By on December 4, 2012

Well, that was quick. GM is apparently planning a mid-cycle refresh for the Chevrolet Malibu in 2013, 18 months after the car was released in showrooms.

The Malibu has been panned for poor rear legroom and underwhelming powertrains – our own Michael Karesh was particularly critical of the car. GM’s Dan Akerson told Automotive News that a revised front fascia would be part of the refresh, but declined to give anymore details. The Malibu’s launch was seen as a misstep by GM, as the car was only sold in an eAssist version, without any conventional powertrains like the volume 2.5L four-cylinder, or the upmarket 2.0T motor.


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60 Comments on “Chevrolet Planning Malibu Midcycle Refresh For Late 2013...”

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Rear legroom they’re pretty much stuck with. They were probably thinking folks who wanted a large back seat would spring for the new Impala. Not a bad idea, but the price leap from Malibu to Impala is too long for that to work well.

    • 0 avatar

      Rear legroom? Who the hell cares about rear legroom! What, all of the sudden people are going to go “hey, there’s more legroom in the Malibu, let’s go buy one!”? Of course not. Chevy is going down a road they went down in the early 2000’s. I call it “coke can” marketing. They come up with quickie designs that are meant to be marketed like a can of coke, ignoring what people really want.

      Ford is getting the picture. Their new Fusion, especially the Hybrid model and the upcoming Fusion Energi, show that Ford is doing their best to get the people what they want. And even though the mileage of the hybrid is overstated, 39 mpg in the city is very respectable.

      No, you can’t just change the look of the Malibu. It’s going to need a hell of a lot more. it’s powertrain will need a makeover, it will need a lot better mileage and a lot better pricing. And I don’t think Chevy is going to be able to do it. Chevy, who saw the possibility of a revival in 2010, seems determined to return to the mediocrity of the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

      And my wife decided yesterday she was getting a new Fusion hybrid. She absolutely loved the way it drove and felt. It will be the first time we ever not in a Chevy.

  • avatar

    The beat goes on!

    Talk about complete denial, I was schlepping around a used car lot at a Chevy dealer in September and this salesman tried to sell me a new Malibu even though I wasn’t looking or had any interest. I got the usual folderol about how improved the new Malibu was over the previous generation so I asked him why the ’12’s were flying off of the shelves (comparatively speaking) and the ’13’s were gathering mold. He dribbled something unintelligible so I told him that the ’13’s had gotten panned in the media for their significantly higher price and their redesigned miserly back seat legroom. He tried to tell me that wasn’t true so I suggested he try something new & different and actually study what he was trying to sell.

    How can GM screw something like this up? And Akerson is worried about the grille? (Maybe I just answered my question.)

  • avatar

    Obviously just my opinion, but as good looking as the 2013 Malibu already is, why on earth are they even contemplating changing the looks?

    Reminds me of the old saying, that a camel is a horse that was designed by a committee. Doesn’t GM know when a design has succeeded?

    • 0 avatar

      The new Malibu came in last place in a Motor Trend 6 car comparo. They liked the exterior looks, the problems were the drivetrain, the interior and the rear seat room. I think that’s the problem with Ackerson, WHY would you talk about a front end refresh when looks aren’t this cars problem?

    • 0 avatar

      Clearly this is just your opinion considering how panned the car has been. It seems only GM fanatics like it. But how can you even say this car’s design has “succeeded”?? It isn’t selling. It isn’t ugly, but it doesn’t really look like anything special, it is as generic and inoffensive as the Camcords they are attempting to compete with. I certainly wouldn’t consider this “good looking”.

      As for the refresh, well they cannot change the platform or the weight, but they sure can slap a different plastic nose on the front of it and hope for the best.

  • avatar

    Hilarious. Personally I’ll be anxious to see what they do to it, the last gen really impressed me and at present this one seems lacking in comparison.

  • avatar

    Hopefully the 2014 Chevrolet Impala is the last of the GM porkers. The 2012 Impala with the V6 is around 3550 pounds. The published curb weight of the 2014 Impala is 3800 lbs. I’m guessing that’s with the base 4 cylinder. The new Malibu and Impala are both 300 lbs heavier than their top-of-the-class competitors, and with 4 cylinder e-assist, the Chevys have significantly less trunk space. I think both the Malibu and the Impala need an early major revision. They have to drop weight and at the same time lengthen the body to provide more trunk space.

  • avatar

    I must admit I love the new Malibu, at least in the looks department.

    Last summer when we were down-sizing vehicles and somehow put a new car bug in my own ear – though we didn’t need one, the main thing that kept me away from giving the Malibu a serious look was they all came only with Eco-boost at the time – the 2013 models. A terrible launch strategy.

    Perhaps people think they are all still Eco-boost models?

