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: Autonews: Publisher Commentary On '08 Mailbu



megeebee
11-19-2007, 09:28 AM
PETER BROWN

Ooooh, Malibu: At last, a competitor to ... you know

Peter Brown

Automotive News | November 19, 2007 - 12:01 am EST




I drive a lot of cars. Only a few of them are head-turners, cars that inspire people to flash a smile, give you a thumbs-up, ask how you like it.

The Bentley Continental GT? You couldn't stop at a light without answering questions.

The first Lincoln Navigator, the father of huge Detroit SUV bling? People noticed it.

Any mid-sized family sedan? My well-deserved anonymity follows me wherever I drive one.

Until now.

I'm gassing up the new Chevrolet Malibu. A guy in a Honda Prelude pulls into the filling station and walks over to me.

"Well, what do you think?" he asks. "It's a great-looking car. I'm thinking of getting one."

Fortunately, I didn't have to burst his bubble.

The new Malibu is really good. The cockpit is beautiful and elegant. The four-cylinder engine is quiet and refined. At 70 mph, there's not a hint of wind noise. The car achieves a great sweet spot balancing ride and handling. This is a pleasant, happy car.

For two decades, Detroit automakers have been saying their new mid-sized sedan is taking aim at the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Chrysler recently made that well-worn pitch for the new Dodge Avenger and Chrysler Sebring.

A vivid memory of my first weeks at Automotive News: General Motors' top PR guy assured me that the new Chevrolet Lumina was WAY BETTER than the Chevy Celebrity it replaced. I hadn't realized that the Lumina was competing with the Celebrity.

The cheapness of the Lumina's interior and ragged seams fairly shouted to its owner: Sorry your life didn't turn out better.

For 1997, the new Malibu got the Accord/Camry pitch. It was a competent appliance that looked OK.

Now this car. GM design boss Ed Welburn's team hit the styling magic. The graceful lines of the sheet metal somehow communicate that this must be an expensive sedan. Even the interior plastic is good plastic, strong and solid. The plastic steering wheel feels bold.

Granted that one Honda driver does not a hit make. But some buyers are conscious of this car, and reviewers like it.

GM marketers hope the Malibu will sell a lot more copies than did its angular predecessor. They also hope it will generate more traffic for its larger sibling, the already successful Chevy Impala.

The Accord and Camry became great because Honda and Toyota plug along every day trying to get a little better. The Detroit 3 tend to reject everything up to yesterday and try to leapfrog the competition with a BIG NEW DEALIE.

The new Malibu is not a BIG NEW DEALIE. It's a stylish, refined mid-sized sedan at a fine price, maybe the best car in the segment. And if GM has patience, some of those Honda buyers will ultimately find their way into a Chevy store.

Peter Brown is associate publisher and editorial director of Automotive News.

SOURCE: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071119/ANA03/711190325/1174&template=printart

SUBSCRIPTION

megeebee
11-19-2007, 09:32 AM
What does Ford consider to be Malibu's competitor? Is it Fusion or Taurus?

wingsnut
11-19-2007, 10:18 AM
I did not have time for a test drive, but I spent a solid 10 minutes looking carefully at as much detail as I could on the new Malibu. I was mostly interested in the 4-cyl model, and I have to hand it to GM. They really produced a top-drawer mid sized car for the money. But I think it is closer to the Taurus in size, without even comparing numbers. It is certianly bigger than the Fusion anyway. But to answer your question, I would say the I4 model competes with the Fusion more, and the V6 model competes with the Taurus. That seems to split the difference for me anyway. It hits right between them, and yes people will cross shop. I question the strategy, as obviously it will steal many sales from Chevy's barely bigger Impala, but GM has other plans for the Impala, many years from now though.

