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True growth: The 2016 Chevy Malibu is larger, lighter, greener, and techier than ever

As far as family sedans go, the current Chevrolet Malibu lingers in the middle of the pack. It’s a good car, sure, but not a great one. It’s appealing to some, but not enough to make the Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry, or Honda Accord nervous. For 2016, that may be changing.

General Motors is reportedly targeting 250,000 annual sales for the car’s next-generation, which is over 60,000 more than the brand delivered in 2014. Why so confident, GM?

Well, the short answer is efficiency. The new Malibu, despite being nearly four inches longer than its predecessor, shaves off nearly 300 pounds for 2016. An all-new hybrid powertrain will boost the four-door’s economy rating as well, with a Volt-sourced electric drive unit assisting a 1.8-liter four-banger to a rating of 45 mpg combined. Total output for the hybrid is 182 horsepower.

The standard engine, a 1.5-liter turbo, is greener than the 2015 model’s 2.5-liter with an estimated rating of 27 mpg city and 37 mpg highway. With 160 hp and 184 pound-feet of torque, it’s noticeably less powerful than the old mill’s 196 hp and 191 lb-ft., but the vehicle’s slimmer frame should make up for some of that. A 2.0-liter turbo with 250 hp and 258 lb-ft is also available with an eight-speed auto, returning numbers of 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.

As we reported last month, the Malibu will be offered with a ‘Teen Driver’ monitoring system on most trim levels.

Giving parents an inside look at the driving habits of their offspring, Teen Driver allows them to review distance driven, maximum speed reached, over-speed warnings issued, and events where stability control or anti-lock brakes were engaged.

Chevrolet Malibu

The styling has been tweaked as well, with a narrower front fascia that gives off a more mature, stern look. There are new contour lines running down the sides too, which give the car a bit more aesthetic personality.

The grown-up treatment continues inside, as the array of buttons from the 2015 car has been replaced with a sleeker ‘MyLink’ touchscreen layout. Wireless smartphone charging is also available on certain trims.

The 2016 Malibu goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2015.

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