It's been a while since we've heard about the 2012 Chevrolet Malibu. In its current form, the aging 'Bu is a competent aging dog in need of some new tricks, but General Motors is hoping to put its mid-sizer back at the top of the segment with the all-new model. Early predictions lead us to believe that the 2012 Malibu would show its face at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show in January, but we're now thinking that a New York debut is in order.
For 2012, the Malibu will be shortened, riding on the smaller Epsilon II platform that underpins the Buick Regal. Sources who have seen the finished product tell us that while the exterior dimensions have shrunk, there's no shortage of space inside the car, and we expect the interior to be a giant leap forward from the cabin found in the current model.
Earlier reports have suggested that the 2012 Malibu will only be offered with four-cylinder powertrains (like the Regal), meaning GM's 2.4-liter direct-injected inline-four is a safe bet for the base engine, and the more powerful 2.0-liter Ecotec turbo-four will likely replace the V6 option. A hybrid powerplant is also understood to be in the works. All engines will come with six-speed transmissions, and we've even heard rumblings about optional all-wheel drive for the Malibu. Currently, only the Ford Fusion and Subaru Legacy mid-size sedans are available with all-wheel drive.
Production of the new Malibu is slated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2011, though rumors have been circulating about an even earlier start date. Initial production will begin in China and Korea several months before the North American-spec version, as GM is prepping its Fairfax and Detroit Hamtramck plants for 2012 Malibu duty. While you're waiting, check out the latest set of high-res spy shots in our gallery.