2016 Chevrolet Malibu
Honestly, the Chevrolet Malibu has not traditionally been our best choice among midsize family sedans. More rental car necessity than suburban favorite. But the last gen Malibu took major steps to compete more directly with Camry, Accord and others. Now it appears the all-new 2016 Malibu has turned those steps into leaps. So, let’s see if this Chevy stalwart is finally a true family car contender.
Yes the Malibu has struggled, and maybe even been consistently underrated, in the midsize sedan segment. That’s why the 2016 redesign is such an eye opener.
For one thing, it’s a lot bigger, yet still lighter by almost 300-lbs. Wheelbase is now 111.4-inches, up 3½; while overall length increases by about 2-inches.
More importantly, substantial changes are afoot inside. In fact, if you were able to hide the Chevrolet badges, it would be hard to figure out what brand of car it is. It doesn’t look American, none of the switchgear is stock GM; and it certainly doesn’t look Japanese… appears a bit too showy for European… Korean perhaps?
Well that’s a good comparison, as Hyundai and Kia have done a lot over the past few years to step this class up, and it looks like GM is up to the task too.
Materials improve by a long stride; there are more soft ones, even if it’s still not a consistent feel throughout, there are different surfaces in high wear areas. It’s a good idea, but it could be executed a little better.
And while it may still not match a Honda-level of refinement, the layout and ergonomics are excellent; as they’ve done a good job of leaving proper buttons for the basics, and using touchscreen controls for secondary functions.
There’s even great seat comfort, perhaps the best we’ve felt from GM in recent memory. And they should no longer hear complaints about rear seat legroom, as with all of the additional wheelbase, it’s up by about an inch and a half; though it feels like even more.
On the minus side, all of the rearranging has caused both trunk space and fuel capacity to suffer.
Top drawer Premier trim fulfills all the luxury feature wants you could have in a family car; while available Driver Confidence packages add the latest safety features including automatic braking.
Gauges are fine and clear, and will make convert buyers feel at ease.
There are 3 engine choices, with all getting some type of assist. A 1.5-liter turbo I4 powers base models, and its 160–horsepower and 184 lb-ft. of torque will probably be adequate for most. It’s attached is a 6-speed automatic.
Next up, is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 with 250-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque; and it gets a new 8-speed automatic.
Finally, a hybrid returns to the lineup but this time it’s a full-hybrid, based around a 1.8-liter I4 rated at 47 MPG Combined! With both hard and software from the new Volt, and 182 horsepower, it is equally well sorted, and smooth.
We spent most of our time in the 2.0T, and it’s a heck of an engine. Plenty of guts off the line, sharp throttle response, and great torque range for a 4. Transmission shifts are seamless, with programming among the best we’ve driven in an 8-speed yet.
Altogether, the new Malibu is extremely quiet, with virtually all engine and wind noise eliminated; the only real intrusion at this point is a bit too much tire noise on concrete.
Handling is just fine, better than most, as the chassis feels very solid; both suspension and body rigidity are greatly improved, and we found it more responsive than expected.
GM clearly focused efforts on improving ride and handling, and it shows; even the electric steering has decent weight, although also the typical numb feel.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are up across the board; with the 2.0-liter’s coming in at 22-City, 33-Highway, and 26-Combined……for a good Energy Impact Score of 12.7-barrels of oil consumption and 5.6 tons of CO2 emissions yearly.
As for the all-important pricing, Malibus start at a modest $22,500, with Premier trim coming in at $31,795.
With the growing popularity of SUVs as family mainstays, the four-door sedan market continues to shrink. Yet, it is still large, and with lots of entries, making it a true buyer’s market. The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu has now jumped into the sweet spot of that fray. The turbo-4 gives it a sportier feel over a traditional V6, and comfort is top notch. Plus, the Hybrid gives the most fuel conscience a serious new choice. While no car design is perfect, overall, this Malibu makeover has us very impressed.
- Engine: 2.0 liter
- Horsepower: 250
- Torque: 258 lb-ft.
