By on March 31, 2008

200810best_1_gallery_image_large.jpgIn a refreshing break with tradition, Patrick Bedard at Car and Driver admits to a lingering skepticism about the Malibu's glowing introductory reviews.  There's just a wee bit of history that informs his doubts: forty years of glowing reviews by C/D of pre-production GM cars that failed to life up to their hype. The most notorious example cited was the gusher of praise heaped upon the notorious X-bodies (Citation, etc.) based upon "specially prepped" pilot cars provided by GM. Although the Malibu managed a third place finish in C/D's recent comparo of sedans, Bedard admits that his employer's intro of GM's latest "import killer" might have (once again) raised hopes to unrealistic levels. The truth feels good, doesn't it Patrick?

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49 Comments on “C/D’s Resident Skeptic Comes Clean About the Malibu...”

  • avatar

    I read the piece and was kind of surprised at the honesty. Maybe he should take an evening job writing for TTAC!

    Maybe he’s just tired of the usual BS and felt like writing truth for a bit of fresh air.

    GM X-cars SUCKED. Almost as badly as Vegas did.

    My father once told me when I was a young teenage car nut (now I’m just an older car nut) that GM (specifically) Chevrolet could sell a Donkey with a bow-tie tatooed on it’s ass (pun intended) and it’d sell.

    He also told me that if I even remotely wanted to buy a GM product, to avoid the Chevrolet dealer and go pay a little more for a badge-engineered Buick, since every Chevrolet salesman always copped an attitude about “well if YOU don’t want our Chevrolet (name the POS), someone else will” and were insufferably arrogant.

    How the mighty have fallen.

  • avatar

    Why are we still talking about 30 year old cars? You know what? Hondas from the ’70s and ’80s rusted out like it was nobody’s business, yet that’s not consistently brought up as a ding to the 2008 cars.

    As with any new car, we’ll have to wait to see how the quality pans out. The 2007 V6 Camrys had issues, as I’m sure you all remember.

  • avatar

    The Malibu is a badge engineered Aura. The Aura didn’t save GM despite all of its hype at the time of market introduction, and neither will the Malibu despite all of its hype. The Malibu/Aura certainly is not a ‘game changer’ like Maximum Bob philosophized about, but is GM’s best midsize effort in years (decades? forever?) and is a competent car. The first thing I thought about when I checked out the Malibu was that all the hype in the media was payola/ad revenue driven.

  • avatar

    Buick61 is correct, Edmunds has a current model Camry in their long-term fleet and it’s an eye-opener.

    I returned from Las Vegas this past weekend and noticed that a good number of the taxis now running around the Strip are brand new Chevrolet Malibus. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is dependent on one’s perspective I guess.

  • avatar

    Could it be that Patrick Bedard is merely epxressing out loud the opinion of folks that are his age. After so many years of reading reviews on a variety of cars with differing results once they are on the market for a few years.

    We are all a little cynical and skeptical of any new model or offering from any manufacturer. Its the job of the various buff publications to express initial enthusiasm.

    The Malibu is a landmark car for GM, is it that much better or worse than the competition? Is it the virtues of the car or the virtues of the financial package that move iron.

  • avatar

    Malibu is a nice car. Time will tell as to its’ success (or failure). But why all the vitriol hurled at it?
    Buick61 is 100% correct. 2007 Camry has many issues, yet no one (here anyway) calls it out.

  • avatar

    Is this the ‘aha’ moment where we all declare the Malibu to be trash, despite TTAC giving this car four-stars?

  • avatar

    I don’t think the point of this is “GM sucks” as much as “GM’s history sucks” and that all of the skepticism that comes along with YEARS of shitty cars sticks around a lot longer than years of shitty cars followed by years of dependable, durable, well-built cars. Honda, Toyota, and (to a lesser extent) Nissan, are in the “Yeah, we may have made a shit car 30 years ago, but that hasn’t happened in 30 years.” But, GM is in the “We’ve made shitty cars for some time now, and while we’ve said that all of them were great, we want you to STILL believe us.” While the last few years have been quite successful, people who have lost significant amounts of time, money, and stress have long, long memories.

