of actual fuel used, it is essentially equal to the Accord Hybrid and considerably better than the Camry Hybrid and Sonata Hybrid.
The 2016 Chevy Malibu comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front knee airbags, front side airbags, rear side airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard is the OnStar telematics system, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle assistance.
A rearview camera is standard from the LS trim on up, and there are two advanced safety packages. The Driver Confidence package adds automatic high-beam headlight control, front and rear parking sensors, a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and intervention, and a forward collision warning system with low-speed automatic braking. The Driver Confidence 2 package adds a self-parking system, an electronic parking brake, adaptive cruise control, and an upgraded collision mitigation system with automatic emergency braking.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Malibu Premier came to a panic stop from 60 mph in 113 feet--a superior distance that one is one of the shortest we've recorded in this segment. The Malibu Hybrid stopped in a more typical distance of 123 feet.
The 1.5-liter turbo engine's 160 hp is about as meager as it gets in this segment, so don't expect a stirring experience when you mat the gas. On the other hand, the ample turbocharged torque hits early and often, so when you're climbing a hill or simply keeping up with traffic, this engine can feel virtually effortless. Overall, we'd say it's just fine for most purposes, but if you're underwhelmed on your test drive, be sure to check out the energetic 2.0-liter turbo, which makes the Malibu a much quicker car and also brings the more confident eight-speed transmission.
The powertrain to get, though, might very well be the hybrid. Its smooth, quiet and surprisingly quick acceleration is more akin to an electric vehicle than other hybrids such as the Toyota Camry, as it relies more on its electric motor than its gasoline engine. When the engine does come on, it's relatively unobtrusive unless you're flooring the gas or chugging up a steep grade. We also like that the Hybrid's brake pedal feels progressive and natural.
The 2016 Malibu's styling hints at a certain sportiness within, and sure enough, this model feels more athletic on the road than its stolid predecessor.
Whichever powertrain you select, the 2016 Malibu possesses a newfound nimbleness that makes it at least mildly entertaining to drive. Even the Hybrid is surprisingly light on its feet. Ride quality also remains a Malibu strength, with most bumps and ruts getting expertly filtered out before they reach the cabin. There might be a bit more interior noise than before, but this is still a fundamentally quiet car.
The changes inside the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu aren't as radical as those on the outside, but the new model is nevertheless improved. What jumps out about the new dashboard is its more modern, organic design that features sleeker gauges and climate controls that show a bit more flair. Another welcome touch is the way in which the optional MyLink touchscreen is integrated: It looks like an iPad slipped neatly into its own slot, bucking the trend these days of infotainment screens perched awkwardly atop the dash.
The 2016 Malibu's optional 8-inch MyLink touchscreen is user-friendly, and we like how it appears to slot into the dashboard like an accessory iPad.
Speaking of those touchscreens, the lower-end unit has a 7-inch diagonal with merely adequate graphics, while the available 8-inch screen (standard on Premier, optional on LT and Hybrid) offers tablet-like colors and clarity. We like the intuitive menu structure, quick response times and notable cool features such as mobile 4G Wi-Fi and full smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It's unfortunate, however, that the screen can become unreadable due to reflections and fingerprints. Furthermore, the base L trim comes standard with neither of these infotainment systems.
Seat comfort is a strong point in the 2016 Malibu. The power driver seat (we haven't tested the manual version) slides back farther than the Accord's, making this Chevy a strong pick for tall shoppers, and all front-row riders will likely find support and cushioning to be satisfactory. In back, the new Malibu's elongated wheelbase opens up enough legroom to challenge rivals including the Ford Fusion, though in our experience, the Accord and Sonata offer even more. Still, the Malibu is now competitive in terms of backseat space, and that addresses a major complaint about the previous-generation car.
Cabin storage for small items is unremarkable for a midsize sedan, but the 15.8-cubic-foot trunk is large, if admittedly average for the segment. Getting the Hybrid reduces trunk capacity to 11.6 cubic feet since the battery pack eats up its lower rear portion (imagine a small stage in the back of the trunk). This is typical for a hybrid sedan, though the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid does buck the trend.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover10.2%
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More About This Model
Fully redesigned, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu makes its presence felt with standard turbocharged power, an optional hybrid version and much sleeker styling inside and out. The family sedan segment is so competitive that it's hard to pick a winner, but the new Malibu is now in the conversation.
What Is It?
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is a front-wheel-drive midsize family sedan that's pitted squarely against stalwarts like the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. For this year's clean-sheet redesign, it's clear that Chevy pulled out all the stops in an attempt to make the Malibu more competitive. By and large, they've succeeded. The 2016 Malibu is a strong product across the board that should give the perennial sales leaders plenty to think about.
