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2017 Chevrolet Malibu Overview
The Malibu name has been associated with Chevrolet since way back in 1964, when it was offered as a trim line on the famous Chevelle. It became its own model in the 1970s, and the all-new ninth generation was introduced for 2016. Because the current Malibu is so new, changes to the 2017 model will be limited mostly to cosmetic tweaks and additional colors. That said, one major step could be the introduction of a new 9-speed automatic gearbox. GM is developing a 10-speed automatic as well, but that will be reserved for rear-wheel-drive vehicles. Should the 9-speed arrive for 2017, front-wheel-drive (FWD) machines like the Malibu should get it, though even then the new transmission will likely appear only on the top-of-the-line Premier trim.
The Malibu's fresh design (it shares a body structure with the 2017 Buick LaCrosse) has kept it competitive with rivals like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Ford Fusion, and it should continue to compare favorably with those vehicles for at least another year or two. The Malibu is comes in L, LS, LT, and Premier trim levels, and a hybrid version is available as well.
As is the fashion among most car manufacturers these days, Chevy outfits the current Malibu with smaller turbocharged four bangers, abandoning V6 engines on the model altogether. The base engine for the 2017 Malibu is a direct-injected 1.5-liter Ecotec turbo 4-cylinder. While small in displacement, it makes an impressive 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, and will do 27 mpg city/37 highway thanks to its small size and automatic stop-start function.
Higher trims in the Malibu range get a larger and considerably more potent 2.0-liter turbo four that makes 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque while still managing mileage of 22/33. Although the current generation's power figures are notably lower than those of previous Malibus, it also weighs 300 pounds less than its predecessors, at just under 3,100 pounds total, making it one of the lightest cars in its class. The Chevrolet Malibu is only available with FWD, so shoppers requiring all-wheel drive will have to look elsewhere.
Compared to the previous-generation Malibu, the current car has a lower dash for more breathing room, and there is notably more legroom as well. The Malibu may be an unpretentious, moderately priced sedan, but it comes pretty well appointed if you tick the correct options boxes and shell out enough extra dollars. Leather upholstery, heated seats, and ventilated front seats are optional extras, as is Wi-Fi hotspot capability. Chevrolet’s MyLink connectivity is centered on a 7- or 8-inch screen in the dash and features Apple CarPlay. Dual-zone climate control is also available, but only on the top-shelf Premier version. All trims but the base L also come with a rear-view camera.
Safety is one area in which the Malibu especially excels. Available safety features include automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring with lane-change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, active lane keeping with lane-departure warning, and a pedestrian alert system that uses a front camera to detect pedestrians and employs automatic braking if necessary. As far as crash safety, the current Malibu has received 5-star ratings in federal testing, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given it top ratings of Good across the board. GM also picked the Malibu to debut a new safety feature called the Teen Driver system, which lets the owner program a maximum speed for the car and lock it via a pin number.
The Chevrolet Malibu has basically just gotten better and better with time. It’s gone from the rather uninspired and bland-looking car of the last decade to a truly worthy challenger to the ubiquitous Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The base trim's 160 hp really isn’t much, even considering the new generation's weight loss, but it does have adequate torque, and the 2.0-liter engine makes for much brisker performance. Other than that, the rather sparse equipment in the base trim is the only real complaint. With the Malibu, Chevrolet seems to be keeping up the good work.
Andrew Newton first got into cars through vintage racing a Formula Vee. After receiving history degrees, he followed his passion for cars and became a contributor for sites like Sports Car Digest, BoldRide.com and JamesEdition.com in addition to serving as Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. Andrew currently covers the collector car market full time as Auction Editor for Hagerty Classic Car Insurance.
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