The 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, which will go on sale at the end of the first quarter of 2012, is all new inside and out, with a more aerodynamic shape that leads to quieter running and better highway fuel mileage, with a drag coefficient of about 0.29, among the best in the industry.
The exterior design is derivative of the current model at the front, with a whole new rear end design language featuring very prominent outboard taillamps and an integrated decklid spoiler, all with a design nod to the Camaro coupe. Like the Volt, the 2013 Malibu has active shutters in the grille that open and close according to engine cooling need and vehicle speed, to improve highway mileage.
Dimensionally, the new Malibu is a full three inches wider than the outgoing car, which means more interior space for driver, passengers and cargoes, up to 1.5 inches more front shoulder room, 3.5 inches in rear shoulder room, 2.7 inches more front hip room, and 2.8 inches more rear hip room. All told, the interior volume, as measured by EPA standards, is four cubic feet larger.
The 2013 Malibu shares its chassis with the Opel Insignia, Buick LaCrosse and Buick Regal. It has a slightly longer wheelbase and is slightly heavier than the 2011 model. Front and rear track widths are both increased, 2.5 inches in the front and 2.0 inches at the rear, to improve ride and handling. The suspension is a modification of the current design, with MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link rear suspension, with weight-saving hollow tubular stabilizer bars, lightweight aluminum steering knuckles, and electric power steering that saves fuel by not draining engine power to steer the tires. Four-wheel ventilated ABS disc brakes will feature panic brake assist, cornering control, and StabiliTrak chassis control.
When the car goes on sale, there will be only one powertrain offered, a brand new 2.5-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine coupled with a 6-speed automatic transaxle. The new engine, with about 190 horsepower and about 180 foot-pounds of torque, uses all of the new technologies including double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, direct fuel injection, electronically variable valve timing, a variable-displacement oil pump and a two-stage electronic thermostat for peak fuel efficiency (Chevrolet says that customers can expect up to 35 miles per gallon highway with a fuel-economy-leader model). The 6T40 6-speed has new clutches and quicker shifting.
The 2013 Malibu will be offered in LS, LT, and LTZ versions, as today, all with new interiors inspired by the Camaro, featuring a new touch-screen display for radio, music and other functions, ice-blue ambient lighting, and a host of new features like lane-departure warning, forward collision alert, a rear-facing camera, and streaming music from Pandora through the new MyLink feature.
Chevrolet says the safety package on the new car is comprehensive, including the stiffest, strongest body in the class, eight standard air bags with rear side bags optional, and expects five-star NCAP crash performance in all markets around the world. Chevrolet says the new Malibu will be sold in as many as 100 countries after it is launched, and that there will be additional engines and hybrid versions offered later on.