So Malibu deserves all the recognition it will get in the interim, at least until the new Fusion is unveiled in a few months, then I hope Fusion gets it all back:p

Mbukukanyau
11-19-2007, 10:46 AM
Hell freezeth over.
Wings praising a GM product.. Wow!! Whats next? SobeSVT joining him?

http://www.chevrolet.com/i/pic/malibu/2008/photogallery/popup_ext_gallery01.jpg


Or will SobeSVT sing its praise like Guitarlix.
Anyways, this thing kills the Camry in all aspects other than Navigation, where GM people in the bean counting department seem to have refused to let go. But it gets the Onstar.

SobeSVT
11-19-2007, 12:18 PM
What does Ford consider to be Malibu's competitor? Is it Fusion or Taurus?
Fusion competes with the Malibu.
Taurus competes with the Impala.

Hell freezeth over.
Wings praising a GM product.. Wow!! Whats next? SobeSVT joining him?
Up to the extent where it is due, sure why not?

I think it is a very good looking car, cursed by one of the ugliest rear ends in car history. One you will hardly see at all in TV commercials and printed ads. It was as if the designers got a memo from the top that read more or less like this:


"Dear designers:

Great job on the Malibu. Unfortunately, we wouldn't know what to do with such a good looking car. So you are hereby instructed to "uglify" the car somehow. Our suggestion is, go for the rear end and if you have time left throw some ugly pixie dust in the front. We think we can manage the rest.

Thanks again,

The good ol' boyz"

This is the result:

http://us.tnpv.net/2007/WKA200711/WKA2007110651445_pv.jpg

Even though it has massive amounts of cheap hard plastic (and what car it its price range doesn't?) the interior is good looking and very well designed by the team lead by Anne Asensio, who sadly left GM after this project was finished.

Nothing out of the park, but a solid two bases nonetheless.

Or will SobeSVT sing its praise like Guitarlix.
Although I recognize that name from my GMI days I don't know what he said about the Malibu, or how he said it. I hardly read anything else than the Ford section at GMI.

Anyways, this thing kills the Camry in all aspects other than Navigation, where GM people in the bean counting department seem to have refused to let go. But it gets the Onstar.
I usually take issue with this sort of blanket statement. Especially since no one has yet compared the Malibu v. the Camry. This time however I wont say anything. You guys have been waiting too long for GM to make a decent midsize sedan, you deserve your fun.

megeebee
11-19-2007, 02:38 PM
Hell freezeth over.
Wings praising a GM product.. Wow!! Whats next? SobeSVT joining him?


In all fairness, you don't have to look too hard to find one:


Cadillac CTS. A great car by any measure.

Thread:http://www.fomoconews.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1461

megeebee
11-19-2007, 02:43 PM
Taurus competes with the Impala.

Except in the area of interiors. The Taurus interior is so much superior to the Impala's as to make any comparison almost meaningless. In its class, it is the best. Asian brands included.

(I'm feeling generous today. But even a paid GM-Forum poster would have to agree on this point)

megeebee
11-19-2007, 02:46 PM
I think it is a very good looking car, cursed by one of the ugliest rear ends in car history.



I wouldn't go quite that far. Have you seen the latest Sable?

But with all the TLC that has obviously been poured on to the new Malibu, the rear aspect is almost bewildering. I have yet to see one in three dimensions, though. Even with this, I am considering getting one next year.

SobeSVT
11-19-2007, 03:06 PM
Except in the area of interiors. The Taurus interior is so much superior to the Impala's as to make any comparison almost meaningless. In its class, it is the best. Asian brands included.

(I'm feeling generous today. But even a paid GM-Forum poster would have to agree on this point)
The Impala is easily outclassed by the Taurus in every measure, but horsepower when you equate the SS and sales when you equate the Impala's fleet sales.

I wouldn't go quite that far. Have you seen the latest Sable?

