In the early 1970s, the Chevy Malibu conjured sunny images of cruising along a windswept coastal highway bound for some beachfront shindig. But since Chevrolet revived the Malibu nameplate in 1997, the Malibu has projected a different sort of image-one of comfort, quietness, practicality and affordability.
When designing the current Malibu, Chevrolet aimed at the vast legions of sensible sedan buyers who have helped make the Ford Taurus, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry the best-selling cars in America in the 1990s.
Designers could do a lot worse than borrowing a few pages from the Accord/Taurus/Camry playbooks. When you're taking on the leaders, there's nothing wrong with showing your influences. And the Malibu does that-both with its styling, which bears a stronger resemblance to the Japanese sedans than it does to the Chevy family tree, and with the way it successfully offers a little something for almost everyone.
For 1999, the Malibu is largely unchanged from the '97 and '98 versions-a wise move, given how warmly the Malibu has been embraced by the public.