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prototype66

First bad one I've seen

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http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/review...07-malibu_N.htm

I think this guy is having a tough time driving with the stick .....well , you get the idea. It is USA Today after all, hardly the pinnacle of news sources. You be the judge.

Grit mars Malibu sun

Chevrolet has been struggling to craft a car with the appeal of the long-ago Malibu, one that — as the 1960s original — would look cool, behave itself in most situations and deliver a bit of spunk.

The Malibu of yore mainly was a snazzy compact, relying on its name more than its hardware to call up images of beach and bliss. It endured until 1983.

Chevy (GM) revived the name in 1997 in an attempt to give velocity to a plain-Jane, midsize Chevy rival to Japan's sedans.

Starting with the all-new '08 version just now in showrooms, there's another identity. The newest Malibu is supposed to be "a $40,000 car for $20,000," Chevy says.

There's obvious emphasis on styling. And once you're visually seduced, the refinement-for-the-price is supposed to overwhelm you.

What that all amounts to, judging from three early-production test cars — high-end V-6, midlevel four-cylinder and a hybrid, which uses the four-cylinder — is a very nice American family sedan.

In Malibu's favor:

•Handsome styling gives verve to the family car.

•Roomy interior gives the feeling of a larger car inside. Malibu is wide enough to fit three-abreast child seats, assuming they aren't extraordinarily wide.

•Quiet is abundant. Restful, which helps on long trips. Premium-feeling.

•Features are plentiful for a modest price, including GM's five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty, OnStar telecommunications with a year subscription free and XM Satellite Radio with three free months. A 110-volt, household-current outlet is an option. Very handy. Get it.

•Driving behavior is mildly satisfying, as long as you're not expecting sport-sedan handling coming 'round that ever-tightening spiral of an exit ramp.

•The V-6 delivers satisfying punch, especially nice where dancing into and through traffic is the norm. The four-bangers went about their business acceptably. Enough power to merge and pass comfortably.

Impressions were colored, however, by some glitches. They are problems that no others have reported, says Malibu chief engineer Mike Meloeny.

The V-6 model was tainted by a light howl from under the hood, a vibration in the steering wheel at idle and low speed, and violent shifts by the automatic transmission in some low-gear situations.

The hybrid delivered a scare. Its powertrain kept racing and trying to fling the car forward after hard acceleration followed by firm braking. It finally required a full-on panic stop — anti-lock brakes kicking in, car nose-diving — to overcome the wildly revving engine and obey a red light. Only happened once, but …

Potentially troubling: Malibu's interior wallows in a masochistic orgy of what the industry calls cut lines, or parting lines, where two pieces adjoin, an invitation to misalignment. No effect on function, of course, but eye-maddening in a car that's supposed to challenge Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

Also in the minus column:

The six-speed automatic transmission mated to the V-6 paused when the gas pedal was floored, then delivered the downshift.

Gear changes involving first and second gears at low speed, whether in manual or automatic mode, often delivered a violent jolt.

Chevy said it could duplicate the jolt only when shifting manually from first to second then back. Is a violent reaction acceptable under any circumstances, however unlikely?

The generally smooth four-speed automatic in the gasoline four-cylinder upshifted with such a shudder that the whole car shimmied when accelerated hard up to about 40 mph, then off the throttle as if you spied a car about to pull across your path down the block.

Windshield pillars are so fat they can block vision. The hefty rear roof pillars likewise cut rear vision.

The hybrid, which Chevy forecasts will account for 10% of Malibu sales, is what's called a mild hybrid because it mainly relies on the gasoline engine. It doesn't continuously blend the output of the engine and an electric motor as a full hybrid does.

The gasoline engine shuts off at long stops, such as traffic lights, to save fuel and reduce pollution, as full hybrids do. The gasoline engine restarts immediately and smoothly when you take your foot off the brake pedal. The electric motor will add a touch of punch at wide-open throttle. And because the electric's there to help, if needed, Chevy can shut off fuel to the gasoline engine sooner during deceleration. All supposed to add 2 mpg, but the hybrid got the same 18 mpg, give or take, as the other two engines. Meloeny says the hybrid would do better in stop-and-go driving.

