We're just over 2 weeks away from the 2015 New York Auto Show where Chevrolet will take the wraps off the next iterations of the Chevrolet Malibu and Chevrolet Spark. We also know from Chevy's teaser picture of 5 in 2015 shown below that the Chevrolet Cruze will not be far behind.
What we've uncovered however is that Chevrolet appears to be planning to go on building the current design of Cruze and Malibu right along side their newer-bodied versions.
According to the General Motors Vin Decoder website, the current Cruze and Malibu will soldier on for at least another model year. For 2016, both the current Cruze and Malibu will gain the Limited moniker, just like big brother Impala Limited. We assume that these will largely be aimed at fleet buyers, but some of the changes for Cruze lead us to believe that Chevy is expecting to do some retail sales of the Cruze Limited as well.
What changes? We’ll start with the Malibu:
The current design Malibu is dropping the Eco version completely; Gone also is the 2.0T. The Malibu line-up is cut to just LS, LT, and LTZ with the single engine choice of the 2.5 liter 4-cylinder. This, however, is not the same 2.5 liter found in the Malibu in 2015. The 2016 Malibu Limited will have the LCV 2.5 rather than the LKW 2.5. What does that mean to you? The only change is a 5 lb-ft increase in maximum torque at 4,400 rpm and possibly a slight decrease in fuel economy. The possibility of a slight loss of fuel economy is due to the fact that in this change, the engine will no longer have Intake Valve Lift control as part of the VVT. Only the Malibu and Impala use the LKW engine while the LCV is used in the Cadillac ATS, Chevrolet Colorado, and GMC Canyon; so it seems as if GM is consolidating its 4-cylinder engine platforms with this move. The 2016 Impala will also drop the LKW in favor of the LCV.
With the next generation Cruze possibly a little further behind from the Malibu, it seems that Chevrolet is planning on keeping the current Cruze for sale to retail customers a bit longer. It wouldn’t be an unprecedented move for Chevy as the Impala Limited is sold at retail alongside the newer Impala for a short time. The Cruze also got a mild facelift for 2015. For 2016, the Cruze Limited remains largely unchanged. Both the automatic and manual transmissions remain as well as the Eco trim. The biggest change is likely to disappoint the oil burners in the crowd; the Cruze 2.0 Diesel appears to be done.
None of these moves will seem very surprising to GM watchers. This would be the second time GM has kept the prior version Malibu in production to sell to rental fleets and the previous Impala is still on sale as the Impala Limited. However, unlike those past examples which were already well beyond their “Best By” date when they made the switch, the current Cruze and Malibu are just mildly stale, so bargain hunters searching for a deal on a 2016 could find the Limited models worth a look. Next up, Camaro SS Limited?
A General Motors representative declined comment for this article.
Hat Tip to Staff Writer: Blake Noble