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Internet-based groups of sedan enthusiasts are posting with great exuberance and jubilee over the recent Chevy Malibu news. Faced with extinction, the ninth-generation American midsize sedan posted a 200% sales increase in 2022. Blowing the competition of the water despite its unpopularity paved the way for General Motors (GM) to carry it on through the remainder of the 2020s. Those who revere the last bastion of American midsize sedan, brag to others that the Malibu outsold the following popular models.

1. Kia K5

The new 2023 Kia K5 shows off its midsize car proportions, blue paintwork, and running lights at sunset.
2023 Kia K5 | Kia

Kia’s handsomely aggressive midsize K5 boasts impressive value with a plethora of standard features and competent drivetrains. A 180-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter is offered in the base model, along with an eight-speed auto and front-wheel drive. Or potential buyers can get the full cheeseburger, the 2.5-liter turbo-four with 290 horsepower and 311 pounds-feet of torque. With an MSRP hovering around $32,000, it’s a spectacular alternative to a sporty four-door from the Germans.

Despite the upsides, Kia only sold 66,298 units in 2022, just over half the number the Malibu did. Pertaining to powertrains, the Malibu also has a turbo-four but just 1.5 liters. The engine produces 163 fuel-efficient horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of smooth-riding torque.

2. Hyundai Sonata

2023 Hyundai Sonata Night Edition
2023 Hyundai Sonata N-Line Night Edition | Hyundai

The Sonata is one of few four-door passenger cars that provides so many features for sub-$25,000 starting MSRP. Its smart, coupe-like styling may sacrifice some rear headroom, but it’s one of the more spacious sedans in the segment. Hyundai boasts a welcome suite of standard safety features, and its expansive trunk is an underrated upside.

Hyundai Sonata sales dropped by 41% last year. The company only shifted 55,131 units, dropping to 8% of the market share from 10% the previous year. The Chevy Malibu is just as spacious as the Sonata and also filled with plenty of black plastic touches. Despite the slightly lower price, more than double the number of people that bought Korean selected the American-branded sedan.

3. Subaru Legacy

A blue 2023 Subaru Legacy midsize sedan model driving in a suburban neighborhood with autumn-colored trees
2023 Subaru Legacy | Subaru of America, Inc.

Although Subaru is known for making excitingly rugged family sedans and wagons, the Legacy isn’t one of them. Its 2.5-liter boxer-four puts down 182 horsepower, making it far less efficient than the Malibu. Potential buyers can expect a combined fuel economy of 28 mpg, roughly four mpg less than Chevrolet’s midsize sedan.

In 2022, the Subaru Legacy didn’t experience much of a drop in sales. That’s because it hasn’t been very popular. Subaru only shifted 22,605 units last year, which is how many Malibus rolled off the production line every 10 weeks.

How many Chevy Malibus were sold in 2022?

2023 Chevy Malibu RS
2023 Chevy Malibu RS | Chevrolet

2021 was a bad year for the Malibu. Chevrolet sold only 39,376 midsize sedans, representing just 4% of the market share. It was to be expected, though; GM has already established the Malibu’s sunset date for June 2023. According to GoodCarBadCar, 115,467 units were sold in 2022, bounding the Malibu to 14% of the market share.

Besides the Chevrolet Bolt EV, the Malibu also experienced the largest sales increase in the first quarter of 2023. At the same time, GM Authority reports that GM Executive Vice President and President of GM North America Steve Carlisle said the company is “leading in the fleet and commercial market.” The Malibu is undoubtedly a big part of fleet sales, but figures show that fleet sale represents “21% of the sales mix.” It’s unclear how the sales stack up across the segment, but a 27,261% increase in Bolt EV sales is a big part of it.

Malibu sales are up 45% this quarter. Even if we plug the increased fleet sales into last year’s sales figures, roughly 90,000 Malibus are going to private individuals. Even the discount keeps it the fourth-best-selling midsize in America. So, all that criticism about the Chevy Malibu being unpopular is actually misplaced.


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