N.Y. auto show
New model can check on how car is driven
The Teen Driver feature in Chevy’s 2016 Malibu can spy on the driver.
Watch out, teen drivers: Chevrolet has embedded a robotic mother in that 2016 Malibu.
The redesigned family sedan, which General Motors introduced at the New York International Auto Show on Wednesday, can spy on the driver using the Teen Driver feature to check on how the car has been driven.
Parents can use a PIN code to pull up a dashboard display screen to view maximum speed reached, distance driven and number of times active safety features such as the forward collision alert were engaged.
The system, which will be standard in next-generation Malibus, will allow the car owner to register specific key fobs given to a teen driver or a parking valet. The Malibu also monitors drivers in other ways. When a driver is using the designated key fob, the car mutes the audio or any device paired with the vehicle — such as a cellphone — when front-seat occupants aren’t wearing their safety belts, and triggers audible and visual warnings when the vehicle exceeds a pre-set speed.
Chevrolet has struggled in the midsize sedan segment, which accounts for sales of about 2.4 million vehicles annually and is dominated by the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion. Those four nameplates account for more than 60% of sales in the mid-size sedan category, which also includes the Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6 and Kia Optima.
Chevrolet sold about 188,000 Malibus last year, with a big portion to rental car companies and commercial fleets. Toyota, by comparison, sold more than 428,000 Camrys.
The new Malibu has a wheelbase stretching 3.6 inches longer than the current model but is nearly 300 pounds lighter. The diet is expected to help the new Malibu achieve better fuel economy ratings.
Under the hood is a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces an estimated 160 horsepower and is expected to get 27 miles per gallon in city driving and 37 on the highway. The car also has an optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an estimated 250 horsepower, which is expected to achieve 22 miles per gallon in city driving and 33 on the highway.
“The new Malibu will move things in the right direction for Chevy,” said Karl Brauer, an analyst with car shopping company Kelley Blue Book. “That car will finally be competitive in what is already a very competitive segment.”
Lexus has used the New York show to unveil a fourth-generation redesign of its RX sport utility vehicle. The crossover is the bestselling model in the brand’s 26year history, with 2.1 million units sold.
It is the first Lexus to come with the Lexus Safety System+, an optional package of semi-automated features that includes systems that can brake automatically in emergencies, warn drivers who are swerving out of their lanes, and adjust headlamps to high beam when there is no oncoming traffic.
The refreshed RX features new headlights, new taillights and a redesigned spindle grille. It will be available in the traditional gas-powered 350 version and in the gas-electric hybrid 450 version, as well as a more aggressive F Sport package, for the first time available on both the 350 and 450H all-wheel-drive models.
Also offered will be an optional “heads up display” that will project speed, navigation and entertainment information onto the driver’s side windshield.
Honda hit New York with a concept version of an entirely new Civic compact sedan, to arrive this year.
Honda is billing this 10th-generation Civic as a “global” car, but it will have a strong California flavor. The exterior was designed at Honda’s U.S. sales headquarters in Torrance.
The new Civic will forsake the “cab forward” design of the current model. Designers have pulled the windshield toward the driver, giving the new Civic a longer hood and more athletic look.
“It is as if we sent the car to the gym for the last six months,” said Guy Melville-Brown, who led the exterior design effort for Honda.
Honda plans to spice it up with a new 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine that will be mated to the new continuously variable transmission. Honda also will offer the 2016 Civic with a sixspeed manual transmission.
THE REDESIGNED 2016 Malibu family sedan was introduced at the New York International Auto Show. Above, GM exec Alan Batey with the car.