- Excellent crash test scores
- Attractive interior
- Quiet, comfortable ride
- Snug backseat
- MyLink touchscreen interface can be finicky at times
If you're shopping for a midsize family car, you should know that the field of possibilities just got a little more crowded. That's because the folks at Chevrolet have decided to offer two different takes on their long-running Malibu sedan for the 2016 model year. The one getting all the headlines is the fully redesigned version, of course, which looks to challenge segment leaders head-on. But if value is more important to you than the latest innovations, there's also a carryover of the previous generation that's known as the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Limited.
The Malibu Limited loses some of last year's more appealing options, most notably the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. What's left is a pleasant enough family sedan with some real strengths, including a quiet interior, a comfortable ride and excellent crash test scores. There are also some downsides, however, including a lack of rear legroom by midsize-sedan standards. Moreover, EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers are lower than the norm for this class.
The 2016 Malibu Limited faces a long list of distinguished rivals. Both the upgraded 2016 Honda Accord and the 2016 Hyundai Sonata deliver better fuel economy along with a much more spacious rear seat. The 2016 Ford Fusion is another strong choice by virtue of its good looks, responsive handling and long list of advanced features. The well-equipped and roomy 2016 Nissan Altima also merits consideration, while the recently revamped 2016 Toyota Camry is yet another entrant that deserves a look. You'll likely be able to get a pretty good deal on a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Limited, but it may be worth paying a premium to get a little more.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2016
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Limited is a carryover of last year's Malibu but with a few key omissions. The formerly available 2.0-liter turbocharged engine has been discontinued, as have a handful of upscale features like xenon headlights.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Limited is a midsize sedan offered in three trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ.
The base LS starts with 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a partial power driver seat with power height adjustment, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, cruise control, OnStar (with 4G LTE and mobile WiFi), Bluetooth phone connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player.
The LT adds upgraded headlights, body-color heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, ambient interior lighting, floor mats, Chevy's MyLink infotainment system (includes a 7-inch touchscreen, voice controls, Internet radio, smartphone-app integration and voice-to-text messaging capability for certain smartphones), Bluetooth streaming audio, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio input jack and a USB port.
The top-of-the-line LTZ tacks on 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats (with power lumbar), heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
Many of the upgraded features are available on lower trim levels via various options packages. Other add-ons (depending on trim level) include a rear spoiler, a power sunroof, a rearview camera, a nine-speaker Pioneer audio system, a 120-volt power outlet and an Advanced Safety package (consisting of forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems).
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Inside the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Limited you'll find a handsome dashboard, with sweeping lines complemented by satisfactory materials quality. Controls may initially appear a bit complicated, thanks to a handful of similar-looking buttons on the center stack, but things become more intuitive with regular use. Same goes for the available MyLink touchscreen, which offers neat features like smartphone-app integration but can be a bit slow to respond at times.
In terms of accommodations, the Malibu Limited offers good comfort up front, with the optional eight-way power-adjustable seats providing a generous range of positions. The backseat is another story, though, with a shortage of legroom significant enough that rear seat passengers may ask those up front to scoot their seats forward. These tight confines can also make it difficult to fit a rear-facing child seat. Most midsize sedans offer significantly roomier rear quarters.
The Malibu Limited's trunk space is slightly better than average at 16.3 cubic feet. The 60/40-split rear seatbacks also fold down to open up more cargo room.
The 2016 Chevy Malibu Limited comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front knee airbags, front side airbags, rear side airbags and side curtain airbags. Also standard is the OnStar telematics system, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and stolen vehicle location. A rearview camera is available, as is an Advanced Safety package with forward collision warning, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems.
In government crash tests, the Malibu Limited earned a perfect five stars for overall crash protection, with five stars for total frontal impact protection and five stars for total side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the similar 2015 Malibu its highest possible rating of "Good" in the small-overlap frontal-offset and moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact collision tests. The Malibu also earned a "Good" rating in the side-impact, roof strength and whiplash reduction (seat and head restraints) tests.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Under the hood, all 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Limited models get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that generates 197 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard.
Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 27 mpg combined (24 city/34 highway), aided by a stop-start system that automatically turns off the engine when the car comes to a halt.
On the road, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Limited accelerates adequately for a base four-cylinder midsize sedan. The 2.5-liter engine is a bit less fuel-efficient than most rivals, however. Overall levels of wind and road noise are low, and the suspension adds to this sense of refinement by delivering a smooth ride. Handling is secure but far from sporty, meaning buyers seeking a midsize sedan that's legitimately fun to drive will likely be happier with some competing models.
As a carryover 2015 Malibu with less content, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Limited is still worth a look for value-minded shoppers, but it's not on the same level as the top midsize sedans.