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Redesigned 2008 Chevy Malibu

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2008 Chevrolet Malibu Photo: Rod Hatfield
By Ann Job
Chevrolet's third best-selling car gets a complete makeover.
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Chevy GM Ed Peper with Style Network's "Fashion Police" TV Show host, Bobbie Thomas Photo: Rod Hatfield
Chevy General Manager Ed Peper talks about makeovers with Bobbie Thomas, host of the Style Network’s “Fashion Police” TV show. Photo: Rod Hatfield
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2008 Chevrolet Malibu Photo: Rod Hatfield
The back of the new Malibu is restyled and includes a sizable trunk. Photo: Rod Hatfield
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2008 Chevrolet Malibu Photo: Rod Hatfield
The 2008 Chevy Malibu arriving in showrooms this fall will be the first to offer a two-tone interior. Photo: Rod Hatfield

Bobbie Thomas, host of the Style Network’s Fashion Police TV show, helped Chevrolet make the point that the 2008 Malibu coming to showrooms this fall is a complete makeover of Chevy’s third best-selling car.


The solicitous Thomas, who provides wardrobe makeover advice on her television program, emerged from the back seat of a new Malibu proclaiming she “loves” the new-generation midsize sedan.


It seems the new Malibu, which arrives in showrooms this fall, has many of the attributes that Thomas espouses for fashion makeovers.


There’s obvious “attention to details,” including a new, two-tone interior for the first time. The Malibu now “looks expensive” with bolder styling and dual-port grille.


And the 5-passenger, front-wheel-drive car will provide “more bang for the buck.” It will be the first Malibu with standard curtain airbags, for example, and is some 3 inches longer, from bumper to bumper, than the current, 2007 car. The new Malibu sunroof―an optional feature―also is 70 percent larger than that in the current car.


Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price will start “around $20,000,” said Ed Peper, general manager of Chevrolet. The 2007 Malibu sedan being sold now starts at $17,155.


The 2008 Malibu “looks like a $40,000 car, but it isn’t,” he said, adding that potential customers who’ve seen the Malibu thought it was a lot more pricey than it will be. He did not, however, provide final pricing, saying the exact figures will be out closer to this fall’s Malibu introduction at dealerships.


The base Malibu will be powered by 164-horsepower 2.4-liter Ecotec 4 cylinder. This compares with the 144-horsepower 2.2-liter Ecotec 4 cylinder that’s in the 2007 Malibu.


Yet, the new Malibu will have better fuel economy than the current model, Peper said. He did not elaborate. The best fuel economy for the 2007 Malibu is 24 miles a gallon in city driving and 34 mpg on the highway with the 4-cylinder engine.


The new, uplevel engine for the 2008 Malibu is a 252-horsepower 3.6-liter dual overhead cam V6 that compares with the current 217-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and 240-horsepower 3.9-liter V6 in the current Malibu.


Current Malibus operate with a 4-speed automatic transmission, but 6-speed automatics will be in the 2008 Malibu, too.


There are no plans to bring back the 5-door Malibu Maxx hatchback, Pepper said.


But a gasoline-electric hybrid Malibu will be out in the fourth quarter of this year. It will use a single-mode hybrid system similar to what’s in the Saturn Vue that’s on sale now. The 2007 Vue Green Line Hybrid saves gasoline by shutting off the engine at stoplights, but its hybrid system is not designed to power the car just on electricity, the way the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape Hybrid can. Chevy’s parent company, General Motors Corp., also owns the Saturn brand.


GM Back in the Game

At the end of the Malibu press conference, Chevrolet brought on stage the Camaro Convertible Concept that had debuted in Detroit three days before. President of GM North America Troy Clarke said the Malibu and Camaro Convertible Concept show that “GM is back in the car game.”


And striking designs, like those of the Malibu and Camaro, “are key to product success,” he said. “The days of compromising (on design at GM) are long gone.”


The Camaro, however, won’t be in showrooms until 2009 as a coupe, with the convertible expected to follow about a year later.


Peper said that some styling cues on the new Malibu―such as the dual-port grille, raised hood design, jeweled headlights and taillights and wider stance―will become part of other Chevy cars, too, as they are redesigned.

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