The midsize sedan segment is crucial to any auto manufacturer. It’s the arena in which you’ll find the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Ford Fusion, to name a few, and they sell like hotcakes. That is why the all-new 2016 Chevy Malibu is so important to the brand. I recently had the chance to drive the new ‘Bu alongside its predecessor to do a side-by-side comparison.
The base engine for the new Malibu is a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-4. Chevy rates it at 163 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Compare those numbers to the outgoing base 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine’s of 196 horsepower and 186 lb-ft and you might be scratching your head as to why anybody would opt for such a decrease in power.
The difference is in how soon the power – more importantly, the torque – comes on. Peak horsepower in the new car arrives at 5,600 rpm versus 6,300 rpm for the old one. Maximum torque is available from 2,000-4,000 rpm, whereas the 2.5-liter doesn’t peak until 4,400 rpm. The turbo makes the new vehicle feel more responsive even though it has less power. It also helps improve fuel economy by one to two mpg over the previous gen, depending on whether you’re in the city or on the highway.
So, how do the two cars compare on the inside? The 2014 Malibu tested gave me a sense of being in a cockpit. Now, I know what you might be thinking – that sounds like a strong word for a car of this nature. However, once in a proper seating position, the car feels smaller from the driver’s than it actually is, which is a good thing.
The new Malibu, on the other hand, gives me the opposite impression. The cabin feels much more airy than it actually is, which is also a good thing, just a different kind of good. Both the previous generation Malibu and the newest one drive just fine. They will neither frustrate you nor wow you, unless your expectations for a car of this class are severely out of whack.
When choosing a midsize sedan you are likely to focus on – in no particular order – styling, features, interior comfort, initial impressions, and perhaps brand allegiance. In short, although the Chevy Malibu currently resides in the fifth place YTD sales spot, it is certainly worth a look. The chassis is well-balanced, the interior is quiet, and the exterior has shed its frumpiness. Check out the video to see more on how it has changed over the old ‘Bu.