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Chevy Malibu Review


nc211
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Had a brand new Chevy Malibu for a rental these past two days in DC. Car had 7 miles on the clock when I picked it up at Reagan airport. My opinion:

...getting better, but no cigar.

All you guys complaining about the electronic throttle delay of Toyotas....go test drive the Malibu, you'll really see what throttle lag is all about. It's damn near impossible to drive that car smoothly from a stop.

Interior is tight, not roomy.

Lots of torque steer.

You need monkey arms to close the door when it's open all the way. Who in the hell designed that, needs to be beaten. The front doors open so wide, that when you're going to close them while in the seat, you practically have to lean out of the car to grab the handle.

The ride is smooth, classic Chevy style. I like that! But bump insolation will easily not last long. Some THUMPS were felt from the back.

The transmission hunts, alot! And gear slap is felt. I honestly though the car was breaking down on me while I was in SE DC by the Fed-Ex stadium, which I'm sure SWO will confirm, is NO place for a "cracker" like me to breakdown.

Seat position creates wedgies, especially for boxer wearin' guys like me...probably more info than you needed to know.

Paddle Shifters....on a Malibu? Seriously? Why?

Engine vibration easily felt under acceleration...a lot. BUT, when asked, it will move. But the whole car vibrates from headlight to tail light while under heavy foot.

Stereo is ok...classic Chevy. I'd put it in the Delco family.

A/C is great! Steering wheel positioning is great! American cruiser ability, which is great.

Turning radius....why even offer a steering wheel? 3 point turns = 5 point turns.

Blind Spots = perfect car for Stevie Wonder. Window are small. Rear window and pillars are sportscar like. Front passenger position blocks view of outside mirror sometimes.

Seat heater switch is easily hit by accident "at base of seat along edge of left leg". Seat heater WORKS though, like a !Removed!! I though that Thia food was causing a radioactive reaction while on my way back to the airport earlier today...only to realize the seat heater was on, again.

Electronics=good. Trip computer, tire pressure monitor read out for each tire, oil life, real-time mpg, etc.. readout on dash.

Tracking ability....not much. Car really reacts to wind too. There seems to be no true center when cruising. You have to drive the car, which is clearly different from previous Chevy's. This is my biggest dissapointment. Chevy's have always been one of my favorite over-the-road cruisers. The Malibu isn't bad, but needs about 2 more years of tweaks to get it right.

Overall impression: Not bad actually, typical American sedan. Has some neat styling cues, mostly in the wheels though. The ads about being at "import" levels are BS though. I can tell the car will become a rattle bucket around 50k. BUT, at least the dashboards are centered correctly now. Fit & finish of the interior is much improved, but still "Chevy". Some cheap-!Removed! looking crome pieces around the a/c controls. Oh, almost forgot the most annoying part of my rental car....the driver's door was not aligned very well. The latch would strike the metal receiver on the top, making a noticable noise.

As a rental: Probably one of my favorites.

As a buyer: Probably not, sadly. It would be very tough for me to not consider a used fully loaded Toyota product before a new Malibu, at this stage.

PS: SWO: If you haven't seen the new Gaylord Hotel/conf center project yet....It's worth the trip. Un-friggin'-believable on the inside of the conference center! Last I heard....$3b "as in billion" in that total project area to date...

But...no views of true Washington landmarks, which is dissapointing. Looking out over the river, via a 100+ ft. window "probably the biggest expansive glass stucture I've ever seen before"...and no views of DC landmarks? Just the Carlisle... Ooops....

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My problem is time. When I'm up there, my schedule is usually so packed, that by the time my day is done, usually around 9pm, I'm dead on my feet! But one of these days we'll definetly make that happen! How about I buy lunch, you buy the drinks. I'm a cheapskate, a very very thirsty cheapskate. :lol:

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  • 1 month later...

I finally had the chance to put a new Malibu through its paces. I picked one up for a one way rental in Las Vegas and ran it all the way back to Louisiana. I put more than 2,000 miles on it in the 3 days I had the car, so I feel like I got to know it pretty well. My car had 3800 miles on it when I picked it up. It was silver with black interior, 3.6l V6 with 6 speed trans, 2LT options, etc. I built one out just like this, and it came to a little under $25,800. I'd been wanting to try one of these for a while now, so here's what I came up with (and it's quite different from Rob's experience!)....

For starters, I think it's an outstanding looking car. It looks unique, and it's not awkward from any angles. The suspension tuning is superb. This baby just glides down the highway; it's so, so smooth. The handling is quite good. Body roll is almost nonexistent. The seats are awesome; they make me think of a German car. They are nearly rock hard and quite supportive. The steering is a bit numb at turn in; surprise, surprise, a GM with numb steering???? The sound isolation is great since it had laminated glass everywhere but the rear windshield; it was extremely quiet 90% of the time (more on that later). This car had power pedals and no sunroof, so I was quite comfortable due to the abundant head and legroom. Hiproom was great too which surprised me since the car looks to be quite narrow. Only real annoyance I had with the interior was that the gear shifter was located too close to the power outlet in the dash, so you can only have something in that outlet when the car is in drive....so annoying. The dash looked great too, great form and great function. Ergonomics were great for me. I loved the little details like lights built in to the interior door handles in the front, and two blue-green lights that shoot down to light up the console area at night. The AC is powerful without being deafening which is tough to find! The stereo was average, but good enough.

Power from the efficient 3.6 VVT engine is smooth, plentiful, and quiet. The 6 speed is smooth, and what was really cool, in manual mode, it truly acted like a manual. You put it in 6, and it isn't going to downshift until you hit the paddle shifter. Being able to force the car in 6th gear was really nice when you go up hills so that it doesn't downshift in to 5th. Drive by wire was quite good. It seemed that regardless of how I drove the car, it always got right around 28mpg, calculating the numbers myself. The onbaord computer always added about 1 mpg to the pen and paper calculations. Top speed of this beast is a measly 115mph. The brake pedal feel is outstanding. The pedal was quite firm but never over-sensative.

And, the other shoe drops. This car could easily be a grade A+ automobile, but the build quality is only slightly better than mediocre even though the materials are good to excellent for the price of the car. The front passenger's door was loose. When the door is shut, gently pressing on it, it would move a 1/4" or so. I'm sure this contributed to the wind-noise. There were some intermittent rattles too--could have very well been my laptop and luggage in the back seat. There was a rattle in the front passenger side, but it was a speaker. The doors open very wide. I've got long arms, but it was still a reach for me if they were open all the way. It was pretty difficult getting in and out of this car. The door on the ashtray was broken when I got the car. So that's pretty much it. It all comes down to a fantastic looking and driving $25k family sedan with some little issues due to careless UAW assembly. I'd certainly consider this car against the new Sonata and Taurus.

Wow, I didn't have any of the problems you had Robert! Your car must have been a lemon. I did have a problem with one of my doors, although it would open and close smoothly and quietly. I didn't have any trouble with engine vibrations, throttle lag, blind spots, seat heaters, wandering/getting blown around by the wind (and I had some wind in NM and W Texas), wide turning circle (mine needed two lanes to make a turn--on par with just about every car I've driven that was this size.), and what really blows me away is that I found this car spacious and roomy and I'm much larger than you! You can't blame the wedgies on the Malibu....that's what you get for wearing boxers!! :lol:

Some pics and videos....

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Light up door handle:

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Start up sequence

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  • 4 weeks later...

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