In a crowded arena with 2.2 million sales up for grabs annually, Chevy has not been a player. Last year, the brand sold 188,519 Malibus, a six-percent decline from 2013, and fewer than half the number of Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords sold. Despite awards from J.D. Power and Associates and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Chevy knew the Malibu needed a big change.
New Skin, Lighter Bones
The redesign has been in the works for at least three years. Although the Malibu is still based on GM's Epsilon 2 platform, the underpinnings are more derivative of the Impala than the outgoing model. The body structure makes greater use of high-strength steel, which helps reduce weight by 300 pounds.
Size is more Impala-like as well, with 2.3 inches more overall length and a 3.6-inch wheelbase stretch contributing to greater interior space.
A new skin covers the Malibu's lighter bones, and design language from the Impala gives its sibling sedan a fresher, more upscale appearance. To execute this premium appearance, Chevy turned to 25-year-old designer Jaymer Starbody, a four-year General Motors veteran and graduate from Detroit's College for Creative Studies. He described the new Malibu as having a "wheel-oriented" design, and the car looks poised to pounce from certain angles. Though the 2016 Malibu is the same width as before, designers stretched the creases and angles in the sheetmetal to create a flatter, sleeker appearance. The hood and cowl are lower, and the Malibu's face sparkles with LED running lamps on the top trim levels.
Inside, the roomier cabin has a new center stack, satin chrome accents on the interior panel and a console storage area designed for mobile devices. Chevy MyLink with a seven-inch color touchscreen is standard on lower trims, and the top model upgrades to an eight-inch screen. Perforated leather seats and ambient lighting are also available options. The cabin was designed to look high-tech, but still remain easy to use, according to Chevy interior design director Crystal Windham. "We wanted to make sure all the functional elements stayed within reach," she said.
Hybrid Leads Revised Engine Line
Propelling the Malibu's new style forward is an updated powertrain lineup, led by a new 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It can achieve up to 27 miles per gallon in city driving and up to 37 mpg on the highway, Chevy estimates. The 1.5-liter has stop/start technology and is slightly more fuel efficient compared with the outgoing model's naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four cylinder (196 hp, 186 lb-ft), which was rated at 25/36 mpg. The 1.5-liter is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
The 2016 model also marks the reintroduction of the Malibu hybrid, using a modified two-motor drive unit borrowed from the 2016 Volt. The motors team with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and an 80-cell, 1.5-kilowatt hour lithium-ion battery pack. Electric-only propulsion is possible at speeds up to 55 miles per hour, and the Malibu hybrid gets 47 mpg in the combined EPA rating. With a total system output of 182 hp the hybrid is quicker than the 1.5-liter turbo variant, and can sprint to 60 miles mph in 7.8 seconds. Though the Malibu hybrid and Volt share some genetics, the electric systems are calibrated differently: the Volt is an efficiency play, while the Malibu's electric enhance power and performance. "We want to take advantage of the points of your drive cycle it is most efficient to run the engine," said engineer Daryl Wilson.
The 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo continues, but is now paired with an eight-speed automatic in place of a six-speed. It's less powerful and slightly more fuel-efficient that before. Chevrolet estimates this model will make 250 hp and 258 lb-ft, with fuel-economy ratings of 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway. The current Malibut turbo is rated at 259 hp and 295 lb-ft, and gets 21/30 mpg ratings.
More Tech And Safety Features
Chevy outfitted the Malibu with its latest and best technologies, including nine new safety features. Notably, there's a customizable Teen Driver feature that is standard on most trims. It mutes the audio when passengers aren't using seat belts and displays warnings when the car is going faster than pre-programmed speeds. It also generates a user report that displays the top speed, distance traveled and notes if any safety features were triggered during the drive. GM doesn't monitor or record the information, which can be deleted. "We really want this to be a teaching tool," said MaryAnn Beebe, chief safety engineer.
Other available safety features include a rear view camera, front pedestrian alert, lane keeping assist, active cruise control with automatic braking and Intellibeam automatic high-beam headlights. The car has 10 airbags as standard equipment. The Malibu will be sold in L, LS and LT trims. A new level, Premier, replaces LTZ as Chevy's new top trim. The Malibu goes on sale late this year, and the hybrid joins in spring 2016.
Check back soon for live photos and video from the 2015 New York Auto Show.