Hybrid is $1,835 more than the similarly equipped gasoline LT. Some hybrid buyers will qualify for a $1,300 income-tax credit, Chevy notes.

On paper, Malibu seems superior to the lionized Camry. In practice, judging by the test cars' foibles, maybe not quite.

2008 Chevrolet Malibu

•What is it? Midsize, front-wheel-drive, four-door, five-passenger sedan derived from Saturn Aura. Significantly bigger than previous version.

•How soon? On sale since about Nov. 1. Hybrids aren't expected in showrooms until early January.

•How much? LS starts at $19,995 including $650 destination charge. LT starts at $20,955. LTZ starts at $26,995. Hybrid starts at $22,790. Online shopping sites say expect a few hundred dollars off full price on gasoline models, little or no discounting on hybrids.

•What's the drivetrain? 2.4-liter four-cylinder rated 169 horsepower at 6,400 rpm, 160 pounds-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm, four-speed automatic transmission (six-speed automatic optional).

Optional: 3.6-liter V-6 rated 252 hp at 6,300 rpm, 251 lbs.-ft. at 3,200 rpm; six-speed automatic.

Optional: 2.4-liter, four-cylinder mild hybrid; four-speed automatic. Engine is rated 164 hp at 6,000 rpm, 159 lbs-ft. at 4,400 rpm. Electric motor rated 115 lbs.-ft., available at start and for acceleration and toting heavy loads.

•How big? Midsize: 191.8 inches long, 70.3 inches wide, 57.1 inches tall on 112.3-inch wheelbase.

•How thirsty? V-6 is rated 17 mpg in town, 26 on the highway, 20 in combined driving. Trip computer in test car showed 17.9 mpg in suburban driving. Four-cylinder rated 22/30/25. Trip computer in test car showed 18.4 mpg in suburban driving. Hybrid rated 24/32/27. Trip computer in test car showed 17.9 mpg in suburban driving.

•Overall: Lots of promise, not all kept.

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Like I said before...

The positive press will be fleeting.

This is the same bull$h! that we as GM fans are accustomed to. And all because this pre-production car was obviously flawed, NOT because the design itself has bad merits.

What pisses me off the most is the fact that this review is in USA Today. Most of the 'CR humping/believe everything you read' idiots subscribe to publications like this instead of the auto rags that have been giving positive press. This could have very bad implications for the Malibu and could set the tone for more negativity in reviews.

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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What that all amounts to, judging from three early-production test cars — high-end V-6, midlevel four-cylinder and a hybrid, which uses the four-cylinder — is a very nice American family sedan.
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The engineer did say he was the only one who was experiencing these problems. But you can't just say he experienced these problems because it was a pre-production car, since these were likely the same cars many other positive reviewers have been driving. Either this guy is searching for problems or everyone else was glazing over them.

Edited by siegen
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I'd say he's searching.

Malibu's interior wallows in a masochistic orgy of what the industry calls cut lines, or parting lines, where two pieces adjoin, an invitation to misalignment. No effect on function, of course, but eye-maddening in a car that's supposed to challenge Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
I see no more or less cutlines in any of the three vehicles.

1321234359_37168dafce_b.jpg

2007.camry.se.interior.500.jpg

first-look-2008-honda-accord-3.jpg

The generally smooth four-speed automatic in the gasoline four-cylinder upshifted with such a shudder that the whole car shimmied when accelerated hard up to about 40 mph, then off the throttle as if you spied a car about to pull across your path down the block.

No automatic, none, is a mind reader. I can guar-een-tteee I can confuse any automatic on the planet and get the same results. Try not driving like a lunatic next time.

