In normal circumstances, an all-new car will be produced for six or seven years before it is replaced by another all-new model, typically with a mild refresh at about the mid-point of that cycle.
But it hasn't been normal circumstances for the latest generation of the Chevrolet Malibu. All-new for the 2013 model year, it came up short in terms of critical acclaim and failed to meet the sales targets General Motors had set for it.
Consequently, just a year into its cycle, the Malibu is being refreshed for 2014.
New front-end styling, a revised interior, a new 2.5-litre standard engine, more rear-seat room and chassis and suspension enhancements highlight the car's changes. In addition, fuel-saving automatic stop-start technology has been added to the standard model.
The new Malibu’s front-end appearance is closer to that of the new 2014 Impala, with a more prominent lower grille and a narrower upper grille. The grille openings – with black grille texture – are wider and accented with chrome.
Inside, redesigned front seat-backs help add 3.2 cm more rear-seat knee-room and new cushion sculpturing and material allow passengers to sit deeper in the rear seats.
A redesigned centre console features a longer armrest along with two cup holders and dedicated storage for two cell phones.
Under the hood, a new 2.5L engine with variable valve lift control and automatic stop/start technology help the 2014 Malibu achieve a 5% improvement in city fuel-consumption and 3% greater highway efficiency.
The new 2.5-litre engine is SAE-certified at 196 horsepower and 186 lb-ft of torque. Revised transmission shift points and quicker shifts further enhance the feeling of performance.
In addition, the torque output from the available 2.0L turbo engine has been increased by 14% to 295 lb-ft, while maintaining an SAE-certified power output of 259 horsepower. Its torque rating is said to be the best in the segment, even among competing six-cylinder-engines.
Suspension enhancements, said to be derived from the 2014 Impala, are designed to provide a more refined driving experience.
Newly available safety features include Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert systems.
The 2014 Malibu will go on sale this fall.