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2015 Chevy Malibu LT rental review

Robert Hall

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This past Fri-Mon I had a '15 Malibu LT for a rental, picked it up in Columbus, Ohio and drove to various places in Eastern Ohio and Western Pa, in and around Pittsburgh and east to Monroeville and the PA turnpike a bit.


I'd driven a few of the previous generation Malibus ('08-12), but this was the first of the current generation I'd driven.


Interior impressions: well equipped, all the expected cabin features in a midsize car.  Hard plastics on the doors and dash, but nice to look at--brown and light tan two tone. I like the brown.   Good HVAC controls w/ dual zone climate, etc.   Gauges well positioned and easy to read.  I liked the blue lighting behind the chrome trip strips in the dash. Tire pressure monitoring is a nice touch.  Still has the annoying GM unlocking of doors when you shift to park (never liked that feature). 


Comfortable w/ plenty of legroom and headroom.  Since I didn't sit in the back, the typical complaints I've read about rear seat room in this car didn't matter.  Lots of room back there for empty water bottles and my coat (it was cold Fri/Sat in Ohio and Pa).   


Exterior: familiar, kind of anonymous but pleasingly clean.  Looked very good in the dark red, I like the profile of this car, though the high tail makes for a bit of blind spot in backing up.


I did a lot of freeway driving on I-70, I-77, I-79 etc this weekend as well as stuck in city traffic in Pittsburgh and enjoying the hilly streets and roads around the city, muddy Ohio back roads, etc.  


 Generally very quiet around town.  Noticed the start/stop engine shut off.  Some tire and wind noise at 70-75 mph on freeway, but not excessive.  The car felt very solid and tight overall.   Seemed to have more than enough power to get out of it's own way in merging and passing.   Did notice the transmission taking a while to shift up on long hill climbs a couple times, though.


All in all, with the addition of a sunroof (I'd keep the cloth seats), I could live with one of these as a daily driver for a few years.  I'll admit I haven't driven many of it's contemporaries (had a rental Camry and an Avenger in the last 18 months), but it seems like a perfectly fine all around daily driver and road trip car.


I'm looking forward to seeing where Chevy goes w/ the 2016 model.







Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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  • 2 weeks later...

glad that you got the light colored interior for the trip.  The black interior is very depressing.

The tan and brown interior was very pleasant...I've had enough black and dark gray interiors in my life, really liking lighter interiors...


A light interior and sunroof is on my must have for my next car, especially as I transition from living in a hot, dry sunny environment to a colder, gray rainy environment...

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar
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glad that you got the light colored interior for the trip.  The black interior is very depressing.

The tan and brown interior was very pleasant...I've had enough black and dark gray interiors in my life, really liking lighter interiors...


A light interior and sunroof is on my must have for my next car, especially as I transition from living in a hot, dry sunny environment to a colder, gray rainy environment...



You're moving?

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Ideally before the end of the year...working through the logistics, spending a lot of time on Trulia, Realtor.com, etc scoping out neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh area.   I went to a few open houses when I was there a little over a week ago...coming back probably in May or June to do more investigating...

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      It’s What’s Inside That Counts
      Climbing into the smart was easy and at 6’2, I had no trouble finding a comfortable seating position. The eye-catching red seats still weren’t enough to belie their budget roots, with a somewhat hard feel and thin padding. 
      The cabin is decidedly minimalist, with a few extra gauges popping out of the dash to monitor the powertrain. Everything is laid out logically, but I didn’t have an opportunity to play with the audio system. While the interior’s pleasant to be in, the materials and dash are not up to scratch compared to more modern vehicles. 
      Surprisingly, the rear pillars and retracted top made rear visibility a challenge on par with my Avalanche. 
      Penny Pinchin’ Penalty Box
      Operation costs of an electric vehicle depend on where it lives. In Vancouver, where Tesla’s are as common as Camry’s, ‘Hydro’ rates — a term derived from B.C.’s power utility which draws its electricity from hydroelectric generation — are very affordable, and the cute cabrio requires just two cents per kilometre. For someone commuting 20,000km yearly, that works out to about $460 annually. 
      However, the rated 109km range falls short compared to the likes of Nissan’s Leaf and BMW’s i3. The eight-hour 220V charging time is comparable to the Nissan, however this doesn’t take into account fast-charging options. 
      And much like power costs, an electric car’s price can vary on where it lives too. At $30K, the convertible Fortwo Electric is nearly $10K more expensive than its gasoline cousin. However, manufacturer and government incentives can knock off up to $8,000 in B.C., with similar amounts in other provinces. 
      My Two Cents
      Despite the short dance, I left the smart fourtwo electric with a good impression, thanks to its perky drivetrain and drop-top style. The regenerative brakes do require getting used to, and the interior needs updating to match the likes of Hyundai and Chrysler. 
      If offered another drive or even a longer-term test, I’d jump at the chance.
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