2016 Chevy Malibu Hybrid To Take Volt’s Powertrain To The Masses

March 25, 2015

Next year, with the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, GM will have a comfortable mid-size sedan capable of achieving at least 45 miles per gallon—without any need to plug-in.

Revealed by the automaker ahead of an official New York Auto Show debut next week, the Malibu Hybrid finally bins GM’s underachieving belt-alternator (BAS) mild-hybrid system and goes with high-mileage powertrain adapted from the Chevrolet Volt—but at least for now, without the Volt’s plug-in hybrid capability.

In the Malibu Hybrid, a new direct-injection 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is mated to a two-motor electric drive unit that pitches in to supplement engine power, producing 182 horsepower in all.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid - propulsion system

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid - propulsion system

The hybrid system uses a small 80-cell, 1.5-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which we’re going to bet has a minimal impact, if at all, on practical aspects like trunk space or seat folding versus the gasoline Malibu.

Otherwise, the Malibu package is expected to be improved versus the 2015 Chevrolet Malibu—we expect some pretty impressive interior appointments, excellent front seats, and good ride comfort, and hope for better back-seat accommodations.

Those rivals, by the way, will include the Honda Accord Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, and Kia Optima Hybrid, among others.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid - drive unit cutaway

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid - drive unit cutaway

Borrowed from the Volt, but without the plugging-in

This hybrid powertrain has changed a bit compared to how it is in the outgoing Chevrolet Volt; its new configuration leaves the internal combustion engine to move the car mechanically far more often than before.

Just as in the 2016 Volt, we’d expect the 2016 Malibu Hybrid to be able to launch itself with only electricity from a standing start, then blending power sources above 10 or 15 mph in most cases. Chevy notes that the Malibu Hybrid will be able to maintain up to 55 mph in all-electric cruising, however.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid - battery cutaway

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid - battery cutaway

The Malibu Hybrid will have one thing the Volt doesn’t: Chevrolet’s first application of Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery (EGHR) technology, allowing exhaust heat to help warm the cabin in cold weather without as severely impacting fuel efficiency.

While the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid might sound like a winning combination (and compromise) for families who want better mileage in a vehicle that doesn’t look out-of-the-ordinary, here’s the catch: You’re going to have to wait nearly a year, as the 2016 Malibu Hybrid isn’t slated to reach dealerships until spring 2016.

Check back for more about fuel economy, pricing, and plenty of up-close pictures of the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid as we report live from the New York Auto Show next week.

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