many, many Malibus, and other stuff.

I ‘ve wondered for a while just what was going on with the new Chevy Malibu.  “Chevy Malibu” and “interesting car” are not thoughts that usually cross paths in the mind of even the most dedicated car person.  (I will admit to having vaguely fond memories of a ’75 ‘Bu, but those are personal in nature, if you know what I mean.)

But this new Malibu is somewhat different.  It’s either General Motors’ last chance or the first promising sprout of a new crop of modern American cars that will mark that company’s revival, depending on what you read and your own opinions.  The buff books and general media seem to be in agreement that it’s at least a fair competitor to Camry and Accord, and that’s a bare minimum standard that GM hasn’t seemed able to meet in a long, long time.

This is going to be Chevy’s new bread and butter car; the car Americans whove gotten used to the style, ergonomics, amenities and sturdy reliability of the classic Japanese midsize sedan will actually buy in large numbers.  The time may be right for it.  It’s true that the old time domestic loyalists (the people who would never, ever drive a Japanese car) are dying out or have shed their loyalty over the intervening years, but at the same time the Japanese loyalists, disturbed by the constantly increasing size, complexity and price of the Hondas and Toyotas and the growing evidence of dents in the Japanese quality armor, are starting to turn to alternatives.  Maybe the new Malibu doesn’t have to take everything from the big two.  Maybe being directly competative to Hyundai’s Sonata will be enough.  It certainly would be a great place to start.

The Malibu is a distinctive looking car.  Smooth and high waisted, with a strong, blunt , shape, it looks much bigger than it is.  It’s not quite like anything else on the road, and it certainly doesn’t look very Japanese, except in overall proportions of wheelbase to overhangs.  The basic platform is comes from Europe, where it underlies the midsize Opel, and it’s shared with the Saturn Aura (which is an ugly car that needs a powerful dechroming ASAP) so I suppose it’s a European look.  But that doesn’t seem right either. 

Perhaps this is a new American look, which is something we’ve needed for a long, long time.  If so, it’s kind of a nifty one, strong and plain and tough.  I can see more cars in this style, particularly a revival of the station wagon. 

More new ‘Bu pics.  The two tone interior of the LTZ models is awesome.

But it looks more distinctive in person than it does in photographs, with the dark colors, particularly the dark blue, giving the most dramatic effect.

I’ve been watching for this car for months.  Then its debut date came.  I didn’t see one.  Drove by the Chevy dealer.  Didn’t see one. (Admittedly didn’t go in to see if there was one in the showroom, not really being in the mood for the hard sell.) One week passed, then two, then three.  Saw other new cars debuting about the same time.  No Malibus.  WTF?  Does everyone hate them 

Then one, with a temporary plate, in traffic.  Then, a few days later, another in the parking lot at the grocery store.  Then two in one weekend. Then the local dealer sets one up at the flea market, and I got to sit in it …nice.  Maybe there isn’t one at the dealership because people are buying them and immediately going on long vacations? 

Then, over the last two weeks, they’ve  seemed to explode: blunt nosed, bluff flanked Chevies everywhere you looked like a pod of pilot whales. (That’s what they look like!) Now, they are literally everywhere in town.  I saw four on one trip on Saturday.  It’s the oddest debut into the fleet that I’ve seen for a long time.


Anyway, it’s the end of the month and the best thing I can say for it is I got through it with no major damage.  Better next time, I hope.


Published in: on April 1, 2008 at 1:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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