Chevy Malibu Eco
I've got a message for all of you out there who said, "I'd consider buying a General Motors car if they were as good as a Camry or Accord." My message is, the ball's in your court.
That's because this new Chevy Malibu is simply world class. And I know, I know, that phrase is tossed around as much as "do you want fries with that," but in this case, it's true. The car is as good as anything in it's price class from anywhere.
Start with the looks. Comparing this generation to the previous generation Malibu, is like Pamela Anderson and Ugly Betty. The lines are European, clean and blissfully short on chrome. Assembly quality is first rate, and then there's the interior.
The rear end has been updated this year with slightly Camaro-esque taillights. Frankly, I don't like them nearly as much, and when Chevy calls me for advice, I'll tell them so.
I simply love this cabin. It is miles ahead of comparable mid-sized sedans in style and function. The sweeping dash design is just plain gorgeous and the interior is full of bins and cubbies for whatever you need to store. Our seats were all-day comfy and roomy, front and back.
It too, though, has been redone and again, I preferred the look of last year's, but I also understand, nothing stays the same, not in this competitive market.
Power comes from the 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder Ecotec engine whose 182 horsepower is connected to a slick 6-speed automatic gearbox with a manual setting that allows you to use those trendy, but ultimately, goofy paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Performance is excellent, and I was frankly surprised to find I was driving the 4-cylinder and not the optional 3.6-liter V6.
Part of that is that this is the Eco model with what's called e-assist. That's a 15 kilowatt electric motor along side the engine that gives it a boost on acceleration.
The engine stops at a red light like many others, but unlike some of them, the AC keeps blowing with an electric compressor.
And the driving is fun, not as much fun as a VW or an Audi, but not a narcotic like the Camry.
The Malibu can hit 60 miles per hour in 8.7 seconds, and our combined city/highway mileage was 31 miles per gallon.
With the E-assist, leather and such, the tab is $29,000.
For comparison, we drove a Ford Fiesta the same week, optioned up to $22,000, and it only got 35 to the gallon.
When I can get near that in a bigger, more comfortable, leather-lined sedan for just a bit more…the choice isn't that tough.