Malibu!

Face of a Malibu

Plenty of detailed pics on the internets already.

On my trip home I scored a Chevy Malibu for a rental car. At first the rental company gave me a Nissan Rogue (midsized SUV), but I told them I wanted a sedan so they gave me a Malibu that was reserved for premium members (because it was already there). I’m impressed with the quality of the car. The panel gaps rivals the thickness of a CD. The dashboard was as soft as a leather couch (not ice cooler plastic!). There were nice little touches around the car with the Chevy bow-tie in the headlights, reverse lights, and reflectors. The inner part of the wheels were painted dark gray to give them a deeper look. That design aesthetic works well especially since it’s so subtle.

Bow tie in headlight and reflector

It's about time carmakers decided subtle details mattered.

While it looked great, driving it was a whole ‘nother thing. The first thing I noticed was that it had an awful turning radius. I couldn’t believe that it actually had a worse turning radius than a full-size Ford. It’s strange because the car is so narrow. It seems like they took a small car and just added more girth to it to make it a mid-size, but somehow make it handle like a full-size. To make matters worse, it had a terrible blind spot out the back. The rear window was so small and so far up that the trunk and back seat blocks lower rear visibility. Adjusting the mirrors properly helped a little bit, but it was still discomforting. What’s more discomforting is the headrest. I’m not sure what the trend is, but a lot of new cars have headrests that push my head forward and there is no way to adjust the fore/aft position.

Engine

2.4 liters of fury!

It handled the roads very smoothly. At first I thought it had a V6, but as soon as I got on the highway it just fell flat on its face. I looked under the hood and saw a large four-cylinder. Coupled to a slushbox, it was a dog. Might as well have a boat anchor in the trunk. It had an automatic with a manual gear selection mode, but I find it to be more of a gimmick than actually functional or fun. I’ve driven smaller cars that felt faster. At least it doesn’t feel like a wallowing boat, but it still had Sneeze Guard in the steering. Not sure why having a dead spot in the steering is still a common “feature”. I suppose if they removed it completely people won’t be able to text and drive smoothly anymore.

Moving towards the rear of the car, the trunk is rather tiny. You could not cram anything it there larger than a watermelon. I’m exaggerating, but I swear a Ford Focus has a larger trunk. That’s another thing I don’t understand is why current sedans have tiny openings for the trunk. They need to bring back larger trunks like on the Crown Vic. What are mobsters gonna drive when they need to “take care” of someone?

The Malibu is a handsome car, but the driving experience was not to my liking. I wouldn’t buy a Malibu, but GM has come a long way in the quality department. It just needs a few more tweaks worked out to be ready for prime time.


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