Saturday, 16 April 2011

Road Test - 2011 Chevy Malibu

My first car was a 1973 Malibu.  Picture this car (above) in a light blue, with a white vinyl roof that started at the B pillar (driver's door) and went all they way to the trunk line.  Swivel bucket seats.  Big engine, big power, thirsty.  I sincerely regret ever selling that car, although I do recall that the rusted hole in the floorboards was causing the interior windows to fog because the carpets were always wet from road spray, the swivel seat was broken so it kept rotating when I turned corners, and the damned car disliked wet weather so much that it stalled BEFORE it came to a puddle.

I hated what GM did to the 'bu after that year.  Squared it up (notice the round tail lights on the '73) made it a family car (Mal-boo!) and took the guts out of it. The model died, came back, died and then came back again like a cheap whore in an afternoon soap.

This week I rented the 2011 Malibu, something I've been wanting to do for some time.  It's got it's looks back, though nowhere near as dangerous looking as it used to be.  It's got some guts.  It doesn't come in a two-door anymore, but there aren't many models in both a 2 and 4 door.  Yeah, it's a family car, but a young man in his early fifties can get into it, too.
Here's what I thought of it:

GREAT:  It was great on fuel.  I did mostly city driving and was very pleased on how little gas it used.  That's a very big deal to me, and even back in the day I never liked the idea of transferring money from my wallet to the big oil companies' bank accounts simply because of the inefficiency of my automobile's engine.  It's never been the prime motivation for choosing one car over another, but it can be a deal breaker.

GOOD:  Comfortable layout, easy to use controls, tight steering and handling, lots of zip, easy to park, handle inside the trunk lid so you don't get your fingers dirty (yeah!) and most importantly - not BORING.  I rented a competing sedan, the Camry, on my last trip and found it all of the above but BORING as hell.  I aged 20 years just taking a two-hour drive down the highway in the Toyota. Kind of like the Volvo S-10; I think it's against the law to listen to rock music when you drive a Volvo, it's just so boring.

Room for GROWTH:  Where's the heated seats?  I'm not being a luxury hound - this is a safety issue!  A comfortable driver is an alert and responsive driver, but a driver who is hunched over the steering wheel drawing his extremities in and avoiding movement as much as possible in order to conserve body heat on a snow-crunching dark January morning is not going to be as ready for evasive action, at least until the car and the driver warm up.  Heated seats should not be an option in Canada.  Oh, and the seatbelt kept getting stuck between the door and the seat on the driver's side - small but annoying design flaw.

Would I buy one?  Already pricing 'em.

1 comment:

  1. Good review. I bought a 2011 and its great.