2016 Chevrolet Malibu First-Drive

13 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

2016 Chevrolet Malibu – bigger car, smaller engines.

The car, which Chevrolet estimates will achieve 48 miles per gallon in city driving and 45 mpg on the highway, uses a hybrid drive unit that has been modified from the second-generation Chevrolet Volt, comes with a MyLink radio and 7-inch diagonal color touch screen that integrates with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto; and a rear vision camera. “The Malibu hybrid leverages knowledge and technology directly from the second-generation Chevrolet Volt,” said Steve Majoros, marketing director of Chevrolet cars and crossovers. What’s Interesting: Teen Driver system that lets parents set speed and boundary limits for their kids, but also tracks how many times safety features such as collision alert are activated.

Chevrolet announced this week that its hybridized version of the mid-sized Malibu would start at $28,645 including destination, for a fuel-sipping, 48 city-mpg, long-legged miler with all kinds of good looks. Also true: the Ford Fusion Hybrid is $3,585 less expensive (although it only manages 41 mpg in the city), the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is $1,810 less expensive (40 mpg city), the Toyota Camry Hybrid is $1,220 less dear (although it manages 43 mpg in the city) — so only the 50-mpg Honda Accord Hybrid starts at a higher price ($1,495 more). In that category, Chevrolet’s been offering the Malibu for quite a while now, and although it has a history and a long-standing name that could attract buyers, sales in recent years haven’t been very significant with retail consumers. Standard powerplant on the Malibu is a new 1.5-litre turbo, which is much smaller than the 2.5-litre it replaces, with 160 hp and a stout 184 lb/ft of torque with a six-speed transmission driving the front wheels.

Yet another feature, called “Teen Driver,” enables parents to mute the audio or any device paired with the vehicle when front-seat occupants aren’t wearing their seat belts. With a combined 182 hp, the Hybrid’s fuel numbers are an estimated 4.9/5.2/5.0L/100 km which, when the final numbers are in, could set the bar for the segment.

The Hybrid is also the first Chevrolet to employ Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery (EGHR), which uses the heat from the exhaust system to warm the engine and cabin. There are three clever cue lines, one of which starts just aft of the headlights and continues to rise along the shoulder line to the rear where it blends in with a sharply descending rear window and short overhang rear valance.

With the 8.0-in MyLink infotainment system, it lets parents restrict certain vehicle functions to support safer driving and to view their kids’ driving statistics such as maximum speed, warning alerts and more. Several functions can be activated though the touchscreen, such as preventing the audio system from working until the seat belts are buckled, or even limiting maximum audio volume, activate a warning alarm if the vehicle reaches a certain speed, etc. As far as Ford goes, they say on their website page that their new Ford Fusion will have a lithium-ion battery along with a 2-liter Atkinson-cycle-I-4 gas engine. Once the teenager gets back home, the system can be easily accessed to check out potentially incriminating info such as distance traveled, top speed and more. The press launch took place in Palo Alto, CA, about an hour south of San Francisco where I drove all three engines starting with the 1.5-litre which, believe it or not, felt like a V6 except at passing speeds where the turbo needed time to spool up — which is did fairly fast.

That was not an issue with the 2.0-litre, where its 258 lb/ft gave it the grunt needed to come up to any speed with just a touch of the gas pedal and no detectible delay in power delivery. The old 2.5-litre four-cylinder base engine has been replaced by a 1.5-litre unit; while it may seem laughable for a car of this size, the magic of turbocharging helps it deliver 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Since the Malibu has always offered an optional engine for those desiring more performance, Chevrolet left the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine on the options list. ENGINE: 1.5-litre, turbo inline four-cylinder (160 hp, 184 lb/ft); 2.0-litre turbo inline four-cylinder (250 hp, 258 lb/ft); 1.8-litre gasoline engine/two electric motor hybrid (182 hp combined) Using the Volt’s electrical system and a 1.8-litre engine, this Malibu slots itself between base and range-topping versions in terms of performance.

With a claimed 0-to-100 km/h sprint accomplished in less than eight seconds, it’s easily capable of merging into traffic, and the manufacturer announced an average consumption of 5.0 L/100 km. While I initially questioned the relevance of such a small motor in a midsize sedan, I was surprised by its torque; around town, power will never be an issue, although the engine does run out of breath on country roads. However, as very few Malibu owners drive with the same level of enthusiasm as automotive journalists, I’m convinced this powertrain will satisfy the majority of midsize shoppers; Chevrolet expects 75% of 2016 Malibu buyers will choose this engine.

It includes automatic start/stop that can’t be deactivated, but its operation is among the most seamless in the industry, and we must be paying close attention to hear or feel it during restart. Its 250 horses are more than enough for swift launches between red lights, and it’s connected to an eight-speed automatic – pretty much the same one found in the Corvette and the Silverado – which always keeps engine revs to a minimum.

Finally, the hybrid version deserves one of the best compliments I can give to this type of powertrain: it drives just as well as the car’s other engines. And there are no fussy controls for electric propulsion neophytes; we simply need to press the engine start button, nudge the lever in D position and drive away. This should provide many different answers from people, but many people will agree that both of these cars look like they have a lot of potential to be great.

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