Car Review – 2008 Chevy Malibu

September 2, 2008

I drove with a bunch of friends to Yosemite this weekend.  The original plan was to rent a Mazda 6, but we got a free upgrade to the new 2008 Chevy Malibu, with less than 2,000 miles on it.  The best part was that there was plenty of trunk space, so the upgrade was worth it in that regard – we completely filled the trunk, and even had stuff left over for the back seats!

It had an inline 4-cylinder engine with 169 horsepower.  Now I drive a 300+hp monster of a BMW 335i, so I was expecting a disappointing drive.  However, given my lower expectations, the Malibu did well.  It had decent pick-up, nice and comfortable at top speed.  The only hitch came when the accelerator was floored while driving on the freeway;  the engine screamed loudly, the car shuddered a bit, but it took perceptible seconds before it started accelerating.  I would be cautious about overtaking in tight situations.

The car’s exterior looks have changed a bit.  I like the new aggressive front grill.  But Chevy had better know what its doing – the grill looks like it would appeal more to younger folks; but I can’t imagine the 20 – 30 year old set buying a Malibu over a Honda Accord, a Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, or even the Ford Fusion.  So they might completely miss their current older market segment, who might prefer a more relaxed look.

The interior is nice and relaxed, though, and very spacious, specially in terms of leg room.  I do also like that there is a single “info” button on the steering wheel, which gives you major car data, including tire pressure.  Thing to note, though – seemed our tire pressure readings were off, way off.  The interior has no major bells or whistles, but that’s ok in this price range.  

Ok, on to the one major flaw – you can’t drive it aggressively on turns.  The car can’t maintain its grip, and skids if you aren’t driving carefully.  Again, that means the Malibu is really for the 40+ age group, or at the least for the cautious and conservative type…. who like a dash of danger, delivered by the grill.

2008 Chevy Malibu2008 Chevy Malibu2008 Chevy Malibu interior 2008 Chevy Malibu front grill

Finally, a close-up of the aggressive grill


Car Review – BMW 335i Convertible (1)

August 29, 2008

Part (1) of my review of the BMW 335i hard-top convertible:

Disclosure – I liked this car so much, that after test-driving over 50 cars from December – March, I bought one myself. I wanted a build that wasn’t commonly available, so had to order one from Germany… which gave me the chance to drive a lot more cars before mine arrived.

So this part of the review is the summary. And the summary is…. its AWESOME!! No ifs, ands or buts. This car is the bomb! To misappropriate a quote from Jeremy Clarkson – its like a sharp Armani suit, but one you can put on all day every day.

Want to spend a very pleasant 10 – 20 minutes? Try building your own 335i Convertible!

Saturday: 600 Miles to Solvang

August 28, 2008

After a long week light on sleep, Saturday brought the chance to celebrate with friends… and take my car for its first long-distance drive.

Aileen, a good friend from my days at LifeScan, got married to Neil. The wedding was in Solvang, with the ceremony at the old mission, and the party afterwards at the Crossroads Estate across from the Firestone winery.
The wedding was fun, I got to meet a lot of old friends. The temperature made it interesting – it was 116 degrees!!! I met a 95 year old man, who had moved to Solvang after retiring 44 years ago – he mentioned it was the hottest day in his memory.

Since I was running late, I drove on 101 instead of highway 1. The drive was amazing; I did however drive all the way with the top down, so ended up getting nicely sunburned.

Map of Solvang
Map of Solvang

I found out another thing – when the temperature climbs above 100 degrees, any speed below 80 mph in a convertible means you sweat continuously.

I left Solvang around 9:30 pm. Since I didn’t want to drive while tired, I again had to take 101. (Highway 1 takes an extra 1.5 – 2 hours). Having a new car has made me more careful – I even stopped at a strip mall after King City to take a nap. It wasn’t the smartest idea; I had planned on napping for 30 minutes, then buying a coke from McD’s and driving home. When I went to sleep, the strip mall was full and quite busy. I woke 40 minutes later, parked under the only street lamp that was still lighted, and with the entire area dark and deserted. I have to admit – I was awake and alert very fast.

Finally got home at 2:15 am. A long drive, and a very enjoyable one. I would recommend you all have a lot of friends, and buy a BMW 335i hard-top convertible. Then convince those friends to get married in Solvang. This gives you the setting for a perfect Saturday!