All-New Malibu is Larger, More Technological and Efficient
New hybrid sedan projected to offer combined rating north of 45 MPG
DETROIT – Chevrolet today introduced the all-new 2016 Malibu – a completely restyled midsize sedan engineered to offer more efficiency, connectivity and advanced safety features than ever.
An all-new hybrid powertrain, which leverages technology from the Chevrolet Volt, will help offer a GM-estimated combined rating north of 45 mpg. The Malibu's standard 1.5L turbo powertrain is projected to offer 37 mpg highway.
The 2016 Malibu is also longer and lighter, with more interior space and improved fuel efficiency. Its wheelbase has been stretched close to four inches (101 mm), and it is nearly 300 pounds (136 kg) lighter than the current model.
"Midsize customers tell us they want great fuel economy, connected technologies, wrapped in a gorgeous exterior. This is exactly what the 2016 Malibu was engineered to do," said Jesse Ortega, Malibu chief engineer.
The 2016 Malibu goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2015. Additional vehicle highlights:
• Available segment-exclusive OnStar 4G LTE in-vehicle connectivity as well as available wireless phone charging
• Agile, sophisticated and sleek exterior design incorporates sophisticated details that advance Chevrolet's signature cues
• Standard preventive safety technologies include 10 standard air bags, with available features such as Forward Collision Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Automatic Parking Assist is also available
• All-new Teen Driver feature, which allows parents to view their kids' driving statistics, such as maximum speed, warning alerts and more
• All-new, power-dense Ecotec 1.5L turbo engine with fuel-saving stop/start technology is standard, offering a GM-estimated 160 hp (119 kW)
• High-output 2.0L turbo with GM-estimated 250 hp (186 kW) is available and is mated with a new eight-speed automatic transmission.
The new Malibu will be offered in L, LS, LT and Premier trims, as well as the Hybrid model. The Premier trim, Chevrolet's new uplevel designation, debuts in the 2016 Malibu. Additional model and trim details will be announced closer to the start of production.
Malibu Hybrid technology
The 2016 Malibu introduces new strong hybrid technology that leverages components and knowledge directly from the plug-in Chevrolet Volt. The Malibu Hybrid is projected to offer a combined rating north of 45 mpg – while maintaining the styling, comfort, driving dynamics and connectivity as gas-only models.
An all-new, direct-injection 1.8L four-cylinder engine mated to a two-motor drive unit, slightly modified from the 2016 Chevrolet Volt drive unit, powers the Malibu Hybrid. The drive unit provides additional power to assist the engine during acceleration, for 182 horsepower (136 kW) of total system power.
The engine also features Chevrolet's first application of Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery, or EGHR, technology, which uses exhaust heat to warm the engine and cabin. EGHR improves engine warm up and ensures consistent fuel economy performance in cold weather. Additional fuel economy benefits come from Exhaust Gas Recirculation, or EGR.
An 80-cell, 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides electric power to the hybrid system. It can power the Malibu Hybrid up to 55 miles per hour (88 km/h) on electricity alone. The gasoline-powered engine automatically comes on at higher speeds and high loads to provide additional power.
In addition to the drive unit, the Malibu Hybrid also shares the 2016 Volt's blended regenerative braking system, which provides maximum kinetic energy recovery during braking to be stored into the battery system to help maintain charge, and drive unit power electronics.
Turbocharged performance and efficiency
An all-new, Ecotec 1.5L turbo is the standard engine in the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, offering a GM-estimated 37 mpg on the highway. It is part of a new global family of small-displacement gas engines designed with greater power density to deliver confident performance with excellent efficiency.
The new 1.5L turbo employs the stop/start technology introduced on the 2014 Malibu, which enhances efficiency in stop-and-go driving, contributing to a GM-estimated 27 mpg in city driving – an 8-percent increase over the current model. On the highway, 1.5L-equipped models also feature active grille shutters that reduce aerodynamic drag to optimize efficiency.
The Malibu's more-efficient standard engine delivers a GM-estimated 160 horsepower (119 kW) and 184 lb-ft of torque (250 Nm). The torque is comparable to the current model's standard 2.5L naturally aspirated engine in a vehicle package that's nearly 300 pounds lighter.
A higher-output 2.0L turbocharged engine is available, offering a GM-estimated 250 horsepower (186 kW) and 258 lb-ft of torque (350 Nm), for a higher degree of performance – but not at the expense of good efficiency. Malibu 2.0T models are GM-estimated at 22 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway.
