Those of the Chevrolet persuasion rolled out a redesigned Malibu sedan this morning. Mostly everyone around here says it's a qualified looker — in the Saturn Aura mold — though there's dispute over the new fascia — a Chevrolet brand-DNA sandwich sprinkled with SSR and Silverado cues. Busy and bulbous or clean and aggressive? We're going out for a new set of eyes.
2008 CHEVROLET MALIBU - FEATURE DETAILS
DETROIT - The redesigned Chevrolet Malibu is based on GM's global midsize platform, which serves as the foundation for a strong body structure, precise build quality and refined driving dynamics. It is more than three inches (76 mm) longer than the current model, with a six-inch-longer (162 mm) wheelbase. These proportions create a wheels-at-the-corners stance that enables a smoother, more direct driving experience.
Performance comes from a family of powerful dual-overhead cam four- and six-cylinder engines, including a 2.4L Ecotec DOHC four-cylinder engine and a 3.6L DOHC V-6 with variable valve timing. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard with the V-6 and is offered with the 2.4L four-cylinder - a segment first.
Here's a look at Malibu's features in detail:
Malibu's long, 112.3-inch (2,852 mm) wheelbase and wheels-at-the corner stance enable sharp, responsive ride and handling characteristics that bring a trait that's rare to the segment: driving satisfaction. The balanced, four-wheel independent suspension system features a MacPherson strut front suspension design and multilink rear suspension. The front suspension uses aluminum control arms, which reduce unsprung mass impacts over bumps for a smoother ride. A direct-acting stabilizer bar provides a more immediate feel to steering inputs.
The rear suspension also features a direct-acting stabilizer bar, as well as monotube or twin-tube shock absorbers, depending on the model. The front and rear suspension systems are tuned for each powertrain combination, delivering tailored driving characteristics for all models. Hydraulic ride bushings and body control damping measures enhance the connected-to-the-road driving feel while supporting a comfortable ride.
GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control system is standard on LT and LTZ models. It uses sophisticated vehicle sensors tied to the anti-lock braking system to help the driver maintain control during certain maneuvers. The new panic brake assistance feature provides full braking power when a panic-braking event is detected. This can reduce the braking distance, providing more control in helping to avoid a crash.
Steering response is precise and immediate, thanks to tuned steering systems designed for each model. Malibu models equipped with the 2.4L engine use a variable electric power-assist steering system, while V-6 models employ a hydraulic-assisted steering system.
A family of 16-, 17- and 18-inch wheels is offered with Malibu, all tailored with a tight wheel-to-body relationship. LS models come with 16-inch painted trim wheels; LT models come with 17-inch chrome trim wheels and LTZ models are fitted with 18-inch aluminum ultra-bright-finish wheels.
The suspension systems are mounted to a robust chassis and integrated body structure that features a safety cage design and strategic placement of high-strength steel for outstanding structural integrity. The strong chassis and body structure enable more precise mounting of the suspension systems, a design trait that enabled engineers to focus on finer degrees of suspension tuning. A safety cage construction built into the Malibu's body structure is complemented with reinforced rocker sections, as well as a reinforced front body hinge pillar and roof pillars that were designed to improve impact protection. A magnesium cross-car beam unites the lower sections of the A-pillars. This not only helps protect passengers in side-impact crashes, but also serves as a solid foundation for the instrument panel. High-strength steel is used in strategic areas to augment overall structural integrity.
The 2.4L Ecotec DOHC four-cylinder engine is rated at 164 horsepower (122 kW)* and delivers an estimated 31 mpg in highway driving, which is projected to be as good as or better than the segment's current sales leader. It also is good enough to join the exclusive ranks of vehicles rated at 30 mpg or more - a club that will be tougher to join in 2008 because of revised EPA mileage test standards. GM has more "members" in the 30-mpg club than any other manufacturer.
The 2.4L Ecotec DOHC will be offered with all trim levels. LS and LT models are backed by a Hydra-Matic four-speed automatic transmission. Malibu LTZ models with the 2.4L engine are equipped with a new Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed automatic - the only four-cylinder/six-speed automatic combination in the segment.
The available 3.6L V-6 VVT is a sophisticated, all-aluminum DOHC engine that uses variable valve technology to produce 252 horsepower (188 kW)** while delivering an estimated 26 mpg in highway driving. It is mated with a Hydra-Matic 6T70 six-speed automatic transmission.
The Malibu's six-speed transmissions enable a strong balance between performance and fuel efficiency, with the six forward gears offering optimized performance at all rpm levels, as well as reduced rpm at highway cruising speeds. Lower rpm can enhance fuel economy and reduce cabin noise. The six-speed transmissions also feature Driver Shift Control (DSC), which enables the driver to shift manually with steering wheel-mounted controls.
All Malibu powertrain combinations are supported with GM's five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Quiet, thoughtful environment
Malibu's strong structure serves as the foundation for an exceptionally quiet environment. Along with the robust chassis, which minimizes vibration and noise, the body structure uses noise-reducing materials, such as liquid spray-on sound deadener, laminated steel and composite wheel liners, to deliver one the segment's quietest, most refined driving experiences. Laminated "quiet glass" also contributes to a quiet environment.
The interior's attention to detail complements the quieting features, with an ergonomic design using materials that convey quality and value, including a cast skin material on the instrument panel. For the first time, the Malibu is offered with two-tone trim combinations, including Ebony and Brick, Cocoa and Cashmere and Titanium and Cashmere. There is also an all-Ebony combination, accented with a distinctive wood grain element that offers a unique, upscale appearance. LTZ models receive distinctive, black-chrome accents, a specific instrument layout and unique, two-tone leather seating surfaces.
Ambient lighting in areas such as the overhead console and door-pull pockets enhances the Malibu's inviting feel. The overhead console-mounted LED floodlights provide subdued lighting to the center console area between the front seats. A feeling of openness is enhanced with Malibu's available, panoramic sunroof, featuring four sliding panels that provide an opening that extends between the front and rear seats. The retractable glass panels tilt upward, so there is no loss of headroom inside the car.
All 2008 Malibu models come with OnStar Gen 7, which features standard automatic crash notification service and OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation. It is the first factory-installed, fully integrated GPS navigation system from OnStar. Turn-by-Turn allows consumers to talk to a live adviser, who in turn sends complete step-by-step directions to customers' vehicles through their OnStar system. These audio directions automatically play through the vehicle's stereo as needed, triggered by the OnStar system's GPS capabilities. This enables drivers to be guided to their destination while keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.
*Pending SAE certification.
**SAE certified. A new voluntary power and torque certification procedure developed by the SAE Engine Test Code committee was approved March 31, 2005. This procedure (J2723) ensures fair, accurate ratings for horsepower and torque by allowing manufacturers to certify their engines through third-party witness testing. GM was the first auto manufacturer to begin using the procedure and expects to use it for all newly rated engines in the future.
Detroit Auto Show Preview: Chevy Malibu, We're Not Through With You? [internal]