Ford's 2013 Fusion Dominates the Chevy Malibu

Ford's (NYSE: F  ) Fusion has outsold any other Ford vehicle this year, with the exception of America's No. 1 selling vehicle, the F-Series pickup truck. It's been a huge success with critics and consumers alike, and the only thing holding its sales back is that production plants are running 114% of capacity and struggling to keep up with demand. The Fusion has dominated its crosstown rival General Motors' (NYSE: GM  ) Chevy Malibu, and GM has responded with early changes to its model in hopes of keeping sales competitive.

Here are the details on GM's recent changes for the 2014 Malibu and a look at whether it will be enough to keep pace with the fast-selling Fusion.

Early refresh
Here's a quick look at how sales results have fared between the two models since the Fusion's launch in 2005.


*2013 projected from first four months of sales.

The highlighted part of the Fusion's line graph shows what probably brought on Chevy's hurried updates on the Malibu. Chevy's car sold just over 70,000 units through April, while the Camry, Accord, Altima, and Fusion sold more than 132,000, 121,000, 108,000, and 107,000, respectively.

Mid-cycle improvements or updates are usually done three years into a model's design cycle, but the Malibu's updates have appeared after just about a year -- much earlier than usual. This move could be viewed as an act of desperation, as the 2013 Fusion has blown past the Malibu and is gaining ground on segment leaders Toyota and Honda.

According to AutoNews, GM has a list of updates that it hopes will even the playing field for the 2014 Malibu.

First, you'll notice the much more aggressive front-end grille -- a feature that worked well for the Fusion in a typically bland vehicle segment.


2014 Malibu. Photo: General Motors

Chevy's 2014 Malibu will also get an improved 2.5-liter engine and a suspension improvement borrowed from the Impala. GM also added an engine shut-off feature that should help boost fuel economy by 5% during stop-start driving in the city.

Because of a common complaint, GM engineers redesigned cushions on the back of the front seats, and rear seat cushions now allow for an extra 1.25 inches of knee space.

To compete with the Fusion's popular EcoBoost engine, GM will have an optional 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that will produce 14% more torque than the current model.

Finally, the Malibu's center console also underwent slight changes to include extra storage for phones and cupholders.


2014 Chevy Malibu. Photo: General Motors.

After reading through the updates, I honestly wonder whether they'll be substantial enough to bring the 2014 Malibu back into contention with the big dogs in the mid-size market. I don't even know if the updates are enough for the car to compete with the Fusion, which has won numerous awards this year.

  • The Fusion beat out five other models from Toyota, Mazda, and Dodge to take home this year's "Green Car of the Year" award from the Los Angeles Auto Show.
  • Kelley Blue Book called this year's Fusion the "Best Redesigned Vehicle" of the year.
  • U.S. News & World Report crowned the Fusion with the 2013 "Best Cars for Families" award, and it has won the best mid-size-car category for three straight years.
  • U.S. News dubbed Ford's ride the "Best Car for the Money," giving it credibility to compete on terms of value -- a welcome change for Ford buyers.

The highly important and competitive mid-size-sedan market has typically been dominated by Toyota's Camry and other Japanese imports. It's a huge chunk of business, as the mid-size market represented a quarter of the entire light-vehicle market last year.

The chokehold on this market from Japanese imports has loosened. According to Edmunds.com, which noted in the first quarter that market share for Toyota's Camry and Honda's Accord dropped from 37% to 28% -- a drastic change.

As GM emerged from bankruptcy and its darkest chapter in history, it held the oldest vehicle portfolio in the industry. That caused GM to lose market share for years. By 2016, the company plans to refresh, redesign, or replace 90% of its vehicles, and it needs the refreshes to be successful to win back lost market share. If the dusted-off Malibu can't help GM stay competitive in the mid-size segment, it's going to be a long few years for GM, and its investors, while trying to stage its most important comeback with American consumers.

Interested in using the surging U.S. and global automotive rebound to boost your portfolio gains? For two major auto investments that could pay off big in the future, check out The Motley Fool's brand-new free report.


Read/Post Comments (24) | Recommend This Article (9)

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  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 11:35 AM, Jason87467 wrote:

    Ford have better brag while they can because the new GM trucks will eat Ford alive....but then Ford may still brag no matter what.

