Mod­ern Mal­ibu

Mid-size Chevro­let sedan ups its game with new en­gines, styling, tech­nol­ogy

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - AUTOS - By An­drew McCredie

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

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