RICK KRANZ

The new 'global' Malibu...Where did GM compromise?

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News.
UPDATED: 4/13/11 11:07 am ET

Will Americans be shortchanged when the all-new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu debuts?

My understanding is that a portion of the passenger compartment will be a little bit tighter.

The next-generation Malibu has been restyled and re-engineered. Production will begin in the first quarter of 2012. The timetable for the new Malibu's release originally was planned a year ago, but development was delayed because of GM's financial problems.

What makes this redo different is that Malibu will become a global player.

It will be sold in nearly 100 countries. It will be assembled in China as well as the United States. In fact, the world debut of the Malibu concept will take place Tuesday, April 19, at the Shanghai motor show. The unveiling will be webcast at 8:30 p.m. EDT April 18 on Facebook.

One change is coming in terms of interior space. While nearly all of the exterior dimensions are essentially the same as those of the 2011 model, 4 inches have been trimmed out of the wheelbase. Those inches have been shifted to the trunk area. The trunk area also is taller. The bottom line: The 2013 Malibu has more trunk space

Now this would seem to suggest rear passengers will give up legroom comfort to create a bigger trunk. I would think Americans prefer more rear legroom.

After reading this blog, a Chevrolet spokesman called and said the 2013 Malibu is wider than the current model, giving passengers more shoulder space.

Last year the Malibu was Chevy's top selling U.S. car -- 198,770 units were sold, a 23 percent increase from the previous year.

When a vehicle is produced for buyers in nearly 100 countries, some give-and-take is inevitable in terms of product development. We'll find out in the next few days how much was traded away -- if anything -- for the sake of wooing buyers outside of North America.

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