    The Ecoboost that they so brag about is nothing more than an engine with direct injection and a turbo. VW was first with this.then soon after, GM. Ford was only 13 years behind time and when they did, and when they did, they gave it the name Ecoboost.....and has been laughing all the way to the bank since.

    http://www.dailytech.com/GM+Tired+of+Fords+EcoBoost+V6+Bragg...

    But things are not looking so rosy with class action lawsuits against Ecoboost.

    http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1084213_ford-owners-fil...

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 11:43 AM, mistacy wrote:

    Jason87467 blah blah

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 12:01 PM, ernieyeball wrote:

    "I don't even know if the updates are enough for the car to compete with the Fusion,.." (from the article by D. Miller)

    The pic of the front of the "updated" '14 Malibu looks alot like the Fusion before the totally redesigned 2013 model. Good work Chevy...

    I bought a 2013 Fusion S. Cheapest one you can get. Great car!

    I have owned a used 1960 F-100, a new '89 F-150 and still have the '92 F-150 I bought new and drove for 320,000 miles. I use it for storage.

    My 2003 F-150 was used when I bought it in '06 and is still in great shape. If I had an oil well in my back yard and could make gasoline in my kitchen it would still be my main ride.

    The 24+ mpg I get with the new Fusion is like driving for free compared to the 15 mpg I get in the trucks.

    The last Chevy I had was a 1965 Impala. Nice ride!

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 12:20 PM, Desktopguy wrote:

    Ford will blow by Chevy they always have and always will.The Ford worst engine is better than Chevy's best engine.And Ford always had better quality cars than Chevy.

    And that new Chevy Truck is not going to have a Chance when the New Atlas Line comes out in 2015 .

    You talking about a company that made the GT 40 a car that was called a Ferrari Slayer.That just proves that they will put the money they need to produce the Best car possible for what it was built for.

    Unlike GM where as they will put the least money as possible to make the most money possible.And try to fix it as they go along.

    And if don't work out than they will quit making it and try something else with the same goal more money at the least cost no matter if it is junk they are producing.!!!!!!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 12:31 PM, josh995 wrote:

    @Jason87467, if you really believe that GM's new trucks are going to beat the F-150, you're living in a fantasy land. Completely delusional. Especially when the F-150 is due for a redesign soon.

    It's not going to happen.

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 1:27 PM, anolesman wrote:

    Funny the article headline starts with Ford but the article is actually about GM and all the things they are doing. Too bad the article couldn't be more on the reason for the success of Ford and what they have done to make it in the market place.

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 1:28 PM, kimdi01 wrote:

    I'm glad Ford is beating the UAW/Government owned Chevy. Could you just imagine the self congratulations Obama would be giving himself, every time he saw a microphone, if it were the other way around. Almost as much as his personally killing bin Laden and doing away with al Qaeda, fogetting about Benghazi. Maybe some day GM will come back enough to repay the TAXPAYERS who are still out BILLIONS on the bailout fo the UAW/GM.

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 1:30 PM, gemini77375 wrote:

    I'll drive a FORD over GM, Toyota, Honda, Nissan (any day). The new Fusion is classy. I own a 2010 Mercury Milan Premier. It is the best car that I have owned. I've owned the imports. FORD has the competition shaking in their shoes.

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 1:40 PM, chuck8o8 wrote:

    WoW! A new front grill and 1.25 inches more knee room ... Ford might as well close their doors.

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 1:43 PM, DBeard54 wrote:

    Ford will continue to widen the gap with GM, especially with trucks. I've got no use for General Motors myself which comes from past experience with their products. Maybe if GM could think quality before quantity and put something other than gray paint on all their junk, they might be more competitive. I recently bought a new F150 and absolutely love it. Thank God for Ford!

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 1:54 PM, TMFTwoCoins wrote:

    @chuck8o8 Don't forget the extra cupholders! Ha.

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 2:24 PM, normgarry wrote:

    The Fusion looks better and has the bigger interior, but the Malibu has higher grade materials.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr28TfL9UbI

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 2:43 PM, mshonnie wrote:

    I am with Gemini on this article about Ford's they are the best cars I have had so far, I've had Toyota's which are junk, chevy's too and Dodge's all junk junk junk !the ford's keep their value longer I think and have noticed.