What's New About It?
The 2016 Chevy Malibu redesign starts with a nearly 4-inch-longer wheelbase that opens up the previous car's cramped backseat. The exterior styling is immeasurably more sophisticated, showing no trace of the familiar rental-lot look; we even see a little Audi A7 in the rear three-quarter view. You won't mistake the interior for anything German, but it's still much more appealing than its predecessor and broadly class-competitive. Technology integration is likewise impressive, particularly when the tablet-like 8-inch touchscreen is specified.
Equally notable is what's missing from the 2016 Malibu, namely, about 300 extra pounds compared to the last generation. With the new base engine under the hood (a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder), curb weights settle between 3,100 and 3,200 pounds, which is extraordinarily light for a midsize sedan. The 160-horsepower 1.5 gives up 36 hp to the previous Malibu's 2.5-liter nonturbocharged four-cylinder, but the new engine has significantly less mass to haul around. Plus, there is 184 pound-feet of torque on tap, most of it from low rpm, so the standard six-speed automatic transmission seldom has to downshift to maintain speed on uphill grades.
Still, 160 hp is the lowest figure you'll find in the class, which is why there's also a zesty 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder available as an option. According to Chevy, the 250-hp "2.0T" engine — largely carried over from the outgoing Malibu — punches above its rating, running neck-and-neck in acceleration tests with the more powerful Accord V6 and Camry V6. It also comes with a new eight-speed automatic transmission that's a more precise tool than the standard six-speed.
There's also a 2016 Malibu Hybrid, which shares technology with the new 2016 Volt but lacks that car's plug-in functionality. Rated at an estimated 47 mpg in combined driving, the 2016 Malibu Hybrid ties the Accord Hybrid for best-in-class frugality, so there's no doubt it's a serious player.
What Body Styles and Trim Levels Does It Come In?
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is a four-door midsize sedan offered in four main trim levels: L, LS, LT and range-topping Premier. The latter comes standard with the 2.0T powertrain, which is optional on the LT trim. Note that most LT models and every L and LS will employ the 1.5-liter turbo engine.
The base L trim is pretty basic, as it lacks a central touchscreen and is the only Malibu to roll on steel wheels with plastic covers instead of alloy wheels. The LS gets alloy wheels and a 7-inch touchscreen (with Chevy's MyLink infotainment system) along with a rearview camera, 4G LTE connectivity with mobile WiFi, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and eligibility for a wider range of options.
If you want the slick 8-inch touchscreen with its superior graphics, you'll need at least the LT trim, which offers it as an option and comes standard with 17-inch wheels (18s for the 2LT with the 2.0T engine), LED running lights, ambient interior lighting, a power driver seat, rear console vents and a variety of other perks. The Premier makes the 8-inch screen standard along with a nine-speaker Bose audio system, and it throws in 19-inch wheels, a color driver information display, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, perforated leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel.
Also standard on Premier (and optional on LT) is a new Teen Driving system that places electronic limits on inexperienced drivers, à la Ford's MyKey. These top trims are additionally eligible for a Driver Confidence package that adds forward-collision warning with low-speed automatic braking, automatic high beams, front and rear parking sensors, lane-departure prevention and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. Offered exclusively on Premier is a Driver Confidence II package that tacks on adaptive cruise control, a collision mitigation system with advanced autonomous braking and a self-parking system.
How Does It Drive?
The 2016 Malibu's crash diet is palpable from behind the wheel. The car feels nimble and light on its feet despite its enlarged dimensions, providing enough driver engagement to keep things interesting on a winding road. Chevy says the hood and dashboard have been lowered to enhance visibility, and we can confirm that the view out the front is expansive. On the flip side, the rakish, coupelike rear roof line makes it unusually difficult to check your blind spot before changing lanes, so the optional blind-spot monitor is a particularly valuable addition.
At highway speeds, the new Malibu remains quiet on most surfaces, though coarse ones can occasionally produce intrusive road noise. Ride quality is very good, even with the sharp-looking 19-inch wheels that come standard on the Premier. The base 1.5-liter engine is respectably refined, but it's not exactly thrilling during full-throttle passing and merging, and its estimated 8.5-second sprint to 60 mph is a bit below average. The smooth and strong 2.0-liter option quite simply blows it away; pity, then, that you can't get into a Malibu 2.0T for less than $30,000, as a more affordable version would give Chevy a real edge versus the competition.
