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About trinacriabob

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    Ultra Member
  • Birthday 11/30/2016

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    left the "Left" Coast
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    cars, commercial aircraft, ocean liners, travel

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  1. Recently, in a few bargain basement rentals of 3 days and 1 day, I had a full size reserved and was upgraded to "anything you want" from a compact, respectively. The first time, it was a white Malibu. And, with nothing but SUVs to choose from the second time, the only car I found was a Malibu in the odd pepperdust metallic that Chevrolet is currently offering. My review of the cars is largely the same. However, the first Malibu, with around 30,000 miles, had a drone that was either due to the tires or a bearing. The second time around, the car had less than 7,000 miles, allowing me to review it more objectively, so I held off on doing so. I may have already mentioned somewhere that I was not really fond of this car when it was introduced ... and I'm still not fond of it. However, I knew damn well that the driving experience would be positive. After all, something with 1.5 liters under the hood is now considered a full size car, so they had to do something right. Notwithstanding the fact that I dislike odd numbers (in addresses, zip codes, engine displacements, etc. - lol), the 1.5 handles the Malibu competently, either pulling away from a light under normal throttle or when you step on it to pass or merge. The engine hum is noticeable, but it's not off-putting. However, the best part of the powertrain is the 8 speed automatic transmission. The first 2 shifts are silky smooth, yet still perceptible, while the remainder of them go unnoticed. In full highway mode, the car can get 37 or 38 mpg. On the second car, the engine shut off at idle was working properly and was not annoying when pulling away from the light. It was a little rougher in the car with more mileage. This platform/chassis is supposed to be taut and it is. It's one of the car's strong suits. It's not taut in a rigid (to the driver) sort of way, but in a secure and smooth way. The car rides very well on nicely paved boulevards, on the interstate, and on two lane roads alike. The seats are comfortable, but also very conventional. I like sitting up a little higher and the best adjustment wasn't good enough. The dashboard is standard Chevrolet, with sculpting common to the Cruze's dash et. al. However, I do not like the incorporation of the screen in the center stack that protrudes upward like an open laptop, which is almost a Mazda trademark. The controls are straightforward, especially when compared to how busy the main cluster and center stack are on its rival, the Ford Fusion. I'd seriously recommend taking about 5 minutes to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land and making adjustments before motoring off. I don't like the styling of the Malibu all that much. Its squished proportions are much more suitable to the Cruze, where they look really good, but seem a little too horizontal for this big of a car. Viewpoints I'm not crazy about are the front grille / lamp assembly and especially the rear 3/4 view where the kink in the molding of the rearmost opera window drives me nuts. Inside, the kink is nonexistent, with thick pillars covering it up. As for visibility, looking to the right rear isn't all that bad. However, looking rearward on the driver's side is tougher, owing to the headrests, B-pillar, and C-pillar. One still turns their head, but it sure doesn't help much. I wouldn't buy one. I know the professional reviewers look favorably on this car. I'd probably choose it over a Ford Fusion. I just think this package, if you will, works better on the Chevy Cruze. I very much liked that car. And, with the Malibu being sort of a Cruze on steroids, one can expect a little more room, quiet, and stability that is part and parcel of the wider stance. People must like them. You see a lot of them. In fact, one 70-something ex-hippie driving either a Volvo or a Mercedes and pulling up next to me at a rural gas station started asking me about it. He told that his wife loves the new Malibu and that she has the mid 2000s one with more notch-back styling which had been fairly reliable for her. He walked around it and made some comments. What he said about the rear is that it alludes to the look of the old Ford Torino fastback coupe, and I'd have to say I probably agree. Still, I wouldn't mind a more upright backlite in conjunction with its somewhat attractive rear fascia. I'm finding that, with GM, there's now sort of a canyon in likable mid-size to full-size cars in the $25,000 to $30,000 MSRP range, given that only Chevrolet and Buick are in that niche. While I'm not expecting the return of either a 1992 Buick Riviera or Olds Toronado, I wouldn't mind a return to shapes and greenhouses in cars that are much more to my liking.
  2. Not that technical but related to exterior car care

    Ok, thanks for that info, gents. I will buy that product before the weather turns sour and apply it and wipe it off with a cloth. What about the black plastic surrounds on the window frames which are typical on most new cars for the last decade or so? I detect some minor spots which indicate some fading.
  3. Hi folks: My LaCrosse has the highly "chromed" and bling laden grille common to the '08 and '09. It is not chromed at all, but plastic. I was almost going to buy chrome cleaner but did a little homework by reading the instructions on the can of chrome cleaner and as well as getting the opinion of the guy working at O'Reilly's ... and nixed that idea real quick. One is not supposed to use chrome cleaner on these areas, let alone on this car, probably, since there is little to no chrome. I've just washed the car and then dried this area off. I'd like to know if there are specific ways to care for these areas: 1) the plastic chrome effect on the grille 2) the blacked out areas on around the windows on the door frames, which are in very good shape but have some dull spots I sure wish they had blacked out the grille, or at least more of it. Any ideas on products for these specific components and/or how you should take care of them? Thanks.
  4. Suspension maintenace - W body