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 4:02 PM, jsclark1000 wrote:

    I own a 2010 Fusion and have a 2012 Malibu (company car). There is no question, there is no decision to make, other than the FORD IS BETTER! The Ford has over 100,000 miles and runs circles around the Malibu at 55,000 miles. The Malibu runs like a slug (don't pull out into traffic), it's ride is horrible, the seats are uncomfortable, I hate the dash layout (looks like something from the 70's), the consoles are laid out horribly, it has no real style, and don't forget it's made by the Federal Government. Which explains why it has been in the shop so many times already.

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 4:11 PM, NineD930thTA wrote:

    Ford is a cheap company that is making money by gimmicks and they use the stupidity of the typical American to sell them vehicles.

    Just look at all the standard features you get with GM vehicles and how many trim level bumps you have to go in the Ford to get to the same basic features.

    The Ecopoop motors are a joke. The only thing making the Fusion sell is that it looks like an Aston Martin. The Fusions interior cannot hold a candle to the Malibu. And the standard features it lacks are a joke. Remote start? Dealer installed option not even standard like it is on GM vehicles. Touch screen radio? Only with the expensive crappy sync system.

    But Ford touts their parallel park assist system ($2,000) that 98% of people have no use for and it doesn't even work 90% of the time. Then they try to get people to pay for the foot activated rear liftgate in their Escape which is funny seeing how most people have the key fob in their hands and a power rear liftgate only requires pressing the button but they have morons thinking the foot sensor is soo cool that they buy it.

    Cross traffic alert for backing up? Yeah right not on a Ford. Knee airbags for driver AND passenger. HAHAHA Ford doesn't care about their passengers. Daytime running lamps which lowers insurance costs? NOT IN A FORD IN THE USA! OnStar? They call their crappy system 911 assist which uses your cell phone to work onstar has nothing to do with the users cell phone.

    Roadside assistance for the entirety of the powertrain warranty? HAHAHA yeah right. 3 years or 36,000 miles.

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 4:25 PM, NineD930thTA wrote:

    To the guy that mentions the Atlas line of trucks you aren't very smart at all. The Atlas was a concept truck made entirely out of aluminum. Not sure you have looked at Aluminum prices but that truck WILL NEVER see the production line. TO build that will cost around $80,000 and how many people looking for a truck to drive from A to B and never use for its intended purpose will pay $80,000 for it? Not many.

    Yes the Ford will be redesigned, but its not like it will get engine upgrades it just got those. So the GM motors that are once again superior will still be superior to the F series trucks. And if you add the Sierra and Silverado sales together GM outsells Ford.

    What I find funny are how these type articles talk about how great Ford is doing and its always based on the Fiesta, Focus, and Escape. Nothing else FOrd has is worth a crap. The Lincoln line needs to just be shut down. Cadillac is blowing Lincoln out of the water and soon Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes will be once again looking up to Cadillac while Lincoln looks up to the whole luxury line. The Impala Cruze Sonic Equinox Camaro Tahoe Suburban Spark are all far superior products to the offerings from Ford. And with the new trucks due out GM has more positive things to look forward to than Ford does.

    At some point in time Fords customers will realize they are paying extra and getting less buy purchasing Ford products and they will get over this GM owes the taxpayer money crap which isn't true. Ford still has an outstanding DOE loan they having paid a dime on and they refinanced their $26 Billion loan with the US treasury which they haven't paid on either.

    GM repaid their loans, the stock price is out of GMs control and that is what will determine if the treasury (not money any taxpayer has a claim to) will get all their money back. In tax revenues GM pays and GM employees pay the treasury has gotten its full investment back already and will continue to get more each year.

    I bet most of the dbags that complain about GM and the taxpayer money they think GM owes use banks that took bailout funds (and oddly enough had enough cash to repay the money when the Execs had a pay freeze put on them, which where do you think came from? Charging the customers for every little thing they could) without realizing the banks are what took the US economy into the crapper and forced GM to seek chapter 11 with financing from the treasury. Ford didn't need it because they were bankrupt 2 years before the banks froze the credit markets. When GM needed a loan no banks would loan a dime.

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 4:28 PM, NineD930thTA wrote:

    And for the Record people check where most of Fords best selling products are assembled and where GM assembles its best selling products.

