Chevrolet Malibu Driving Impressions

Just a quick note on the Chevrolet Malibu, a National Rental Car example I am driving this week.  In the Chevrolet range the Malibu slots between the Impala and the upcoming Cruze, or the current Cobalt.

The current Malibu is on the GM Epsilon midsize FWD platform.   This is a good thing, because it is a very good platform.  GM has continued development of the Epsilon as the Epsilon II.  The upcoming Cadillac XTS is likely to be on the Epsilon II platform.  Epsilon II is adapted for FWD or AWD.


This Malibu is a flex fuel vehicle, which means that it can run on E85 Ethanol Fuel.  E85 is 85% renewable Ethanol, and only 15% oil based Gasoline.  I think we could get people much more interested in E85 cars if they were rated by only the gasoline portion.  The Malibu using E85 for 100 gallons for say 3000 miles would only use 15 gallons of ‘gas’, for an effective 200 mpg of actual fossil fuel used.


This Malibu has the LZ4 3.5L OHV V6.  Retail Malibus come with either the Ecotec 4 cylinder or the 3.6L DOHC V6.    I really have enjoyed the similar 3.6L LY7 V6 in my CTS, and I am a big fan of the Ecotec 4-cylinder series.  No bad choices here.

The 3.5L V6 has aluminum heads, an iron block, overhead valves, and limited variable valve timing. The 3.5L V6 was offered as an upgrade for special order fleet vehicles, (like National) to replace the Ecotec 4 cylinder engine, and generally was not available for retail customers.  This is the current example of the OHV V6 series that have largely been replaced with the 3.6L DOHC engines.  In the Malibu it makes a respectable 217hp and 220 lb-ft of torque.


Overall the interior is well laid out and functional. I like the contrasting colors quite well.  The Malibu seems like a very good value.

Driving Impressions: The Malibu has very good low end torque, as you would expect from the OHV LZ4 3.5L  V6.  It is very maneuverable and responds well as I found since it seems everywhere I need to go on this trip requires a U-turn or two.  The controls are well laid out.  It is not a Cadillac, but I think this would be a good choice for most families for a family car.

Ask Patty what’s cool and high tech? Chevrolet Volt

Quick note that Ask Patty included the Chevrolet Volt in their blog

More Choices than Ever Before – The Alternative Cars of the Future

The New Volt Takes You Farther
General Motors celebrated its 100th birthday this month with a new Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (E-REV), the Chevrolet Volt also displayed at the Santa Monica AltCar Expo. Aerodynamics was one of the key motivations for the design of the Volt, especially since it plays a big role in driving range.

The 16-kWh lithium-ion battery provides electricity for trips up to 40 miles. The battery works with a gasoline/E85-powered engine generator that sustains charge. When the battery is depleted, it can extend the car’s range for hundreds of miles so consumers do not have to worry about running out of electricity. Because of its charging technology, the Volt can be charged in less than three hours on a 240v outlet. Moreover, GM estimates that the unique system only costs two cents per mile while under gasoline- and emissions-free battery power. The Volt is scheduled for production at the end of 2010.

All good, all correct, and exactly the type of facts that GM and Chevrolet need for real people to know. The Volt is a revolutionary automobile.

Compare:  I paid $3.45/gallon of regular unleaded today.  If I got 20 mpg city that would be $0.1725 per mile.  The Volt will cost around $0.02 per mile for the first 40 miles of electric charge (all the range most people use in a day).  At today’s gas prices that will cost the same ($3.45/.02) as if the Volt got 172 mpg!

Bob Lutz: Colbert Report an experience like no other in my career

Bob Lutz went on the Colbert Report last night to discuss the new Chevrolet Volt. The Colbert Report is a ‘comedy news’ satire done by Stephen Colbert as a parody of a right-wing news / opinion program.   Mr. Lutz blogged his impressions of the show on the GMBlog.

You can see the entire Sept 17 Episode of the Colbert Report at the Comedy Central site here after a brief commercial.

Some basic information and facts about the Chevrolet Volt came out during the improvisational interview / discussion.  Nothing new to report, but it is important to inform new audiences about the basics about this new model and new drivetrain technology.

Overall in my opinion it went well, and I am glad to see General Motors executives participate in this type of opportunity.

Jalopnik’s coverage of the show.