The hybrid delivered a scare. Its powertrain kept racing and trying to fling the car forward after hard acceleration followed by firm braking. It finally required a full-on panic stop — anti-lock brakes kicking in, car nose-diving — to overcome the wildly revving engine and obey a red light. Only happened once, but …
Now that one is disturbing. I hope Chevy is looking into it. However, it was probably just the Malibu trying to buck the lunatic driver out of the seat.

The V-6 model was tainted by a light howl from under the hood,

Yes. That's called the engine running.

All supposed to add 2 mpg, but the hybrid got the same 18 mpg, give or take, as the other two engines

Well duh! When you drive it the way you've described.....

Edited by Oldsmoboi
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This guy is an idiot. I joined usa today just so I could reply to his article. too bad I can't reply to the actual paper!

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In my opinion, this article was much more detailed than their critique of their Camry and Accord. For those, they basically said, "Yeah yeah, its nice." and did not go over it with the fine tooth comb and white gloves that they did the Malibu.

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To compare, his review of the Camry:

http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/review...-24-camry_x.htm

Malibu's interior wallows in a masochistic orgy of what the industry calls cut lines, or parting lines, where two pieces adjoin, an invitation to misalignment. No effect on function, of course, but eye-maddening in a car that's supposed to challenge Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
The fancier versions, such as the XLE test car, are classy and luxurious. Cheaper versions benefit from Toyota's restraint. Not too many shapes, textures or controls. The best definition of elegance is simplicity.

The six-speed automatic transmission mated to the V-6 paused when the gas pedal was floored, then delivered the downshift.

Gear changes involving first and second gears at low speed, whether in manual or automatic mode, often delivered a violent jolt.

Chevy said it could duplicate the jolt only when shifting manually from first to second then back. Is a violent reaction acceptable under any circumstances, however unlikely?

The generally smooth four-speed automatic in the gasoline four-cylinder upshifted with such a shudder that the whole car shimmied when accelerated hard up to about 40 mph, then off the throttle as if you spied a car about to pull across your path down the block.

The V-6 is coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission with an easy-to-use manual-shift mode. Six is plenty of speeds to keep the engine revving where it needs to be for best performance.

The test car, a preproduction vehicle, had a glitch in the powertrain. The transition between deceleration and acceleration was jerky, as if the fuel had been shut completely off while slowing and suddenly came back on, in excess, when the throttle was pushed. Toyota says that's unrepresentative and shouldn't be present in showroom models.

Also, the transmission sometimes went through a long, slurring upshift into third gear. Otherwise, fine.

His Camry minuses:

•Size. The '07 is actually smaller inside than the '06, despite a longer wheelbase and wider body. The differences are marginal but measurable, according to Toyota specifications. There's a half-inch less of headroom. The trunk's 10% smaller. Shoulder and hip room are only fractionally improved, even though the car is an inch wider. Total passenger space is down 0.3%.

•Handling. The front bobbed unduly on bumps, and the car understeered — tried to run wide in corners — more than expected. The SE version is tauter for those who prefer a sportier feel.

•Climate control. The test car had trouble finding a just-right temperature. Possibly a deal-breaker if production cars are like that.

•MPG meter. It resets when you refuel. Toyota says there's no way to track a long trip, or months of driving, as rivals allow.

The '07 is a significant upgrade from the current model. But test-car glitches give pause, even allowing for its preproduction status.

-RBB

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To prove my point about this affecting the Malibu, catch a glance at the readers responses (Which I replied to)

These people (who probably all drive imported trash and maybe even have never considered a domestic) have read this one article and already judged the car as "typical Detroit"

It's the audience more than the review that makes me angry.... The damn car is on C&D 10 Best and is an All Star, yet they refuse to consider it based on Healy's (A notoriously anti-GM journalist) $h!ty one page write up.

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Healy has tended to write fair reviews in the past, so this sort of review form him is troubling. It is like he is looking for venom. I guess chevy did not buy enough advertising, and toyota covered the difference. Just like they did with Motor Trend.

I used to like his reviews, but this stands out badly vs. all other Malibu reviews, enough to the point that I think I won't be putting much cred in any of his reviews from now on, because its almost written with a premeditated tone.