    Fusion...Mexico

    Fiesta....Mexico

    MKZ....Mexico

    Diesel truck engine.....Mexico

    Malibu...Fairfax Kansas

    Cruze...Lordstown Ohio

    Sonic...Lake Orion Michigan

    Diesel truck engine...Ohio

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 5:09 PM, nogm4me wrote:

    NineD930thTA.... You made my day! Your comments are very entertaining, I love it. Keep the FoMoCo bashing coming, it is pretty dang funny! The your facts are 'right' and my facts are 'wrong' argument. Classic! It is your opinion, just like I have my opinion. Go buy as many GM's as you can and let the market decide who wants what. People will buy what they want to buy and competition breeds quality. If the sales pitch sells a poop, then people won't buy it long term. I mean, isn't it really that simple?

  • Report this Comment On June 02, 2013, at 5:18 PM, sellskars wrote:

    I sell Chevys. Been in the biz for over 30 years. First time I saw the Fusion I was like "WOW!" I just bought a 14 Impala and that's a car, but the Malibu sucks. The seats suck, the ride sucks and the looks don't really make you get excited either. I'm almost willing to bet the Fusion's dash sucks because Ford's dashboards of late suck... but the outside of the Fusion,,,YEAH!!

    I have always said that the Aston Martin Vanquish is the most beautiful design in the business. GM needs to start stealing from the great designers and let these college boys and their Avatar/Transformer minds go work for Mattel or Disney.

  • Report this Comment On June 03, 2013, at 7:27 AM, smokie613 wrote:

    fusion back home not made in mexico thats why sells up uaw/ford

  • Report this Comment On June 03, 2013, at 9:40 AM, IndyF1 wrote:

    All the sedans in this segment are boring and I wouldn't own any of them. That said, I tested five 2013 sedans for Car & Driver - the Ford Fusion looked the best, at least from the front, followed by the Nissan Altima, which had the best access to the trunk. I didn't think I would like the Fusion's unique dash controls. The Camry had the most luxurious interior and the Honda Accord had two display screens. On the obstacle course where I thrashed the cars, I found the Ford's steering light, but effective. I had the least luck with the Camry as it couldn't handle the big slalom where I got it sideways, but still kept it off the cones. The other car was the Hyundai Sonata.

    The big thing I discovered was that all these cars were so similar, it wouldn't matter which one I chose if I wanted a sedan in this class.

  • Report this Comment On June 03, 2013, at 9:41 AM, IndyF1 wrote:

    I want to thank the reader above, desktopguy, for letting me know that the LS3 engine in my Corvette is worst than all Ford engines.

    For the record, With only one camshaft nestled deep in the block, the LS3 motor is physically compact—the LS3 packs massive cubic displacement in considerably less volume than the sprawling Coyote with its large cylinder heads. Immediately, the LS3 is ahead where it counts most: power. Bigger engines generally make more power with less trouble and more durability than smaller engines, and that's especially true when comparing the LS3's 426 bhp at 5900 rpm to the Coyote's 412 bhp at 6500. The LS3's torque peak of 420 lb.-ft. is reached at 4600 rpm, whereas the Coyote's 390 lb.-ft. arrives at a lower 4250 rpm, thanks in part to its dual variable valve timing. As a more physically compact powerplant than the Ford, the LS3 can be employed in a smaller car, while also allowing for more working room in an existing engine compartment. Almost as important, the 2-valve Chevy's single-cam valvetrain has many fewer parts than the Ford's jewelry store of valves, springs, rocker arms, lash adjusters, cams, phasers, pulse wheels, timing chains and tensioners. Fewer parts means less cost—always a good thing—and fewer parts can also translate into less weight. What weight the LS3 has is centered lower in the engine than in the taller Ford with its four steel cams, wider heads and four cam phasers sitting high and wide. There's a definite handling advantage to having a lower center of gravity.

    Chevy also used the benefit of the pushrod valvetrain in the new Stingray Vette, which allows them to use cylinder deactivation for better fuel mileage than the Ford.

  • Report this Comment On June 03, 2013, at 10:02 AM, chevrolet3 wrote:

    @IndyF1.....Said like a Pro!

  • Report this Comment On August 27, 2013, at 4:34 PM, bobnally wrote:

    I have a 2013 Malibu LT with 4K miles .... love it flawless fit, finish, quiet, great mileage, everything works perfect! in my opinion it looks good as any of the competition, great American car

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