"The segment is so hyper-competitive that it's not enough to have a really good car," Brauer said. "(GM) has to execute flawlessly."

But independent auto analyst John Wolkonowicz said he thinks that is not going to happen. He said the 2014 Malibu is "nothing special.

"They're only changing the front end, that's all that's being accomplished," Wolkonowicz said. "Most people probably won't even notice the different. The segment right now is about Camry, Accord and Fusion. Malibu has had its day."

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

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