The new Malibu, a Chevrolet icon for affordability for over half a century, looks good. Really good. There’s a sweet sense of sleekness upon first glance at the front end, smooth lines through the body and a shapely (as opposed to the unsightly flat on the outgoing models) rear end. My LT trim tester (middle of the pack) was decked out in 17” wheels and LED daytime running lights, giving it a smart look.
Matched against the Mazda 6, Honda Accord, Kia Optima et al, some may lean towards the others as far as objective attraction goes but full marks to the Bowtie brethren for sculpting something that’s strong enough to hold its own appearance-wise.
My tester was equipped with the available 8” MyLink touchscreen that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I’m an iPhone fella (seriously, I’ve invested far too much time with iTunes/iPhones/iPads to ever switch to anything else) so all I had to do was USB connect my phone to the car and there was Siri, ready to help. It’s a pretty easy set up and the rewards easily warrant paying for the upgrade on this side, since we’re a technologically driven lot these days.
There’s also an available class-exclusive built in 4G LTE with Wi-Fi and Teen Driver technology, which allows you to cap the speed, kill the audio if seat belts aren’t fastened and let you know if any of the safety features were triggered (lane departure, forward collision) so especially in 2016, big brother, who wears a bowtie, is always watching.
The overall fit and finish of the dashboard/infotainment system impressed me. Thank goodness the 8” touchscreen also had dials and buttons (the trifecta of balance for me because sometimes, I want the simplicity mixed in with current touch technology but not necessarily the flood of messy fingerprints).
Seating is comfortable via the eight-way power driver seat (six-way manual for shotgunners). Heated front seats are an option (so are long johns in the winter) and there’s an upscale feel to the cabin overall.
Beneath the hood sits a 1.8-litre direct-injected four-cylinder attached to a two-motor drive unit (the same as what’s found in the Volt), generating 182 horsepower and 277 lb-ft. of torque.
Splitting the gasoline and hybrid engines, the gas engine sees 122 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque. Of the two electric motors, one generates 55 kW of power, and the other provides 76 kW of power. Chevy says that “the 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack can propel Malibu Hybrid to speeds over 80 km/h with electricity alone.” But keep in mind that you’ll have to have a slow moving right foot and lots of runway to get up to that speed on electricity only.
Of course it’s going to be better than anything else in the Malibu line up as it’s a hybrid.
It’s rated at 4.8 L/100 km city and 5.5 L/100 km highway, for a combined rating of 5.1 L/100 km and that’s through 49 L of regular gasoline.
For a week of mixed driving, I scored 5.3 L/100 km, which is respectable. Driving conditions, shorter trips, idling, etc. will affect your scores but there’s still savings to be had with this car.
Coming in at $28,850, the 2017 Malibu hybrid is priced well. Unfortunately, there aren’t any Ontario government rebates available for this car according to their website.
As a comparison, the Kia Optima hybrid starts at $29,895, the Toyota Camry hybrid at $29,770, the Honda Accord hybrid at $31,200, so the Malibu is definitely on the lower end for your up-front cost.
Unlike some other hybrids, the Malibu offers a smooth drive. The engine, horsepower and torque exceed the regular Malibu and unless you were told beforehand, it’d be hard to notice that you’re driving a hybrid. Acceleration is good and when you’re running on only electricity, there’s great pickup as a result of the tons of torque that come with hybrid/electric vehicles.
I had no issues getting up to highway speeds and at lower city speeds, the Malibu hybrid responded well sans jerkiness and lurching when you hit the gas pedal.
Enjoy the full gallery below: