The very competitive market environment for mid-size sedans translates to some very good things for sedan shoppers. In short, you get a lot more for your money than you used to; and the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is one of the highest-value offerings in its class.
It’s a different kind of value for the money, however, than you’ll find in some of the most affordable models from Kia and Hyundai.
On all models—even the Malibu L—you get the 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine (with engine stop-start), steering-wheel audio, cruise control, and phone controls; keyless ignition; power windows (express-down for all); and a split-folding rear seat.
The entry price alone is very competitive, and the base model does without floor mats to get there. The 2016 Malibu starts at $22,500, including destination fees, and as such, it’s one of the lowest-priced mid-size sedans on the market.
The Malibu will be sold in L, LS, LT, and Premier trim levels, with the Hybrid a stand-alone model, slotting below the Premier in equipment level. While the base L is fleet-focused, plenty of bargain-minded families will find it a smart pick; and what makes it that is, in part, that it doesn’t skimp on any of the core components.
To get the 2.0-liter turbo engine and 8-speed automatic transmission, you’ll need to step up to the LT, at $29,495 for that combination. The 2.0T Premier starts at nearly $32,000 and fully loaded it adds up to nearly $36,000. Pricing for the Malibu Hybrid starts at $28,645 and it's equipped fairly similarly to a 1LT model.
One thing that busy, always-connected parents might truly miss in that base model at the center of the dash: All models in the lineup except the L come with MyLink touchscreen systems for audio, phone connectivity, and apps.
The base 7.0-inch version of the MyLink system that’s included in all but the base L comes with AM/FM radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The upgraded 8.0-inch version of MyLink is available on LT models and standard on the Premier, and it adds voice-activated technology.
Additionally, Malibu LS (LS2 package) models and LT and Premier trims include OnStar with 4G LTE, which allows the vehicle to be turned into a wi-fi hotspot (with a data subscription).
On the LT, you can opt for a Leather Package that adds heated front seats, a power front passenger seat, and Bose premium audio. A power tilt-and-slide sunroof is available on LT and Premier models, but as we observed, it brings an exaggerated, scooped-out rear headliner situation that some taller back-seat occupants won’t be happy with. In LT models the sunroof is paired with a universal garage-door remote and 18-inch alloys.
Leather upholstery is available on the LT and standard on the Premier. The Premier steps up to a small wireless charging pad for small electronics, remote start, a 120-volt power outlet, dual USB ports, and some added leather trim; those are all also available as part of a Convenience and Technology Package on the LT.
Ventilated front seats are exclusive to the Premier, as is a heated steering wheel (both are standard). Adaptive cruise control and semi-automatic park assist are only offered as options on the Premier. Top Premier models are also the only ones in the lineup to get 19-inch wheels and LED taillights.
One odd omission in the features list is dual-zone climate control. That—or any automatic climate control—is reserved only for the top Premier model and isn’t even available in the other models.