2016-chevrolet-malibu

By Greg Williams, Driving.ca - Malibu is a hallowed nameplate in the General Motors' garage.  First introduced in 1964, some classic Malibus can make the heart of an avid car collector beat a little big faster.  But so can the automaker's all-new for 2016 Malibu.

Reader Reviewer Greg Mundy didn't require medical attention for a raised pulse rate during his week-long test drive, but he certainly approved of GM's latest design for the Malibu.

"It's a great-looking car," Mundy said.  "The body lines are really attractive, and this generation of the Malibu has a much more premium aura about it.  It looked better than I'd expected.

"When my wife first saw the car, she said, 'This is a Chevy Malibu?' with a big question mark at the end."

The current Malibu is now in its ninth generation, having morphed from a somewhat muscular rear-wheel-drive vehicle of the 1960s to a rather staid front-wheel drive mid-size sedan in the late 1990s.  There was, however, a break in Malibu production between 1983 and 1997.

General Motors describes the 2016 iteration of the Malibu as a brand new from the ground up.  Although riding on a wheelbase 101 millimetres longer than the previous Malibu, the car is lighter by 136 kilograms.  There's increased passenger room, and fuel economy has improved.

Available in four trims, from base L to increased-content LS, LT and top-of-the-line Premier, the first three Malibus are powered by an Ecotec 1.5-litre turbo-charged four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.  There's a hybrid version of the car available, and the Premier features a larger 2.0-L turbo-charged four cylinder that produces 90 more horsepower than the 1.5-L engine.

In a first for a GM front-wheel-drive car, the Premier model comes equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

"I had a 2012 Malibu as a company car," Mundy said, "and I wouldn't say it was my favourite vehicle."

However, the new $38,145 Premier version (including $1,650 destination charge and $4,450 in options) Mundy drove was a different story.

"It's night and day, the difference between the 2012 Malibu and this new one," he said.

A self-professed nerd, Mundy appreciates and embraces new technologies.  He wholeheartedly enjoyed many of the features his Malibu Premier featured as part of the $1,450 Driver Confidence and $1,350 Driver Confidence II packages.

"The lane-keeping assist, the self-parking and the adaptive cruise control features really tickled me to see, and they worked great," Mundy said.

The car also came equipped with the $1,550 power slide and tilt sunroof that has an additional skylight in the rear section.

A family man with a five-year old son, Mundy maintains a 2015 Subaru Outback as a daily driver and a 2015 GMC Sierra HD Denali with Duramax diesel to haul a fifth-wheel trailer.

He loaded up the Malibu to head down the highway to the Nanton Bomber Command Museum of Canada.  The first problem he had was finding the LATCH locations to secure his son's car seat.

"That wasn't intuitive, and what should have taken me about eight minutes took an hour," Mundy said.  "It's not well documented in the manual, and I had to walk away for a bit in frustration.  I did finally find them behind a leather panel with open sides, but they weren't where I would have expected them."

On the highway, the new 2.0-L turbocharged engine impressed him, and he said there was more than enough "oomph" to merge and quickly come up to road speed.  The eight-speed transmission seamlessly settled down into top gear and allowed the engine to loaf along with a low tickover speed.

But, Mundy added, "My complaint about the turbo and the transmission would be in city stop and go traffic, it felt a bit choppy."

The brakes were powerful and the steering was firm, and both offered good feedback.  The ride was also rated as firm, but not quite sports-car like.

Mundy found the leather driver's seat comfortable and supportive, and said the memory function is a useful feature.  The instruments and controls all made sense, and the overall layout was declared "nice and clean".

"The infotainment screen itself was one of the nicest, brightest and crispest I've seen," Mundy added.  "But the centre console is very minimalist, and the driver has to reach around the shifter to reach a beverage in the cupholder."

Mundy said the Malibu is an ideal family car, and he wouldn't hesitate to recommend one to a family of three or four; it could be used with ease, given the wide-opening doors and huge trunk.

He did mention that he'd like to see the car available with all-wheel drive, although.

"It's a car I could drive everyday for sure," Mundy concluded.  "It sure got a lot of attention, and I was sad to see it go."

DRIVER'S JOURNAL

Day 1: Striking appearance.  Chevrolet has done a nice job of designing this car.  Interior surfaces are mostly soft touch, giving the car an upmarket look and feel.  Took my wife for a drive, she was very impressed; surprised that this was a Chevrolet.  She really liked the looks of the car.

