Part of the problem with replacing a perennially popular car with a new model is that the outgoing version will remain popular for quite some time. However, it can be hard to see why, exactly, that might be a problem. After all, the automaker usually hopes that a lot of fans of the old model will trade up for the younger version.
Sometimes, though, that phenomenon translates into sales problems, especially in the case of traditionally high-volume models. It's not that buyers are rejecting the new car -- it's that the old car is still good enough, especially when dealerships are offering sizeable discounts to clear out the lots. That's what happened in the summer of 2012, after the release of the new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco, and GM was worried that it affected the way people would perceive the car [source: Burgess].
No worries -- according to reviews, the Malibu is likely to stay strong, despite heavy competition (its main competitors in the midsize sedan segment have also been revitalized). But Chevy has retained the characteristics that made the Malibu a reliable seller, the moderate but accessible features such as a decent list of available options across three trim levels, reasonably efficient 4-cylinder engines, comfortable but not remarkable interiors and attractive but not polarizing exterior styling.
Among the most notable of the improvements is a range of new 4-cylinder engine options (the V-6 from the previous generation is gone). There's a 2.5-liter base engine that puts out 197-horsepower; buyers of upgraded trim levels can opt for a 2.0 turbo that clocks in at 259-horsepower. The Malibu Eco is another new choice, combining a 2.4-liter 4 with an electric motor that puts out a total of 182-horsepower. (Technically a hybrid, the Eco's configuration might cause some confusion since, unlike the more traditional hybrid setup, it cannot run on the battery-powered motor alone.) And a host of typical safety features rounds out the standard- and available-equipment lists. Nothing too groundbreaking, but if the older, rather stale Malibu was still in demand, it's probable a lot of buyers will appreciate Chevy's new touches.