“2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid”
A Mid-size Fuel Saving Sedan without a Plug
First off, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid looks a lot like the rest of the Malibu offerings – elegant and luxurious, with upscale styling elements and appeal. It sits lower and has additional radiator shutters for better aerodynamics. More impressive though, is the fact that it is capable of an EPA estimated 46 mpg combined rating – (48 mpg city / 45 highway mpg), which tops the hybrid variants of several other manufacturers.
The Bowtie Malibu Hybrid’s powertrain shares a good deal of its technology with the Chevrolet Volt. Lifted from the Volt are the two electric motors, transmission and the regenerative braking system. These elements meld with a 122-hp 1.8-liter four-cylinder gas engine compared to the Volt’s 101-hp 1.5-liter four. The larger engine was considered necessary for the Malibu as it relies predominantly on petrol for propulsion. The 1.5-kWh, 80-cell lithium-ion battery pack is much smaller than that of the Volt and is positioned in the trunk, shrinking the volume to 11.6 cubic feet from 15.8 found in its non-hybrid siblings.
The Malibu Hybrid tips the scales at 371 pounds more than a base model Malibu with a smaller engine, and guess what…..it is not a Plug-in hybrid, so no external charging worries to contend with. The electric only range is limited and nothing to shout about, but the primary focus of the Malibu Hybrid is to maximize gas mileage, rather than to operate in EV mode for extended periods or at speeds in excess of 55 mph.
The Chevy Malibu Hybrid takes off under electric power and activates the gas engine shortly after, much like a Toyota Prius. There’s no provision to lock the Malibu in EV mode, but there is a digital graphic display that enables the driver to monitor throttle input. The transition from electric to gas operation is a smooth one.
When accelerating from moderate to brisk speed, the hybrid system resembles a conventional sedan with a CVT, holding engine rpms at a constant level and surging ahead without changing gears. From a standstill, the acceleration up to roughly 40 mph comes with a strong thrust and some wheelspin, with the electric motor’s torque coming on rapidly and strong. In a passing scenario, the electric motors boost the gas engine’s power with a pleasing punch.
Lifting off the accelerator or braking restores energy to the battery, while the regenerative rate may be increased by shifting the transmission into the L1 or L2 position.
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid is visually pleasing, with smooth flowing, sculpted lines and an athletic stance based on Malibu’s all new architecture. It is all new from the ground up with a longer wheelbase for added comfort and the hybrid is virtually identical to the conventional lineup – even the tires are the same – no low rolling resistance donuts here.
Inside, the new Hybrid is surprisingly luxurious, especially considering its price point and equipment and feature level. Enhanced Chevrolet MyLink comes with a standard 7-inch diagonal color touch screen that is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible, OnStar with 4G LTE connectivity and a standard built-in Wi-Fi hotspot. There’s also phone integration capability for infotainment. A Teen Driver feature records and monitors teen driving habits and statistics for parents.
Available active safety features include: Front Pedestrian Alert, New Lane
Keep Assist, with Lane Departure Warning, Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Automatic Braking and Automatic Parking Assist., New Lane Forward Collision Alert with Following Distance Indicator, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Front and Rear Park Assist.
My Test 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid sported a Crystal Red Tintcoat exterior and a Jet Black interior. The base price was set at $ 27,770. while the Driver Confidence Package, Convenience and Technology Package, Tintcoat paint and Destination Charge elevated the final count and amount to $31,130.
SUMMARY: The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid provides an impressive and affordable package that delivers a stylish and attractive new Malibu with the attributes and technology of a Volt.
Acceleration is satisfying, sufficient and linear, with a CVT-like progression from the twin electric motor drive. The handling characteristics border on sporty with good feedback. Braking is positive.
From the inside, outward visibility is good and the interior ambience displays an upscale tone, with attention to detailed fit and finish.
Bottom line, the new Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid serves up a pleasant and more viable alternative to the Volt, and for less money.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
|Price as Tested:||$31,130.|
|Engine Type and Size:||Hybrid 1.8-liter, DOHC, 16-valve inline 4-cylinder with continuously variable intake and exhaust cam phaser, direct injection and electronic throttle control. Technology derived and slightly modified from 2016 Chevrolet Volt Plug-in Hybrid. Electric Drive: Twin motor arrangement, 136 kW electric drive system- / 182 hp. Motor A – 55kW / Motor B – 76 kW|
|Horsepower (bhp):||182 @ 5,000 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||277 @ 4,750 rpm|
|Transmission:||Two motor drive unit / 80 cell, 1.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack.|
|Drive Train:||Transversely mounted front engine / Electric Front-wheel drive.|
Front – MacPherson strut type with dual-path mountings, specifically tuned coil springs, direct-acting hollow stabilizer bar and hydraulic ride bushings.
Rear – Four-link independent with hollow stabilizing bar.
|Brakes:||Electro-hydraulic Power-assisted four-wheel vented discs with ABS and brake pre-fill and blended regenerative braking system.|
|Tires:||Goodyear Assurance P225/55 R17 95H mounted on 5-“V”-spoke silver painted alloy wheels.|
|Length Overall:||193.8 inches|
|Curb Weight:||3,457 lbs.|
|Fuel Capacity:||13 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||47-mpg city / 46-mpg highway|
|Drag Coefficient:||Not listed.|
|0 – 60 mph:||Not Tested.|
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.