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Although the Malibu that had been in production until 2013 had pleasant proportions—just with a few fine details lacking—the outgoing car through 2015 took some undeniable steps backward in overall comeliness. With tall, ungainly proportions and some unnecessary theming, such as taillights that were supposed to suggest the Corvette, and an arched roofline that looked out of step with the rest of the profile.
Now, it looks like Chevy has worked downward from its handsome Impala, tidying it to svelte proportions, with a long new body and rich-looking interior that do completely away with any historic references or cues.
Instead, the new Malibu shares a lot of themes with the best sellers in its class. Now that every automaker from Kia to Toyota is aiming for drama—or at the very least, some decidedly European-luxury cues—in what was formerly Bland City. To that, the Malibu dives cautiously in—with a subtle wave stamped into its flanks, and a gentle intersection of sculpting that conjured up some of the "flame surfacing" that BMW has used to cut visual heft from its cars.
Most of the Malibu lineup will be powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-4. It subs right in for that big-displacement four and will be easily mistaken for one from the driver’s seat, as it makes 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that’s GM-produced, and the combination is hard to catch flat-footed; unlike other efforts from automakers. Only in long grades and in some highway passing will it feel like a base engine—and even then, reaching high into its rev band, it’s quiet and composed.
It’s amazing what a difference relatively minor things like seat position, dash height, and trim contouring will make in the perception of interior space; these are all reasons why the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu feels far roomier than its predecessor than its modest gains in interior volume will otherwise suggest.
While the Malibu is 3.6 inches longer between the wheels than the previous version (and 2.3 inches longer overall), that still places it at the smaller end of the class.
The new platform is a reworked version of past GM mid-sizers, and the body structure—including the roofline—is completely new. The cant of the roofline in particular brings some meaningful improvement, as do that host of improvement to the front-seat space.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.