We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the slow death of the passenger car. Depending on which source you trust there could be any number of sedans, coupes, hatchbacks and sports cars vanishing over the next couple years as motorists by the millions migrate to SUVs, CUVs and other light trucks.
That includes the Chevrolet Sonic, from some of the latest reports. But GM North America President Alan Batey this week insisted that the automaker isn’t about to get out of the passenger car game and, as if to ensure we take him seriously, Chevrolet has revealed the updates it plans for three key models: the Malibu, Spark and Cruze – though the Sonic is notably absent.
“We are committed to offering consumers a full lineup of products with fresh designs, new technologies and efficient powertrain options,” said Brian Sweeney, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet. “The investments we have made in Spark, Cruze and Malibu will help position the brand for success in competitive segments that still make up a significant part of the total industry.”
(Chevy’s Sonic just one of the slow-selling passenger car models going away. Click Here to see what other familiar nameplates may soon vanish.)
The three updated 2019 models have some things in common. On the whole, the goal is give them a “more premium look while maintaining their athletic body sides,” according to Chevrolet.
“The restyled face of Chevy cars for 2019 is characterized by a family-like appearance, with each model honoring its Chevrolet heritage while showing off expressive designs,” said John Cafaro, executive director of Global Chevrolet Design.
To be sure, these are mid-cycle refreshes, so nothing spectacular – well, almost nothing with the exception of a revised transmission on the base Malibu. But, at a time when automakers are shifting resources to products in rapidly growing segments – and investing heavily in new ute models – the updates are nonetheless likely to be well received by potential buyers.
Here’s what’s new for each of the three models:
The 2019 Chevrolet Malibu, as we noted, brings the only reasonably big news for the new model-year. That’s a move away from the six-speed automatic that had been mated to its base, 1.5-liter inline-four powertrain. It will now be paired to a CVT. The upscale alternative remains a 2.0-liter inline-four with a nine-speed automatic.
For 2019, the midsize Malibu also gets a new RS trim package with a black sport grille and bowtie emblems, a rear spoiler, dual exhaust and 18-inch wheels. Otherwise, the exterior features new headlights framing a more familial Chevrolet grille, as well as a new fascia design. Inside, look for a standard 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, leather-wrapped wheel and shifter and, on upscale models, heated rear seats.
The 2019 Chevrolet Cruze also gets some tweaks to the front end, including its fascia. And there are new interior color options and a new infotainment system with a standard 7-inch color touchscreen. Niceties like remote start and auto climate control are now standard on LT and Premier models. And the Cruze Hatch is now available in LS trim. The hatchback, added last year, accounted for 20% of overall Cruze sales and may have helped convince competitors to bring in versions of their own, like the new Toyota Corolla Hatchback.
The 2019 Chevrolet Spark, finally, sees some modest front-end revisions, with cues picked up from the Malibu and Cruze. There are some new color and trim options and a new, optional active safety feature: Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking.
All three of the 2019 models go on sale later this year.
(Cadillac Exposed! Click Here to see how GM’s premier brand hopes to double its global sales.)
2 responses to “Chevy Bets on Facelifts to Prop Up Three Passenger Cars”
It’s a shame the well regarded Sonic is being discontinued, despite an effective 2017 refresh. Compared to Europe and Japan, small car buyers here have few and diminishing choices. Is there any chance Sonic production will continue in South Korea? The Cruze hatch is a reasonable and good looking substitute.
It doesn’t appear so, but GM has yet to confirm its product plans. More likely, we will see increasing numbers of CUVs out of Korea.