Chevy's mid-size Malibu is a shot across the hood of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
Maybe you noticed that our coverage of the new car models and technology at the Boston auto show did not include the new Chevy Malibu. GM saved briefing the press on the car (and a spin around the block) for a separate event held last week.
The company sees the car as "defending against the assault" of Toyota's Camry and Honda's Accord, and can be regarded as relaunching Chevrolet cars as much as Chevy is launching the car itself.
One goal of the engineers and designers was to raise the "level of refinement." And this is seen by the fit and finish of the exterior, the look and feel of the interior, and the copious soundproofing features such as layered glass, composite wheel housings, body seals, and low wind-noise mirrors.
In the area of electronics, the car is packed with lots of standard equipmentNavigation using OnStar's Turn-By-Turn voice guided system; remote keyless entry; a port to connect personal electronics to the infotainment system; XM satellite radio hardware (with a three-month starter subscription); and cruise control. On the center console facing the rear seats is a 110V ac outletbecause the company researchers found many owners take portable DVD and music systems into cars to keep the kids occupied. Also available are LED tail lights, remote startingas well as a "mild" hybrid model that uses a "superstarter" electric motor to boost the gas engine and for regenerative braking.
A fully loaded Malibu comes in around $28k and EPA highway mileage is given as 30 mpg for the 4-cylinder engine (32 for the hybrid version).
I look forward to getting one for a week of driving, but for now it appears this car might be the "import beater" GM once hoped the Olds Alero (how soon we forget?) of the late '90s would be.