General Motors is on a mission to get Chevrolet back in the business of selling cars. The previous-generation Malibu should be a long distant memory once consumers hop inside the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, which has been refined in every way imaginable.
But, today, we’re going to talk about weight. Chevrolet designed and engineered the 2016 Malibu to create the most mass-efficient midsize sedan on the market. In the process, 300 pounds have been stripped from the car, while stretching the overall length. In fact, the 2016 Malibu now sits as the lightest midsize sedan when comparing curb weights.
How was Chevrolet able to engineer the car, and return those kinds of weight savings? Here are five of them.
1. Leaner, stronger body structure
Chevrolet says more than one-third of the weight savings, 120 pounds, comes from the car’s all-new structure. High-strength steel plays an important part in designing thinner surfaces, sucking the mass with them, and actually creating a safer vehicle.
The stronger, yet lighter, structure meant engineers were able to tune the suspension more precisely. Less body flex means a sharper, more tactile 2016 Malibu.
From there, extensive computational analysis, which Chevrolet says employed hours of sophisticated modeling programs, were able to target where high-strength steel would be most effective, such as the rockers and pillars, creating a lighter vehicle, but preserving its crash worthiness.
“The analysis took the guesswork out of the Malibu’s development, allowing the chassis to be developed with the just-right level of structural components,” said Amir Sewani, structural engineer. “After the structure was determined, we started looking at all the components that are attached to it, evaluating where they could be optimized for lower weight.”
2. Greater use of aluminum
We said it once before that the 2016 Cadillac CT6 would be a preview to General Motors mixed material usage strategy in upcoming cars. Here, we have the proof. Aluminum is lighter than conventional steel, and has been used in critical locations around the vehicle to lower the 2016 Malibu’s mass.
The new aluminum hood alone is 6.6 pounds lighter than the current car’s steel, but aluminum can also be found in the car’s suspension knuckles, and chassis components. Less unsprung mass creates responsiveness in return, something Chevrolet is proud of in the 2016 Malibu.
3. Streamlined instrument panel assembly and lighter power accessories
On the quest for weight savings, Chevrolet dug deeper into the car to see where unnecessary mass was hidden. The engineering team squeezed another 4.2 pounds out of the 2016 Malibu by replacing the power window regulators, and designing simpler dash components. The simplified dashboard components have less integrated parts, reducing weight by another 2.2 pounds.
That includes the center console, which benefits from a streamlined-structural shell that is 1.75 pounds lighter than the current Malibu. Not only does it save weight, but the ergonomics make it a much more pleasant place to be.
4. Lighter leather seats and other soft materials
Long gone are the days of hard plastics in the Chevrolet Malibu. Chevrolet says new soft-touch materials have been used throughout the entire car. But the biggest piece are the new, lighter leather seats. The new seats weigh in 40.6 pounds lighter than the outgoing car’s, making it quite an essential piece in designing a lighter Malibu.
The soft material Chevrolet implemented include a new trunk liner, with a savings of 1.5 pounds, and proprietary interior carpet material to save another 1.1 pounds.
5. A lighter engine
Besides the new structure in the 2016 Malibu, here is the greatest weight saver of all. The new 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder strikes 86 pounds from the 2016 Malibu’s figure. While it’s no Mazda Miata, the weight savings over the old 2.5-liter help with a better front-to-rear weight balance.