Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The $15,000 Question: Chevy Malibu

Most of the cars I've mentioned as part of the $15,000 Question series have had some semblance of practicality, but were geared more towards the enthusiast on a budget.  The Chevy Malibu is not one of those cars.  It falls on the practical side of the equation without any real sporting pretense.

90% of the car buying public are not car enthusiasts, or at least not rabid fanboys that squawk about things like the virtues of Porsche's PDK vs. BMW's SMG from the comfort of their mother's basements.  No, the average person thinks about what they need for the drive to work and to haul kids around on weekends.  They think about cup holders and bun warmers more than engine displacement and 0-60 times.  And at the end of a long day at work, full of emails, meetings, bad coffee, and eating at their desks, the average person wants a little serenity on their drive home.

It's the reason why Lexus has sold so well and why the Malibu makes perfect sense.

I'm not saying the Malibu is as good as a Lexus.  But it is very, very good at its intended mission.  It's very quiet, comfortable, loaded with features and has the best balance of ride and handling of any car in its class.  It's quieter than a Nissan Altima and doesn't float like a Toyota Camry.  It's also well made.  The doors close with a solid thunk and the interior is as nice as anything in its class.  Some might find the stereo and HVAC controls simplistic, but they are uncluttered, unlike the myriad of buttons on the Honda Accord's center stack.

Ten years ago, the thought of owning a Chevy Malibu, or any GM car, was laughable to anyone who had a Camry or Accord at the time.  Now it's not.  There was a time when Chevrolet made good family cars, when owning a Bel Air, Impala, or Malibu was something you could take pride in.  Some would argue that Chevy has not made a car like that since we landed a man on the Moon.  But I would argue Chevy has in the form of the 2008 and newer Malibu.            

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