By on March 31, 2011

When March sales come out tomorrow, the Chevrolet Malibu will likely find itself in a tough position again. Last month the car that was once hailed as Chevy’s Lutzian turning point had fallen to fifth place in the midsized segment, having sold only slightly better than the Impala which has never been hailed as anything other than a large, inexpensive and unsexy sedan. But Chevy has learned from Ford that the right amount of mid-cycle styling freshening can go a long way: the Fusion never quite lived up to its hype until an update that was more than just a facelift improved its aesthetics, sending it soaring to the number two sales spot in the segment. Chevy is clearly hoping that a fresh look, featuring Camaro-style taillights (a move that echoes the new Charger’s retro-taillamp graft from the Challenger) will juice up the ‘bu… and with no Impala replacement coming for at least a few years, most of Chevy’s midsized-segment chickens are in this retro-look basket.

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49 Comments on “2012 Malibu Plays Peek-A-’bu...”


  • avatar

    That looks very good from what I can make-out. It’s going to look like a tank, but it’ll will likely still look good.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    We took a simple strong geometric design, the circle, and added textures and color that invites a buyer to hold it in their hands. Then we divided that same strong shape and dramatically folded it in a way so that buyers can sense within our product a cornacopia of emotions that satisfies the subconscience. It appears substantial, but light, as light passes through the design that makes it appear at times transluscent, yet grounded. To that shell, we reached deep into our company’s heritage and brought out the textures, dramatic spices, satisfying options our buyers traditionally valued in our line up. We believe it’s muscular shape and solid wide stance will appeal to those buyers living an outdoor, athletic lifestyle.

    Join us when we unveil this dramatically new sensation at your nearest Taco Bell April 16th. 

  • avatar

    Nice one, dude.
     
    People who’ve seen the new Malibu say it looks fantastic. From this tease it looks like a Camaro with the proportions of a Regal, but more width. It will be interesting to see the curb weight.

  • avatar

    GM’s cars are fine, their marketing stinks. this is, has been, and will be the trouble. LaNaive didn’t get it and neither does Ebonic.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “…with no Impala replacement coming for at least a few years”

    Wow! A never-ending source of parts! I think I know what my next car is. Come to papa, little Imp, and see what I will do with you!

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      I like the present Malibu, and I really like what I see so far of the 2012. Do I see myself,trading in my Impala to gain 3 mpg? Not a chance.

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      Don’t worry Mikey, there won’t be a real 3mpg improvement anyways.  I was amazed back in 2008 when I rented an Impala and got 32.5mpg on a highway trip to visit a relative.  I recently took the same trip using our 2010 4-cyl/6-speed Malibu and we averaged 29mpg.  With 17k on the odo, the engine is broken in.  Reality is that the 33mpg on the window sticker is not at all realistic, and GM is doing this on all their new cars, as is widely reported with the new Equinox.  GM’s a lot “closer” to our govt than other makes, so I do believe they are getting away with some supposed EPA test exaggeration that other makes couldn’t pull off.
      Don’t get me wrong…I love our car and I think the new one may be really nice.  I’m just disappointed that GM plays these kind of games with their customers.  Truth is it is a heavy car powered by a 169hp 4-cyl, unlike your Impala which doesn’t have to work hard to move.  That’s not going to change with the new Malibu.

    • 0 avatar

      The Impala with the 3.4 got ridiculously good fuel economy on the highway. My father-in-law regularly got 32-34.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    The Malibu never received the respect it deserved.  Then GM idoits decided that decontenting was a good idea…what happened to the adjsutable pedals…the door lights…the front fender lights…it is imperative that the beancounters are kept away permanently. 

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      Lets not forget the overhead oh shiit handles, the rear seat armrest, the fold flat passenger seat, deleting one rear seat map pocket, the glovebox light, interior color choices other than tan or charcoal, key cylinder for the trunk deleted, sun glasses holder etc. It’s amzing how much of these little things that GM has taken it’s bean counter knife to in the past 10 years or so. In all fairness most other companies have joined the band wagon on some of these items too so GM is not alone.

      Regarding the new Malibu that is heavily based on the new Regal, I have to wonder how GM is going to-
      A) keep the weight down to Sonata levels
      B) Get the mileage up to Sonata levels
      C) Get by without a V6 engine option
      D) Get more space out of the trunk and back seat
      E) Find more interior storage for things like sun glasses and space in the center storage console
      F) Keep the price down(the current car is stickered noticeably higher than most rivals)

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      ponchoman49, A-F, all true, yes.  But it’s going to have Camaro-style taillights!  What more does it need?

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      You have to buy the Impala emblems and apply them to either the area on the C pillar where GM deleted them or to another position of opportunity. Priorities, gentlemen!