    And if the Camry’s having problems, I don’t doubt we’ll hear about it on TTAC, but I have yet to see it quantified in a meaningful way, much the same way I have yet to see the Aura’s reliability quantified in a meaningful way to indicate that it’s as good as presumed.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    quasimodo: Is this the ‘aha’ moment where we all declare the Malibu to be trash, despite TTAC giving this car four-stars?

    Is there a happy medium? Like “competitive” rather than “game changer”?

  • avatar

    Is that the article in question? While not entirely positive, it seems like the primary issues were with interior durability and depreciation…hardly damning, but they are 2 of the hallmarks of Toyota’s reputation.

  • avatar

    Am I the only one repulsed by all the interiors of the new mid size cars. I rode in a co-worker’s Camry last week and I have to say, it is one of the ugliest center consoles I have ever seen. The Malibu looks better overall inside, but the dash still feels awkward. The exterior styling is nice also, except for the weird two tier grill thing. It just looks out of place.

    Trying to talk my wife into a V6 Altima with a 6-speed. Mmmm, speed.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised C/D didn’t just rig the mid-size comparo with “Gotta have it” scores the same way they did in 2005 with the Mustang GT and GTO when the Mustang was on the 10 Best list.

  • avatar

    Mr. Bedard didn’t say that the Malibu was lousy, or unreliable, or a piece of junk.

    He noted that, in the past, the buff books would get excited over the latest-and-greatest GM import fighter (first Vega, then the X-cars, now the Malibu).

    Those first impressions, however, were based on carefully prepared pre-production models, and not representative of what Joe and Jane Public could be expected to receive when they signed on the dotted line. I think history has recorded how well Vega and the X-cars worked in the real world.

    Regarding the Malibu, he said that, when stripped of the hype, it is basically the third version of the Pontiac G6 (the Saturn Aura being the second version). Thus, it is unlikely to be a lemon or have some hideous flaw, as the basic components have been tested in the hands of buyers for a few years, but it is also unlikely to be the “game changer” that GM fans hope it will be.

    Which, in my opinion, is a pretty fair assessment. It’s a very good car, and one that I’m sure will offer satisfaction to those who buy it. But I don’t see anything that is going to get large numbers of satisfied owners out of their Camrys or Accords. If anything, it will most likely conquest sales from the Impala, G6 and Aura.

  • avatar

    Is there a happy medium? Like “competitive” rather than “game changer”?

    Is there such a thing as a happy medium?

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Is there such a thing as a happy medium?

    Got me there. Strike the “happy”.

  • avatar

    I was just happy to see that Bedard wrote an article about cars, rather than traffic, traffic control devices, speed cameras, etc…

  • avatar

    Pet theory time.

    First impression drives tend to compare the new vehicle to it’s predecessor more than to the competition. You really get no idea against the competition until the comparos roll in.

    The new Accord was “competing” with the old one, which after 5 years was more than able to fend off the competition. Result, the reviews were not that pumped up. (I think the previous ‘Cord suffered the same limp early reviews, styling criticism.)

    The Malibu? How couold it not seem great next to that pig it replaced. Yuck.
    Result- big “WOW” reviews.

    The head to head comparos start. The Accord wins the majority, the Altima one or two.
    The ‘Bu? Second, third, forth…
    As someone noted, it’s a good car, a viable choice.
    Game changer? Nope.

    However, I think this does give reason to question the “Bu’s “10 Best” trophy.
    Aw heck, first year 10 bests and COTYs are notoriaously emotional picks anyway.
    Let’s see if it has legs for the long haul.

    Saw all the Vegas “Bu taxis too. Doubt that it’s a great sign.


  • avatar

    Geeber: Very reasonable and well thought out comment. I agree–the Malibu (and Fusion) are competitive vehicles that will likely satisfy their owners—but unlikely to sway a loyal Accord or Camry owner.

  • avatar

    The exterior styling is nice also, except for the weird two tier grill thing. It just looks out of place.

    I thought the same thing, until I saw a recent Malibu commercial. They show a designer with a model of a Chevy truck suddenly get inspired, and start trimming away, ending up with the a model of the Malibu. So apparently, the Malibu’s front end is supposed to look like a Chevy truck.

