N.Y. auto show

New model can check on how car is driven

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - By Jerry Hirsch and Charles Flem­ing jerry.hirsch@la­times.com charles.flem­ing@la­times.com

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.

Ti­mothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

THE RE­DESIGNED 2016 Malibu fam­ily sedan was in­tro­duced at the New York In­ter­na­tional Auto Show. Above, GM exec Alan Batey with the car.

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