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Malibu, outgoing version, probably 2015 - review of rental


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Persistence pays off.  I wanted to "test drive" of these units.  The day I picked up my rental car, they didn't have any Malibus on hand.  Instead, I was "upgraded" within the full-size category to the new Impala.  I believe it was the LTZ, and even had a V6 and a sunroof.  Within a day or so, I took it back.  I didn't like it much, largely because I couldn't see out of it all that well.  Well, the morning that I took it back to Dollar-Thrifty, they had a Malibu there and I asked them for it.  I've found that, of the majors, Dollar-Thrifty has morphed into one of the worst in terms of customer service and attitude.

So, in the end, I got my Malibu.  I don't know if I'll warm up to the current model because I like a more upright cabin and exterior silhouette (read:  more notchback like).  The 2015 Malibu is hardly a notchback, but it was the nicest of the Malibus on that particular platform.  This one finally hit the sweet spot because of the revised grille up front but, mostly, because of the freshening of the rear fascia with the two Camaro-esque tail lamps on each side and a flatter rear deck lid that seems to be grafted onto the design, yet still works with the silhouette very nicely.

This Malibu was a LT, had a 2.5 liter Ecotec 4, a sunroof (yay), and black leather interior (nay).  It actually had a lot of miles on it ... over 45,000 of them, which is something I rarely see in rental cars.  The only problem with the car is that the rear vision screen, which flips open via a toggle to reveal a cubby hole, was not working.  However, audio functions were displaying correctly.

It's funny how rental agencies now consider cars that were once mid-sizes as full-sizes.  That said, this Malibu behaved like a full-size in every way.  The ride was composed, quiet, planted, and make it very easy to live with this car.  The engine and transmission worked together in harmony, and it saw some mountain driving on winding two-lane roads.  The 2.5 Ecotec was almost always quiet enough, letting you know it was working, and only growling just a little when pushed hard.  The 6-speed automatic worked well in all situations and shift points, even 1-2 and 2-3, were barely detectable, which is something I prefer.  The best highway mileage I could reel in was about 36 mpg.

I really enjoyed the living room in this car.  While I wish it had a cloth interior, the seats were nicely proportioned, visually appealing, and very comfortable.  Even with the slightly raked backlite, visibility was good.  Along with that, the rear seats, leg room, and window greenhouse for the rear seating area were ample.  I liked the cockpit.  While it wasn't revolutionary, it was functional with some nicely sculpted areas in the both the instrument panel and the center stack.  Unlike Ford's current effect of placing the driver below the surface of the console, the Malibu's console was perfectly situated, with a nicely finished shift lever, cup holders where I want them, and a console box with enough room.  I cannot remember whether or not the console box had two layers - the flatter one on top which needs to be flipped up to get to the larger one.  I sort of like that system and it's not ubiquitous.

Compared to foreign cars considered full-sizes which I've driven, such as Camry, Altima, and Passat, I like the sum total of the last-gen Malibu LT more.  If in the market, and that market were in "freeze frame" mode, this Malibu would be my second choice.  I don't need the rear seat room as much, so the Verano would be my first choice because it's slightly smaller, slightly better styled, slightly quieter, and has that unmistakable Buick build quality and feel.  However, this Malibu impressed me and would very easy to live with.  I had driven a Malibu on the same platform in 2009 or 2010 guise and was pleased.  The latest rendition of the last-gen Malibu had gotten even better.





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Hmm, I like the leather seats in this gen of the car but the cloth was like plasticky, not like clothy cloth.


I hated this gen, I felt it was like a rush job that didn't go right. But it actually did drive like a car of a higher size segment, ride and isolation is very good, but there wasn't much else I liked.

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Glad to see you still posting here, nice write up.  I like the New current gen cannot warm up to these.  Agree on a Verano as the go to GM choice in this segment.


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