In an attempt to kick-start lagging sales and alter lukewarm reviews for the better, General Motors is redesigning the backseat of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu to make it more competitive in the segment. The redesign will focus on adding space to a cramped backseat. The Malibu’s front-end will go under the knife too, and come out with some new styling cues similar to the upcoming Chevrolet Impala. Both of these changes are expected to be expedited with the redesigned Chevrolet Malibu expected in showrooms by the third quarter of this year.
The reason and timing behind these changes, which have supposedly been in the works since late last year, stem from customer complaints. Speaking with Automotive News, Mary Barra, GM senior vice president of global product development, says that these changes “will be coming out in the not-too-distant future.” Barra believes the Malibu’s redesigned backseat should alleviate customer complaints. The latest Malibu showed up last year but was immediately up against stiff competition. The launch of all-new or heavily refreshed models like the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, and the all-new Honda Accord have made it tough for the Chevrolet Malibu to catch on.
In anticipation of this competition, Chevrolet slowly released the Malibu over the course of several months last year. The Eco model kicked things off and was soon followed by more expensive models in October. Chevrolet saw Malibu sales dip 6.1 percent in the fourth quarter of last year when compared to the same time in 2011. Out of the 20 most popular vehicles currently on sale in the United States, the midsize sedan segment features five models.
Automotive.com’s take: We recently drove the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu and found the backseat to be substantially smaller than the competition. If Chevrolet remedies this problem successfully, we don’t see why the Malibu can’t be a competitive member of the midsize family sedan segment. Knocking the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry off its segment throne is still a tall order though.