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New Malibu Impressions

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I went to Chevy's revitup event in Irvine, CA today and went through quite a few cars...

2008 Malibu LTZ - I couldn't drive it as it was a pre-production model. That meant the trunklid didn't fit properly and some of the interior trim pieces were kinda falling apart. But I took that into consideration and tried to form an overall impression anyway.

Styling - I love it... I think it's one of the best-looking family sedans out there. It's very Germanic in appearance, a lot like the VW Phaeton/Bentley Flying Spur, and the details are amazing. The front grille is wonderful, the one-piece chrome window trim is impressive, the hood cutline is interesting, the paint looks lustrous, the 18" polished alloys are awesome... very nice and expensive-looking overall.

Back seat - Surprisingly rear seat space feels rather limited, even though the car looks very long. Maybe it had to do with the placement of the seat itself, because I found the seating position awkward and uncomfortable. There wasn't enough headroom (had to slouch) and even though my knees had several inches before touching the seatback, it's not somewhere I would spend much time in. The Accord, Camry, and even the current Malibu are more comfortable in the back, IMO. The AURA suffers from the same limiting rear seat design. Oh, and there's no head restraint for the center passenger.

Interior design - I'm liking it more in person. It's certainly a more adventurous design, almost bordering on cheesy. And the parts-bin radio, door panels, and gauges look awfully cheap. Still I prefer it to the Camry's, and the overall impression I got is that they made an honest effort.

Materials - Some of the dash is made of squishy, soft-touch material, but it's still rather cheap-feeling and unimpressive. The leather is the same thin, shiny stuff you get in the AURA, and the door panels are the same unsubstantial units you get in the AURA. There are no upholstery door inserts as you would find in most its competitors. The dash had a lot of different panel gaps and too many shades and textures of grey.

The design team obviously worked very hard on this car, and as a result, it's very attractive.. it appeals to both the eye and heart. My concern is with practicality, which is more heavily weighted in a family sedan. The sort of buyer who walks around with a clipboard and CR in hand, who brings along the baby seat and suitcases to test, might not like the 'bu. Hopefully the looks, the performance, and whatever cool features it has will sway the decision.

2008 Equinox Sport - This was a great drive. The hydraulic steering was nicely weighted, the suspension was well-controlled, and the 3.6L V6 was strong. Interior is cheap, as is the RAV4's, but it's also roomy, comfortable, practical, and attractive. I'm not sure if the introduction of a Sport model will attract new buyers to the showroom, but it should make selling one much easier. It's a slightly crude piece compared to the new VUE and CR-V, but it has a lot going for it.

Trailblazer SS - Awesome.

Cobalt SS - Surprisingly nice. Good looks, decent steering, good build quality, decent interior finish, good performance.

HHR LT(Z?) - Decent. Floppy suspension, spooky steering, average interior, probably a good value.

Edited by empowah
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The new Malibu is as I expected, a 50/50 effert. And I find the exterior very boring and unoriginal save the front end treatment and the tailights looks like something from Korea. Did it have rear seat center armrest, air vents and overhead assist handles? It will need all 3 of these things to be taken seriously against some of it's competitors which have most of this stuff as std equipment.

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The new Malibu is as I expected, a 50/50 effert. And I find the exterior very boring and unoriginal save the front end treatment and the tailights looks like something from Korea. Did it have rear seat center armrest, air vents and overhead assist handles? It will need all 3 of these things to be taken seriously against some of it's competitors which have most of this stuff as std equipment.

It's OK looking for me.

I like the interior better than the exterior.

styling isnt always the most important thing... fit and finnish makes the appearnce of a more quality vehicle...

even if you dont prefer the styling... dont you enjoy it more then the previous model?

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Back seat - Surprisingly rear seat space feels rather limited, even though the car looks very long. Maybe it had to do with the placement of the seat itself, because I found the seating position awkward and uncomfortable. There wasn't enough headroom (had to slouch) and even though my knees had several inches before touching the seatback, it's not somewhere I would spend much time in. The Accord, Camry, and even the current Malibu are more comfortable in the back, IMO. The AURA suffers from the same limiting rear seat design. Oh, and there's no head restraint for the center passenger.

The interior of the current Malibu is actually bigger than the new one, despite the old cars shorter wheelbase. Nonetheless, I'm anxious to check one of these out in person. Wish there was a "normal" wagon.

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