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2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid: New Car Review

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author photo by Autotrader June 2016

After years of languishing backstage in the midsize-sedan show with so-so models and rental-fleet specials, the Malibu is finally getting a serious upgrade. The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid is proof, as it finally brings a competitive fuel-efficient hybrid variant to the Malibu range in order to challenge popular (and highly efficient) rivals such as the Honda Accord Hybrid, the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

But it's not like Chevrolet just took a hybrid engine and put it in a Malibu. On the contrary, the latest Malibu uses a totally new design compared to the outgoing 2015 model, offering more technology and improved build quality. If the Malibu wasn't on your shopping list the last time you looked for a midsize sedan, we think it definitely should be now, especially the hybrid version for those interested in maximizing your fuel economy.

What's New for 2016?

The Malibu Hybrid is a completely new model for 2016.

What We Like

Strong fuel economy; competitive interior design and materials; handsome new look; well priced for the equipment

What We Don't

More hybrid trim levels would be nice; trunk space surprisingly reduced due to hybrid batteries

How Much?

$28,600

Fuel Economy

The Malibu Hybrid offers one powertrain: a 122-horsepower 1.8-liter hybrid 4-cylinder, which is mated to front-wheel drive and a fuel-saving continuously variable automatic transmission. Gas mileage is rated at 48 miles per gallon in the city and 45 mpg on the highway, which places the Malibu Hybrid near the top of the hybrid midsize-sedan segment.

Standard Features & Options

The Malibu Hybrid ($28,600) is offered in only one trim level. It comes standard with dual-zone automatic climate control, a backup camera, satellite radio, OnStar with a Wi-Fi hot spot, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, a power driver's seat, steering-wheel audio controls, keyless access and starting, a 7-in center touchscreen with Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system and a 6-speaker stereo.

Options include a remote starter, an 8-in touchscreen, a wireless-device charging system, forward-collision alert, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keep assist, a blind spot monitoring system, low-speed automatic braking, front and rear park assist, automatic high beams, a power sunroof, a navigation system, heated front seats, a power passenger seat and a 9-speaker Bose sound system.

Safety

In crash testing carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu earned a perfect 5-star overall score. The sedan also earned the coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation from the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

While the Malibu Hybrid only offers basic safety features as standard equipment -- including side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and a backup camera -- optional safety items abound. The Malibu Hybrid boasts forward-collision warning with low-speed automatic braking, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear park assist, lane-keep assist and automatic high beams.

Behind the Wheel

The Malibu Hybrid's cabin is comfortable, roomy and quiet (although concrete surfaces bring some road roar). The ride quality is serene and unruffled, and power delivery is responsive and capable. This car is no high-performance freeway blaster, but it takes a lot of the drudge and quite a bit of the expense out of commuting. The only small complaint is that some of the cabin materials show signs of cost cutting.

Regenerative brakes in hybrids and electric cars usually have a tendency to feel strange, but these have what Chevrolet calls a blended action. They feel pretty much identical to the brakes of a regular car, though they still gather energy that would otherwise have dissipated.

Trunk space is somewhat curtailed by having to accommodate the hybrid system's battery pack. While the regular sedan can hold up to 15.8 cu ft., this variant offers 11.8 cu ft. Though this is not exactly a deal breaker, the extra annoyance is that this battery pack is still in the way, even with the rear seats folded down.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Ford Fusion Hybrid -- The Ford Fusion hybrid is an excellent midsize hybrid sedan that offers handsome styling and a comfortable ride. Fuel economy is strong -- and as a bonus, the Fusion Hybrid is even offered with a plug-in powertrain.

2016 Honda Accord Hybrid -- The Honda Accord Hybrid is a fuel-efficient midsize model that offers excellent driving characteristics, a roomy interior and the best gas mileage in the segment.

2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid -- The Camry Hybrid offers a reliable, familiar package, a roomy interior and excellent gas mileage, though it can't touch the Malibu Hybrid's numbers.

Used Toyota Avalon Hybrid -- The Avalon Hybrid is an impressive, fuel-efficient full-size sedan that offers a larger interior (and a more comfortable ride) than the Malibu Hybrid. Prices are higher, though, so you may have to consider a used model.

Autotrader's Advice

The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid only comes in one trim level, so that's the one we'd get. But we'd make sure to add a few luxury and safety features too, as they're surprisingly affordable -- and highly desirable.

Find a Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid for sale

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid: New Car Review - Autotrader