2017 Malibu New Car Test Drive
Chevrolet Malibu was completely redesigned for the 2016 model year. No longer a humdrum midsize sedan, the Malibu gained a new body structure, lost 300 pounds, and reached a new plateau in road manners, far removed from its predecessor. It's an excellent example of the forward strides the Detroit Three automakers have made lately.
A 9-speed automatic transmission has been added to the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu Premier trim.
The new 9-speed works with the strongest Malibu engine: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that develops 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. That Premier 2.0-liter makes a worthy substitute for a V6.
Most models hold a 1.5-liter turbo four, rated at 163 horsepower and 184 pound-feet, working with a 6-speed automatic. 2017 Malibu LT and LS radios gain Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with a Teen Driver feature. A new Sport package is available.
For peak fuel-efficiency, Chevrolet continues to offer a Malibu Hybrid. A 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine, rated at 182 horsepower, teams with dual electric motors and a battery pack.
While the 2016 reworking lengthened the Malibu by several inches, it's still near the smaller end of its vehicle category. Base L trim level targets fleet buyers. In the showroom, customers can choose a Malibu LS, LT, Premier, or Hybrid.
Malibu has earned a five-star overall crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with four stars for rollover (a calculated figure). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it a Top Safety Pick award. Except for the base L model, a rearview camera is standard. All Malibus have 10 airbags.
Quite a few active-safety features are available, but mainly for LT and Premier editions. A Front Pedestrian Alert can identify pedestrians ahead, and brake automatically. Adaptive cruise control works with front automatic braking. Also offered are blind-spot monitoring with lane-change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and active lane keep with lane-departure warning. Unlike some safety systems, those on the Malibu function subtly, yet firmly. Front and rear parking sensors are available, as is automatic parking assist.
Malibus with the 1.5-liter engine are EPA-rated at 27/36 mpg City/Highway, or 30 mpg Combined. With the 2.0-liter turbo, estimates dip substantially to 22/33 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg. At the other extreme, the Hybrid is EPA-rated at 49/43 mpg City/Highway, or 46 mpg Combined.
Malibu L ($21,680), which aims at fleet buyers, contains the 1.5-liter engine and such basic features as a six-speaker radio, cruise control, power windows/locks, and 16-inch steel wheels. (All prices are MSRP and do not include $875 destination charge.)
Malibu LS ($23,225) adds a rearview camera, MyLink radio with 7.0-inch touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, OnStar with wi-fi capability, 16-inch alloy wheels, and an acoustic windshield. A Teen Driver feature can track misbehavior of young drivers. Malibu LT ($25,125) comes with 17-inch wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights, satellite radio, heated power mirrors, and power driver's seat.
Malibu Premier ($30,975) steps up to the 2.0-liter engine, as well as an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Bose nine-speaker premium audio, rear-seat USB charging, power heated/ventilated front seats, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, LED taillights, and 18-inch wheels.
Malibu Hybrid ($27,875) features the gasoline/electric powertrain and is similar to LT trim level, with dual-zone automatic air conditioning and hybrid-specific instrument cluster.