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April 5, 2016
By Mario Cywinski
NEW MALIBU BIGGER, BETTER
Victoria, British Columbia – General Motors Canada took select Canadian journalists on a press drive of the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Malibu along the coast of Vancouver Island using the Pacific Marine Circle Route. The route provided amazing ocean views, winding roads, and even a drive on a live logging road, which demonstrated the Malibu to be a capable cruiser even on uneven pavement.
Beginning in beautiful Victoria, B.C. at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, drivers set off though city streets, country roads, along with some dirt roads thrown in. The Malibu of old may have been lost among all the wonders of the island, but the new model, with a more aggressive front fascia, a rear reminiscent of the larger Impala and a more appealing side profile than its predecessor held its own amidst the natural beauty on display.
While its true that the Malibu had a reputation as a fleet vehicle, it ranked seventh in terms of fleet registrations for 2015 with 3,834 units sold into that channel, according to IHS Automotive driven by Polk. The new model is a more refined, better driving and technology centric vehicle, that will still be attractive to fleets, but GM is confident the new model should attract a wider following. The exterior changes translate into a vehicle 2.3 inches longer with 1.3” of more rear leg room, a four-inch longer wheels base, yet 300 pounds lighter. General Motors believes that the Malibu is the lightest midsize sedan in its class.
Under the hood, Malibu offers a choice of two all-new turbocharged four-cylinder engines. A 1.5 litre engine outputting 163 horsepower and 184 foot/pounds of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with start/stop technology is standard. The larger displacement engine is a 2.0L with 250 hp and 258 ft/lbs of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for the 1.5L engine is 8.7/6.3 L/100km (city/highway), while the 2.0L is 10.6/7.1 L/100km.
“Midsize car customers tell us they want great fuel economy and connected technologies, wrapped in a gorgeous exterior. This is exactly what the 2016 Malibu was engineered to do,” said Jesse Ortega, Malibu chief engineer.
In today’s technology centric landscape, vehicles must offer customers features that they need or aspire to. Malibu’s features such as 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless charging that also has cooling to help stop the phone from overheating, and five-years of Onstar diagnostics and RemoteLink meet that need.
Safety doesn’t to take a backseat in the Malibu. It offers a plethora of features that help to reduce not only the chance a driver will be involved in an incident but the chance of injury as well. Some of the Malibu’s extensive safety features include: low speed collision avoidance braking, front pedestrian braking, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, front and rear park assist, Intellibeam, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, forward collision alert with following distance indicator, adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assist, front automatic braking, and rear cross traffic alert.
Each of these features are passive or active to help in the avoidance of a possible incident. However, for those times that an incident never happens, it doesn't mean that the driver was operating the vehicle in the correct manner. Another feature found on the Malibu is Teen Driver. While aimed at a teen driver in the family this system can be used to give fleet drivers immediate and safe feedback. The system allows for a speed warning to be set, activating a visual and audible warning to the driver in the event the threshold is breached. As well, audio volume limit can be set, and the radio muted until all occupants put on their seatbelt. All safety features available on the vehicle are turned on automatically and cannot be turned off.
A report card is generated with the data that is collected, that shows top speed, distance driven, how many times the speed warning was activated, how often ABS events took place, and on vehicles which are equipped with them, how many forward collision alerts and avoidance braking events took place. The system has to be programed to a specific key and to retrieve or reset the information a four-digit code must be entered.
For fleets who make sustainability a priority, the Malibu is available in a Hybrid version. Malibu Hybrid uses a modified version of the Chevrolet Volt’s two-motor drive unit. One motor is used for propulsion, the second acts as a motor/generator. The system is mated to a 1.8L engine offering 122hp (182 total in hybrid system) and 129 ft/lbs of torque from engine, 221 ft/lbs from motor. A 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery is used in 80 prismatic can cells. Malibu Hybrid can drive on battery power alone up to 50 mph (approximately 80.5 kph). Fuel economy for the hybrid mode is 5.0L/100km in the city and 5.1L/100km on the highway.
For 2016 model year, four trims levels are available, starting with the base model L, followed by LS, LT, and Premium, each with increasing amount of options.