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UPDATE: Gallery expanded. 24 photos now available.

Click image for photo gallery

The folks over at Inside Line appear to have an itchy trigger finger, and as such, the embargo on the 2008 Chevy Malibu is toast. (Note: It appears that Motor Trend was actually first, as the Malibu is in the Feb issue hitting newsstands now.) Given the spate of vaporized embargoes we've seen over the last week or so, this is about as surprising as the sun rising in the morning. That said, we're more than happy to bring you all the skinny on GM's new midsize sedan now that the cat's out of the bag.

Like the Saturn Aura, the all-new Malibu rides on the 112-inch wheelbase Epsilon platform. Given that we've driven the Aura and liked it very much, this bodes well for the new Chevy. We'd been wondering how GM would differentiate the two cars, and now we can tell you more about that. While the Saturn currently comes in two trim levels with V6 power only (3.5 or 3.6), the Malibu will be offered with three trim levels -- LS, LT, and LTZ -- with power coming from either a 164-horse 2.4L Ecotec or the very capable 252 HP 3.6L V6 with VVT.

If you think that the top-level Malibu LTZ is a V6-only car, you're wrong. The 2.4L four cylinder is available for all three trim levels, and when selected for the LTZ, it's mated to GM's Hydra-Matic 6T40 6-speed automatic with wheel-mounted shift paddles. (On LS and LT models, the four-banger is hooked up to a four-speed auto.) As with the Aura, the 3.6L is connected to the Hydra-Matic 6T70 6-speed with paddle shifters.

2008 Chevy Malibu LT2008 Chevy Malibu LT2008 Chevy Malibu LT2008 Chevy Malibu2008 Chevy Malibu

Follow the jump for more analysis, and be sure to check out more shots of Chevy's new 'Bu in our photo gallery.

[Source: GM]

This also marks the first time we're able to see the rest of the car, and we're happy with what GM has put together. The overall design is tasteful and non-controversial, traits that one can easily ascribe to the Malibu's chief import competitors, the Camry and Accord. The car's face, which we've already discussed at length, incorporates the new corporate grille, as well headlights that bear familial ties to the Chevy Cobalt. The car's flanks are uninterrupted by rub strips, but receive a subtle metallic accent that runs the length of the doors just above the rocker panel. Similar trim surrounds the Malibu's side glass. A thick C-pillar flows into the car's short rear deck. Walking around to the back reveals the new-look taillamps, which look very similar to the ones on the current Infiniti M, right down to the circular reverse lights. The thing is, we rather like the look of those lights, which aren't shared with any other GM car. The Malibu's identity is very much its own.

Now, while the car's outward appearance is a bit staid when compared to the more visually extroverted Saturn Aura, Chevy has gone to great lengths to ensure that the same can't be said of the Malibu's interior. The twin-pod layout we were introduced to last month can be ordered in a dizzying array of color and trim combinations, including several very attractive-looking two-tone packages.

We're looking forward to seeing the car in a little over a week and eventually getting behind the wheel when it's released. For now, however, based on the photos and info we've seen, it appears that the General is doing all the right things, product-wise, to get the ship turned around. None of us liked the old Malibu very much. This car, on the other hand, has our attention.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      The outside is decent, but the inside is excellent. Far above Nissan and Toyota. Look forward to seeing an SS.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Bob>> Do you even know what a car is?? You're comparing corolla's and entry level [[once again, ENTRY LEVEL]] cars to high end cars like accords and camrys. These cars only get 4 speed transmissions because they're 4 cylinder engines and would fall apart if you pushed them like an accord. Maybe a 4 speed is fine for a 70+ year old in a buick century.
      • 8 Years Ago

      This is teenager provocation and stalking. Nuff said. Nobody's reading your G...damn posts. Imbecile.

      • 8 Years Ago
      That may be the best interior that has ever worn a bow tie on the wheel (just from memory, though).
      • 8 Years Ago
      R&T, not R&D. R&T=Road&Track. Sorry for the mistake.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Anyone know what the deal is with the other 6-speed auto available? I have not heard anything about the 6T40, only the 6T70. It sounds like a lesser-duty version of the 6T70 as it only has to contend with torque levels from the 2,4L Ecotec.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I am clearly not the target market. I wouldn't buy an Accord or a Camry, and I sure wouldn't buy this.

      Maybe I'm confused, but this is the car Lutz thinks is going to fix GM? Okay. Good luck with that. I'll be over here with the interesting vehicles.
      • 8 Years Ago
      what is it with american co and chrome.Note to all american car companines please put the chrome down and choose nicer wheel combos . is just me or that front end looks like a rush job. and the rear lower exhaust section is a direct rip off of the alpha 8c competizone. interior wise thats a winning combination for gm. oh well gm looks like i'll be driving imports for another 5 years or so to you guys get a clue
      • 8 Years Ago
      A manual v6 would have been the nail in the coffin.
      • 8 Years Ago
      blah blah blah You fool won't manage to distinguish your accord from F350. What can make you clowns to ask for a manual in fwd family sedan? That's just as pathetic as bitching about your fat wife not wearing VC. This is a decent car and you have no excuses to buy ugly camry over this except your own unability to try smth your mom wouldn't.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The interior does look nice. The exterior is a yawn-fest but that is appropriate for the midsize sedan segment.

      Design hasn't been GM's problem (well, its not the main problem). BUILD QUALITY and the refinement of the chassis need to at least get into the same arena with the competition.

      Sadly, this sedan will be a fine concept that should compete well, but the driving experience, uneven panel gaps, and substandard materials will keep some potential buyers away
      • 8 Years Ago
      lookin' good GM! I am so happy to see this new body... very nice. Should be great competition against the rather boring Camry's.
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