Many here have no idea what it was all about. It was the era from 1973 to about 1983. It was the era of Jimmy Carter and the Arab oil embargo. The US finally decided that we needed to improve fuel mileage of our domestically produced cars at the cost of any bit of power.

Here is an interesting article that names Jalopnik in particular.

"So, the Malaise Era: I'm defining its span as the 1973-1983 model years and defining its origins with such certitude because I invented the term during my first few months at Jalopnik".