Data collected over decades from across the globe is helping ensure the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu can handle the world’s worst roads even if the all-new midsize sedan never drives on them.
Data collection boxes are placed in cars in real-world driving conditions around the world. Since 1972, these devices have accurately recorded the harshness and frequency of every jounce, bump and shudder inflicted on the car on roads in the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and developing markets.
“Although most Malibu owners will never put their car through similar abuse, we test all new vehicles in extreme climates, inclement weather and on punishing road surfaces,” said Dan Devine, Malibu validation engineer. “The 2016 Malibu is definitely up to these challenges.”
Tests like these ensured the current generation Malibu was dependable and durable, two qualities that in turn helped Malibu stand out from its rivals in important quality surveys, such as J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study and Vehicle Dependability Study.
General Motors engineers analyze the data to calculate the precise amount of damage potholes and other hazards create over 150,000 miles. Then the conditions are replicated at GM’s Milford Proving Ground in Michigan on three unique road courses, each riddled with simulated potholes of increasing severity. Engineers run preproduction cars through the course up to hundreds of times.
Additional validation and development tests include logging more than 1.5 million miles of driving in controlled environments and on open roads.
The 2016 Malibu also endured some harsh weather through drives in scorching Yuma, Ariz. – which averages 107 degree temperatures in July – and sub-zero cold of Northern Canada – which averages a low of -13 degrees in January. At the GM Technical Center in Warren, Mich., the Malibu put in several hours in the Climatic Wind Tunnel, where temperatures can be raised to 140 degrees or lowered to 40 degrees below zero.
The new Malibu also endures a battery of stationary and dynamic tests to simulate abuse well beyond the average lifetime of the car. These tests include:
- A four-post vehicle test which balances each wheel on a hydraulic post that actuates the suspension at high frequency, accelerating the wear on bushings and dampers.
- Door, hood and decklid slams speed up wear on hinges and latches.
- Road durability testing includes extremes such as twist ditches, driveway angles, mud and gravel, high-speed tests, chatter bumps, Belgian blocks and salt spray.
The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu will be available late in 2015.