The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu is one of the pre-runners of a stronger, lighter generation of cars at General Motors. It’s more than just lighter; the Malibu lineup offers far more active-safety extras than before.
The Malibu uses a completely new body structure—one that’s shared with the 2017 Buick LaCrosse and will underpin most of GM’s front-wheel-drive-based mid-size and large sedans in the future.
Given that it’s the latest and greatest platform from the automaker, it managed good scores from the top rating agencies so far. Federal safety officials have given the car a five-star overall rating, including five stars in front- and side-impact protection. The insurance-funded IIHS has only tested the car in moderate overlap crashes and side impact safety, where it earned the organization's top "Good" rating.
The greater level of high-strength steel has enabled thinner roof pillars, which gives you great forward vision but doesn’t help with the tapered roofline and limited rear vision. The structure and reduced weight help the Malibu feel lighter and more nimble than the outgoing car, for better accident avoidance, potentially.
LS, LT, Hybrid, and Premier models all include a standard rearview camera system, as well as 10 standard airbags and the expected traction, stability, and anti-lock braking systems.
If you’re willing to pay a little more, there’s a lot of available active-safety items in the 2016 Malibu. The list includes a new "Front Pedestrian Alert" that incorporates a forward camera system and through processing, looks to identify pedestrians ahead—and brake automatically to either avoid an impact or reduce the harm. Separately, there’s an adaptive cruise control system with front automatic braking. There are also blind-spot monitors with lane change alert, and a rear cross-traffic alert system to help you when backing up. Active lane keep with lane-departure warning is also available, and we like how subtle yet firm the interventions are. And to help with parking, there are front and rear park assist systems and automatic parking assist—a system that helps you with the proper trajectory to quickly get into a spot.
Most of the top active-safety features—like front automatic emergency braking—are the exclusive domain of LT and Premier models, however.
Worried parents of teenagers may find some solace in one other feature: Chevrolet is also using the Malibu as the launch vehicle for a new Teen Driver system that lets parents program in a maximum speed they want a new driver—or an employee, for instance—to go in their vehicle. Through the easy input of a pin, the owner has access to a Report Card that sums up the number of speed alerts and safety-system interventions. The system keeps the information local on the vehicle and for privacy concerns does not back it up on the cloud.