    David, I think I will rank order like this: Gabriel Ultra, Monroe Sensa-trac, and then KGY. Gabriels used to be a household word. Now, they seem to have be requested. They get decent reviews in one of the links. Monroe is sort of the known name. As for the Sears generic you refer to, I have talked to Sears and they tend to carry Gabriel as the base line. The question then becomes the longer term, given that Sears is not doing too well. I hate to think about that, having grown up with them. KGY is the brand that Les Schwab, now prevalent throughout the West, seems to use. The problem is if a person moves out of "Les Schwab country." Les Schwab used to be really good in terms of honesty and being competitive. I have really seen them slip over the years. Thanks for those diagrams on the ball joints. That one graphic showing how to tell if one is worn was super helpful. I'm thinking it will be a fresh set of Gabriels, an ISS, and a 4 wheel alignment sooner than later. The car rides nicely but, in it's first 3 to 5 years, the ride was almost faultless.
  5. Suspension maintenace - W body

    David, thanks for that wealth of info. I will have more to say. As for the geographic area, I'm on the West Coast and there is no salt to contend with. frogger, was it just annoying, did it create steering issues and need steering correction as you drove, and/or could it have broken? It seems that many replace them because they hate the noise and want their OEM ride back. I've done some reading and they say that, only recently, have they come up with a design for post OEM that works. A lot of the older replacement ones eventually came around to the same problem. I couldn't believe how, on my '92 Regal, the steering wasn't as nicely weighted as it is on this car (the LaCrosse weighs about 300 pounds more) but it remained tight for almost 300,000 miles.
  6. Cadillac News: Cadillac To Replace Three Sedans With One

    I'd like to see them go off alpha-numeric names. Since they've done that, I've sort of lost interest in their product line. I was at the last auto show and do not like their flagship sedan (or DTS equivalent) much at all. It had some ungainly aspects to it.
  7. Suspension maintenace - W body

    I've got a few questions on front end maintenance for my 2008 GM W-body. The first is: at what point would you replace the struts all the way around? About 2 years ago, they were very firm. Now, there is a little more sponginess up front when pushing down on the car and releasing. However, it doesn't oscillate or do anything drastic. I'm thinking of replacing them at 70,000 miles (this has been a low mileage car for me), whether it needs them or not. I also want to do this to get rid of the OEM ones and keep the newer and second set of tires doing well. Also, when I first started driving and needed to replace shocks in the rear wheel drive Oldsmobiles, I always turned to Gabriel. Any thoughts and ideas of which - Gabriel, Monroe, other - puts out the better strut? And what the ride might be like with these products? The second question is about the steering intermediate shaft (i-shaft). The car has no recall on it. I've read on forums that, on W-bodies, this is not the most long lived component. It seems that they develop quirky little rattles and whatnot. They show the shaft as being an assembly that sits way up high and the labor time for replacing them is not especially lengthy. Have you ever replaced one (on a W-body)? Do you know someone who has? I once had an engine mount on my last car, the Regal, that needed to be replaced, but it wasn't overly annoying. You could tell that the engine would lean just a hair when throttled and then come back. How does one know how long to wait before replacing a steering/suspension component? One final question has to do with ball joints. On rear wheel drive cars, I knew where they were. Whether RWD or FWD, I've never had them replaced in any vehicle. Are these easy to inspect (on a W-body) and is it something that a tech could show you when the car is jacked up? I'm thinking that a fresh set of good struts and the possible replacement of a front end component or two, combined with a wheel alignment, ought to make the car run somewhat close to new. As for the inner workings of the car, I recently checked the mileage and I exceeded the EPA highway rating by a little bit on several tanks. I feel pretty good about that.
  8. New GM key fob needed

    Thank you for that attachment. I plan to order it from one of the major chain auto parts stores. The other one actually had a piece chip off and then slowly fell apart. This solitary one has been sustaining me for 2 to 3 years. It needs its identical twin back. Let's see how well this goes. Thanks.
  9. New GM key fob needed

    Thanks, Drew, I saw that and will have to reconfigure them somehow. Thanks, balthazar. I'm thinking this meant that you let someone do it or at least inquired about the price. I sure wouldn't want to buy these at a better price (I'd save $60 compared to what the dealer wants for the 5 button fob) and then mess it up and render the thing useless. The other one I had got banged up in briefcases, backpacks, and pockets and even soldering it together didn't make sense.
  10. New GM key fob needed

