After numerous spyshots, the Chevrolet Malibu facelift finally gets unveiled, four years after it debuted at the 2015 New York International Auto Show. This time around, the handsome D-segment sedan gets subtle styling updates to go with several enhancements, including a new transmission.

First things first, the design. The face has been restyled for a more aggressive look, thanks in part to the bolder (and larger) grille, revised headlights graphics and LED DRLs. Besides the range of new wheel designs, the rear end also gets subtle changes, most prominently the new “dual element” double Y-shaped LED taillights.

Highlighting this facelift exercise is the introduction of the first ever Malibu RS. The sportier version gets blacked-out exterior trims such as the grille, black “bowtie” emblems, a rear spoiler, 18-inch machined wheels and dual exhaust exits. However, the RS trim will not get the new tail light design, settling instead for older units.

Inside, the RS gets leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter to go with the black cloth upholstery, whereas the eight-inch touchscreen head unit with Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system (it supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionalities) and reverse camera are standard across the range. For the Premier trim, it adds heated seats and eight-inch reconfigurable driver information centre.

The Chevrolet Malibu can be had with three petrol engines, starting from the base 1.5 litre turbocharged unit. This powertrain, which makes 160 hp and 250 Nm, is paired with a new CVT gearbox, which effectively replaces the older six-speed automatic. More expensive variants get the hotter 250 hp/352 Nm 2.0 litre turbo four that’s linked to a nine-speed auto.

Also available is the Malibu Hybrid, which draws power from a naturally-aspirated 1.8 litre engine that’s mated to a Chevrolet Volt-based two-motor drive unit. Unchanged from before, the 182 horsepower hybrid powertrain is juiced by an 80-cell, 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. In pure electric mode, it can cruise to a maximum speed of 55 mph (88 km/h). The same Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery system is retained, which harnesses exhaust heat to warm the engine and cabin.

Safety-wise, the Malibu gets Teen Driver safety platform, 10 airbags and the usual three-lettered acronyms. Optional items include front pedestrian alert system, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and many more. The existing five variants – L, LS, LT, Premier and Hybrid – will continue to be offered in the US, rivalling the Honda Accord, Mazda 6 and Toyota Camry.