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 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid
Crossed Up Corolla Gets More Efficient
Toyota offers a hybrid powertrain in just about everything they make, so it did seem odd that last year, when they debuted an all-new SUV version of their long-time best-selling Corolla, a hybrid was nowhere to be found. Well, it didn’t take long for Toyota to correct that situation, delivering this Corolla Cross Hybrid for 2023.
With prices for everything seemingly going up daily, we can all use a little more cost efficiency in our lives. That’s a mission that Toyota has been undertaking for some time now and continues to do it with this 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid.
The Alabama-built Corolla Cross arrived just last year as Toyota’s attempt to bring their best-selling nameplate into the SUV era, and give them an additional entry into the most popular automotive segment going right now, small crossovers.
There are some RAV4 styling cues here, but the Corolla Cross is mostly its own deal, and the Hybrid is more than just a fuel efficient option, it has added performance too. So, it’s offered only in Toyota’s S line of trims S, SE, and XSE, where the standard Corolla Cross is available in base L, LE, and XLE.
There are some differences outside, most notably unique front and rear fasicas; the front with a much more aggressive look, with larger grille and blacked-out trim.
Black trim and logos in back too, along with a redesigned bumper; plus, you can optionally go 2-tone by adding black paint to the roof.
Great packaging has it feeling roomier inside than most small 5-seat utes, straddling the line between subcompact and compact. And seats are way more comfortable than your typical urban-minded utility.
In fact, the entire interior feels quite upscale, and the layout will be very familiar to those stepping up from an actual Corolla.
Those who put off buying a Corolla Cross until now will be rewarded with upgraded infotainment, as all Hybrid’s will come with Toyota’s latest 8-inch touchscreen multimedia system standard.
The Hybrid’s small battery is located under the rear seat, so there’s minimal loss of rom, with a good 21.5 cubic-ft. of cargo space available; expanding to 61.8 with rear seatbacks folded.
Getting to the heart of the matter, the Corolla Cross Hybrid’s fuel-sipping ways are courtesy of the 5th generation of Toyota’s Hybrid System which outputs a combined 196-horsepower through its trio of electric motors and naturally-aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine. One of those motors operating strictly the rear axle for standard all-wheel-drive.
At our test track, there was a nice little chirp of the tires off the line, but that’s where the excitement ended.
So while a 7.5-second trip to 60 may not raise your blood pressure, it’s a full 3-seconds quicker than the standard Corolla Cross we tested last year. We’ll take that!
CVT automatic means engine revs and engine noise both hang relatively high throughout the whole ¼-mile, which took us 15.6-seconds to complete, finishing at a reasonable 90 miles-per-hour.
The Hybrid also gets a “sport-tuned” suspension, and indeed it felt light and nimble through our cone course, very neutral too, with no noticeable understeer or oversteer. Steering was light but still provided good feedback. With some grippier tires, this would certainly give the best handlers in the segment a run for their money.
But the real reward comes in Government Fuel Economy Ratings which are 45-City, 38-Highway, and 42-Combined. We averaged a great 43.3 miles-per-gallon of Regular; that’s a 40% increase over the 30.9 miles-per-gallon we averaged in the standard Corolla Cross last year.
But, that does come at a cost, though it’s difficult to make direct comparisons with separate trim families, but pricing starts at $29,320 for the Hybrid, about 3-grand over a base all-wheel-drive non-hybrid. Top XSE comes in at $32,400.
As influential as Toyota is in spreading the hybrid doctrine, it was indeed odd that the Corolla Cross arrived last year without a hybrid option. Smartly, it didn’t take them long to right that wrong, as it was always part of the plan, and the Corolla Cross has benefitted from it greatly. The 2023 Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is not just more efficient, it’s more capable, and a much better small utility all around.
- Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
- Horsepower: 196
- 0-60 mph: 7.5-seconds
- MW Fuel Economy: 43.3 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: e-CVT
- Torque: 139 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 15.6-seconds at 90 mph
- EPA: 45-City, 38-Highway, and 42-Combined