    So, after a few years of postponing it, I'm going to buy a second key fob. The other one got damaged and slowly started giving up the ghost. This is for a 2008 LaCrosse with the base 3800 V6. My current one identifies itself with "Welcome Driver 2" upon inserting the key. The dealerships want anywhere from $40 to $62 to do this task. I will be buying the key fob aftermarket from one of the major auto part stores. Questions: Can I do this myself? How will the key fob "know" to attach itself to my vehicle once I take out of the shipping container and begin programming it? Will it "know" that driver 2 is already programmed and then default to being the key fob for driver 1? Any recommendations on how to do this right, unless you recommend having someone do it if not the most tech savvy? Thanks! Let me know if you've had to buy a replacement or second key fob ... it would be interesting to know how well people have done with these.
  11. The more I analyze this, the more I'd go with a $29K (before deals and discounts) Dodge Charger SE in white with a black cloth interior (the only color choice for cloth) and drive it into the ground. And here I thought I would be bowled over by the Chrysler 300. Nothing beats renting a car prior to making an ownership decision. That sure helped me sort that out regarding my current car.
  12. Thank you. I've gotten so used to these cars and like them that I'm almost afraid to look at what their next rendition might be like.
  13. Yes, with respect to the Charger. At first, I thought the revised grille put it in the same league as their more intermediate car, whatever it's now called, and sort of sold out on the trademark Dodge front end that wasn't as cavernous as the one on the trucks. However, I've gotten to like the new grille. For one thing, the front bumper area looks like it is a better design to absorb smaller impacts. 2015 Dodge Charger - front But when they bowed the rear light bar and put the Dodge inscription on it, that made it stand out for the better. And it's also really nice to view from the side because of the curvature. 2015 Dodge Charger - rear Also, I prefer white for this car as well. And, while I definitely like some of the geometries in the 300's dash, this isn't a bad place to live for a long interstate haul ... 2015 Dodge Charger - interior ... and certainly not if you're pulling in 30 mpg!
  14. Interesting (and good) that a base 300 could come with a cloth interior, if I interpreted your post correctly. As for the bold type, I'm mixed. I'll go with yay for the 300 and nay for the Charger. Before 2015, it would have meant a front grille that looked like this and this is exactly the one I like. 2014 Chrysler 300 And, in white, it looks great, is more visible, is better for both a super hot climate and even matches the snow! I think the current grille for the 300 is a slight step backwards.
  15. So I got my Chevy Cruze (which I reviewed) for under $20 a day from Friday through Monday over a holiday weekend because I booked the rental, and the category of car, months in advance. The rate within a week or two of the rental was around twice as much. However, I didn't plan for how I would get around on Tuesday. It's seldom that I don't plan. I was looking at the rental agency sites as that Tuesday approached and was even slightly nervous. I saw some crazy one day rates for that Tuesday, including at neighborhood locations where they don't load you up with airport fees and taxes. Then, about 2 days prior to that, one of the majors was running a prepaid price of about $50, out the door, for a luxury car, which was about the same as they were charging for a Nissan Versa. I called them up and asked what this type of car might me and was told "most likely a Chrysler 300" ... or 'even a Cadillac.' Sold. I prepaid the day in a rental car, a first for me, to lock in that low rate occurring during the week and for that type of car. Wow. Everything went smoothly, quickly, and I even indicated I had seen a dark silver Chrysler 300 in a particular stall that I thought would be nice to have. It was assigned to me. At an airport location, they even pulled it around and put it under the canopy. I hadn't been in a Chrysler product for a long time, so I pulled it back into a stall, adjusted everything, and familiarized myself with the controls. As for this process, it was harder than it is in a GM car yet a little easier than it might be in a Ford, such as the Fusion. Everything about this ride was sort of surreal and a modernized time warp ... especially the whole Gotham City feeling of the car. The dashboard is nicely clustered in the IP zone, with its own lid, as Cadillac is doing, and even nicer in the center stack. The bezels for the speedometer and tachometer are sort of strange, with their different depths and they are blue in color. The center stack, however, is really nice because it's crowned by an old school "chronometer," as Chrysler has historically called it. The silver accents on many of the bezels are a nice touch. Also, hooray for a logically placed trunk release while the release for the fuel door isn't as obvious, which could be a good thing. The car had a push button ignition, which was to be expected. It also had a dial as the gear selector for its 8 speed step gear automatic transmission. While I really like this feature, and the Ford Fusion now has this as well, I found that if I was maneuvering quickly, such as from reverse and back into drive if making a three point turn, I sometimes found myself in neutral. Haste makes waste as they say. The seats are broad, comfortable, and in perforated leather and, for this price point, they are nicely finished. It also had the sliding moonroof with the doubled up effect, meaning it even covered a good part of the rear seating area. It took a while to figure out how to operate the shade, the tilt feature, and the panels, so I just chalked it up to "o.k., cool," kept it closed, turned on the air conditioning, and didn't fuss with it. The sound system was fine but then I don't have a trained ear when it comes to what constitutes a good sound system in a car. I'll listen to anything without static. With approximately 100 miles spent behind the wheel of the Chrysler 300, I got into it only a time or two while getting onto interstate ramps to see what it could do. It packed a lot of punch and didn't need much pedal pushing to work its magic. I didn't have to open the hood to see that this base model featured the 3.5 Pentastar V6 that it also the base engine in the Dodge Charger. This means that 292 horses were at one's disposition. That's about 50% more horsepower than my current vehicle, and I am satisfied with how my own car handles and accelerates. The 8 speed automatic transmission shifts quietly and confidently, though the first, second, and possibly third shift points could be felt, even in ordinary driving. I will say that, on the interstate at about 65 mph, that 8th gear practically makes the engine dormant. I believe it was only turning about 1,400 or 1,500 rpm. This car had less than 10,000 miles on the clock. I can say that the Chrysler 300 feels more steady than it does smooth. It's definitely smooth, but what you feel, first and foremost, is that you're at the helm of a land yacht. I put the power seat adjuster as high as it could go and it still felt weird sensing where the outer edges of the fenders were, even though there are old school fender creases at the tops of them. The C pillar is sort of thick but, because the backlite is more upright than in so many cars, visibility was not a problem. The rear camera in the center stack came in useful when parking and backing up. However, I believe that lane departure warnings were silenced because they would illuminate yet not make any sounds. I didn't bother to pull out the manual because I'd be in it for less than 24 hours. I'm not so sure I liked the steering wheel. It was leather wrapped, with an exposed hard surface at its top edge that would have been the surface material for the entire steering wheel on a Cadillac from the 80s. The few times my hands transitioned from the leather to this surface felt weird and I would have preferred a leather steering wheel all the way around. For its size, it is agile enough but not really nimble. Still, its handling is way better than that of 4,000 pound cars from some 25 years ago. I returned the car, filling it up prior to doing so. The driving was mostly in the city along with some in-city freeway driving. I didn't calculate the fuel economy, but those 100 miles took about $8 of regular fuel. That wasn't bad and I attribute that to some of the interstate segments. In conclusion, I'm glad I got to drive this car. For those who want a retro boulevardier with a commanding presence, an unmistakable sense of holding the road, many bells and whistles, and a rich legacy, I think they'd enjoy owning a 300. I tend to like entry level models and, in that guise, it comes in at a MSRP of $31,000 or $32,000 before discounts. However, even if I was in the market and I had the funds, I would not opt for this car and I sort of can't put my finger on what it is ... and sort of can. I have had a couple of Dodge Charger rentals and prefer those, coming in at an MSRP that is about $3,000 less. Noise suppression and general tightness between the 300 and the Charger, in base form, is hardly noticeable and, over some bumps and pavement gaps, I heard a few minor arthritic creaks from the 300 whereas that Chevy Traverse I reviewed, for example, was tomb quiet under the same conditions. However, back to the 300 and its sibling the Charger, I found that the Charger has a more user friendly dash, even though the shapes on the 300's are more inspiring and the Charger's orange illumination is not to my liking. Not only that, the Charger can be had with cloth seating, has a more rakish roofline, a front grille that I've grown to like, and is easier on the eyes from every vantage point, especially with the more recent thinning and curvature of the horizontal rear light light bar. Make no mistake about it that the Chrysler 300 is a handsome and stately car. It's just that, if I was buying a traditional full size RWD car, I'd buy the Charger and keep that $3,000 difference in my wallet. Also, from having clocked the mileage on a Dodge Charger with the same Pentastar V6, and babying it, I was able to get 31 mpg on the best tank. One had to be overly diligent to do that. I'm thinking that typical highway mileage might be more like 28 or 29 mpg. Front three quarter view - I prefer the front grille from about 3 years ago with the really thin horizontal slats more so than this one with the hexagonal / egg crate pattern I tend not to like high belt lines but, on this car, it is fitting and looks great The rear tail lamps keep getting nicer with their subtle creases and the backlite helps visibility at a time when every large car seems to be going fastback ... also, can you sort of feel the humidity? Really nice clustering and sculpting on the dashboard and a rotating dial for the automatic transmission; the finishes and many features are high grade and make for a nice space to occupy There are the unusual bezels in the dashboard and the blue illumination ... and there is the steering wheel with the transition in its coverings. I love that analog clock at the top of the center stack. This car successfully blends retro and modern. There are the bucket seats with perforated leather, sporty enough patterning, and offering plenty of support ... if only they were in cloth, but you'd never see than in Chrysler's flagship passenger car. As far as color choices go, I think that the basic white with the very pale beige leather seats is the best color combination for this car. End of review

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