    Even though blinded by my Impala-love, we did consider a Buick LaCrosse, but the nice, left-over Impala LTZ had my name written all over it, so it won.

    As much as I like my current ride, I’m still scratching my head why I let a perfectly good car go, especially since now I have to PAY for it!

    That all being said, if I have to stay at my current job with my 100-mile commute, perhaps a soon-to-be refreshed 4 cyl. Malibu may be in the works – unless wifey wants to get rid of her 2002 CR-V, of course!

    Of course I’m dreaming, but what if Chevy would offer either a coupe or convertible Malibu? Chevelle 3.6 SS?

    Hey, at least dreams are still free!

    • 0 avatar

      With a 100 mile commute, maybe you should check out the VW Passat TDI, or maybe a Camry Hybrid or Fusion Hybrid.

    • 0 avatar

      I hear ya. I let that dream go a few years ago. The Malibu has been stuck on Planet Dull since 1997 and I doubt it’s ever coming back. Don’t count on a coupe, convertible, wagon, or even anything mildly entertaining to come within spitting distance of a Malibu any time soon. It’s really sad considering the origins of the Malibu name in the 1960’s. I always said this car should have kept the name Corsica since that’s all it really is.

  • avatar

    The launch strategy for this car was a complete debacle. Whoever came up with the idea to launch what is possibly the dullest version of this car before the other versions were ready should be fired. No doubt they are just moving up the planned refresh that will feature Chevy’s new three bar grille, like the refreshed Traverse and new Impala will have.

    • 0 avatar

      From what I’ve read, this was personally pushed by Akerson. The original plan was to launch in the fall with the 2.5. Akerson wanted the new car out earlier, so directed that it launch with the E-assist instead.

      • 0 avatar

        I think you are correct. That’s why they should never have hired a non-car guy to run GM. You get boneheaded decisions like this one, because people like this have a basic lack of understanding of how the car biz works. He personally screwed up the launch of one of GM’s critical products, at a time when GM can ill afford any missteps. He should be fired.

      • 0 avatar

        WRT non-car guy leading GM:

        Wasn’t that the ‘flavor of the month’ not so long ago, particularly after Mulally’s hiring at Ford? GM’s culture is insular, they need fresh blood… and other similar statements. So, they’ve had a Telcom exec and now ex-Navy Akerson at the reins. I get what he was attempting to do with the launch of the Eco-bu.

        Sadly, it backfired. OTOH, I feel safe that the vast majority of folks have not driven the car to even know how allegedly awful it is; all they’ve done is read opinions and reports. Having driven the Eco-bu for a few days, it’s a lot nice than the reports.

  • avatar

    The car might do better if Akerson stopped saying bad things about it.

    • 0 avatar

      He has a habit of doing that sort of thing. Back when the XTS concept car was shown, he told reporters that it wouldn’t “blow the doors” off anybody. Honesty can be a very refreshing thing when used wisely, but in a cutthroat business, you really don’t need to be giving the competition any help.

      It reminded me a lot of when Bernd Pischetsrieder sabotaged the Rover 75 launch back in 1999 by telling the press on the podium at the British Motor Show that BMW was considering shutting down and breaking up the company.

  • avatar

    What the Malibu needs is a redesign from the ground up. Its looks are the least of its problems.

    Looks like everyone’s trying to pull a Civic… hopefully, Versa gets the memo.

  • avatar

    at best this new model should have been a mid cycle with the last generation, not now. The release was a total mess, most expensive option first, mistake. and I seriously hope they fix the rear, its worse than the front. So now they’ve launched, and poor launch at that, a car that was inferior to the competition and someone at GM jumped up and down like a 2 year old complaining. Well that was a very expensive experiment for an executive that failed miserably. At least they are responding and admitting to failure. Thats a huge plus for GM.

    MJZ: the new traverse doesn’t have a 3 bar grill, its actually much improved in my eyes, your thinking of Ford for tha grill, or Honda or toyota, maybe hyundai too, they all jumped on the ban wagon once ford did it.

    • 0 avatar

      tikki50: Check out the 2013 Traverse refresh photos. It now has a THREE bar horizontal grille with that big Chevy bowtie set smack dab in the middle. 2014 Impala actually has a TWO bar horizontal grille. This is Chevy’s “new” grille style, dumping the two-tiered split design they have had for a number of years. No doubt Equinox and Cruze will also adapt it for their upcoming refreshes. While it’s a more generic look, I think it’s an improvement over the two-tier design.

  • avatar

    And unlike the Civic – another recipient of a rapid refresh, the Malibu is really not selling.

