“After generations of lackluster sedans, the Malibu finally gets even with the competition with handsome looks, modern tech and a comfy ride.”
Should the 2016 Chevy Malibu be on Your Family Car Short-List?
Maybe, but here’s why. The good ‘ole family sedan has played protagonist to years of family vacations, endless school runs, mind-numbing soccer practices, and even the infamous, lets-tie-this-mattress-to-the-roof-and-hope-it-stays stunts.
Allow me to be straight forward, the Chevy Malibu has never been a head-turner, nobody has ever seen a Malibu drive down the street and said “Man, I want one of those one day.” But like most of us parents, our physical appearance and level of maturity changes over the years, and whether it be for better or for worse, the Malibu is now a mature and charming car that could rocket the American nameplate to the mid-size sedan battlefront.
We spent a week behind the wheel of a 2016 Chevy Malibu LT press-car, which featured the basic interior necessities and no exterior bling. That meant the price stayed low and affordable compared to the usual “decked out” press-cars we normally test. This time we got a real taste of what the majority of the American public will actually purchase.
Our Malibu was equipped with the base 160 horsepower 1.5 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine, and a 6 speed automatic transmission. But, why are those numbers relevant? Well, it’s those specifications that allow the Malibu to reach an EPA rated 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway, or in real-world numbers, we achieved a 28 mpg combined average over a nearly 300 mile stint. For comparison sake (or the lack of it), that’s exactly the same mpg number we achieved with the 2016 Honda Accord Sport.
The interior of the Malibu has also come a long way, featuring less cheap plastics and more ergonomic and eye-pleasing surfaces. The 8 inch center screen serves as the focal point of the dashboard, as well as the go-to for everything media, phone, audio related, and it even comes with Apple CarPlay. The climate and other miscellaneous controls are located underneath the screen and are easy-to-read and fairly intuitive.
It’s perhaps the front and rear seats that seemed to be a bit on the disappointing side overall. The cloth material feels straight up rental-grade, and while I didn’t find them uncomfortable, they definitely lacked lumbar support and contouring to make them more fitting for long hauls. The same goes for the rear, where I believe the seats could use more padding, and the bench seems a bit too narrow to fit three adults.
That being said, the backseat is a very friendly place to be, as it features its own ac/heater vents, but even more important, the 2016 Malibu features not one, but two USB charging ports and a household style 120v outlet. Seriously, you could run your entire living room from the backseat.
While on the road, the Malibu feels like your average mid-size sedan; at least this particular model does. Personally, I’d opt for the 250 horsepower 2.0 liter turbo engine with the 8 speed transmission, as I feel it’d back up the Malibu’s sleek exterior design, and make it a joy to drive. If you’re looking for extreme efficiency, Chevy also offers a Hybrid engine with an EPA estimated 47 mpg city.
Overall, the 2016 Malibu LT may not be as thrilling to drive as its looks make you believe, and the interior isn’t as well thought-out as some Japanese sedans, but it’d be a mistake to overlook it and go straight with its competitors when it’s time to shop. After all, an uninspiring interior and lack of athleticism have been part of the Malibu’s DNA for as long as I know.
The biggest difference now, is that compared to previous generations, the rest of the car doesn’t suck, it’s actually pretty darn cool. It looks good, drives good, and even offers more standard features than the competition. If you’re a family of four and need a solid ride, the 2016 Chevy Malibu should be on your shopping short-list.
- Starts at: $21,625
- Price as tested: $27,985 (Including $875 destination charge)