The Malibu started life in 1964 as the top trim on Chevy's new, midsize model, which also included the 300 and Chevelle. Offered in a plethora of body styles, including a wagon and convertible, the Bowtie brand moved over 370,000 of them in the first year. By 1969, sales reached more than 503,000. However, the market for rear-wheel drive sedans eventually softened in the US, and the Malibu name was dropped in 1983. The moniker returned in front-wheel-drive form in 1997 and has been a part of the lineup again ever since.
These days, the Malibu is obviously only available as a four-door, but the model is more efficient than ever. The larger, lighter 2016 example can get up to 37 miles per gallon highway with its 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or 47 mpg combined when the hybrid goes on sale next year. You can get a great look at the Malibu's changes from the original until now in the gallery above.
Venerable sedan's 51-year legacy strongest in U.S., China and Korea
DETROIT – Fifty-one years after it was introduced as Chevrolet's first midsize car, production of the venerable Malibu sedan has crossed the 10-million mark.
Chevrolet celebrated the sales achievement today for the global sedan in the United States, China and Korea, which collectively account for more than 90 percent of sales. The Malibu is sold in more than 25 markets around the world.
"The Chevy Malibu joins an exclusive club of vehicles that have achieved this extraordinary milestone and we acknowledge it today by honoring the common thread linking every one produced: The customer," said Alan Batey, president, global Chevrolet. "Some people are buying their very first Malibu today and others may have driven a Malibu from a different generation as their first car. It is a car that has resonated with customers for more than half a century."
Chevrolet's interaction with customers has evolved since the Malibu was introduced in 1964. Back then, an owner's manual and a personal relationship with the dealer defined conventional customer service. By the 1990s, a toll-free line to call centers provided answers to many customer questions.
Today, customers can communicate with Chevrolet any time of day or night all around the world through in-vehicle technologies such as OnStar and social media, where teams of specialists complement the ownership experience with support and information.
"The immediacy of socially driven technologies is fundamentally changing ownership experiences and what owners expect from the manufacturer," said Batey. "It's a whole new world of customer interaction and Chevrolet is working hard to lead the way."
Malibu's 10-millionth milestone comes as the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Malibu enters production. The ninth-generation sedan is completely restyled and is the most fuel-efficient, connected and technologically advanced Malibu ever – and many of its new and enhanced features, like its Teen Driver system which encourages safe driving habits for teens, were influenced by the voice of customers.
Longer and lighter, the new Malibu offers more interior space. Its wheelbase has been stretched nearly four inches (101 mm), and it is nearly 300 pounds (136 kg) lighter than the previous model.
The 2016 Malibu reaches an exceptional level of fuel efficiency with an all-new, available hybrid powertrain that uses technology from the Chevrolet Volt. It helps offer a General Motors-estimated 48 mpg city, 45 mpg highway – and 47 mpg combined, unsurpassed in the segment.
The Malibu's standard 1.5L turbo powertrain is projected to offer 37 mpg highway. It also features a fuel-saving stop/start technology that enhances efficiency in stop-and-go driving.
Additional features include new Chevrolet MyLink with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility; and the all-new Teen Driver feature, which allows parents to view their kids' driving statistics, such as maximum speed, warning alerts and more.
Malibu through the years
Named after the California city famous for its beaches, the 1964 Chevrolet Malibu was the top-line model of an all-new vehicle line touted as a premium choice for families that needed space and efficiency for long commutes.
Chevrolet called the Malibu an "intermediate" car – positioned between the full-size series and the compact Chevy II, It represented the birth of the mainstream midsize segment, which has grown to be the highest-volume segment in the industry. Customers snapped up more than 370,000 in the first year from a lineup that also included the entry-level 300 and Chevelle models, and a range of body styles that included coupes, sedans, wagons and convertibles. The lineup also included the Malibu SS muscle car.
Sales of Chevy's upstart intermediate range topped 503,000 by 1969 – with the popular Malibu two-door sport coupe accounting for 300,000 of them.
Malibu rolled through the 1970s as one of the best-selling cars of the decade. It was retired in 1983, after its fourth generation. It returned in 1997 as a modern, front-drive sedan and was named Motor Trend Car of the Year. In the nearly 20 years since, it has evolved and offers the latest in efficiency-enhancing technologies, safety features and, more recently, the connectivity features that have become increasingly important to customers.
The 2016 Malibu is built at the GM Fairfax Assembly facility, in Kansas City, Kan.
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is now one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 115 countries and selling around 4.8 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.