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Chevy Malibu blends value, comfort, handsome styling

2017 Chevrolet Malibu

Following a complete redesign for the 2016 model year, the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu now stands as one of the best values in the mid-size family sedan category.

Handsome styling is accompanied by a remarkably spacious interior and a polished driving experience. For drivers intent on achieving the maximum in fuel economy while still enjoying the many virtues of the model, Chevrolet also fits the Malibu with a hybrid powertrain.

Offered in five other levels of trim, ranging from the base L to the fully loaded Premier, the sweet spot in Malibu’s lineup is the LT. It features 17-inch alloy wheels, heated exterior mirrors, an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, satellite radio, Bluetooth, 4G LTE Wi-Fi and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment interface compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Malibu’s interior is spacious and rather attractive. The dash layout is also particularly straightforward. We always appreciate the employ of real dials for audio volume, fan speed and temperature controls. All of the instruments are legible and their ice-blue, black, red and white color scheme is easy on the eyes while offering nice contrast. The steering wheel has a pleasant heft, and the supplemental controls it contains are simple to use. Said succinctly, the interior’s overall appearance is nicely upscale while remaining grounded in utility.

Each seating position delivers all-day comfort and support. Four adults will fit quite easily, though the rear center seat is best left to children or individuals of smaller stature. The trunk is good for 15.8 cubic feet of cargo capacity — about average for the category.

Power for our LT test car came from a 163-horsepower, 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine capable of 184 pound-feet of torque teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission. While it could have been a bit more energetic for our tastes, the EPA says it’s capable of delivering 27 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway. In our mix of city, highway and back-road testing we saw an overall average of 29 mpg, one less than the EPA’s 30 mpg overall quote.

The 1.5 is smooth enough in operation and perfectly adequate for most situations, but when the car is fully loaded and climbing a steep hill, Malibu does want for acceleration.

For those who want the max in power, we recommend the Premier trim package with the 250-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four and its eight-speed transmission. This engine more fully exploits the Malibu’s noteworthy agility.

Cornering is precise, steering is both accurate and responsive, and braking is wholly reassuring. Chevy’s chassis engineering team specified a comfort-oriented tire to enhance the car’s outstanding quietness and smooth ride.

All in all, the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu LT is a strong effort from the folks behind the golden bow tie. The car is good-looking, nicely appointed, spacious, fuel-efficient and surprisingly engaging to drive. Comfort is admirable, and a host of contemporary driver’s-aid tech is available. Pricing for Malibu LT starts at $22,555.