Day 2:  Family road trip to test the highway capabilities.  This necessitated me installing my son's car seat.  Chevrolet needs to better document where the LATCH connectors are behind the seat; it is not intuitive.  The 2.0-L turbo engine provides plenty of power, both in the city and on the highway.  I found myself getting up to local street speeds very fast, and on the highway I had plenty of power to spare for acceleration and passing.  The Malibu is a real treat to drive on the highway; the suspension is soft enough to be comfortable, but not so soft that there is no feedback.  Steering is unlike anything I have experienced in a Chevrolet, plenty of feedback and just the right amount of power assist.

Day 3:  Played with the electronic goodies.  This car has plenty.  The infotainment system is very fast and responsive.  My son loved the Wi-Fi, and that he could watch Netflix while road tripping.  The car has both Apply CarPlay and Android Auto; I have both types and tried them both.  Apple CarPlay is very intuitive; once you connected the USB cable, the phone and car initiate the setup process.  I had to install the Android Auto app on my phone to use it.  Once set up, it is as simple as connecting the USB cable for both devices.  Both are intuitive, although I would give the edge to Apple CarPlay, as it works just like the phone on the screen in the car.

Day 4:  Driving to work, I played with some of the safety features of the car.  The lane-keep assist is very nice; it will steer your car back into the lane if you drift out, although the lane lines had to be very clear for this feature to work consistently.  The car also has "self parking," which I tried in the garage of my office.  You press the button on the lower console, the screen in the dash then tells you what to do - drive slowly until it finds a spot, put the car in reverse and let go of the steering wheel.  It works very well.  I showed this to a co-worker, and to quote him, "That is bad ass."

Day 5:  My only complaint about driving the car is in stop-and-go traffic.  The combination of the 2.0-L turbo and the eight-speed transmission cause it to be a little jerky in traffic.  The turbo spins up, and the transmission shifts quickly and then I step on the brake to stop.  I am not sure if this would improve as the computer learned my driving style.

Days 6 and 7:  Time to return the car.  It started to rain pretty heavily on the drive and the car rides well on wet roads.

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malibu-17
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is a big improvement on the outgoing model
with a hint of the Audi A7 in the rear three-quarter

By Graeme Fletcher, Driving.ca - With only a brief hiatus, the Malibu has been a Chevrolet staple since it was introduced at around the same time the Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Over the years, the good, the bad and the plain ugly have worn the nameplate.  The ugly badge is pinned to the tail of the so-called Iraqi Malibu.

In 1981, GM produced a special version of its popular sedan for the Iraqi government.  It had a V6 engine, a three-speed manual transmission and precious little else.  The order was abruptly cancelled, so GM sold the majority of these oddball orphans in Canada, and at a fire-sale price.

Fast-forward to today and the all new, ninth-generation Malibu is as far removed from that abomination as is possible.  For example, the designed-by-committee interior has been shelved.

This is not your father's Malibu anymore.  Gone is the fuddy-duddy finish in favour of a more upscale look and feel that's dominated by the iPad-like screen and Chevy's MyLink infotainment system.  It now looks like it was designed to be there, not like it was an afterthought.

The system is readily mastered.  It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and also delivers a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot.  CarPlay proved to be remarkably easy to use once the phone was paired, which was itself a simple task.  Hold the talk button for two seconds and the on-board "Molly of the maps" is overridden by Siri.  Ask "where am I?" and Siri gives you the exact address and then puts the location on the map in the screen.  Having Siri read or respond to texts is also easy, as is placing a call or finding a song.  Even more impressive is the quality and clarity of the screen.  The high-definition colours are vivid and the clarity better than many similar setups.

As for the driver's lot in life, the seat is comfortable and offers lots of adjustments, so taller folk will find ample legroom.  And it's more of the same in the back - lots of toe-leg- and headroom.  A 6-foot-2 passenger will find a comfortable, un-scrunched seating position.  With split/folding seats and 447 litres of space, the trunk accommodates a family of five's luggage with ease.

The latest Malibu is offered in three very different flavours.  The tester arrived with GM's Ecotec 1.5-L turbocharged four-cylinder married to a six-speed automatic transmission.  The 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque it puts out is enough for most eventualities.  Yes, it takes almost nine seconds to trot to 100 kilometres an hour, but the plus proved to be the fuel economy - a test best of 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres.  The average for the entire test was 10.8 L/100 km, and this included the acceleration testing.

