Has Chevrolet gotten the formula right with the Malibu?
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As an owner of a 2012 Malibu 1LTZ, I have to say that Chevy has fully accomplished it. I love the nicely designed exterior, the interior was comfy enough for those long trips to work each and every day, and it was a very quiet car in my opinion. And its fuel economy was decent, not too bad. The New York Times in 2008 referred to it as "A super Accord, but from GM." In some comparisons, the Malibu was ranked higher than the Honda Accord and the Nissan Altima. It also received the North American Car of the Year award. Love it or hate it, the seventh-gen Malibu was an overall big success for GM.
But then in 2013 we got the eighth-generation Malibu. GM gave it a botched release, releasing an Eco model first (that was later discontinued), then later in the year GM released the regular Malibu models. Shifting to a new platform didn't help it either. Even though it separated it further from the Impala, which was built on the same platform as the last-gen Malibu, the shrinkage in legroom, its OK design language, and a poorly crafted interior helped contribute to its overall lackluster sales performance. Not to mention the cars in its class got 10x better than the Malibu as well. Just 18 months after the 2013 Malibu went on sale it received a mild refresh to try to help its OK design, but it didn't help at all. The fate of the eighth-gen Malibu was sealed early on.
But wait, a new light came from GM early last year. It came in the form of the ninth-generation Malibu. I have to say, when the curtain came off of it last year, a huge sigh of relief came from me. To me it seemed that Chevrolet took that determination it had in crafting the seventh-gen Malibu and increased it this time around. We can all argue about the front-end design on the ninth-gen Malibu all day long but it's probably one of the best uses of the standard Chevrolet corporate face. The interior of the 2016 Malibu is simple, yet feels complete to me. Coming standard with so many tech features, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in trims LS and above. It sheds over 300 pounds and is more fuel efficient than the previous model. Even the hybrid is going to be a record setter for the car, using bits of the Volt.
I believe that the ninth-gen Malibu will be a great success for Chevrolet. Will it remove the Camry and Accord from the top spots in the industry? No I do not believe it will. But it will surely help Chevrolet prove that it is much more serious about the midsize sedan market than it was before. What is your opinion about the seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-generation Malibus?
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