Chevrolet makes a move on its mid-size rivals

The Chevrolet Malibu is new from the ground up and noticeably bigger than the previous generation sedan.


Just like its main domestic rival, the Fusion from Ford, the new Chevrolet Malibu has all the hallmarks of a legitimate North American contender to take the fight right to the Asian-brand nameplates that have dominated the mid-size sedan scene.

And when you take into account the car’s volume production prospects, the ‘08 Malibu, revealed in the flesh for the first time at the recent Detroit auto show, figures to be one of the most significant introductions to the domestic automotive scene in quite some time.

New from the ground up and noticeably bigger than the previous generation sedan, this front-wheel-driver is aimed right at the solar plexus of Honda’s Accord and the Toyota Camry.

Another important facet to this bigger and better Malibu is that it clears the way for Chevrolet to take its next-generation Impala up market and into more profitable territory.

The all-new Malibu’s crisp, clean lines confirm the bow-tie division’s “commitment to expressive cars,” claims GM.

A fresh “dual-port grille” treatment shows the new face of future Chevrolet designs, while twin circular tail lights evoke memories of styling icons from Chevy’s illustrious past.

When its hits dealer showrooms, it will offer a pair of engine choices — a 2.4-litre Ecotec 4-cylinder unit and a step-up 3.6-litre V6 for those with a need for more performance.

Both powerplants will come hitched up to 6-speed automatic transmissions. That’s something that’s never been offered before in the 4-cylinder market.

A trio of trim levels include base LS, mid-range LT and top-line LTZ models. All come with standard front and front-side airbags, as well as front and rear head-curtain airbags. OnStar Generation 7 and XM Satellite radio are also standard.

More safety and security comes on all models with 4-wheel disc brakes (with ABS) and traction control. GM’s StabiliTrak electronic stability control is standard on the LT and LTZ choices.

Elsewhere, you’ll find a more luxurious interior, more storage space and an available panoramic sunroof.

How all of these changes will affect the existing 5-door Malibu MAXX has yet to be determined. So far, there’s been no word from Chevrolet about future plans for the quasi-wagon.

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