But with all the TLC that has obviously been poured on to the new Malibu, the rear aspect is almost bewildering. I have yet to see one in three dimensions, though. Even with this, I am considering getting one next year.
The Sable is what it is, you can call it dull or you can call it boring. What you cannot call it is poorly designed, which is the problem with the Malibu. It looks as if it was designed by an entirely different (and very incompetent) design team. Is oddly shaped and the stop lights don't make any sense with the rest of the design which is really good (and very VWish) and in my opinion it ruins the whole car.

I have seen many tridimensional ones and my eyes are still recovering. Rear ends ARE important. Ask JLo.

wingsnut
11-19-2007, 03:53 PM
I did not see the rear end too good, as the 'bu was backed against the wall with just enough room to open the trunk and look inside. I think they took a risk with it's styling, and is not horrible, but does not mirror the stying in front very well. I hate any round circles in tail lights, and that's Chevy's thing. I think Ford does a better job of echoing some of the bright work in front toward the rear. I hate purely red tailights. Nothing screams 70's louder to me than that.

So yes, the 'bu is a winner in value and solid styling that will appeal to many. I have not driven one yet, but I am sure that GM biased it toward a smoother and softer ride than the Fusion, which is OK, but the coming Fusion will really take it up a notch, especially in powertrain.

BTW,
I saw a video of a Twin Force equipped, AWD test car in a drag race against three other competitors (can't give more info than that) and it pulled away almost instantly and finished with about a 6 car lead in an 1/8 mile run, against some formidable competition. It was cool.

megeebee
11-19-2007, 05:51 PM
I saw a video of a Twin Force equipped, AWD test car in a drag race against three other competitors (can't give more info than that) and it pulled away almost instantly and finished with about a 6 car lead in an 1/8 mile run, against some formidable competition. It was cool.


I'm very interested in this new engine. Can you say if Ford has any plans for it beyond the MKS or Lincoln in general? (I can't imagine they'll be TOO exclusive with it). Is it transverse-mount only, or can it be configured for RWD?
Am I asking too much? I don't care. Please say what you can.

megeebee
11-22-2007, 09:25 AM
I think it is a very good looking car, cursed by one of the ugliest rear ends in car history.



Here's my nomination for that distinction:


http://cache.jalopnik.com/images/2006/06/mercury_milan_review_rear.jpg

SobeSVT
11-22-2007, 10:11 AM
Here's my nomination for that distinction:


http://cache.jalopnik.com/images/2006/06/mercury_milan_review_rear.jpg

WOW! You sure know how to hold a grudge for a long time. Anyway, even when looks are subjective, poor design isn't.

The Malibu's rear end is very poorly designed and has nothing to do with the rest of the car. You may not like the Milán's rear end but it is certainly not poorly designed like the Malibu's, which is flat, devoid of any type of curve or volume, its like an axe fell and cut off something. There is this unexplainable like going inwards which makes the rear light look misaligned.

Anyway, wait until you see one of the street and then lets retake the subject.

http://us.tnpv.net/2006/WKA200605/WKA2006050934201_pv.jpghttp://us.tnpv.net/2007/WKA200711/WKA2007110651445_pv.jpg

Mbukukanyau
11-22-2007, 06:10 PM
WOW! You sure know how to hold a grudge for a long time. Anyway, even when looks are subjective, poor design isn't.

The Malibu's rear end is very poorly designed and has nothing to do with the rest of the car. You may not like the Milán's rear end but it is certainly not poorly designed like the Malibu's, which is flat, devoid of any type of curve or volume, its like an axe fell and cut off something. There is this unexplainable like going inwards which makes the rear light look misaligned.

Anyway, wait until you see one of the street and then lets retake the subject.

http://us.tnpv.net/2006/WKA200605/WKA2006050934201_pv.jpghttp://us.tnpv.net/2007/WKA200711/WKA2007110651445_pv.jpgI do not think either of them is bad looking.
But SobeSVT thinks Malibu looks bad. I do not think so. If Malibu looks bad, what would one say of this? http://a332.g.akamai.net/f/332/936/12h/www.edmunds.com//pictures/VEHICLE/2007/Ford/2007.ford.fusion.20095388-E.jpg

SobeSVT
11-22-2007, 08:59 PM
If Malibu looks bad, what would one say of this? http://a332.g.akamai.net/f/332/936/12h/www.edmunds.com//pictures/VEHICLE/2007/Ford/2007.ford.fusion.20095388-E.jpg
That it looks great and is very well designed.

