Looks like Chevrolet picked a terrible time to introduce the 2016 Malibu Hybrid. And that’s too bad, as this fuel-sipping hybrid delivers an excellent ride wrapped up in a sleek little package.
The Malibu is Chevrolet’s midsize sedan, slotting in between the compact Cruz and the full-size Impala. This year the Malibu is completely redesigned and features a whole host of safety features and driver’s aids.
This is the first year the Malibu is offered as a full hybrid. Previous models were available as a mild hybrid, where the electric motor functions merely as a power booster to the gasoline powered engine. The gasoline engine in mild hybrids shut off during braking, coasting, and when stopped, saving fuel.
The first thing I noticed in my quick preview drive of the Malibu Hybrid during a Chevrolet-sponsored press event near San Francisco was how easily it switched from the electric motor to the 1.8-liter gasoline engine. It’s very quiet and seamless, with no telltale jerk on the chassis.
The second thing I noticed was the new braking system. Many early hybrids suffered from a non-linear braking feel, a result of capturing the kinetic energy from the braking and storing it in the battery. The system has gotten better over the years, and the Malibu Hybrid shares the same blended regenerative system as the new Chevrolet Volt. The result is smooth braking from first touch to final stop.
MPGs and all the torque
The Malibu Hybrid’s two drive modes are optimized separately for the city and highway speeds. The second mode helps mitigate the lower highway fuel economy often seen in other hybrids. GM-estimated fuel ratings are 48 mpg in the city, 45 mpg on the highway, and 47 mpg combined. That combined number beats the Hyundai Sonata, Toyota Camry, and Ford Fusion hybrids, and equals the combined rating of the Honda Accord hybrid.
Total output from the gas engine and electric motor is 182 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, and the Malibu can cruise at speeds of up to 55 mph on electricity alone.
Like the gas-powered 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, the Hybrid gets the same influx of safety features and aids, like Teen Driver, which helps new drivers by monitoring their trips and issuing a report card, adaptive cruise control, parallel parking assist, front collision warning and braking, blind spot monitoring, and lane keeping assist.
The Hybrid fortunately wears the same sheet metal as the traditionally powered Malibu. The fleet-car look is replaced with a sleek and sexy design aesthetic, with a new Camaro-inspired front end. The longer wheelbase of the 2016 model gives more leg room to rear passengers, and the gently curving creases along the side impart a modern look.
Wi-Fi hotspot standard
Inside a 7-inch touchscreen is standard, but a larger 8-inch screen is available. Opt for the larger screen if you want the MyLink navigation and Teen Driver systems. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot capabilities is standard and wireless phone charging is available.
Pricing has not been announced, but the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid is expected to go into production in the spring of 2016.