This is a quick turn for GM: a revised Malibu was introduced as a 2013 model but the new car hasn’t made the grade with consumers. Despite reductions in price, sales of the mid-size sedan were down 11.9% for the first four months of 2013.
The big changes include new sheet metal that uses some of the styling themes of the new Impala. The 2013′s exterior design was not one of its strong points. Another change was to increase rear leg room, a serious deficiency, especially in the Malibu Eco hybrid.
There’s also a new standard 2.5-liter four with start-stop feature to improve fuel efficiency and some suspension tweaks. GM estimates the new engine will provide 23 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.
“The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu builds on the strengths established by the all-new 2013 Malibu to make it a stronger choice for customers,” said Mark Reuss, president, General Motors North America. “The midsize sedan segment is the most contested in the industry and we’re not sitting still with the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu.”
Chevy made room for adults in the rear by redesigning the front seat backs, resculpting the rear seat back cushions to allow passengers to sit farther back and trimming a half-inch from the front of the rear seat cushion. In the 2013 model, adjusting the front seat for a tall driver left hardly any leg room for those in the back seat.
The redesigned center console has a longer armrest and a pair of cup holders and a couple of bins to stow cell phones.
“We made changes within 18 months, demonstrating an unprecedented commitment to make the Malibu the best car it can be,” said Ken Kelzer, executive chief engineer, global full-size and midsize cars. “The 2014 Malibu has been engineered to deliver more precise ride and handling that is on par with more expensive sports sedans.”
Our experience with the 2013 Malibu was generally positive and it appears Chevy has fixed the major problems that would have kept the car off our short list for new car buyers. What remains to be seen is how it can stack up against its rivals in a very competitive segment.