  • avatar

    I think most of us have had a lot of bad luck over the years with GM Iron! To me reliability is the main thing with any vehicle I buy with my hard earned money and GM has not lived up to this reliability over many years, so its going to take a lot of years for GM to regain if ever its reliability over the long term. Today with all the Job losses and the sinking economy everywhere, its better to purchase some reliability.
    In the April issue of Consumer Reports General Motors is almost at the bottom for reliability, 54 out of 100! So think before you buy from this Company!

  • avatar

    To those who imply Toyotas and Hondas were shitty 30 years ago: by the standards of the day they were damn good, even if they did rust. I was very happy with my ’77 Corolla, which I had from ’85-’93, 91k-161k. I had a friend with an X-car that was dying around 8 yrs and 100k.

  • avatar

    Oh the x body! The stories I could tell. Well, maybe a couple. At tiny Duncan Buick I was lucky enough to be the new car guy/warranty mechanic in 79/80. The strange memory that stands out in my mind was hitting the gas. Or the brake. as if it had no strut system at all, it would pitch and roll right off the assembly line. After 40,000 miles it felt like… Oh, I never did see one with that kind of mileage. Usually they were traded in before then. Even then we had all kinds of band aids (and toothpicks, Rubber grommets, caulk) we used to keep customers happy for warranty work. The factory and regional reps were all scratching their heads as far as things going wrong and what dealer fixes we could come up with , real bizzare stuff the service manager told us to do. The Malibu will fare much better but still not class leading stuff.

  • avatar

    Personally, I’ve had relatively good luck with GM products from a reliability standpoint. Of course, my point of reference is “quality” products from Ford such as the Escort and Taurus. Compared to those, GM makes well-built durable cars.

  • avatar

    I don’t think winning a “comparo” really means bupkis. Whenever they do Family Sedans, they are picking things based more on performance and driving dynamics. Thus, the Camry usually does awful. However, its still the best-selling car. I guess I’d rather have the most sales (and hopefully thus, profit) than the one C&D thinks is the “best”.

  • avatar

    It’s a bit of a shame that Mr. Bedard focused on the X-body, as it invites accusations of domestic bias, etc. from the Detroit fan base.

    On one hand, I’m sympathetic to the critique. At a casual glance, it can appear to be a bit petty to look back a few decades as a source for his misgivings.

    However, I suspect that Mr. Bedard was motivated to point to that particular example due to the fact that his publication really hung its ass out on the line in its praise of the X-body, and that C/D looked pretty foolish because of it. The third place finish in the comparison test was a reminder of that.

    As was the case with the Malibu, the X-body received those accolades based upon a review of a pre-production model that, as it turns out, worked a whole lot better than the real deal. Mr. Farago continually points out this issue of specially prepared testers are designed to fool the media and lead to faulty reviews. Mr. Bedard is essentially confirming the validity of that argument, and is wondering out loud whether he did get fooled again. Given GM’s track record, I don’t blame him.

    I recall on the comment thread for the Malibu review here that I pointed out that the Aura and G6, the closest cousins to the Malibu, haven’t proven to be of above average reliability. Given that, there isn’t much reason to expect much better of the Malibu, as it shares much in common with those two cars. I doubt that it will be the sort of X-body disaster that obviously haunts Bedard’s conscience, but I expect that the feelings will turn from hot and bothered to just underwhelmed.

  • avatar

    quasimondo :
    March 31st, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Is there such a thing as a happy medium?

    A psychic with a very profitable tarot card reading business?

  • avatar

    Here are 2 lines from an article in Automotive News on who is buying the Malibu, the Japanese brands are Toyota and Nissan

    From December through February, both Japanese brands were among the 10 most frequently traded by buyers of the 2008 Malibu, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ Power Information Network.

    “You don’t generally see that with mainline domestic brands,” said Tom Libby, the network’s senior director of industry analysis. “I made a note to myself to watch this.”

    Reviving X cars 30 years later…some skeletons are better left in the closet.

  • avatar

    “From December through February, both Japanese brands were among the 10 most frequently traded by buyers of the 2008 Malibu”

    Now hold on a minute, how many brands of volume consequence are there in the US mid-sized sedan market?

    I can only think of these:

    Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Chevrolet, Ford,

    That makes six. I bet that together those six are over 90% of the retail US mid-sized sedan market.

