Hitting the road in 2015, the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu represented a ground-up re-do of the popular family sedan that brought new technologies, a highly-advanced body structure, new engines, and a slew of improvements to market.
With ride quality and noise levels at or near the top of its class, many owners report satisfaction with the Malibu’s upscale and comfortable drive.
Bigger, longer and lighter than its predecessor, the new-for-2016 Malibu came powered exclusively by four-cylinder engines, including two gasoline turbo units and one gas-electric hybrid. Up to 250 horsepower was available from the top-line two-litre engine.
Feature content included: advanced safety and hazard-detection technology, OnStar, navigation, a sunroof, hands-free parking assist, and unique Teen Driver functionality. Teen Driver allows parents to passively monitor and regulate certain teen driver behavior via password-protected access through the central touch-screen.
Assume that everything within the Malibu that runs on electricity is busted, until you have proof to the contrary. Put another way, be absolutely sure to try every and any feature you can that’s electronic in nature. Owners have reported a variety of gripes, including wonky or sporadic operation of the sunroof, climate controls, stereo, and USB Ports. These complaints are minuscule compared to total sales volumes, though they’re super-easy to check for and could save you money — so make sure you do.
Some owners say the 1.5-litre turbo engine may feel sluggish or nearly non-responsive until the engine achieves really high revs. Others say the engine performs very differently from one moment to the next. Coax this problem out by accelerating at light, moderate, and full throttle for a few moments. Observe the feel of the acceleration: if it feels lumpy or jerky, you might have a problem. And it’s probably an anomaly with the computer software that controls the engine. A dealer technician can quickly fix that with a software reflash but sometimes, they need to replace a wiring harness, too. This may be covered by warranty, and if you notice these symptoms, be sure to get the car checked out professionally, to be safe.
It’s hard to nail down anything concerning about reliability of the Malibu hybrid, mostly because it’s so rare. Still, shoppers set on this partial-electric models are advised to have the vehicle inspected fully by a technician at a Chevrolet dealership, including a full check of the hybrid system, both visually and electronically.
Air conditioner test
Some Malibu owners say their air conditioner likes to conk out for no apparent reason, especially if the engine is running, but the vehicle is stopped or parked. Carefully check for this by running the air conditioner for the duration of your test drive, and for a few minutes afterwards, with the engine running and car parked. If the cold air disappears, a technician should check the system out before you buy. They might find a problem with one or more cooling fan relays, which are easy to fix.
This suspension test
Head for a reasonably-rough stretch of road, make the cabin as quiet as possible, and proceed to give the Malibu’s suspension a workout with bumps and dips. Train your ears towards the rear of the vehicle: you’re on the lookout for deep thumping sound, which might resemble a big heavy object smashing around in the trunk. If you hear it, have a professional assess the condition of the car’s suspension. In this precise case, the rear-end clunk seems to be the result of a faulty or missing rubber isolator. Ask dealer staff to refer to Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) #18-NA-136, which can make for a speedier fix.
The information presented above is gathered from online owner discussion groups and collaboration with a network of automotive repair professionals. The above information is not a comprehensive list of all possible issues with the vehicle in question and is instead intended to draw shopper attention to possible trouble spots they may wish to investigate before they buy. In most cases, problems listed above are reported with relative rarity in comparison to total sales volume. Shoppers are advised to have a dealer-performed pre-purchase inspection on the vehicle they’re considering for maximum peace of mind.
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