B.R.
11-23-2007, 05:06 AM
That it looks great and is very well designed.

and because it fits the rest of the car perfectly.

SobeSVT
11-23-2007, 06:06 AM
and because it fits the rest of the car perfectly.
Mainly what B.R. said, actually.

wingsnut
11-23-2007, 06:18 AM
The outgoing Fusion is easily better looking than the Malibu.
I have really only seen the new interior of the coming Fusion, and it looks far better than Malibu. It is completely new, ala the Focus, and with a heavy European flair about it. But powertrain is where the Fusion will really differentiate itself from the competition.

nsap
11-23-2007, 06:44 AM
The outgoing Fusion is easily better looking than the Malibu.
I have really only seen the new interior of the coming Fusion, and it looks far better than Malibu. It is completely new, ala the Focus, and with a heavy European flair about it. But powertrain is where the Fusion will really differentiate itself from the competition.

Styling is subjective, so whatever your preference is.

I hope the next Fusion interior looks better...it's "new!" What powertrain is the Fusion going to use?

Don't for a second think the comeptition (GM or otherwise) is asleep and not doing the same stuff Ford is doing with their next models. I've made that mistake in the past with GM.

SobeSVT
11-23-2007, 08:06 AM
The thing is that I think that the Malibu looks really good (if very derivative from the current Jetta design) and it saddens me to see it carrying that dreadful rear end. Its the only thing missing for Chevy had hit a home run.


I hope the next Fusion interior looks better...it's "new!"
That doesn't mean anything. The design of the next Fusion was locked long before the Malibu was known.

As good car as this Malibu ends up being, the most impressive thing is the relentless and efficient GM PR machine. Its like a German thing, and its doing wonder for the company's reputation. Much more than the cars.

nsap
11-23-2007, 09:12 AM
That doesn't mean anything. The design of the next Fusion was locked long before the Malibu was known.

As good car as this Malibu ends up being, the most impressive thing is the relentless and efficient GM PR machine. Its like a German thing, and its doing wonder for the company's reputation. Much more than the cars.


As was the interior design of the E2 Malibu, due in 2010. My point was that the Fusion interior better be better than anything on the market now...considering it is due in 2009.

PR machine? Aside for them $300 Million marketing budget for the 2008 Malibu, what PR machine is there at GM? You cannot buy the good press that the 2008 Malibu reviews are providing. Is it that hard to admit that the Malibu is a very good car and at the top of its class?

SobeSVT
11-23-2007, 09:20 AM
As was the interior design of the E2 Malibu, due in 2010. My point was that the Fusion interior better be better than anything on the market now...considering it is due in 2009.

PR machine? Aside for them $300 Million marketing budget for the 2008 Malibu, what PR machine is there at GM? You cannot buy the good press that the 2008 Malibu reviews are providing. Is it that hard to admit that the Malibu is a very good car and at the top of its class?
Is it? How different is it from the more upscale Aura? I don't know. Maybe as hard as it is for you to admit that Lincoln is on the rise.

nsap
11-23-2007, 09:26 AM
Is it? How different is it from the more upscale Aura? I don't know. Maybe as hard as it is for you to admit that Lincoln is on the rise.

Read the reviews. This isn't a matter of opinion.

I have already admitted that Lincoln is doing much better than it has in the last 20 years. It is on the rise. For God's sake it is about time. That does not mean I agree with the direction they are taking Lincoln, which is what I have been arguing...and a matter of personal opinion.

