General Motors is rolling out the new-for-2013 Chevrolet Malibu in two stages: The mild-hybrid, “eAssist”-powered Eco model (pictured above) is available now, and a 2.0-liter turbo is due in the fall, though there are no plans for a V-6.
At press time, GM is still taking orders for the 2012 edition from commercial and rental fleet buyers. But with new exterior and interior styling and a host of new standard features, the 2013 could be worth the wait.
The Malibu was moved to the larger Epsilon II platform to compete with the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and Hyundai Sonata, and all five have redesigns of their own on the street or in the works.
The interior space was bumped up by more than three cubic feet, matching the Camry and Fusion and falling just shy of the Accord and Sonata. The Malibu’s big brother, the Impala, will graduate to the long-wheelbase “Super Epsilon” platform in MY-2014.
The styling is nowhere near as aggressive as the new Camry or Sonata, but it does feature slightly more aggressive lower-fascia air intakes borrowed from the new Buick Regal. An upswept shoulder line and lip spoilers on the lower front bumper and trailing edge, along with Camaro-inspired taillights, complete the clean, elegant design.
This look continues into the cabin, which has been upgraded with new materials and layout. Early reviews praised the “dual-cockpit” design and easy-to-read gauges, dials and buttons. The MyLink infotainment system, which includes radio and smartphone controls as well as available navigation and rear-view backup camera, is displayed on a seven-inch touch screen that flips up to reveal a hidden storage compartment.
Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, four-wheel disc brakes with brake assist, 10 airbags and more. Four appearance packages are available to add items ranging from leather upholstery and heated seats to upgraded audio, navigation and driver-memory functions, and a sunroof is available as a standalone option.
While the Malibu’s ECO powerplant delivers a combined mpg of 29, with a starting MSRP of $25,235, good looks and plenty of creature comforts, the new Malibu is poised to steal sales from its mid-size competitors.
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