From the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and beyond, the next-generation Malibu aims to make waves on a truly global scale and shore up the Chevrolet brand in every continent short of Antarctica.

Arriving in early 2012, the new Malibu is a direction-changing model in nearly every sense, from its appearance to its powerplant choices that emphasize fuel efficiency.

But what does that mean to you?

It sheds about 11.5 centimetres between the front and rear wheels, but is slightly taller and nearly eight centimetres wider.

 

Along with a broader stance, the result is added interior volume, especially front and rear shoulder and hip room.

In addition, the amount of available trunk space has also been increased.

The previous Malibu was no slouch, yet the new car takes that up a notch in terms of style and fuel economy.

It doesn’t qualify as spectacular, or jaw dropping, but that seems to be the norm in the mid-size-sedan class.

But with the competition so stiff, offering up something exciting and jaw dropping might not be far off so as to create a car you not only like, but one you fall in love with.

The new Malibu is certainly a step closer.

Powerplant option 1

The Malibu’s starting point is a new base 2.5-litre four-cylinder that produces an estimated 190 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque.

That’s up from the previous 2.4-litre four-cylinder’s 169/158 rating. The new 2.5 operates through a six-speed automatic transmission.

Powerplant option 2

The second offering is the General Motors’ eAssist limited hybrid system, similar to that used in the 2012 Buick LaCrosse and Regal.

This “Eco” model consists of a 182-horsepower 2.4-litre four-cylinder gas engine working in tandem with a 15-horsepower electric motor/generator (with 110 pound-feet of torque) and six-speed automatic transmission. The motor replaces the traditional alternator, assisting the engine via a belt with power supplied by a lithium-ion battery pack located behind the rear seat.

Eco technologies

The battery contributes about 30 kilograms to the Malibu’s weight, but the Eco’s aluminum hood and rear bumper beam (and other measures) slice a reported 60 kilograms from the car’s total.

Other Eco technologies include stop/start that shuts off the engine when the vehicle is at rest, then fires it up when the brake pedal is released.

As well, a system recovers braking energy and converts it into electrical energy to help recharge the batteries.

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