In today’s world of demanding things you can depend on, Chevrolet’s Malibu fills that requirement and adds style and performance to the mix, as for th
In today’s world of demanding things you can depend on, Chevrolet’s Malibu fills that requirement and adds style and performance to the mix, as for the third year in a row, Malibu topped the Midsize Car category in the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study.
Perhaps that is why Malibu largely stands pat for 2017, relying, for the most part on the revises made for 2016 when Malibu was offered as all-new from the ground up. For 2017, Malibu adds a nine-speed automatic transmission as standard on its Premier trim -- with 2.0-liter Turbo engine. Malibu also adds new exterior colors: Arctic Blue Metallic, Pepperdust Metallic and Cajun Red Tintcoat; and includes Android Auto and Apple Car Play on its LS and base LT trim radios, while adding Teen Driver to the LS and base LT radios.
Packed with standard extras, the Base Malibu L comes with a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder DOHC engine with turbocharger, direct injection and variable valve timing – the system hums out 163 hp and 184 lbs.-ft of torque. The Base Malibu also gets a 6-speed automatic transmission and engine control, stop-start system; 4-wheel disc antilock brakes with high-performance brake lining; and road emergency toolkit; and such interior amenities as a 6-speaker audio system, 6-way manual driver and front passenger seat, 3-spoke steering wheel with mounted controls for audio, phone and cruise, a tilt and telescopic
steering column, a Driver Information Center, a theft-deterrent system, power programmable windows, passive entry system including remote keyless entry, keyless start, cruise control, single-zone manual climate control, air filter, cabin defogger, interior overhead courtesy lamp, dual reading lamps and illuminated trunk area.
With styling influenced by the 2014 Impala, the 4-door, 5-passenger front-engine transaxle mid-size sedan advances Chevrolet’s global design language with features such as slim, sweeping headlamps, a dual-port grille a wavelike group of body-side creases and a rear spoiler. Constructed with a classic mid-size configuration, Malibu measures 193.8 inches in length; 73.0 inches in width and 57.6 inches in height. Curbweight for my test Malibu 1LT was 3152 lbs., but some trims run as much as 3300 lbs.
Malibu offers three engine choices: the 1.5-liter DOHC inline-4 direct injection turbo engine (standard on the L, LS and 1LT trims); an Ecotec 2.0-liter I-4 turbo (standard on the Premier trim) and an Ecotec 1.8-liter hybrid engine (for the Hybrid version). The 2.0 is estimated at 250hp and 260 lbs.-ft. for 22/city and 33/highway, and the hybrid gets 122hp and 129 lbs.-ft. for 48mpg/city and 45mpg/highway.
My test Malibu’s 1.5-liter liter I-4 turbo was estimated at 27mpg/city and 36mpg/highway and I averaged 29.3mpg in mixed-use testing. While it was not muscle-car brawny, it was solid as a family car though long uphill grades and passing at speed takes some strategy at times.
On the track, Malibu was quiet and steady, with the 1.5-liter plant finishing off a zero-to-60mph sprint in 8.4 seconds while completing a quarter-mile in 16.5.
The MacPherson strut-type front suspension with dual-path mountings, specifically tuned coil springs, direct-acting stabilizer bar (hollow); hydraulic ride bushings and its four-link independent rear with hollow stabilizer bar and all-speed traction control using engine torque reduction and brake intervention is gentle for passengers, and handling is normal for the niche.
The cabin is comfortable and with seating for five, and it is borderline entry-luxury, packed with soft-touch materials, a touchscreen, generous seats, and lots of infotainment. Malibu’s cabin is on the low-mid-size scale with headroom of 39.1 inches, with 37.5 for row two. Legroom goes 42.0 in front and 38.1 in row two; and there is a wide-body 58.5 inches of front shoulder room with 57.1 inches in row two.
Malibu’s attention to safety includes dual-stage driver and front passenger air bags, pelvic/thorax side-impact air bags for all outboard occupants, front and rear, driver and passenger knee air bags, roof rail air bags with rollover protection, available second-row head/thorax side-impact air bags and available lane departure warning system with forward collision alert.
The 2017 Chevrolet Malibu is offered in five trims, with the base L starting at $22,555; the LS bases at $24,100; 1LT starts at $26,000; the 2LT starts at $29,495; and the loaded, upscale Premier starts at $31,805. The Hybrid version bases at $28,750.
My Malibu 1LT test vehicle with Arctic Blue Metallic paint, Jet Black Premium Cloth seat trim, and 17-inch aluminum wheels, added a Convenience Technology Package for $995 (remote vehicle starter system, inside rearview auto-dimming mirror, 120-volt power outlet, Color Driver Information Center, Chevrolet MyLink® Radio with 8-inch diagonal color touch-screen, wireless charging, dual USB charging-only ports in rear of center console and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob).
The Driver Confidence Package added $1195 for low-speed front automatic braking, front pedestrian braking, IntelliBeam® automatic high-beam headlamps, front and rear Park Assist, Side Blind Zone Alert with Lane Change Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Following Distance Indicator, Forward Collision Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
A dual pane sliding sunroof added $1150 and Front and Rear Carpeted Replacement Floor Mats added $100. As destination freight charges of $875 were already included in the base price, my Malibu-as-tested stickered at $29,340, but incentives and cash offers may be available from your dealer.
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Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.