DETROIT -- The next-generation Chevrolet Malibu will start at $22,500, including shipping, slightly below the base-model prices of most key rivals in the competitive midsize sedan market.
The redesigned 2016 Malibu’s base sticker price is about $500 less than that of the Ford Fusion ($22,985), Honda Accord ($22,925) and Nissan Altima ($23,125). It’s more than $1,000 less than the Toyota Camry’s base price of $23,895, but a few hundred more than the Hyundai Sonata and Mazda6 sedans.
The ’16 Malibu’s base price also is nearly identical to that of the base ’15 Malibu, although it has a new base-trim designation -- L -- replacing the LS base trim of the current car.
Sticker prices are slightly higher at the top end of the '16 Malibu’s range compared to its predecessor. The top trim on the ’16 Malibu, the Premier, is more than $1,000 above the highest-priced ’15 model, the LTZ. The Premier designation will replace LTZ at the top of Malibu’s lineup for 2016.
The redesigned Malibu is scheduled to arrive in U.S. showrooms by the end of the year.
“The 2016 Malibu is engineered and priced to give customers impressive value and technology that’s hard to compete with,” Steve Majoros, director of Chevrolet cars and crossovers, said in a statement.
Chevrolet is trying to draw new buyers with a more stylish design and roomier interior following disappointing sales of the current Malibu, which went on sale in early 2012.
The redesigned car is longer and more spacious with about 4 inches of additional rear seat legroom vs. that of the cramped current model. It’s nearly 300 pounds lighter for better fuel economy, allowing General Motors to downsize the engine to a new, turbocharged 1.5-liter, four-cylinder, from the standard 2.5-liter in the ’15 Malibu.
U.S. sales of midsize sedans have been slowing amid weaker demand for cars, as consumer preferences shift toward crossovers. Midsize car sales fell 3.2 percent over the first eight months of the year, vs. 3.8 percent growth for the industry overall. Malibu sales fell 2.5 percent.
Incentives in the segment also have been rising, pressuring average transaction prices in what has historically been the industry’s largest segment.
Incentive spending in the segment rose to $3,294 per car through August, vs. $2,852 a year earlier, according to Kelley Blue Book. Average transaction prices rose 2.4 percent, however, to $25,433, partly due to the discontinuation of the low-priced Dodge Avenger, KBB said.
Despite the tougher sales environment, GM is counting on the redesigned Malibu to command firmer transaction prices and return healthier profits. GM executives have said that they expect the next-gen Malibu to contribute about $1,500 in extra variable profit vs. the current Malibu.
The base L model will come standard with push-button start and cruise control. Buyers must step up to the LS model at $23,995, including shipping, to get the 7-inch touch screen MyLink infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, rearview camera and other extras.
The LT is the next trim level up, starting at $25,895, with shipping. It gets LED daytime running lamps and eight-way power seats. An optional 2.0 turbo engine with eight-speed transmission is available on the LT model for $29,495.
The top-trim Premier model starts at $31,795 and comes only with the 2.0 turbo. Pricing for a hybrid model that GM says will get an estimated 47 mpg in combined city and highway driving will be announced closer to its spring launch, Chevy said.