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2016 Chevrolet Malibu: Up Close

2092428206 1427905616437 jpg 2016 Chevrolet Malibu; | photo by Evan Sears

The Chevrolet Malibu has never been our favorite midsize car. It finished midpack in our $27,000 Midsize Sedan Challenge last year, ranking fifth out of 10 cars. That’s a respectable result and a good indicator of how Malibu has done in the market: OK, but not great. Well, Chevrolet is done with settling for mediocrity and has finally stepped up with an all-new 2016 Malibu that aims to rise to the top of the midsize segment.

Related: More 2015 New York Auto Show Coverage

It starts with the exterior styling, which loses the previous model’s bland awkwardness for exactly what you’d expect a baby Impala to look like. This isn’t a bad thing at all; its low headlights with clamshell-hood cut and Corvette-inspired taillights make it look much more distinctive than anything from Subaru or Hyundai.


2114592710 1427905685292 jpg 2016 Chevrolet Malibu; | photo by Evan Sears

However, there is a resemblance to the generic midsize silhouette that we’re starting to see in cars like the Chrysler 200, Ford Fusion and Toyota Avalon. Still, it’s a far more cohesive design than the current Malibu wears.

2120133836 1427905819684 jpg 2016 Chevrolet Malibu; | photo by Evan Sears

Inside is another step up. Interior materials, at least on the top Premium trim level I sat in, are first class, with high-quality leather and plastic throughout. Controls feel greatly simplified; gone are the myriad buttons and switches that plagued many of GM’s midsize cars. They’re replaced by simple, easy-to-use controls and a larger touch-screen with a streamlined Chevrolet MyLink system.

2118286794 1427905770780 jpg 2016 Chevrolet Malibu; | photo by Evan Sears

Comfort is quite good as well, with plenty of room for front seat passengers and easy entry and exit. Noticeable work has gone into making the backseat much more tolerable, with greater legroom and headroom. It’s also relatively easy to get into, with a slightly higher roofline and what feels like a larger door opening making that task much less of an exercise in flexibility.

We’ll have to see just how well the new Malibu drives to determine if it would likely have scored better in our prior comparison test, but based on what has changed so far, it looks like a much more competitive model than the outgoing car. Add in new safety features, excellent estimated fuel economy and a multimedia system that’s faster than the current one and we’ve got big hopes for the new Malibu.


More on the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu:

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Will Reach 48 MPG in City Driving 

2016 Chevrolet Malibu First Look

Photo of Aaron Bragman
Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman has had over 25 years of experience in the auto industry as a journalist, analyst, purchasing agent and program manager. Bragman grew up around his father’s classic Triumph sports cars (which were all sold and gone when he turned 16, much to his frustration) and comes from a Detroit family where cars put food on tables as much as smiles on faces. Today, he’s a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. His pronouns are he/him, but his adjectives are fat/sassy. Email Aaron Bragman

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