I think the next big comparison test from Car and Driver is the one that will be the credible tell all. We know the Accord will win that one, but we are not surprised at it and will not cry foul. The question is, who will be 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc.

Considering the Aura XE beat out the camlee in one of their prior tests, I think the Malibu has a good chance at taking 2nd or 3rd, depending on where the Altima and Passat 2.0 end up.

I would be surprised if the cahmree places ahead of the Aura XR and the Malibu ought to place ahead of the Aura.

Methinks I need to revise my midsize rankings on that topic i created a few months ago, now that the new BU and accord are out.

Edited by regfootball
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I'm not ashamed that the Malibu will sometimes lose to the Accord or Camry. The fact that it's always ending up in the top 3, usually in 2nd place, is really good enough right now till the Camry fades further away. Remember, the Altima, Accord, and Nissan have all lost a review to one of the others in the past. None have them have been on top in every review. <Only the 3-series can claim that, even in comparisons test with HD pickup trucks>

You can't knock the Accord on quality and drive, it's just the styling that leaves me cold. The Camry's quality has been slipping. It's mostly noticeable because of what the Camry used to be. The most noticeable aspect of all of these tests is the Malibu always seems to beat the Altima and the Altima used to be the darling for the people who didn't like CamCords.

That the Malibu is playing in this league and not only not getting trashed, save for this article, but outright praised, says volumes as to how good this car is.

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let it be

sorry, in reference to fog

Edited by turbo200
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I see no more or less cutlines in any of the three vehicles.

The cut-lines tend to stand out though, and it's one of the first things I noticed when seeing the Malibu interior pictures prior to release. It may not have more cut-lines, but it does a bad job hiding them.

For example, see this picture (base model Accord); there are plenty of cut lines, but they tend to flow with the design of the interior, and many are curved or angled.

accordbaseinterior1.jpg

Now a studio Malibu shot for comparison. I see 4 straight horizontal cut-lines around the center stack that instantly draw my attention. The radio itself is too square and doesn't flow with the rest of the interior. The whole center stack is really a mess of lines.

malibuinterior1.jpg

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Like I said before...

The positive press will be fleeting.

This is the same bull&#036;h&#33; that we as GM fans are accustomed to. And all because this pre-production car was obviously flawed, NOT because the design itself has bad merits.

What pisses me off the most is the fact that this review is in USA Today. Most of the 'CR humping/believe everything you read' idiots subscribe to publications like this instead of the auto rags that have been giving positive press. This could have very bad implications for the Malibu and could set the tone for more negativity in reviews.

IIRC this is also why MRGr's crush pre-production cars when they are donw with them. Most Japanese and German cars have also had minor glitches until they have been on the market for a little while.

Hopefully the new Malibu will continue to buidl momentum for GM.

Chris

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I'm not ashamed that the Malibu will sometimes lose to the Accord or Camry. The fact that it's always ending up in the top 3, usually in 2nd place, is really good enough right now till the Camry fades further away. Remember, the Altima, Accord, and Nissan have all lost a review to one of the others in the past. None have them have been on top in every review. <Only the 3-series can claim that, even in comparisons test with HD pickup trucks>

You can't knock the Accord on quality and drive, it's just the styling that leaves me cold. The Camry's quality has been slipping. It's mostly noticeable because of what the Camry used to be. The most noticeable aspect of all of these tests is the Malibu always seems to beat the Altima and the Altima used to be the darling for the people who didn't like CamCords.

That the Malibu is playing in this league and not only not getting trashed, save for this article, but outright praised, says volumes as to how good this car is.

The Altima has become a truely ugly car. It is as if Goering is still around and needed a Nazi staff car. I actually want to see the Altima gone more than the Camry.

Chris

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The cut-lines tend to stand out though, and it's one of the first things I noticed when seeing the Malibu interior pictures prior to release. It may not have more cut-lines, but it does a bad job hiding them.

