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2016 Chevrolet Malibu

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$11,775 — $22,331 USED
11
Photos
Sedan
5 Seats
26-31 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 5 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • More rear legroom
  • Multimedia system
  • Ride and handling
  • Teen Driver safety system
  • Fuel economy (hybrid)
  • Refined lane departure prevention

The Bad

  • No interior trunk release button
  • Cabin materials and design in base and middle trims
  • Road noise
  • 2.0-liter prefers premium gas
  • Busy eight-speed (with 2.0-liter)
2016 Chevrolet Malibu exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu
  • All-new five-seat midsize sedan
  • Front-wheel drive, gas and hybrid powertrains
  • Much more interior space, especially in back
  • Available teen driver safety monitor system
  • Hybrid estimated at over 45 mpg city

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Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

There are plenty of strong contenders in the midsize sedan class, but the Chevrolet Malibu hasn't been one of them. A redesign for 2016 should change that.

By Jennifer Geiger

The verdict: The reimagined 2016 Chevrolet Malibu's polished exterior looks are matched with a roomy cabin, refined powertrains and a seamless multimedia system.

Versus the competition: There have long been a lot of strong contenders in the midsize sedan class, but the Chevrolet Malibu hasn't been one of them. Now, with a redesign for 2016, it should finally have a shot.

The Chevrolet Malibu competes against the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata, among many other midsize sedans. Compare them here. Along with its new styling and powertrain, the Malibu grew in size for 2016. Compare it with the 2015 model here.

Exterior & Styling
The Malibu's designers admitted the previous generation had a big problem that kept it off many shoppers' consideration lists: misguided styling. You can't slap Camaro taillights on a sedan to add sporty flair; all that creates is the past-generation Malibu — a jarringly awkward mish-mash of brand styling. The 2016 is a clean-sheet redesign with an all-new platform and — thankfully — starkly different styling. They took the edge off, literally, with smooth curves and rounded shapes replacing the previous generation's chunky, chiseled silhouette. It still has a family resemblance, but to a more appropriate relative — it recalls the Impala's stately face and shapely trunk lid. The new design is distinctive in a class of cars that look a lot alike.

How It Drives
Power from the turboc...

The verdict: The reimagined 2016 Chevrolet Malibu's polished exterior looks are matched with a roomy cabin, refined powertrains and a seamless multimedia system.

Versus the competition: There have long been a lot of strong contenders in the midsize sedan class, but the Chevrolet Malibu hasn't been one of them. Now, with a redesign for 2016, it should finally have a shot.

The Chevrolet Malibu competes against the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata, among many other midsize sedans. Compare them here. Along with its new styling and powertrain, the Malibu grew in size for 2016. Compare it with the 2015 model here.

Exterior & Styling
The Malibu's designers admitted the previous generation had a big problem that kept it off many shoppers' consideration lists: misguided styling. You can't slap Camaro taillights on a sedan to add sporty flair; all that creates is the past-generation Malibu — a jarringly awkward mish-mash of brand styling. The 2016 is a clean-sheet redesign with an all-new platform and — thankfully — starkly different styling. They took the edge off, literally, with smooth curves and rounded shapes replacing the previous generation's chunky, chiseled silhouette. It still has a family resemblance, but to a more appropriate relative — it recalls the Impala's stately face and shapely trunk lid. The new design is distinctive in a class of cars that look a lot alike.

How It Drives
Power from the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder in the midlevel Malibu LT I tested – it's the car's new base engine — was unexpectedly robust from a stop, with great low-end torque for confident takeoffs. It's fun around town, but there's not much left over for highway passing and merging. However, the solid, predictable six-speed automatic transmission furnishes more power steadily and without complaint on the highway; it's not quick, but it never sounds or feels strained, and engine noise is well-muted. The engine's standard automatic stop-start feature is impressively unobtrusive, with a subtle shutdown and a graceful, shudder-free restart.

I also sampled the available turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the top-of-the-line Premier trim. It's quicker off the line and has a lot more reserve power. It pairs with a new eight-speed automatic that can feel busy at times — with several abrupt, quick shifts as you accelerate from a stop — but it's responsive on the highway, with prompt, smooth kickdowns for passing.

The Malibu's ride is on the firm side, but not uncomfortably so. The Premier model I drove wore optional 19-inch wheels, which added roughness versus the LT model's 17-inchers. Road noise was a nuisance in both versions, but bumps are well-damped and body control is excellent, even over railroad tracks. It's nimble and lively around corners, with firm, direct steering. The brakes also have a reassuring feel with predictably linear reaction.

Fuel economy is now class-competitive. The 1.5-liter is EPA-rated 27/37/31 mpg city/highway/combined, which is a couple mpg better than the outgoing model's base 2.5-liter engine. It's in line with base automatic-transmission versions of the Accord, Camry and Sonata. The 2.0-liter is rated 22/33/26 mpg, an improvement over the previous 2.0-liter's 21/30/24 mpg rating. Fill-ups will cost more with the 2.0-liter, however; it prefers premium gas. I did not get an opportunity to test the new Malibu Hybrid, but its EPA estimate is impressive: 48/45/47 mpg.

