The Most Important Part of Chevy’s New Malibu? A New Turbo Engine

Source: Chevrolet
Source: Chevrolet

Back when we first started talking about the redesigned 2016 Chevy Malibu, we admitted that while it may not be the most invigorating car out there, its last major redesign in 2008 was “a huge improvement over the previous generation,” and the current generation “kept the Malibu moving in the right direction.” But while it may have improved in both interior and exterior styling updates, it continued to get trounced in both the performance and legroom departments when compared to competitors like the latest Accord, Camry, and Sonata.

Rolling onto lots across America as we speak, the 2016 Chevy Malibu will be offered in L, LS, LT and Premier trims, as well as a Hybrid model. Maybe GM has finally started paying closer attention to its target market instead of just eyeing the competition, or perhaps it knows that it needs a fresh home run courtesy of an all-out assault on every other midsize sedan out there. Either way, the Detroit-based automaker has made the 2016 Malibu a very different car in so many ways, starting with its available powertrains.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu
Source: Chevrolet

While everyone wants to flip out about the new Malibu finally having a hybrid option, with its electric side offering speeds that top 55 miles per hour and 47 miles per gallon combined, we have something a bit more invigorating in mind.

Taking notes from the success it has seen with the youthful Trax, Chevy has outfitted the new Malibu with a 1.5-liter, turbocharged four-banger that makes 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Boasting economy numbers that borderline 27 miles per gallon in the city and 37 miles per gallon on the highway, this turbocharged pipsqueak of a powerplant appears to walk the tight line between zippy and efficiency, but it isn’t the only boosted option available on the 2016 Malibu. For anyone hungering for a bit more grunt, the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the previous generation remains available, making 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque while offering a slightly softer 22 miles per gallon city and 32 miles per gallon average on the highway.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu
Source: Chevrolet

Outside of the engine bay the new Malibu is a bigger, roomier serving of midsize sedan, growing 2.3 inches in overall length while losing more weight than a Jenny Craig junkie. Companies like Jaguar have gravitated toward utilizing aluminum to shave pounds, GM has gone a different direction, using instead high-strength steel to increase fuel economy, bolster safety, and improve handling.

Have you seen that redesigned interior? Chevrolet has apparently been hellbent on giving the Malibu a far more premium feel with snazzy soft-touch materials and a redesigned, tech-driven center stack. MyLink infotainment, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, wireless charging, and ventilated seats are back and better than ever, as well as a metric ton of next-level safety features: Pedestrian alerts, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, forward collision alerts, rear cross traffic warnings, front and rear park assist, intelligent headlights, adaptive cruise control, front automatic braking, and automatic parking assist are all here to save the day.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu
Source: Chevrolet

Asymmetrical angles, copious curves, and fresh sheet metal all give the Malibu a look like never before. Soft is out, and in its place resides a ferocious front fascia, with swooping lines and LED lights giving the sedan a far more Euro influence.

Ventilated seats, LED lighting, an eight-inch “floating” touchscreen, and an additional 1.3 inches of rear legroom all are top of the line interior additions buyers should appreciate. But perhaps the most impressive statistic is that the much larger 2016 Malibu will see a 300 pound weight reduction over the previous generation due to that aforementioned high-strength steel body structure.

Engineers have reportedly developed the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu on what GM calls “a strength-training program,” all in the hopes of making it “sweat out a pound here and a gram there.” Ultimately, it looks like GM succeeded, as the Malibu now has the segment’s lowest base curb weight, with an improvement in ride and handling.

In a recent press release, Malibu chief engineer Jesse Ortega summed up the move toward turbos and lightweight, heavy-strength steel briefly and effectively: “Imagine you’ve got a 300-pound lineman riding on the roof of your car and he decides to jump off – you’re going to notice a change in performance immediately.”

So in closure, here are five of the most noteworthy weight-saving achievements you will find on the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu:

1. Leaner, stronger body structure

More than a third of the 2016 Malibu’s mass savings – approximately 120 pounds – comes from its all-new body structure, which features a significant increase in the use of high-strength steels, enabling the use of thinner components in some areas, while delivering comparable or better crash performance. This fresh frame is far stiffer than the current model, allowing a tighter suspension package to be installed, and since engineers had less body flex to fight, the new Malibu was able to return far more sharper ride-and-handling reflexes.

2. Greater use of aluminum

Incorporating more aluminum in the 2016 Malibu contributes significantly to its lower weight. Examples include a hood that is 5.6 pounds lighter than the current model’s aluminum bonnet, suspension knuckles and chassis components, and lighter motor mounts. The utilization of aluminum suspension components also helps reduce un-sprung mass, a feature that contributes quite a lot to the 2016 Malibu’s new-found responsiveness.

3. Streamlined instrument panel assembly and lighter power accessories

It may sound like much, but the utilization of new power window regulators saves around 4.2 pounds all together – a 34% reduction over the current model, while another 2.2 pounds was saved by reducing the complexity of components within the instrument panel itself. This included a far more simplified construction with more integrated parts – and fewer components in the assembly. Even the center console has a streamlined, one-piece structural shell that is 1.75 pounds lighter than the current model.

4. Lighter leather seats and other soft materials

While the Malibu’s available leather seats are collectively 40.6 pounds lighter than the outgoing model, about 1.5 pounds was saved via the new trunk liner material, and another 1.1 pounds was shaved off with new, proprietary interior carpet material that is also far more durable than the current model.

5. A lighter engine

The 2016 Malibu’s all-new, standard 1.5-liter turbo engine is 86 pounds lighter than the current model’s standard 2.5-liter motor, all while delivering comparable performance. Its lighter weight also enhances the Malibu’s front-to-rear weight balance – another contributor to the sedan’s improved responsiveness and agility.

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