- EPA: 22 mpg city/ 33 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 12.7 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 5.6 tons/yr
2023 BMW X7
Should Keep The BMW Faithful Coming Back For More
While BMW got serious about their SUV game around the same time as most other luxury brands, it took them until just a few years ago to deliver a 3-row example. This year, that X7 is updated with new style and new tech. So, let’s see if that makes it the ultimate premium 3-row family machine.
When it comes to utility vehicles, bigger seems to be better for a lot of people. So, for BMW, there’s none bigger or better than the X7 3-row utility, which for 2023 gets a comprehensive update after just 4-years on the market. That includes a facelift to bring it more in line with the new 7-series carline, which is to say joins the more vertical, aggressive grille party. Also, the actual headlights have been moved lower in the front fascia, with squinty DRLs above for the first time on a BMW. In back, taillights take on a 3D posture, with a new chrome bar connecting them.
There are also multiple new M Sport packages to choose from to spice up the exterior, with larger air intakes up front, high-gloss black trim, upgraded exhaust, cascade grille lighting, and 22-inch wheels, as well as M Sport brakes…
…and the interior too, with aluminum trim and exclusive steering wheel. But, by far the biggest change inside for ‘23 is a new dashtop curved display that eliminates the typical BMW well-hooded gauge pod and blends 12-inch Live Cockpit Pro into the 15-inch infotainment touchscreen, which now features iDrive8. Both a Head-Up Display and a large panoramic sunroof are standard.
Whether set up for 2 or 3 passengers, 2nd row seat room remains plentiful, and though the X7 doesn’t look ungainly large like many of its competitors, access to the 3rd row is quite good. Cargo space is reached through a fairly unique, Range Rover-style, split tailgate, which is quite oddly satisfying to watch unfold. There’s room for 48.6 cubic-ft. of goods behind the 2nd row, with a max of 90.4 cu.-ft.
The base xDrive40i has always been the sensible choice, even more so now with a new inline-6 turbo getting a significant bump in horsepower from 335 to 375, and a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that results in a total of 398 lb-ft. of torque.
At our Mason Dixon test track, there was enough to blast this big beast to 60 in just 5.4-seconds. That’s only about half a second slower than the V8 did the deed back in 2019. Making that optional 523-horsepower V8 simply overkill at this point. Our best ¼-mile pass was 13.9-seconds at 100 miles-per-hour. All X7s get a quick shifting sport-tuned 8-speed automatic transmission, which adds a new Sprint Function that finds the lowest usable gear instantly and maxes electric boost with a hold of the left shift paddle. What fun!
New looks and updated tech are cool, but BMW has also addressed dynamics as well, with a retuning of all chassis systems, including the optional Dynamic Handling Package which adds adaptive suspension with roll stabilization and uses GPS and camera data to prepare for what’s coming. We’re not sure if our slalom course was anticipated, but the X7 sure felt well-equipped to handle it. All-wheel drive is standard on all X7s, along with comprehensive drive modes.
In our braking runs, the pads bit down hard quickly, stopping us from 60 in just 115-feet with very little nosedive.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 6-cylinder are 21-City, 25-Highway, and 22-Combined. We averaged just 21.0 miles-per-gallon on Premium.
There’s an average Energy Impact Score; 13.5-barrels of oil yearly, with CO2 emissions of 6.5-tons.
Pricing starts at $78,845, and it’s a significant step up from there to $104,095 if you want the V8. Even more reason to stick with the 6-cylinder as far as we’re concerned.
It took the ultimate driving machine folks quite a bit of time to enter the 3-row family crossover segment, but when they did, they were able to create their largest utility ever and keep it consistent with their values. For 2023, the BMW X7 gets even more dynamic, embraces new tech, and looks better too. All things that should keep the BMW faithful coming back for more.
- Engine: I-6
- Horsepower: 375
- 0-60 mph: 5.4 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 21.0 MPG
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 398 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 13.9-seconds at 100 mph
- EPA: 21 City / 25 Highway / 22 Combined