Feb. 25, 2016 12:06 p.m. ET
Detroit Metro Airport. January. Twilight. The shuttle driver opened the door and the wind blasted in, glitter-bombing me along with ice crystals. Dang. Fifteen degrees Fahrenheit and a 15-knot wind. If Frozen Hell had a baseline, that would certainly be concerning it.
I stepped off the bus, bag in hand, a purgatorial figure on the parking tundra. Enjoy millions prior to me—in Omaha, in Mobile, in Wichita—I trudged toward my allotted space, breath steaming, brooding, desperate to discover meaning in the universe. Why? Why am I performing this to myself? I could have actually gained a fortune farming shellfish.
And after that I met my car. The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, which the kind homeowners at General Motors had left for me to drive about Detroit.
It was awkward, at first. I ordinarily wouldn’t grab in to something that frumpy and domestic, yet it was so cold.
No one ever has actually anything good to say concerning rental cars. yet the globe requires good rental cars, and GM has actually a plausible business case to build them. Although mid- and full-size sedan sales are tumbling versus SUV and crossover sales, four-door sedans are still bedrock American motoring culture. And yes, free of apology, a reasonable percentage of Malibus will certainly discover job in the fleet and livery trade.
What percentage? The short answer is as couple of as necessary. Percentage of fleet sales is a delicate topic, due to the fact that it directly correlates to brand and automobile residual value. This leaves automobile makers sometimes oddly sheepish concerning a automobile that’s a strike in fleet sales.
Why so shy? Cars Enjoy the Malibu are the motor pool’s most selfless players, manned by America’s quiet heroes: truant officers, chicken inspectors, soybean scientists along with the Department of Agriculture, directors of stormwater operations. Necessary technocrats, all.
As any person that has actually ever rented a automobile knows, auto makers sell stripped down versions of their product for these mega-fleets. In the case of the Malibu, the stripper is either L ($23,500) or the LS trim ($23,945)—the consumer website isn’t consistent on trim degree names—along with a 1.5-liter, 160-hp four cylinder, six-speed auto, steel wheels and cloth seats, God insight them.
Then, in traditional GM fashion, the Malibu’s trim ascends through four (or maybe 6 or seven?) levels. Our test automobile joined the penultimate trim (concerning $34,285) along with two-tone upholstery, the two tones gray, and “Blue Velvet Metallic” exterior paint.
This automobile ticks a great deal of nice boxes: a purling, faultless 2.0-liter, 250-hp turbo four along with an eight-speed transmission; 19-inch alloy wheels; 11 air bags; and a hopper full of connectivity features, including in-automobile Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and satellite radio.
The 2LZ additionally has actually remote starting, heated seats and heated steering wheel, which there in the Michigan wind I would certainly not have actually traded for a Lamborghini.
There is additionally the Premier trim ($35,650), which is all the above plus leather
upholstery. A Malibu Premier is the sort of graft you could expect if you were, say, the corrupt head of an English Department.
2016 Chevrolet Malibu 2LZ
Base price: $31,795
Price, as tested: $34,285
Powertrain: turbocharged direct-injected DOHC inline four cylinder along with variable valve timing; eight-speed
automatic transmission; front-wheel drive
Horsepower/torque: 250 at 5,300 rpm/258 lb-ft at
Overall length/weight: 193.8 inches/3,338 pounds
0-60 mph: <8 seconds
EPA fuel economy: 22/33 mpg, city/highway
Trunk space: 15.8 cubic feet
My point: The top-line Malibu is miles down the road from the renter. Our specimen was additionally fitted along with GM’s driver’s “confidence” package, along with functions Enjoy front automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-sustaining guidance and a pedestrian-detection system that is means much better compared to simply listening for the thump.
So here’s the problem: From the outside, little distinguishes the stripper version from the top-shelf trim. The wheels and tires are type of a tell, if you already know Exactly what to look for. Meanwhile, only the tippy top-degree trim gets LED daytime operating lights and LED taillamps. Conclusion: The tester costs much and looks, um, rental-y.
I cannot say I grasp the meaning of the Malibu’s styling. The front clip, which is the soft composite nose of the vehicle, hosts a veritable street fight of lines and shapes, an upper and reduced grille, a bowtie badge, blingtastic operating lights. It’s simply madness. It looks Enjoy it’s wearing a Star Wars stormtrooper helmet.
The Malibu redesign has actually gained the automobile significantly longer and bigger compared to before—note the huge back-seat space and nearly 16 cubic-foot trunk—yet it’s clear the exterior designers didn’t already know Exactly what to do along with the additional dimension. The sheet metal lays slack and tensionless, and the converging character lines along the fuselage appear pilfered from Mercedes’s scrapbook.
Still, and while it could appear the most backward of compliments, GM’s Malibu group prioritized real-globe usage and users over optics. For example: One necessity the Malibu’s silhouette is unsatisfying is that the scuttle, the leading edge of the windshield meeting the hood, is significantly reduced compared to the previous car. That gives the Malibu great close-forward sightlines, yet it sacrifices the suggestive, proud-hood effect of, for example, the Ford Fusion.
Chevrolet’s designers could have actually tented that hoodline yet didn’t. Interesting.
The story is analogous inside. The big stuff, and the hard stuff, one has actually to say, are ably handled. Under way, the Malibu along with the 2.0-liter turbo and 19-inch wheels is surprisingly light-footed, thanks in section to an aggressive diet plan that gone 300 pounds of curb weight, relative to the previous car. The turbo four spools up fast, builds torque promptly and runs Enjoy a dentist’s hand piece. It’s a wonderful little engine, at least Exactly what you can easily hear of it; cabin quiet and isolation from the powertrain and road are essential metrics for the Malibu.
Not surprisingly, provided the breeding grounds, the Malibu’s front-drive chassis copes well along with broken pavement and potholes, several of which are so big in Michigan they have actually their own names. The steering is light and agreeable. Overall the driver experience is one of minimum workload/involvement, and that’s OK.
I’m still having trouble along with GM’s color and trim department. Though I Enjoy the layout of the cabin front fairly a lot, the plastics and the metallic paint bright job still feels fleet, and the aesthetic immature. The inside of the Hyundai Genesis takes a stay with the Malibu.
Still, it’s warm. So warm.