  • avatar

    launching the pathetic ecoassist hybrid first was the death knell. All automotive rags review cars at their immediate launch, the manufacturers have to come out guns a blazin’ with the best product immediately to knock out the reviewers, gain positive coverage and hence momentum in the marketplace. These are basics of marketing. GM felt they could side step the process, Akerson’s call I believe here, shows he is just as thick about some of the basics of the industry as some of those who have come before him at GM. For years, GM has launched half-baked products and then a year or two later introduced finally the features or powertrains that make the product competitive. It’s a losing strategy, always has been.

  • avatar

    I’m not a fan of the rear of this car. the rear decklid is way too high and the camaro-look taillights are tacky. I doubt much could be done about the trunk except making a reverse camera standard, but the lights could be fixed.

  • avatar

    First two letters cover it.

    With the 2008-12 Malibu, GM (finally!) had a credible alternative to the Camry/Accord/Altima/Fusion.

    The 2013 should’ve been an MCE. Instead, it is a step backward–heavier AND smaller. Very sad….

    Maybe a little too much delusion at the Ren Cen? Perhaps after a few years of competitive products, “we’re good now. Let’s draw them in the a Malibu and show them a new Impala if they want a back seat with that, for just a lil more…same platform, more money”

    On the bright side, will help residuals of 2008-12 Malibus, for those lucky enough to have one–and they are arguably the best of the Camry/Accord/Fusion/Altima class of 08-12 :)

  • avatar

    They need a hatch version, like the great Malibu Maxx from two generations ago.

    Also, they should either do a serious hybrid like Toyota and Ford, or forget hybrids completely. E-assist just doesn’t buy you much in gas mileage. It barely beats the mpg of a regular 4 cylinder Camry, but costs a couple or three thousand more.

    On a positive note, the base version of the Malibu has its good points. It is quiet, reasonably comfortable, and has more user-friendly controls than a lot of new cars.

    • 0 avatar

      “They need a hatch version, like the great Malibu Maxx from two generations ago.”

      Too few bought one to make any difference. It was a nice concept, though, and we did consider one back in ’04.

      • 0 avatar

        I had one!

        A 2006 LS model, it was a great mini-van/SUV substitute for the most part. Similar experience as my Azteks, people who owned them, loved them. Other folks didn’t quite ‘get it’.

        In the end though, not enough people bought them. I miss that size of wagon/hatchback. Ah well…

      • 0 avatar

        Geo, I was thinking of you, as recall you talking about the Maxx when you owned one!

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks bro!

        Now that I’ve thought about the whole new ‘Bu thing a bit longer, Chevy doesn’t currently offer the hatchback Cruze here in North America. What makes me believe that they’d offer a Malibu hatch?

        One can dream I guess…

  • avatar

    not a mid cycle refresh as much as a post-launch correction. once again, a decent product suffers from inept marketing which is the cancer at General Motors. it’s time to stop blaming the inept marketers and focus on the top management who allow such to continue.

  • avatar

    I’m thinking maybe they’re doing it just to make sure the car gets re-reviewed. A standard model year changeover might not get much press, but say it’s being refreshed and the auto media will feel impelled to write up new reviews, and hopefully erase the eco-boost only initial mistake.

  • avatar

    I’d like to see the “Malibu emergency refresh” include the 2013 Traverse-style face, and for heaven’s sake, clean-up those clumpy tail lamps. Lastly, the “hidden” exhaust tip (non-LTZ models) is shameful and silly…makes the car look incomplete.

  • avatar

    Derek wrote, “Well, that was quick. GM is apparently planning a mid-cycle refresh for the Chevrolet Malibu in 2013, 18 months after the car was released in showrooms.”

    That’s because the Malibooboo isn’t selling worth a diddly-damn. It has zero curb appeal and aside from the GM fan club, buyer appeal is less than zero. Try one out at your nearest renta-wreck before you commit.

    I’ve always maintained that GM should rebadge a Camry, like they did during the eighties with Toyota products. Failing that, GM could build its own version of the best-selling Camry because Opel-based antique designs for the European market of decades ago are not drawing enough buyers today. They’re sooooooooooo…. last century.

    GM should take a styling cue from the Sonata. Everyone else in the industry does. And then GM should put in a Pentastar V6 or a Camry V6, coupled to a six- or eight-speed automatic. It can be done. Limit trim versions and, voila, GM will rival the best in the mid-size market.

    Uh, but then there’s that whole bailout thing. A lot of people still harbor ill will toward GM for getting bailed out at taxpayers’ expense to keep the UAW working; 6% of the workforce kept alive and living large at the expense of the other 94%.

    If I had been unemployed and finally found work and went shopping for a new car, that would be hard to digest for me too.

    • 0 avatar

      “We don’t like the fact that GM was bailed-out using taxpayers’ money, so we’re going to forgo all GM products.”