Interior
The top-of-the-line Premier model I drove wore plenty of cushy, padded plastic along with its upscale leather seats and surfaces. Stitching and perforation on the dash, as well as satin-finish chrome trim, added pops of class. The Malibu Premier's fake wood trim, however, looked like just that and cheapened the ambiance. Unfortunately, the LT model goes even further down that road. Much like the carpeted walls of a Holiday Inn banquet room, the swatches of patterned upholstery lining the dash already look dated.

Where the cabin really shines is in the backseat. It's much roomier than the previous generation's, which was as much of a liability as the car's styling. Rear legroom has increased by 1.3 inches, and that extra bit matters. It now has almost as much rear legroom as the Accord and Camry, and it has more than the Hyundai Sonata. Two adults will be comfy in back, and the Malibu easily accommodates two child-safety seats. Ample space and easy-to-access lower Latch anchors add a measure of family-friendliness to the sedan.

Ergonomics & Electronics
Tired of scratching your head at complicated, irritating multimedia systems? Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are the answer; they might just be the demise of the built-in navigation system. With either CarPlay or Auto, just plug in your smartphone and its navigation display and functionality will be mirrored on the car's screen, its turn-by-turn guidance and voice activation piped through the audio system. The integration is seamless and painless.

After connecting your phone, an icon pops up on the screen that opens a portal to a simplified interface from your smartphone. If you want to navigate anywhere, use either Google Maps (on Android devices) or Apple Maps (on an iPhone). Android Auto and Apple Car Play are standard on all but the base Malibu. (At this writing, Android Auto compatibility is unavailable in Malibus with the 8-inch screen, but Chevrolet says it'll be added this spring.)

Even without CarPlay or Auto, however, the Malibu's MyLink multimedia system is nothing to run from; it's delightful, with a large, clear screen high on the dash above sizable radio-tuning buttons and a volume dial. Base, L models don't have a screen, while midlevel LS and LT versions use a 7-inch unit and the top, Premier trim has an 8-inch setup. I tested the 8-inch unit, and the touch-sensitive screen didn't respond as quickly as a traditional touch-screen, but its responsiveness was better than that of the previous model. I found the screen's placement high on the dash to be an aid to visibility, but some editors objected to its upward tilt.

There's no learning curve to using the audio and nav functions, and large Home and Back buttons add menu clarity when using the system. Gratefully, climate functionality hasn't been integrated; separate controls live below the screen.

Cargo & Storage
The deep center storage console is great for small-item storage. Trunk space is down a bit this year, but it's still roomy enough. With 15.8 cubic feet, the Malibu's trunk matches the Accord and offers a smidge more room than the Camry; the Hyundai Sonata's trunk is roomier, however, with 16.3 cubic feet of space.

Safety
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have not yet crash-tested the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu.

A backup camera is standard on all but the base trim, and there are loads of new safety options for 2016, including a low-speed front automatic braking system that detects pedestrians as well as cars. Other available safety equipment includes adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assist and an excellent Lane Keep Assist system. The latter gently but firmly nudges you back into your lane if it senses wandering. It's subtle but effective, and it's less annoying than more aggressive systems we've experienced. Click here for a full list of safety features.

One innovative feature on the Malibu gathers information from those systems to help keep teen drivers safe — a necessary effort, given the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports car crashes as the top cause of death for teens. The 2016 Malibu is the first to offer GM's new Teen Driver system, which allows parents to view their kids' driving habits on the multimedia screen. Speed, distance and which safety systems were activated during the trip are displayed. Parents can also set a maximum speed limit with a corresponding audible warning when it's exceeded, as well as set the audio system to mute until seat belts are fastened. Unlike similar systems from Ford and Hyundai, however, it does not set location boundaries, a feature called geofencing. Another shortcoming is an inability to view the driving stats anywhere other than on the car's multimedia screen.

Value in Its Class
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu starts at $22,500, including a destination fee. That's just a bit less than the base Sonata and the base Accord, which is equipped with a manual transmission versus the other models' standard automatic transmissions. It's more affordable than the base Camry by more than $1,000.

Many sedans in the midsize class are comfortable and likable, but the new Malibu adds stylish, refined and efficient to its resume. Against the heavy hitters, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu trumps the Camry and Accord in style and powertrain polish; shoppers should take notice.

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Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.6
111 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

Read reviews that mention:

(2.0)

Style but no reliability

by Neverbuyachevy from lexington,ky on December 3, 2018

Tons of issues, nothing covered under warranty and rude people in service acting like I'm bothering them asking questions. Never again will I purchase a Chevy. Read full review

(1.0)

Steer Clear!!!

by Candy74 from MI on December 2, 2018

The electronic transmission sucks xxx! Car technically shuts down at stops to conserve fuel. It will roll backwards if you stop on a hill. Electronic stuff going crazy, now when I put it in park a ... Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu currently has 7 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2016 Chevrolet Malibu L

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Chevrolet

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    5 model years or newer/up to 75,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    12 months/12,000 miles bumper-to-bumper original warranty, then may continue to 6 years/100,000 miles limited (depending on variables)

  • Powertrain

    6 years/100,000 miles

  • Dealer Certification Required

    172-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All CPO Program Details

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Malibu received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

A

Booster

(second row)

B

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

A

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

A
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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