Mid-size Chevrolet sedan ups its game with new engines, styling, technology
PALO ALTO, Calif. — It’s been a halfcentury since the Malibu nameplate first graced a Chevrolet and in that time, it has gone from a trim-level option to a global brand.
It started life in 1964 as an upmarket Chevelle trim level — it was 14 years before it became a model in its own right — and the sun set on the Malibu name in 1983 before rising again in 1997. Unlike the original rear-wheel drive version, the resurrected fifth-generation model had frontwheel drive.
It would became a global player in 2013, with the release of the eighth-generation model in 25 countries and far-flung production facilities in Korea and China. Now comes the ninthgeneration model, one that boasts new engines, improved on-board technologies and updated styling cues more in line with the perennial top dogs in the ultra-competitive mid-size sedan segment — the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
GM chose to launch the new Malibu in the heart of Silicon Valley to underscore the car’s new technologies, which include a new MyLink infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, the first application of the Teen Driver feature (more on this later) and nine safety features new to the Malibu, including available front automatic braking, wireless smartphone charging and segmentfirst 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity.
Then there are the engines, themselves technologically advanced small power plants that pack good punch and better efficiency. Standard is a 1.5-litre turbo-four, producing 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission, this engine is new to North America. The larger engine option is a 2.0-L turbo-four paired to an eight-speed automatic, rated at 250 hp and 260 lb-ft. This is the first use of such a transmission in a front-wheel-drive Chevrolet in North America.
The third engine option is in the Hybrid: an all-new 1.8-L gasoline engine works with an electric two-motor drive unit, for a combined power output of 182 hp. Apart from the magnet pack, the Hybrid’s drive unit is the same as the one in the latest Chevrolet Volt, underscoring GM’s plan to leverage the substantial research