Chevy’s Malibu Swims Above Mainstream

January 9, 2007

There was a time, not all that many years ago, when General Motors overwhelmingly dominated theU.S. mid-size car market. But since the early '90s, the automaker has seemingly ceded the segment to its Japanese competitors.

Not any more, if the new Chevrolet Malibu is any indication. Wrapping up its roll-outs at this year’s Detroit auto show, the new sedan was meant to show that “GM is back in the car game,” declared Troy Clarke, head of the automaker’s North American operations.


The dramatic new shape heralds GM’s renewed emphasis on design, which covers in a full story on the new Malibu. The underlying goal was to take the midsize sedan up-market – at least visually – while holding down its price tag to a base of less than $20,000. Much of the attention was focused on the interior, a classic weakness among GM passenger cars. The cockpit will be available in several trim levels, including an upmarket, two-tone package. The twin cabin shape features a variety of unexpectedly upscale touches. The driver gets a sweeping and well laid-out gauge cluster.


Powertrains will include a 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder and a 3.6-liter V-6 engine with variable valve timing. A new six-speed automatic will be offered with both engines.


The new Malibu will offer an array of standard and optional features, including LED interior lighting, a 110-volt outlet for operating portable MP3 players or navigation systems, and a massive, two-row sunroof. ABS brakes and both side and head curtain airbags will be offered on all trim levels, though stability control is optional on lower lines.


GM officials admit they have an uphill battle to regain their standing in the midsize market, but Chevy General Manager Ed Peper said he’s hopeful that with its more emotional design, Malibu can begin the process – along with other recent models, such as the Saturn Aura, which was named North American Car of the Year at the opening news conference of this year’s Detroit Auto Show.


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