Facing stiff competition in the mid-size sedan segment, Chevrolet responds with an all-new Malibu that's also available in a fuel-saving and eco-conscious hybrid version. The new Malibu, expected in late 2015, is notable for its sleek styling enthusiastically described by Jesse Ortega, Malibu chief engineer as “gorgeous.”
Certainly styling is important, if response to recent entries from Ford, Hyundai and Kia are anything to go by. But in addition to new sheetmetal, Malibu also features changes in size, weight and fuel efficiency. With a wheelbase stretched by 101 mm (approximately four inches) and a weight reduction of almost 136 kg (300 lb), the 2016 with the standard 1.5L turbocharged powertrain is expected to return 37 miles per US gallon combined city/highway using the US five-cycle system (6.3 L/100 km). Those numbers improve to 47 mpg (US) or 5.0 L/100 km combined in the Malibu Hybrid.
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The all-new hybrid powertrain, which uses technology from the Chevrolet Volt, features a 1.8L direct injected four-cylinder engine that in combination with the Volts two-motor system generates 182 hp.
The midsize car segment, while not as popular as it was a decade or two ago, still seems to produce vehicles that “represent” the brand. All mainstream manufacturers, therefore, offer one. The new Malibu presents a smooth, modern, aerodynamic profile and an attractive front and modern rear. Not ground breaking, in my opinion, but certainly agreeable to the eye. The interior likewise seems inviting if a little busy under the bright lights of the auto show.
Will it “wow” the public? Unlikely, but its smart looks, roominess and unquestionable fuel economy should put it on the midsize sedan buyer's list.