By Cars.com EditorsMarch 9, 2016
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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.
(motor starting) 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.
Polished exterior styling, a cabin loaded with features, and a seamless new multimedia system, make it competitive. This is the 2LT model. It gets power from an optional two-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder. It feels really strong from a stop and it's got plenty of power for highway passing and merging. 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 kick downs for passing. The engine's new standard stop-start feature is impressively unobtrusive. It's got a subtle shutdown and a graceful shutter-free restart. Fuel economy is up this year. The two-liter gets a couple miles per gallon better than the outgoing model. The ride is on the firm side, but not uncomfortably so. Most bumps are well damped and body control is excellent, even over railroad tracks. There is a lot of road noise, however. The cabin's touchpoints are all comfortably padded, but I'm not a fan of the trim in this 2LT model. It wears a carpet swatch on the dash that travels along the multimedia screen, that I think just looks really cheesy and dated. The top Premier model instead has wood and leather accents, and that looks much classier. The highlight of the cabin is Chevy's updated MyLink multimedia system. This has an eight-inch screen, a seven-inch screen is also available. It's nice and high up on the dash for great visibility. And it's got clear home, tuning, and volume buttons that make it really easy to use. It's not as easy to use as a traditional touchscreen, it's a capacitive screen. So, it's not as responsive as it could be, but it's much better than the outgoing model. The Android auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration apps are standard on all but the base Malibu. And they make it really easy to seamlessly connect your phone to the car, and then control your phone's apps via the multimedia screen. Another cabin highlight is the backseat. The seats are lightly bolstered and very comfortable. Also, leg room is increased by an inch for 2016, so there's plenty of room for two adults. One other feature that makes the backseat very friendly are accessible latch anchors. There's two sets in the backseat and they make installing a car seat easy. The 2016 Chevy Malibu starts at around $22,000, which is a bit less than base models of the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, two of its main rivals. Month after month, the Accord and Camry top the Best Sellers List. A redesign for 2016 though, should make shoppers take another look at the Malibu. (trunk thuds)