So there, I have admitted to Ford facts. Your turn with GM.

SobeSVT
11-23-2007, 09:55 AM
Read the reviews. This isn't a matter of opinion.

I have already admitted that Lincoln is doing much better than it has in the last 20 years. It is on the rise. For God's sake it is about time. That does not mean I agree with the direction they are taking Lincoln, which is what I have been arguing...and a matter of personal opinion.

So there, I have admitted to Ford facts. Your turn with GM.
Aren't reviews opinions?

20 years??!! That is not admitting facts but rather denying them. As far a 9 years ago Lincoln not only was beating Cadillac but all luxury makers. So much that Cadillac was caught at the end of 1998 cooking the books to deny Lincoln's lead.

Anyway, Malibu has barely been on the market for a few weeks. I will admit facts when there are facts to admit. How about that?

Keep in mind (and feel free to review this thread in its entirety) that I like the Malibu. I just hate the rear end. Talking about reviews, this is what Robert Cumberford, the design critic at Automobile Magazine has to say about this rear end:


"6. The mismatched rear lamps seem to be inspired by BMW. The whole rear is flat, banal, and uninteresting, apart from the black fake diffuser at the bottom."

And this is his overall impression:


"The new Chevrolet Malibu is a good-looking car. I don't see any significant visual design errors, inside or out. Clichs, sure, but nothing egregious. In fact, its overall design quality reminds me very much of the Lexus LS460, in that every surface and detail has been thoughtfully and skillfully treated, but after you have looked at it a couple of times, said "nice," and walked away, that's it. It's not fair to say "bland and boring" about either car, but that assessment is not far from reality. Visually, this Malibu simply does not push any of my hot buttons."

That is pretty much the way I feel about it.

nsap
11-23-2007, 10:00 AM
Aren't reviews opinions?

20 years??!! That is not admitting facts but rather denying them. As far a 9 years ago Lincoln not only was beating Cadillac but all luxury makers. So much that Cadillac was caught at the end of 1998 cooking the books to deny Lincoln's lead.

Anyway, Malibu has barely been on the market for a few weeks. I will admit facts when there are facts to admit. How about that?

Keep in mind (and feel free to review this thread in its entirety) that I like the Malibu. I just hate the rear end. Talking about reviews, this is what Robert Cumberford, the design critic at Automobile Magazine has to say about this rear end:


"6. The mismatched rear lamps seem to be inspired by BMW. The whole rear is flat, banal, and uninteresting, apart from the black fake diffuser at the bottom."

And this is his overall impression:


"The new Chevrolet Malibu is a good-looking car. I don't see any significant visual design errors, inside or out. Clichs, sure, but nothing egregious. In fact, its overall design quality reminds me very much of the Lexus LS460, in that every surface and detail has been thoughtfully and skillfully treated, but after you have looked at it a couple of times, said "nice," and walked away, that's it. It's not fair to say "bland and boring" about either car, but that assessment is not far from reality. Visually, this Malibu simply does not push any of my hot buttons."

That is pretty much the way I feel about it.


Lol. Thanks Sobe. We'll just wait for the sales data in about 6-months and go from there.

SobeSVT
11-23-2007, 10:04 AM
Lol. Thanks Sobe. We'll just wait for the sales data in about 6-months and go from there.
That sounds like the wise thing to do my friend. I enjoyed the exchange as always.

ndwariga
11-23-2007, 10:17 AM
Sobe; nsap, as we all know, styling is very subjective, one may or may not like a design.. but others will like it. Considering that some people bought the Aztek... and took it home..

Now, I would expect Ford Fusion to take into account the new Accord , new Mazda 6 and the new Malibu, which just came out, but Aura will obviously take into account the new Fusion and when it comes in 2010 and raise the bar, otherwise it would be an exercise in waste of shareholders equity.