    Having Toyota and Honda in your TOP 10 TRADED IN BRANDS list says almost nothing. It is almost like saying that new T-mobile cell phone customers included a lot of former Verizon, AT&T/Cingular and Sprint customers.

    The real question is how many GM owners traded in for a Toyota or Honda in a given time period compared to the number going the other way around. Historically the top Japanese makes have captured far more previously 2.8 owners than the other way around.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    Not to pile on or anything, but I bought an ’80 Citation based mainly on the prepro press adulation…..what a nightmare of a car. I’ll spare you the details…but I can still hum that damn commercial jingle (“the first Chevy of the eighties…”)

    Took me 15 years to come back, but I must say i’ve enjoyed the GM products I’ve had since then(and was sorry to purchase an ’89 Camry wagon, an undiagnosable transmission problem made it every bit the terror the Citation was)

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    quasimondo: “Is there such a thing as a happy medium?”

    I would be happy if I were a medium, right now I am an XXL.

  • avatar

    I had an X car, bought it from a grad student when it was 10 years old in 1993. A 1983 Slomega, faded pale pink-ish color complete with a hole where your right heel goes. Good thing the carpet was stronger than the floorboard. I think it suffered through one too many Detroit winters. It wasn’t the worst car, every so often the “check engine” light would illuminate and I would check the engine, eventually. The old 2.8 was still there, thankfully!

    I also just got a C/D mailer trying to sign me up again. $3.50/yr. for 2 years.
    I may subscribe but I’m certainly not buying a GM product anytime soon. Maybe a CTS-V.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I know that our illustrious leader has problems with the way the mainstream auto press does business. But, Bedard has always seemed to me to be a good guy. Read the following story.

    Patent System Applied to Computers posted by Philip Greenspun on 10/13/03

    Just finished Who Invented the Computer, a recent book by Alice Rowe Burks. For those of us who assumed that the modern digital computer, having been primarily funded by the U.S. and British governments, was a public domain idea, there are some eye-opening facts. Here’s the chronology:

    1939-42: John V. Atanasoff, a physicist at Iowa State College, works with Clifford Berry, a master’s student, to build a digital vacuum tube computer (Atanasoff-Berry Computer or “ABC”). …

    1941: John Mauchly, who has been working on weather calculations using analog computers, drives out to Iowa to visit Atanasoff and gets a good look at how digital circuits can be built from analog components. He reads Atanasoff’s big design document and goes home after five days of continuous meetings with Atanasoff and Berry.

    * * *

    1945: Eckert and Mauchly’s ENIAC is operational, using many of Atanasoff’s ideas without credit

    1947: Eckert and Mauchly apply for a patent on fundamental ideas in electronic computing

    * * *

    1971: Honeywell sues Sperry Rand, the owner of the Ecker-Mauchly patents, asking the Federal court to invalidate Sperry’s patents on the grounds of Atanasoff’s prior art …

    1973: Judge Earl R. Larson rules that the ENIAC was derived from Atanasoff’s innovations, that Sperry’s patents are unenforceable, …

    * * *

    The last half of the book is devoted to an academic bitchfest in which Burks talks about all of the hacks who don’t credit Atanasoff. It is interesting mostly for its discussion of exhibits at the Smithsonian and PBS documentaries. Sperry funded these projects and the non-profits obligingly ignored or downplayed Atanasoff’s contributions in favor of Eckert and Mauchly.

    The only publication that couldn’t be bought and wouldn’t be intimidated by threats of legal action was … Car and Driver magazine. Atanasoff was a hero to Car and Driver writer Patrick Bedard because he testified that a late night high-speed drive in 1937 in a V8 Ford and a few drinks in a roadhouse in Illinois had inspired a couple of the critical designs in the ABC. Bedard speculated “Atanasoff didn’t get nearly the credit due him because the [court] decision was issued just one day before the Watergrate-inspired ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ and it lacked the combination of inconsequentiality and putrescence necessary to compete for media attention.”

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    On the other hand, I am old enough to remember the chorus of hosannas that greeted the Vega. In the immortal words of Dave Berry: “A car made out of compressed rust.”