      I’m glad you pointed that one out. As far as I’m concerned, these political vendettas should have nothing to do with one’s choice in a car. Moreover, if we all make GM the new taboo, all it’s going to do is put the company in line for yet another bankruptcy and waste the money that has already been spent.

  • avatar

    I think Chevy should pull a reverse-Routan, and rebadge the Volkswagen Passat as a Malibu or Impala. I believe Volkswagen has excess capacity. They could use GM drivetrains. (The drivetrain isn’t the problem, the Epsilon platform just seems to foster cars that are too heavy for their class.)

    • 0 avatar

      Surely we haven’t all lost hope in the company to such a degree that we think it needs to re-badge foreigners’ products. GM is perfectly capable of creating competitive and/or class-leading cars; it just needs to do a bit more research next time and perhaps learn when to tell the CEO no.

  • avatar

    I actually prefer the styling of the previous Malibu over this one. The currently redesign should have been an update to the previous one back in 2010. Furthermore, 4 cylinders only is a deal breaker all day.

  • avatar

    The front clip looks like the current NASCAR COT. They shouldn’t change that; that’s closer to somebody who will actually buy a Chevrolet midsize new.

    They need to fix the back seat. A Malibu is supposed to be able to haul four adults. They need to find 3 inches of new front-to-back leg room. The Regal gets away with this because it’s a “personal luxury car” (not coupe, of course; too many doors) with that coupe-like silhouette. I don’t remember if they finally restored the middle pull-down arm rest; if not, it is really needed.

    Either the 2.5 is dramatically better or they finally fixed the 6-speed. It’s probably both. The 2.4 with a 6 speed was a total dog. There is a considerable amount of hustle in that power train.

    The Eco is a horrible car. It does not hold a candle to the Fusion or Camry Hybrids. It was a complete misstep to launch with the Eco.

    The trunk is much improved over the 2008-2012. The driving position is much improved. The rear end is tacky, but who looks at their own car’s tail lights? Visibility is surprisingly good. The steering wheel in the 2008-2012 was misplaced; it always seemed low and angled down. I’d prefer if there were two more inches in the telescope, but the last time they tried that, they landed in the 2004-2007 broken steering column quagmire.

  • avatar

    When car shopping this summer for a midsized sedan, I spotted a ’13 Malibu in our local K-Mart parking lot. Our Chevy dealer likes to do that – move the cars to K-Mart a few times per year. Anyway.

    It was some kind of pearlescant white – very striking in the hot sun.

    I stopped to check it out.

    In that color, IMHO, the car is gorgeous. Other colors, not so much.

    Once inside, the disappointment hit. Awful, hard seats. Busy, chromey, buttoney, squeaky dash. I didn’t bother driving it – particularly seeing the sticker and 4-cyl.

    I bought a ’13 Altima – V6, CVT, wonderful seats, better mpg…

    Chevy’s got some work to do.

  • avatar

    What really hurts this Malibu is the new ’13 Fusion. Saw a new Fusion today and I couldn’t stop staring at it. Striking car. Everything the Malibu isn’t. Hell, the Malibu doesn’t even compare to my mom’s ’06 Fusion! Nice car, though the 3.0L Duratech seems somewhat underpowered.

    I’ve only seen one new Malibu and guess what? It belongs to an employee of the Chevy dealer and even now it’s seeing neglect… the wheels are already curbed to kingdom come and it has it’s share of scrapes and scratches…. seems fitting really.

  • avatar

    GM needs to get rid of the BMW trunk that they stole also. Change the front end back to the large bar grille they had before. The current grille looks like an after thought.

  • avatar

    Solution: Sell the 2013 as a “Special” like they did in the past.

    Restyle the 2014 drastically enough to tell them apart and sell it as the Malibu.

    Even as a car known more for filling up the Hertz and Avis Rental car lots, seemed like relegating the older model to fleet duty helped.

  • avatar

    The design is not the problem. It’s stately and coordinated. This time it’s the hard-points of the car that fail to make it competitive: the drivetrain, the suspension and the rear-seat room. As far as the size goes, I have to think that GM might have done this because the new Malibu is supposed to be a world-class car, sold in all six continents. And were it to be the same size as conventional midsized cars in America, it would be considered quite large and cumbersome in other places. However, it should have optimized the car’s size for America, where it had the potential to be a class-leader, because it probably won’t be that strong of a seller in other markets anyway…

  • avatar

    I’ve seen one now driving on the road. The area between the double brake lights, a ^ shape of metal coming up between the lenses REALLY bothers me. It just looks like they ran out of plastic to fill the mold all the way.

    It isn’t noticeable on the photo above with it in red, but have a look at a blue or silver one. Bleh.

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