As for the Malibu Hybrid, its 182 combined system horsepower may not seem like much, but full-bore acceleration is adequate as long as you don't mind the loud gas-engine droning that comes with it. If you've driven a Camry Hybrid or even a Toyota Prius, the Malibu Hybrid will feel instantly familiar. As in those models, it's possible to creep along at low speeds (and theoretically up to 55 mph) solely under electric power, but the 1.8-liter gas engine comes to life frequently and sometimes noisily in ordinary driving. Of course, the main draw here is fuel economy, which Chevy projects to be 47 mpg in combined driving (48 city/45 highway), trouncing the 2016 Camry Hybrid by 6-7 mpg.
What's It Like Inside?
The 2016 Malibu does a great job of accommodating drivers of all sizes. The seat slides back far enough for NBA-length legs, putting the Accord to shame, and the deep, generously padded door armrest is similarly hospitable. Front seat comfort is satisfactory, if not particularly memorable, while rear passengers enjoy an additional 1.3 inches of legroom for 2016 that puts the Malibu on par with rivals like the Ford Fusion, although the Accord, Camry and Hyundai Sonata feel roomier still.
Ergonomically, most controls are where you'd expect them to be, and the interior design team nailed the location of the optional touchscreen. It sits high up and conveniently close to the driver, and reflections were never a problem on our evaluation drive. We also like how the screen is neatly integrated into the flow of the dashboard, as opposed to being perched on top like so many screens these days.
Storage for personal items is adequate, though not class-leading. Same goes for the interior materials, which are upgraded from the previous Malibu but not always convincing. Nonetheless, the dashboard's curvaceous new look lends an upscale vibe that should help earn consideration from nonbrand loyalists.
What Kind of Mileage Does It Deliver?
With the 1.5-liter engine, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is EPA-rated at 31 mpg in combined driving (27 city/37 highway). That ties the base Accord and nearly matches the 32 mpg Mazda 6 at the head of the segment. Step up to the 2.0-liter engine and you can expect 26 mpg combined (22/33), according to Chevy's estimates, which is about average for an upgraded engine in this class. As noted, the Malibu Hybrid is pegged at a class-leading 47 mpg combined (48/45), also according to internal estimates.
What Are Its Closest Competitors?
The Honda Accord gets a number of tweaks for 2016 and is a very well-executed car, from its peppy four-cylinder engine and remarkably responsive CVT to its attractive and spacious interior.
The stylish Mazda 6 has also been recently updated with more contemporary infotainment options, and it remains the sport sedan of this group, providing responsive handling with the added benefit of best-in-class fuel economy.
The Toyota Camry has never been the most exciting choice, but it's a top seller for good reason. Resale value is excellent, there's plenty of room in both seating rows, and while the base four-cylinder engine is forgettable, the optional V6 is exceptionally capable.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
The 2016 Malibu offers upscale looks, competitive powertrains and a larger cabin with ample passenger space. Much like the larger Impala, it's no longer the rental-fleet special of its segment; on the contrary, it's right up there with the top performers.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
Compared to the entry-level Accord LX or Sonata SE, for example, the sparsely equipped Malibu L isn't a great value, and desirable features like the blind-spot monitor and 8-inch touchscreen aren't even offered on the midgrade LS.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Used 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Overview
The Used 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is offered in the following submodels: Malibu Sedan, Malibu Hybrid. Available styles include LT 4dr Sedan w/1LT (1.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A), LS 4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A), Premier 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A), LT 4dr Sedan w/2LT (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A), Hybrid 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl gas/electric hybrid DD), L 4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A), and LS Fleet 4dr Sedan (1.5L 4cyl Turbo 6A). Pre-owned Chevrolet Malibu models are available with a 1.5 L-liter gas engine or a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 250 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2016 Chevrolet Malibu comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic, 8-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2016 Chevrolet Malibu comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2016 Chevrolet Malibu?
Price comparisons for Used 2016 Chevrolet Malibu trim styles:
- The Used 2016 Chevrolet Malibu LT is priced between $11,988 and$24,590 with odometer readings between 5050 and181900 miles.
- The Used 2016 Chevrolet Malibu LS is priced between $14,950 and$21,990 with odometer readings between 16380 and86959 miles.
- The Used 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Premier is priced between $18,998 and$24,998 with odometer readings between 41790 and109786 miles.
- The Used 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid is priced between $17,998 and$24,998 with odometer readings between 27266 and80469 miles.
- The Used 2016 Chevrolet Malibu LS Fleet is priced between $18,590 and$20,998 with odometer readings between 23396 and64303 miles.
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Which used 2016 Chevrolet Malibus are available in my area?
Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2016 Chevrolet Malibu for sale near. There are currently 106 used and CPO 2016 Malibus listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $11,988 and mileage as low as 5050 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2016 Chevrolet Malibu.
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Should I lease or buy a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.