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.

Malibu Me (with action waist)

Flew in to Tucson, Arizona today for a meeting Tue/Wed. Rental Car Guy ™ offered either the Malibu or a Vibe, or um, yeah, either the Malibu or Vibe. I always try to rent GM cars when I am traveling and GM is one of the choices, but this made it too easy; so I got the Malibu.  I would always rent a Cadillac except for the part about not being rich and all.

Odd exchange with Rental Car Guy ™:

Me: “I’d like a map, but I am just going to the hotel tonight, the Best Western Brisas.”
RCG: “Oh, the Brisas? You can see it from here.”
Me: (slowly turning to where he is pointing in my best ‘I just got off the plane’ zombie with action waist moves) “Oh?”
RCG: “No, you can’t”

I suppose he was just not expecting someone to actually look to see if he was right.

I will be here  a couple of days, and will plan to post more impressions of the Malibu.


The Brisas it turns out is laid out like a maze, but they gave me a map on how to find my assigned room. Bruce’s Rule 1 of hotel layout:  If they have to give you a map, the hotel is not laid out correctly.  Rule 2:  if you have to drive to get from the Front Desk to your room, the hotel is not laid out correctly.  In fact, that may make it a Motel and not a Hotel.

Today GM announced that Chairman of the Board and Acting CEO Ed Whitacre has agreed to take on the role of CEO permanently.

He seems a reasonable choice all in all; GM needs a little consistency in their organization structure about now I think.

Lots of changes going on but when you start moving people around and changing products and factories and Dealers all at the same time it is a bit like trying to cut diamonds while riding a unicycle on the back of a Dolphin who is practicing but not quite getting a new jumping backflip trick.  It is hard.

I see that there is a Cadillac Dealer here in Tucson, Royal Cadillac, (formerly Don Mackey Cadillac) so I may try to pop in there Tue or Wed and see what’s going on in the local showroom.