Is the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu a BMW or Audi in Disguise?
If you’ve been following Chevrolet’s recent advertising for the new 2016 Malibu, you’d see real people being asked who makes the Malibu by looking at it, but not seeing the badges on it. The premise is the new Malibu is so good, that the build quality is so excellent, that you’d think it is a lot more expensive than it actually is, and comes from a manufacturer of German origin. But, after spending a week in one, is that actually true?
According to Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, the answer is no. But before you go dismissing the car because it’s not the same as a $60,000 BMW, it’s important to note that the new 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is, in fact, a pretty good car. If you’re looking for a family sedan, you might want to give it a look, especially if you like some cutting-edge technology.
My review Malibu was a fully-loaded 2LZ (who loves GM’s package names?) ringing up at $34,285. Minus a sunroof, I can’t find any option it didn’t have. That meant it had radar cruise control, lane keep assist, pedestrian detection, emergency autonomous braking, automatic parallel parking, Android Auto and Apple Car Play, plus 4G LTE support and OnStar. Basically, if General Motors makes it, it’s available on the Malibu.
This ‘Bu is powered by a 2.0L DOHC turbocharged 4-cylinder making 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through GM’s first application of a front-wheel drive 8-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive isn’t an option on the Malibu.
The EPA fuel economy rating on the 2.0L in this trim is 33 mpg on the highway, 22 mpg in the city, or 26 mpg combined. During a fuel economy run I was able to get 36.6 mpg out of it, and during the week I got 29.3 mpg combined. Both of those number exceed the EPA estimates.
The only major demerit I have is the lack of high-intensity discharge or LED-powered headlight. Standard halogen headlights, piped through a projector housing just isn’t that bright. The IIHS is starting to test headlight effectiveness on many cars, and the Malibu would benefit from a brighter set.
But let’s go back to this BMW and Audi argument for a moment. The Malibu is quite quiet when driving down the road, as sound deadening is spot-on. The seats are also comfortable for long journeys, while offering both a heating and cooling function.
The car itself is unoffensive to drive, but it doesn’t feel as sporty as a Mazda 6. There is plenty of power on hand, but power alone doesn’t make a car fun to drive. It’s more Toyota Camry in that department. That’s okay, as many people like the Camry and it’s a good benchmark.
The new Malibu is a significant improvement over the last generation, and now puts it square in the middle of the current swath of midsize family sedans. It’s quiet and comfortable, with decent storage, the latest safety tech, and smartphone support. It’s no BMW, but really, it’s not supposed to be.
What do you think? Let us know over in the forums!