For example, see this picture (base model Accord); there are plenty of cut lines, but they tend to flow with the design of the interior, and many are curved or angled.

Now a studio Malibu shot for comparison. I see 4 straight horizontal cut-lines around the center stack that instantly draw my attention. The radio itself is too square and doesn't flow with the rest of the interior. The whole center stack is really a mess of lines.

Wasn't really the point. What he was saying is that the number of cut lines leads to misalignment and as others have described, squeaks and rattles. While that may be the case, the Accord and Malibu have about the same number of cut lines each. I do, however, agree with you that the Accord does a better job of hiding them. I think the light gray Malibu interior in the picture you posted should NEVER be produced. It is such a horrid shade and screams "rental" to me. Considering the daring other interior choices, I hope few to none of those light gray ones even get sold.

The near black interior I posted does a substantially better job at hiding the lines than the light gray one.

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ah but his point was just to mention the cutlines as being distracting altogether.

truth be told, this is a valid point, but one that any typical owner won't notice early on in their life with Malibu, as all the colors and good design sense will be overwhelming them. at least that's the sense I got. The cutlines were still in the LTZ when I sat in it, but I didn't care!

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the reality is, in person, those cut lines are much less distracting and relevant, especially with the right color scheme. I would bet $50 that interior shot of the Malibu just above is at least 3 times more appealing in person than it appears in the photo

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the reality is, in person, those cut lines are much less distracting and relevant, especially with the right color scheme. I would bet $50 that interior shot of the Malibu just above is at least 3 times more appealing in person than it appears in the photo

That's a GM press photo... you're just looking for an easy way to make $50. :glare:

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I don't know, I welcome the different viewpoint of the review. Clearly you can tell from the tone of his voice, he isn't buying the hype, and the article doesn't have the same generic Lutztacular background you read elsewhere, about how it's so significant and game-changing and so on. It's amazing how different the response to the new Malibu is compared to the very-similar AURA.

The point about the A-pillar is legit (the qualms with his pre-production car less so), and I think it speaks to the fact that, as a midsize family appliance doing midsize family duty, it isn't very good. In this regard - functionality, practicality, ergonomics - the Malibu is overrated, especially by some unlikely press distracted by its good looks, confusing it for having the same polish and thoroughness as all-new cars like the Lambdas, GMT900s, and CTS. But being a GM fan, that's fine with me, and this being a GM forum, I'll shut up now...

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You're a GM fan?

Yes.

Speaking of which, I stopped by the Chevy dealer again (I was picking up wiper blade inserts from the VW store next door), and they had a 1LT with the cocoa/cashmere cloth interior. I was genuinely surprised by how much I liked it, especially compared to the other interior combinations I've been in, Ultralux and leather included.

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There are criticisms about the author's point of view, but let me criticize the author.

First who in Sam Hell looks to USA Today for detailed, unbiased, and accurate auto reviews. I mean even if i wasn't a car guy I would pick up a C&D, R&T or MT if I was in the market. Not a flimflammin USA friggin Today. Screw that!

And second, look at the guy. He looks like the exact person this car is not for, young families looking for a step up, but not old enough for a Buick, and too conservative for a Saturn.

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Like I said before...

The positive press will be fleeting.

This is the same bull&#036;h&#33; that we as GM fans are accustomed to. And all because this pre-production car was obviously flawed, NOT because the design itself has bad merits.

What pisses me off the most is the fact that this review is in USA Today. Most of the 'CR humping/believe everything you read' idiots subscribe to publications like this instead of the auto rags that have been giving positive press. This could have very bad implications for the Malibu and could set the tone for more negativity in reviews.

CR, USA Today, Walt Disney World. All the same bland homogeneous type of pandering designed to have the broadest appeal. The Malibu is something of substance, and as such there'll be no shortage of detractors wishing to see something outside the mainstream be brought low. Not to worry about the Malibu. However it'd behoove GM to continue to refine and polish this latest 'jewel in the crown' and continue to diligently mine for more jewels.
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