An all-new, GM-developed eight-speed automatic transmission – the first eight-speed automatic in a GM front-wheel-drive vehicle – contributes to the 2.0T's balance of performance and efficiency. The 1.5L turbo engine is matched with a six-speed automatic.
Teen Driver and an expanded range of safety features
Teen Driver, a standard feature on most trim levels of the next-generation Malibu, supports safe driving habits by muting the audio or any device paired with the vehicle when front-seat occupants aren't wearing their safety belts. Teen Driver also provides audible and visual warnings when the vehicle is traveling over predetermined speeds.
To use Teen Driver, a parent enables the feature with a PIN in the Settings menu of the Malibu's MyLink system, which allows them to register their teen's key fob. The system's settings are turned on only to registered key fobs
Chevrolet's system is the first in the industry with a built-in system that lets parents view on a display how their teenager drove the vehicle. Maximum speed reached, distance driven and number of times active safety features were engaged are among the parameters that can be confirmed.
Teen Driver complements a roster of standard and available safety features, including a rear-view camera system standard on LS, LT, Hybrid and Premier models.
• Ten air bags, including front-seat knee air bags, head-curtain side-impact air bags and seat-mounted side air bags, are also standard.
Available active safety features include:
• Front Pedestrian Alert that uses a forward-looking camera to help avoid or reduce the harm caused by crashes with pedestrians ahead of the vehicle. The system can apply automatic last-second braking
• New Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning
• Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert
• New Forward Collision Alert with Following Distance Indicator
• Rear Cross Traffic Alert
• Front and Rear Park Assist
• Intellibeam, which automatically switches the headlamps to high beam for better road illumination and improved visibility
• Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Automatic Braking
• Automatic Parking Assist.
Sleeker design with lighter, stronger body structure
With a wheelbase stretching 3.6 inches (91 mm) longer than the current Malibu, along with a 2.3-inch (58 mm) 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.
The hood and the cowl – the area where the windshield meets the hood – are lower than the current model and contribute to the Malibu's greater aerodynamic performance, as do active grille shutters on LS and LT models.
Premium design cues are incorporated on all models, with contemporary lighting technology featured across the lineup, including light-emitting diode (LED) daytime running lamps on LT and Premier models. The Malibu Premier also receives LED taillamps.
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 enabled 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.
Roomier, more comfortable and more connected interior
The longer wheelbase allows a more open execution of Chevrolet's signature dual-cockpit interior. Rear legroom improves by 1.3 inches (33 mm).
The cabin's open, expansive feel is reinforced with a greater emphasis on comfort, convenience and connectivity, allowing the Malibu to keep pace with customers' connected lives. Highlights include:
• Chevrolet MyLink with a seven-inch-diagonal color capacitive touch screen is standard on LS, LT and Hybrid models
• Chevrolet MyLink with an eight-inch-diagonal capacitive touch screen is available on LT and Hybrid models and standard on Premier model
• Chevrolet MyLink with navigation is available with the eight-inch MyLink system and features three-dimensional map views for most major U.S. cities and attractions
• All-new Teen Driver feature is supported by the eight-inch MyLink system, allowing parents to restrict certain vehicle functions to support safer driving and to view their kids' driving statistics such as maximum speed, warning alerts and more
• OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot is standard on all models with a three-month/3GB data trial (whichever comes first)
• Wireless phone charging available on LT and Hybrid and standard on Premier
• Dual rear-seat USB ports and a 110-volt power outlet is optional on LT and standard on Premier trim.
The instrument panel "center stack" is all-new, with greater delineation between the infotainment system and climate system controls for easier, at-a-glance operation. The Malibu's interior is also features:
• Galvano (satin) chrome accents on the instrument panel and center console
• Dedicated storage slot for mobile phones, which incorporates wireless charging, if equipped
• Perforated leather-appointed seating surfaces available on LT and Hybrid and standard on Premier
• Ventilated seats – a first for Malibu – are standard on Premier.
The 2016 Malibu will be built from globally sourced parts at GM's Fairfax Assembly Plant, in Kansas City, Kansas. The plant received a $600 million investment in paint shop and tooling upgrades in 2013.
FAST FACT: The 2016 Malibu represents the ninth generation of Chevrolet's signature midsize sedan. It was introduced in 1964.
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 115 countries and selling around 4.8 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.