2016 Chevrolet Malibu

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

Episode 3522
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

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.

Specifications

  • 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
2024 Lexus GX550

2024 Lexus GX550

It’s A Land Cruiser With A Lexus Badge

Episode 4344
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When most people think of Lexus SUVs, they tend to think of the RX, and for good reason. The RX was a key player in popularizing the luxury SUV market as we know it today. But, the Lexus SUV world is much bigger than that, of course, including something for adventurous, rugged, off-road types.

We’re not about to claim that there’s some kind of body-on-frame SUV resurgence happening, but it’s clear that car-like crossovers haven’t fully taken over the SUV world just yet; and more than any other brand, Toyota seems on a mission to make SUVs truly great again. Even when it comes to their Lexus brand with this new 2024 Lexus GX550.

When the first gen GX arrived for 2003, it seemed to go out of its way to disguise its substantial off-road capabilities behind some very soft-roader sheet-metal, but those that knew… knew that underneath, the GX was based on the rugged J120 Land Cruiser. Fast forward to this third-gen GX, and it looks like Lexus is fully embracing that Land Cruiser kinship going boxier and bolder than ever before. Square lines, chunky fenders, wide track, short overhangs, highly vertical windshield; all hallmarks of serious off-roaders.

The GX is also the first Lexus to benefit from their Overtrail Project which encourages Lexus owners to get out of their comfort zones and experience what their luxo-ute is actually capable of. So, Overtrail models are outfitted with 33-inch all-terrain tires on 18-inch wheels, a locking rear diff, and an Electronic Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System that can independently unlock both front and rear stabilizer bars for more wheel articulation.

2024 Lexus GX550 3/4 Front
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2024 Lexus GX550 3/4 Rear
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Just like the recently released Toyota J250 Land Cruiser, the GX is built on Toyota’s Tundra truck frame, but instead of a four-cylinder turbo-hybrid, it’s launching with a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 with 349-horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. That’s 48-horsepower and 150 lb-ft over the previous GX’s V8. Max tow rating shoots up from 6,500 to 9,096-lbs. The GX works exclusively with a 10-speed automatic transmission, with full-time four-wheel-drive and a two-speed transfer case standard. Lexus says a hybrid option will be available later, but no word on if it’s the Land Cruiser’s 2.4-liter I4 hybrid or the V6 hybrid that’s currently available in the Tundra pickup.

It doesn’t take much time behind the wheel to appreciate the high seating position and great visibility of the GX; as rugged as it looks outside, it still feels plenty luxurious inside, and is highly functional too. There’s a big control center in front of the dash with a high-mounted 14-inch touchscreen, and dedicated knobs for temperature and volume just below. A third row of seating is available in most trims, providing space for six or seven passengers. But if you go Overtrail, Lexus assumes you’re not the big family type and would rather have the space for packing adventure gear, so it’s the only trim that is five-passenger only.

As rugged as it looks outside, it still feels plenty luxurious inside, and is highly functional too.

While the double-wishbone front and rear multi-link suspension of this Overtrail is clearly off-road inspired, it held up well enough in our Mason Dixon Dragway handling course. Slow and steady definitely won the race here, as the GX felt big and heavy, with notable weight shifting on transitions through the cones, and light steering. Stability systems were eager to kick in well before things could get out of sorts.

Buyers can add Lexus’ Adaptive Variable Suspension for smoothing things out on the highways without sacrificing off-road capabilities. It launched quite aggressively off the line in acceleration runs; again, sturdy and truck-like, with all four wheels biting into the pavement and propelling us forward harder than we were expecting, hitting 60 in 6.5 seconds.

2024 Lexus GX550 Dashboard
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Lots of grip and no drama, as this turbo-six puts plenty of power down instantly. It sounds good too; powerful, with a nice throaty exhaust note that was more of a V8 rumble than V6 trumpet. Quarter-mile completed in 14.9-seconds at 94 mph.

Braking runs were a little inconsistent, with the off-road tires seemingly gripping and pulling us in different directions. But stops averaged a great 114-feet from 60 mph, so we’ll accept the slightly unsettled feel.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 15-City, 21-Highway, and 17-Combined; we averaged a respectable 20.1 mpg of Premium. But it garners a worse than average Energy Impact Score of 17.5-barrels of yearly oil use, with 8.3-tons of CO2 emissions.

Pricing starts with Premium grade at $64,250, ranging to Luxury at $77,250, with Overtrail in between at $69,250. All trims can be plus sized for additional features.

The 2024 Lexus GX550 is clearly not just another luxury saturated soft-roader. It’s a real deal Land Cruiser with a Lexus moniker, and this Overtrail is the most off-road capable Lexus ever. That not only makes it appealing to traditional Lexus buyers, but to a whole “range” of new conquests as well.

Specifications

  • Engine: 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic
  • Horsepower: 349
  • Torque: 479 lb-ft
  • EPA: 15 City | 21 Highway | 17 Combined
  • 0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.9 seconds at 94 mph
  • 60-0 Braking (avg): 114 feet
  • MW Fuel Economy: 20.1 mpg (Premium)
  • Max Tow Rating: 9,096-lbs