  • avatar

    Another good example of a refresh that reinvigorated a model was the transition from Ford’s FiveHundred to the 08-09 Taurus, to the current Taurus.  While not selling in larger volumes like the midsize segment, I don’t think anyone calls the new Taurus boring looking, while most people forget what a FiveHundred looks like before they even turn away.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      I liked the 500. The new Taurus looks like an oversized matchbook edition of an Ed Roth fantasy.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I’ll second that Robert. The 500 was a very tasteful design while the current Taurus is hideous. It looks heavy, huge, and cramped. It is heavy, huge, and cramped. What a giant leap backwards.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m actually shopping around for a fully optioned out 500/Montego. I sat in the new Taurus at an auto show, and even though it was a really nice interior, it didn’t have the same airy feeling cabin as the old models. I think the belt line was raised, or the roof was lowered (or maybe both). I think the new Malibu will be quite a looker from the exterior, but that might come at a trade-of in packaging and usable space. Either way, the current generation Malibu is getting long in the tooth and deserves at least a mid-cycle refresh. New sheet metal should be enough to bring people into showrooms. Whether GM can close will count on how practical the interior is, and the price. Camcords are due for a refresh soon too.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      jollyjerry,

      You might want to look for a 2008 Taurus. It retains the superior packaging of the 500 while having a pretty significant drivetrain upgrade, IIRC. You might want to check out the consumer websites to make sure the transmission is reliable, but it probably isn’t as bad as a CVT.

  • avatar
    mike978

    The Malibu may be fifth in sales of mid-size cars but after the Camry second to sixth is pretty tight. So being 5th and the oldest is not exactly bad.

  • avatar
    tikki50

    why is it that I sense Pontiac in that design. maybe the lighting in that final shot had Ponitac all over it, to me. from the spinning model it doesn’t look bad at all. I do agree keep the bean counters away from this car. Go GM.

  • avatar
    200k-min

    Styling aside, I recently had a ‘bu as a rental.  What I can’t seem to get over is that as a 2011 model year vehicle it feels cheap inside compared to my Honda Accord that is over 10 years older.  Fit and finish, tactile qualities of the materials, etc. just do not even begin to come close.  Non fleet buyers who cross shop will notice the cheapness of the Chevy.  I did.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ 200k-min…..Objectivly, check out the interior of a 2011 Accord vs Malibu. Now look at the price difference. I’ll take the Malibu, thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      @mikey: the materials aren’t appreciably better in either car, but Malibu does have more style.  You are right about the price, and the Malibu is much less noisy while the Accord has better space.  The Camry has much better ergonomics than both, but has it’s own issues (uninspiring interior design that does the materials no favours, short seat cushions up front).
       
      The Altima is a better car then any of them.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      “Style…”  Phooey.  “Style” is purely arbitrary.  “Style” is why you tell yourself you love the car when you know it’s an unreliable and inefficient lump compared to the competition.

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      Gotta agree with 200k-min.  I bought a 2010 Accord, but I closely considered the ‘bu, mostly because I loved the exterior styling and thought the powertrain fairly refined.  But, interior materials quality isn’t even close, though the cloth seat fabric on my LX feels cheaper than the cloth on an LT1 ‘bu.  The ‘bu has a more stylized interior, but plastics quality, fit, tactile feel, heft – all in the Honda’s favor. 

      I’m not a GM guy at all, but I think the ‘bu is a great car as-is.  It’s more appealing than the Accord in many respects, but I think the Accord is a better overall package.  Forest, trees, that kind of thing.

      Mikey, the Malibu and Accord are priced similarly.  It’s just that dealers are discounting bu’s big time.  A local dealer here in MA is offering a flat $6,000 off all new LT1s and LT2s.  If that deal was in place last year, I might have saved the cash and bought the Chebby.  I’m happy with the Accord though (plus, it’s a stick).

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      I’ve sat in both the current Accord and the new Malibu. The Malibu is more stylish than the Accord on the inside, but when it comes to material quality and level of assembly, it’s no contest. The Malibu doesn’t even match the Fusion.

      Plus, too many panels or buttons in the Malibu felt as though they were on the verge of breaking, which wasn’t a problem with the Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      @200k-min

      But you’re comparing a 10 year old Accord to a new car in the current generation. Go look at a new car from Honda or Toyota and compare features, material quality, and content. They are heavily decontented. Someone that owns say a 10 to 15 year old Accord or Camry owns cars from the golden age of those platforms. I would say the Camry peaked in 96 to 98 (feel free to debate) from a quality, feature, content, build quality, vs. price stand point; and the Accord peaked a few years later.

      A 2011 rental grade Malibu is very much on par with a 2011 Camry LE in the quality of materials, plastics, etc. etc. class – I’d say the ‘bu is even a hair better.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Another aspect of the decontenting-vs-interior-quality conversation is design: some people like the way older cars look, and feel that the “looks like a high-end stereo” trim in modern cars is cheap compared to the “looks like a horse carriage” trim in older ones.
       