The good thing is America is finally on its way back.
As for Lincoln, I love their new vehicles, but Lincoln and Cadillac are now as different as Acura and Lexus. They have taken very different directions

Mbukukanyau
11-23-2007, 02:15 PM
And this is his overall impression:


"The new Chevrolet Malibu is a good-looking car. I don't see any significant visual design errors, inside or out. Clichs, sure, but nothing egregious. In fact, its overall design quality reminds me very much of the Lexus LS460, in that every surface and detail has been thoughtfully and skillfully treated, but after you have looked at it a couple of times, said "nice," and walked away, that's it. It's not fair to say "bland and boring" about either car, but that assessment is not far from reality. Visually, this Malibu simply does not push any of my hot buttons."

That is pretty much the way I feel about it.That is what you need to move metal in this segment. SobeSVT, have you seen the car in person? Other than the 'insert radio here" feature, the interior is head and shoulders above other players. Lack of Navigation is also something its been criticized for, but it does have On star turn by turn....
Now you do not like the Butt, thats your opinion and you are certainly entitled to it, but, the vehicle is stunning, the attention to detail is amazing in this vehicle ... The panel gaps put the Accord to shame. You got to see it to believe.

SobeSVT
11-23-2007, 02:18 PM
That is what you need to move metal in this segment. SobeSVT, have you seen the car in person? Other than the 'insert radio here" feature, the interior is head and shoulders above other players. Lack of Navigation is also something its been criticized for, but it does have On star turn by turn....
Now you do not like the Butt, thats your opinion and you are certainly entitled to it, but, the vehicle is stunning, the attention to detail is amazing in this vehicle ... The panel gaps put the Accord to shame. You got to see it to believe.
I have seen it. I saw it in Detroit, NY and Miami. Is a really beautiful car . . . I just HATE the rear end. That's all I'm saying.

Mbukukanyau
11-23-2007, 02:34 PM
I have seen it. I saw it in Detroit, NY and Miami. Is a really beautiful car . . . I just HATE the rear end. That's all I'm saying.I hear you. Well, to each his own.
Perhaps a bowl of Turkey soup might change your perception..

I hope you had a good turkey day

SobeSVT
11-23-2007, 02:36 PM
I hear you. Well, to each his own.
Perhaps a bowl of Turkey soup might change your perception..

I hope you had a good turkey day
Thanks Mbuku. I hope you had a happy turkey day too.

I'll have that bowl of soup in your honor and take a second look. I make no promises though ;)

MaxLegroom
11-29-2007, 08:07 PM
It's interesting to see the reviews this car is getting. I've had the opportunity to drive one recently, I've been in Pensacola on business. No, the car was not a rental, but one I test drove at a dealership. It was the most basic Malibu available, and the price doesn't crack 20K. First thing I have to note is that the engine is indeed quiet. The Prius, like the one I drove to the dealer, is known for not having a exhaust note. Most of the time the Malibu is that quiet. I also think that a last minute change was made. In the brochure I was given, it said that the blue LED lighting on the console was standard on the LTZ, yet it was there in the LS I drove. I like that touch, as I tend to drive a lot at night, and like when a good bit of thought is given to that part of the experience.

It's hard to judge handling in a city that is as largely right angles as Pensacola is. I realize that it's hardly enough to say that it seemed more communicative than the aforementioned Prius (which requires a safecracker's touch to detect steering feel), but aside from the fact that the ride was smooth in that way you don't notice until it's over and you have time to think of it, I'll have to wait until I get one on a twisty two lane road to say a lot more.

One point worth noting is that the car I drove had the Cocoa/Cashmere interior, this two tone combination does a fair bit to make the interior an interesting place to be. I'd wish for colors keyed to exterior colors, but it would have been the same if that were the case in this tan metallic car. I'd want a five speed manual, like the one I've enjoyed in a Fusion. I'd like a tail light treatment that says Chevrolet as well as the front conveys that message. However, at the price of this car, I'd about feel like I was stealing it. That's good news.