Monday, October 20, 2014

GM has a potential hit on their hands, but it is more of a miss



The midsize sedan segement has long been one of the most critical segements in the auto industry. That still remains very true to this day. This is mostly because it is one of, if not, thee most popular segements in the business. What this means, is that most companies either sink,or swim, depending on their efforts here. With GM, however, that is a little different. GM also has trucks to fall back on, and even today, that is where a rather large, and possibly unhealthy, portion of their profit comes from. This article, however, will focus on their most recent effort into the mid-size class, the new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.


 Upon first glance at the car, you might notice that it has a more modern, masculine look to it, compared to the 2012 Malibu. However, in terms of design, it looks, and feels, more like a evolutionary, as opposed to a revolutionary step forward. Most of the general public seemed to agree with this statement. Starting at the front of the car, one of the first things you might notice are the rather large headlights. These are great at night, as they provide lots of light so you can see the road ahead of you. They are also one of the major design features on the front end. Other notable design features are the crome grill surrond, as well as the crome wrapped fog light bezzles. It should be noted that this LTZ tester was painted in the stunning shade of Crystal Red Tintcoat.

     Walking around to the sides of the vehicle, one of the very first things your eyes are drawn to is this test units' optional 19-inch aluminum wheels. They fill out the wheel wells quite well, and again, they add to the more modern, masculine feel of the car. There is one character line that runs from the hood of the car, all the way to the rear, and wraps around the other side. Otherwise, they only things dressing up the sides of the vehicle are chrome accents, like the door handles, as well as some window moldings. You can tell that GM took the lets not offend anybody styling approach, but they still did a decent job in spicing it up.

Walking to the rear of the car is where you will notice some of the biggest changes to the car, at least on the exterior. The tailights look like they were taking straight from the Camaro, molded a tiny little bit, then glued onto the rear of the Malibu. They are nice looking, and they do certainly make their presence known. With the LTZ trim level, the tailights are lit by LEDs, while on other models they are not. Looking at the back of the car from ground level up, it is a somewhat boring view, until you see the sculpted hanuches of the vehicle, ala, Volvo, looking down at you. Aside from twin tailpipes denoting the 2.0 liter, 4-cylinder engine, it is a somewhat hohum rear, as just mentioned. Has the interior changed at all? Let's take a step inside and find out.


On the inside of this car, GM also did a decent job of changing up the stlye. Depending on the color of the interior, it will either feel airy and comfortable, like this tester, or dark and cramped like the comparison vehicle, which was another 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. One thing you might first notice is the seats. They are rather comfortable, but like the old model Malibu, they get hard feeling after a couple hours or so. Lumbar support is rather good, but if you are a larger person, beware.

     Another rather large design element of the interior of the car is the center stack. If you have ever rented, or even seen the center console from the Buick LaCrosse, you have seen the center stack that is in the 2013 Malibu. However, there is one slight change, and that is the not so secret, secret compartment that opens up at the flick of a slider, behind the touch screen radio, aka, Chevy MyLink. MyLink is a pretty good setup, but more on that in a later review. Looking over to the passenger side of the car, you will notice the twin-cockpit theme that has been a staple of the Malibu since the previous generation vehicle. A nice, but hard to notice touch during the day, is the backlighting on the chrome strip that runs from the drivers door, all the way to the front passenger door. It lights up a bluish green, which is great at night because it isnt a harsh color that will hurt your eyes. Also easy on the eyes are the gauges. They are large and easy to see, which make driving the Malibu a snap. Once not so nice thing about the Malibu, the high rear-end of the vehicle makes looking out the rear-view mirror almost pointless, as you cant see much, unless it is taller than the car, or standing rather far behind it. However, trunk space is amazing for this car, as you could fit enough stuff for 4 people to go away for a weekend or so.


Performance might not be thought of when you think about the Chevrolet Malibu. When you opt for the 2LTZ trim level, like this tester was, you get a Malibu that is equipped with the potent 2.0 liter, 4-clyinder turbocharged engine. That engine pumps out a somewhat impressive 259 horsepower, and 260 lb.-ft of torque. While that may not sound like a lot of power to some people, I can personally assure you that it is more than enough for everday driving situations, as on Ohio State Trooper can atest to. The engine is paired with a smooth shifting 6-speed automatic transmission, with a manual shift function. One small complaint in this area is that the buttons for the manual shift mode are on-top of the gear lever. Also, there is a slight lapse in time between when you press the button, and when the tranny actually shifts gears. However, one must realise that this is a Chevrolet, not a $100k plus Audi.

     Fuel economy is also a plus to this car. With an epa estimated 21 city/30 highway mpg, you can have loads of power, without having to take out a second loan on the house just to put gas in the tank. Handling is rather good thanks in some degree to the Goodyear rubber that comes wrapped around the optional 19-inch wheels. Turn in is sharp, but understeer can happen quick if you aren't paying close enough attention. Brakes are another decent area of the car. After several hard stops, some fade was noted, but not an alarming level, just something that should be noted.

     Safety is something that Chevrolet takes very seriously. That is why the standard safety featues of the car include things like: 10 airbags, Stabilitrak stability control, as well as ABS. One optional safety feature that works quite well is the Lane Departure Warning, which will beep a few times if the car senses that you are swerving out of your lane. This warning can be mitigated, however, if you use the turn signals (yes folks, this is a feature of a car that should be always used. They aren't just there for looks,) or press the button to turn the system off on the center console. Also on the standard feature list is OnStar, which is a handy system to have, and worth the money if you ever have to use it, even just once.


     Overall, GM has made several large improvements to the Malibu. Are they enough to put it at the forefront of shoppers. Well, not really. A few months ago, GM had to idle the plant for a couple of weeks, so the supply of cars would go down to match the demand. Demand has been low enough that recently, GM has said that they would be making tweaks to the 2014 Malibu, in hopes that it would increase demand for the car. With that said, is the Malibu a bad car? I don't think so, no. Could it be better? Every car could be better. It is only your opinion that matters, however. So, what do you, the reader, think about this car? I say go take one for a spin, because it might just change your mind.

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