That said, the better choice is the 2.0-L turbocharged four-cylinder that's married to an advanced eight-speed automatic transmission.  It brings a rabble-rousing 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque and is much quicker, running to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds.  The vigour arrives at the cost of fuel efficiency, but it transforms the Malibu into a smile inducer.  The final alternative, if you're really into fuel economy, is the Hybrid.

The six-speed transmission worked well with the base engine, especially on the highway, where it kept the revs low and the cabin eerily quiet.  The anomaly proved to be the controls on the back side of the steering wheel; they control the audio, not the shifting.  The latter is done through a toggle switch atop the shifter, and then only after selecting low.  Given this 1.5-L engine does not tempt the driver to play cowboy, this setup was passable, but it will likely be awkward with the sportier 2.0-L engine and the performance it puts at the driver's right boot.

On-road comportment is where the Malibu comes into its own.  The new car is significantly lighter, which makes it feel much more agile on its P225/55R17 tires.  This new-found nimbleness makes the Malibu an entertaining drive; nobody could ever accuse previous generations of the car of being fun!  The amount of body roll is minimal and the response to driver input is crisp.  Ditto for the steering and brakes; both have a much sharper feel than before.

It is the quality and quietness of the ride, however, that will be the Malibu's defining quality and strength.  The rigours of a rough road simply disappear.  In the end, the Malibu does a very credible job of mimicking a luxury car.

The latest Malibu represents a vast improvement over the outgoing model.  It has style (some will see shades of the Audi A7 in the rear three-quarter, which is not a bad thing), a broader model mix, a swanky new interior as well as the aforementioned ride quality and cabin quietness.  The combination means it now has the wherewithal to cater to a much wider array of potential customers.  Heck, even younger buyers looking to start a family will find it appealing.

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2016-chevrolet-malibu-005-1The Ottawa Sun - The Chevrolet Malibu has remained an enduring classic among its peers since it was introduced more than 50 years ago.  Now, the quintessential midsize sedan boldly steps into the future with an all-new 2016 model that is completely restyled and engineered to offer more efficiency, connectivity and advanced safety features than ever.  The 2016 Malibu reaches an exceptional level of fuel efficiency with an all-new hybrid powertrain that uses technology from the Chevrolet Volt.  The hybrid helps offer a GM-estimated 4.9 L/100km city, 5.2 L/100km highway - and 5.0 L/100km combined.  The Malibu's standard 1.5L turbo powertrain is projected to offer 6.4 L/100km highway.

Longer and lighter, the new Malibu also offers more interior space.

"Midsize car customers tell us they want great fuel economy and connected technologies, wrapped in a gorgeous exterior.  This is exactly what the 2016 Malibu was engineered to do," said Jesse Ortega, Malibu chief engineer.

With a wheelbase stretching 91 mm (3.6 inches) longer than the current Malibu, along with a 58 mm (2.3-inch) longer overall length and the same overall width, the 2016 Malibu strikes a sleeker looking proportion.  The added wheelbase helps provide better in-cabin comfort and functionality.

With styling influenced by the 2014 Impala, the all-new Malibu advances Chevrolet's global design language with features such as slim, sweeping headlamps and a progressive take on the brand's characteristic dual-port grille.  Three body-side creases also add drama to the design and help distinguish the Malibu as a contemporary Chevy.

Beneath the new Malibu's athletic-looking skin is a stronger, lighter body structure that contributes to its efficiency and driving dynamics.  Greater use of high-strength steels enables engineers to design the body structure with thinner components in some areas, delivering comparable crash performance with lower weight.  The all-new body structure accounts for more than one-third of the Malibu's nearly 300-pound weight reduction.

Android Auto and Apple Car-Play compatibility Malibu's 7-inch MyLink infotainment system gives owners a smart and simple way to access Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.  The eight-inch version of MyLink will be compatible only with Apple CarPlay at the beginning of the 2016 model year.  While development and testing are not yet complete, Android Auto compatibility may be available on the 8-inch version of MyLink later in the 2016 model year.

Each system builds off of the features smartphone users rely on most.  Android Auto is built around Google Maps, Google Now and the ability to talk to Google, as well as a growing audio and messaging app ecosystem that includes WhatsApp, Skype, Google Play Music, Spotify and podcast players.

Apple CarPlay takes the iPhone features customers want to access while driving and puts them on the vehicle's display in a smart, simple manner.  That allows drivers to make calls, send and receive messages and listen to music right from the touchscreen or by voice via Siri.  Apple CarPlay supported apps include Phone, Messages, Maps, Music and compatible third-party apps.

Many features can be controlled via voice commands through a button on the steering wheel, helping drivers spend more time with eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

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