Spied: 2012 Chevrolet Malibu

Chevrolet’s current Malibu was a huge success when the company needed it, winning a place on our 2008 10Best list and proving that the bow-tie brand could build more than monster SUVs and pickup trucks. Now that the compact Cruze, even smaller Aveo, and minute Spark are all on their way, the Malibu is up for a little refresh.

The current car is sleek enough, but the overall design isn’t particularly elaborate. The 2012 model will change that with a bit more rake to the beltline, echoed by a faint crease in the body side. The nose and tail will certainly see the most change, but our spies weren’t quick enough with their cameras to catch the front of the car. In the tail, we see additional ornamentation around the trunk, which is recessed deeper into the surround sheetmetal and plastic. The top of the decklid appears to taper into a sort of flat, ducktail shape, like the more-controversial BMW designs of the last decade.

While it won’t look worlds different, the new Malibu will be comprehensively altered beneath the skin. It will join the Buick Regal and LaCrosse on GM’s new Epsilon II platform, an evolution of the current car’s Epsilon I bones. It will be slightly wider and a little taller, alleviating our primary concerns about the interior. Materials used inside the car supposedly will be vastly improved, although we hope the money to do so didn’t come out of the design budget—the stylish cockpit is one of our favorite things about the current car. Expect to see the HiPer strut system recently unveiled on the 2010 Buick Lacrosse to find its way onto top Malibu trim levels.

No doubt this is just the beginning for spies stalking the Malibu, as the car’s introduction probably won’t happen until the 2011 Detroit auto show. Stay tuned for more photos—maybe we’ll even get one of the nose next time.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

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