  • avatar

    Don’t forget that most Japanese cars of the 70’s were “compressed” rust, too. Funny how the “It has to be good, it’s imported” crowd tends to forget that. GM has way too much “mediocrity” inertia to overcome with just a few better than average to excellent products. They are going to have to claw their way back to respectability, just like Hyundai did/is doing. You will not be seeing loyal Honda owners jumping to Chevrolet any time soon…

  • avatar

    The problem is it isn’t just years for these kinds of shenanigans, it’s decades. That’s why Bedard is skeptical. The GM pre-production games don’t happen infrequently. They’ve happened constantly, for every crappy GM car, over many decades.

    A lot of people use C/D reviews as the basis for an automotive purchase. When GM manages to snow C/D about one of their products in a review, it reflects badly on the magazine.

    I remember vividly coming within a hairbreath of buying an X-11 based on a glowing C/D review. Aside from all the praise C/D lavished on the car, they mentioned that the car had a tendancy to pop-out of gear. The GM rep assured C/D it was a pre-production glitch that would be corrected by the time the car made it to production.

    But when I drove one at the dealer, it did exactly the same thing. I literally had to hold the gearshift down to keep it from popping out on the highway. It was really unbelievable. Needless to say, no X-11 for me. Thankfully, I was only burned a couple of times by GM crap. It wasn’t bad but I learned never to trust a review where a GM rep assured C/D (or any magazine, for that matter) that some problem was just a pre-production glitch that would be fixed on the production models. Time and again, all those road test glitches (which the GM reps swore would be fixed) made it through to production.

  • avatar

    Ah, the Vega. IIRC, advertisements bragged it was “The little car that can do everything well.” Turned out “everything” didn’t include reliability and durability.

  • avatar

    C/D is the worst “trash” in the automotive press. Like the recent “family grocery getter” comparo. C/D agenda goes like this:

    1. First and foremost, get the very best Accord EX with the biggest engine.

    2. Make sure to get the lowest-level Camry that can possibly be found. Make sure to laugh at its hubcaps.

    3. Ignore that “family grocery getter” nonsense, judge everything, as usual, on handling and performance. Family sedans, delivery trucks, long-wheelbase luxury cars, lawn tractors, bulldozers, doesn’t matter — take ’em to the track and rank ’em by handling and performance.

    4. Oh, and most certainly don’t let any actual capability for the ‘category of vehicle’ to seep into the judgement. Sure, go ahead and mention it in the article text, but then just go ahead and ignore it.

    It’s just hogwash. And, I might slide a little bit in here that TTAC also has had a tendency to slip into this kind of mindset — criticizing a cheap econocar for being a cheap econocar, that kind of thing. “So, how does it compare to other cheap econocars?” “Shew, we don’t care about actual reality nonsense like that. It doesn’t have the materials, ride, and handling of a BMW, so it’s crap.” TTAC =can= be doing better here….

    Anyway. So, since C/D will always compare cars on handling and performance, have you ever seen them compare the Camry model that actually HAS performance and handling — the SE V6 — to an Accord? “Oh, of course not!!”

    Not really trying to be a Camry fanboy here, but just pointing out the utter predictability of C/D’s Accord bias. Trust me, publications that try to compare vehicles with an objectivity towards the purpose each vehicle is essentially trying to fulfill earn my respect.

    As for the Malibu, I think there is a rather substantial amount of folks who see it as an opportunity to “try an American car for a change.” I’ve actually seen quite a few more Malibus around than the new Accord, which I think is astonishingly poorly styled. Still, I expect the Malibu will be a relative bucket of junk by the time most owners pay it off, whereas the usual Asian vehicles will still be in fine shape. And, sorry to say, I’m in the bunch that’s got to see about three decades worth of long-term reliability out of the American vehicles before I’ll sign up for half a decade’s worth of payments for one….

  • avatar

    Sometime in the late sixties, I believe, Car and Driver did a comparison test of muscle cars. As I remember, the GTO won as usual. A couple of months later, C and D admitted that ALL of the cars had been modified for the event. No thanks Patrick.

