Chevrolet hopes to win back midsize sedan fans with the redesigned 2016 Malibu it says it will introduce at the New York Auto Show a little more than a month from now.
The new model, the maker hints, will be longer yet lighter and more fuel-efficient. It will get a number of new tech features. And, from the teaser image Chevy is offering up, it appears to be evolving into a more coupe-like body style. Chevy clearly needs to make some major improvement after some disappointing missteps with the current sedan.
“Using a blank slate approach, Chevrolet designers benefited from an entirely new architecture, which for Malibu includes a wheelbase nearly four inches longer than the outgoing model,” the maker says. “That, in turn, provides increased rear legroom and interior space.”
The fact that Chevy is coming out with an all-new model for 2016 should raise a red flag. It only launched the eighth-generation Malibu for the 2013 model-year. But the midsize model took a number of hits from critics who derided its design, lack of rear legroom and other shortfalls. Apps.
Parent General Motors order up a rapid “emergency refresh” for the following year, a rare move in the auto industry. It was an improvement but some of the problems were so fundamental to the basic platform GM needed to start all over with the new platform, bringing out a complete makeover in just three years. Normally, it would just be making some minor, mid-cycle tweaks.
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The teaser image suggests that Chevy will adopt a sort of fast, coupe-like shape that blends such luxury benchmarks as the Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS.
“The roofline has been stretched rearward giving a more sleek profile, while the front wheels have moved forward and front and rear overhangs have been reduced,” said Ed Welburn, General Motors’ vice president of Global Design. “Along with the sculpted body side, these cues help Malibu appear more dynamic and sophisticated.”
Thanks to the increased use of high-strength steel and other lightweighting steps, Chevy says the 2016 Malibu will come in about 300 pounds lighter than the model it will replace, even though the wheelbase is being stretched four inches – largely to provide more space for backseat passengers.
(U.S. auto sales remain solid despite frigid weather. Click Herefor February’s results.)
No clear word about what will be under the hood of the new Chevrolet Malibu, but the maker is promising the car will be more fuel-efficient.
Also likely, the sedan should feature a number of new technologies, both to improve safety and to offer more infotainment options. Chevy has said it is rolling out 4G wireless technology in virtually all new U.S. models going forward, and Malibu is all but certain to get that feature. Expect improved smartphone compatability, including the ability to access more apps. Chevy is betting Maliby has nowhere to go but up. The outgoing generation has struggled since introduction and even with the emergency refresh lagged the overall U.S. market recovery. Sales of the sedan are so far off 11.7% for the first two months of 2015.
Even with the redesign, Malibu will be going up against some tough competition – including a major refresh of the Toyota Camry that came out for 2015, well ahead of that automaker’s normal product cadence.
(Click Here for a look at the all-new Ford Focus RS.)