FOR RELEASE:  October 7, 1997

CONTACT:      Chevrolet Communications

Phone:        (800) CHEVY-MI or: (810) 492-8841

Fax:          (810) 492-8853


WARREN, Mich. -- When Chevrolet began developing the 1997 Malibu, the goal was to create a four-door sedan that would appeal to both domestic and import owners.

To reach that goal Chevrolet went beyond typical focus groups and clinics to gather information. For instance, designers sat with customers at Chevrolet dealerships across the country and sketched ideas on the spot. They interviewed customers shopping at competitive dealerships. Chevrolet also involved customers in “high-tech” forms of research, such as the Dynamic Driving Simulator — a device based on the same principles as a flight simulator. Consumers were able to test dashboard and instrument panel configurations and help Chevrolet design the optimum layout. Customers also reviewed Malibu’s styling, which some thought resembled an import sedan.

The result: A surprisingly roomy, energetic sedan with the quality look and feel often associated with more expensive cars.

"We found that quality, dependability and roominess were high on the list of customer needs," said Jim Heckert, Malibu Brand Manager. "But people don’t want to be penalized in terms of style. They want a car they’ll be comfortable in, whether they’re dropping off the kids at school or a soccer game, or taking a business associate out to a nice restaurant. They want a car they’re proud to be seen in."

According to Heckert, Malibu is “an ideal choice for the largest portion of the midsize sedan-buying population: People in their mid ‘30s and ‘40s who are interested in maximum value in terms of quality, safety, reliability and durability.

"Malibu prospects tend to be practical, value-oriented people, many of whom have families,” said Heckert. “Malibu intenders in particular will have high expectations of their next car. They’ll be smart about their purchases, and many will do a lot of research before buying."

To meet these strict quality and durability goals, engineers and designers studied the competition, and benchmarked more than 250 aspects of the car.

As a result, Malibu provides quality and durability few competitors can match, such as an aluminized stainless steel exhaust system, 100 percent exterior two-side galvanized steel and up-level carpet and fabric.

Although Malibu competes with such midsize cars as Toyota Camry and Dodge Stratus, Malibu offers more interior volume than both. Competitive makes such as Honda Accord and Ford Contour are classified as "compact" cars by the EPA, and feature less passenger and trunk volume than Malibu. And Malibu offers more front and rear headroom and more trunk space than the longer, wider, heavier Ford Taurus.

While interior roominess is a primary issue among buyers, Malibu is the ideal midsize sedan because in addition to being roomy, it’s sleek and "nimble" enough on the outside to maneuver in traffic and tight parking spaces.

Malibu’s long list of standard features includes air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, ABS, a four-speed automatic transmission, AM/FM stereo radio, dual air bags and Passlock theft-deterrent system.

Heckert said the Malibu brand reflects the values of its customers. "Malibu’s quality, dependability, reliability and safety are a reflection of what buyers want and need today," he said. "They work hard, they’re self-reliant. They’re optimistic and dependable. They need a car that lives up to those values."

The Malibu brand message epitomizes what "Genuine Chevrolet" is all about.

"Malibu is pretty straightforward," said Heckert. "Buyers who want quality and value, but can’t deal with the high price of an import, are going to be very pleased with Malibu."

Heckert said that Malibu fills a key product niche between Cavalier Sedan and Lumina Sedan.

"Together with Cavalier and Lumina, we have a one-two-three punch in the marketplace that’s hard to beat," said Heckert. "Our family of sedans gives customers room to move through the lineup as their lifestyles and needs change."

The 1997 Malibu is a brand new Chevrolet sedan, built on a new vehicle platform. Malibu will be assembled at two dedicated assembly plants -- Oklahoma City and Wilmington — each running two shifts. Dealers will begin receiving cars in the first quarter of 1997.

Go to 1997 Malibu award presentation information.

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