      Personally, I prefer the latter and think that old-school “nice” plastics look dated and homely, but many people like to kick it old-school.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      All I have to add is that people need to drive, or at least sit in, both the domestics and the Japanese brands for themselves. There is a lot of pure fantasy and propaganda posted here, and two minutes in each of the cars will make it obvious to anyone where the truth and quality reside.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      A few weeks ago out of town on business, our rental was a Malibu LTZ. I thought it was outstanding in every way. I was impressed.

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      “Styling aside, I recently had a ‘bu as a rental.”

      1 out of every 3 bu’s are rentals so the chance of finding one that isnt…..

  • avatar
    mjz

    They desperately need a new Impala.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ mjz…..The Impala is run about 7 miles from where I sit. Rumour has it…that the RWD Zeta based Impala isn’t completly dead.

      As far as product alocation goes. We have the present Impala up to the 2013 model year.

      So many factors come into play here. C.A.F.E comes to mind. The UAW willing to expand “two tier” to gain product alocation will come into play. Will the CAW cave to demands and expand thier “two tier” programs? The Impala is a high production “bread and butter” car. Will a RWD replace the Impala? Can they sell 12000 a month?

      Before anybody jumps on it how are the fleet buying people going to react?

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      There are a lot of indications, and if you play connect the dots, that the 2014 Impala will be a RWD Zeta platform car based on the upcoming generation of the platform (not based on the ’08 – 09.5 Pontiac G8 and the ’11 – ?? Caprice PPV).

      What exactly that next generation platform will be is not known – there is a very ugly rumor that Zeta will be FWD in the next generation. Say it ain’t so!

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    What GM can do to bolster their Chevy sales is to invest in longevity medicines so that their buyers don’t keep dying off. Hyundai is not as big a threat to Chevrolet as the Grim Reaper is.

    Traditional Chevrolet buyers are either purchasing Hyundais with their Burger King paychecks and babysitting money, or discovering that their alzheimer’s mecication, Aricept, can cause denture stains.

    Honestly, turning the Malibu into a four door Camaro isn’t a bad idea. It is time for Chevy to tempt new generations with cars that look like McDonalds toys.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Mikey: The new Malibu is going to be slightly smaller than the current version, built off the Regal platform. A new Impala should be built off the LaCrosse platform. RWD Zeta should be the new Caprice.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Still looks like it has terrible sight-lines.  Wonder if they fixed the “mail slot” trunk?
     
    I sat in a 2009 model, LTZ trim level.  Before I could even open my mouth, my lady says: “What a Rubbermaid interior.  No wonder GM went belly up.”  This is a girl raised in a GM family!  I didn’t even know she noticed that sort of stuff.  She actually bemoaned the lack of soft surface to rest her elbow on on the door.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    On the subject of the maligned, dated, out-classed, yet completely acceptable and utterly bullet proof W-Body Impala.

    There is a growing amount of evidence, leaks, and indications that when the Impala dies, likely in 2014 as they have shoe horned the 3.6 and 6-speed auto into the chassis to give it a bit more life, that the replacement will be – the next generation Holden Zeta platform car.

    Mark Reuss may have been the guy who gave the world the Pontiac Aztek, and may be a second generation GM insider, but he is also the guy who was sent to Australia to turn Holden around, worked with Lutz to give us the Pontiac G8, and turned Holden around. The point being that since Reuss has returned to North America as the President of GM North America, and a big part of his business plan for a healthy Holden was export and licensing, it seems pretty damn logical that Zeta is coming back, and not just as police cruisers.

    I’d also guess, as rumors are flying in this camp also, that when the Colorado/Canyon are finally put out of their misery in North America, also around 2014, that the El Camino nameplate will return on a Holden Ute – I’d guess in a 2015 time frame.

    Until then, both chassis soldier on.

  • avatar
    Bridge2farr

    Malibu easily superior to Accord in every way. Don’t believe the haters.

  • avatar
    mikey

     How about reality?

  • avatar

    Malibu’s interior (as well as Aura’s) looked nice only on pictures. In reality it feels pretty cheap. But it is fun car to drive, even though steering is electric and does not feel very natural. I liked Aura interior more but still there were too much hard plastic (esp in door trim) and shiny plastic as well. Somehow Ford manages to put higher quality plastic int their cars and Sonata is simply phenomenal. Even though Sonata’s interior does not feel expensive it is stylishly designed, well built and has good quality matching materials. If Regal is any indication – new Malibu will be very nice car. Unfortunately they will decontent to the price point and knowing GM I do not expect miracles.
    On the side note. I recently test drove Nissan Maxima – steering felt artificial and interior is horrible. If Altima worse than that then I do not buy all hype surrounding it. I would rather go for Regal Turbo and sacrifice HP – it is solid car with better steering. But still – why seating position in modern cars is so high?

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Should make another perfectly acceptable, yet mediocre rental car.

    “The all new 2012 Rentibu! Coming to an Avis and Hertz lot near you”

  • avatar

    BTW what “тизер” means? Make a guess.


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