  • avatar

    Of course Car and Driver puts a heavy bias toward handling traits. They are, first and foremost, an enthusiast’s magazine. So when they put a group of competitors together, the best handling car has an extra ace in its hand. That is why they tend to favor Accords over Camrys. From this standpoint Accords are more enjoyable to drive, simple as that. For those who consider cars an appliance, there are better sources of information such as the reviews made by the peanut butter and toaster testers at Consumer Reports. There you will find more emphasis placed on room and crash tests and things of that nature. In all fairness to C/D, the best performer does not always win. It would also be fair to say that C/D is not quite the magazine it used to be.

  • avatar

    golden2husky wrote:

    “Of course Car and Driver puts a heavy bias toward handling traits. They are, first and foremost, an enthusiast’s magazine. So when they put a group of competitors together, the best handling car has an extra ace in its hand. That is why they tend to favor Accords over Camrys. From this standpoint Accords are more enjoyable to drive, simple as that.”

    Yeah, but….

    Indeed, C/D is going to ultimately base its rankings on performance and handling. That’s absolutely, 100% a given. OK, so could we ask one simple thing from them, then?

    Do you suppose they could possibly consider comparing the version of each car that handles and performs the best against each other, then?

    But, that’s where their Accord bias comes in. Oh, you betcha, they’ll make sure that they’ll get the best Accord they can find. That’s just as much a “given” as that they’ll judge everything on performance and handling.

    As for the rest of the fleet they’ll compare their “best Accord model” to, it seems to be some kind of “they don’t particularly care” what models they get, except that it does appear that they’ll spend some extra effort regarding the Camry — it’s always some low-level LE model, instead of the performance-oriented SE, or the luxury-model XLE.

    I haven’t really noticed any strong bias regarding any other cars that usually wind up in this yearly comparo, but they certainly seem to make sure that Accord will finish at the top, and Camry will do no better than mid-pack.

    All I’m getting at is that, “if they’re going to compare low-end grocery getters,” then COMPARE THEM TO THAT STANDARD. If they’re going to compare vehicles in one market segment for performance and handling, then BE FAIR AND GET THE BEST-PERFORMING, BEST-HANDLING VERSION OF EACH VEHICLE. “Not just the Accord,” thank you.

    Not that anything like that is ever going to happen. And that’s why I think C/D is basically rubbish. And this is also where quite a few less-than-professional online reviews tend to fail, by tossing any kind of “context of reality” out the window.

    To put it in golden2husky’s perspective, let’s just see C/D compare each vehicle’s “enthusiast model” to each other, rather than cherry-picking only the “enthusiast model” for the vehicles that they have perennially shown this kind of bias towards.

  • avatar

    A happy medium…would that be Patricia Arquette?

    umterp85: The new Malibu isn’t junk, but I don’t see what will cause large numbers of Camry and Accord drivers to switch rides. For the record, I like the Fusion better than the Malibu.

    william442: Car & Driver compared muscle cars in 1966, and the Oldsmobile 442 won. The 442 handled better than the Pontiac GTO. But they later discovered that Oldsmobile had “doctored” the car.

    By the late 1960s, the Mopar intermediates were winning most of the comparison test of muscle cars, if I recall correctly.

    thoots: Perhaps Car & Driver is limited by Honda’s approach to packaging its cars. It always seems to me that Toyotas have more available equipment…Hondas has more of a “take it or leave it” approach to options.

    Plus, from my experience, ALL Hondas have better handling than comparable Toyotas.

    Toyotas are Buicks engineered and built by people who really cared. They aren’t designed for handling prowess.

    As for styling – I’m not seeing where the Camry’s styling is any better or more coherent than the styling of the Accord.

  • avatar


    If you remember every muscle car from every manufacturer in their heyday was doctored in one way or another.

    You have to wonder about these Teutonic high performance sedans that constantly involved in one shoot out or another what is the extent of the doctoring. Could it be that Patrick Bedard is also making reference that he has no idea how tweaked the ECU of a press car is, and that any and every manufacturer can optimise the ECU of a press car.

    In the late 60’s one could say “is the motor blueprinted in this press muscle car” today they can say “is the ECU tweaked in this press car” same difference.

  • avatar

    Ok, Surprise, Surpirse! I have driven both and I have to admit that the 08 Camry SE does drive and handle better than an 08 Accord EX.

    While Toyota does not make a big deal (or any deal) about it the Camry SE does have some serious Chassis upgrades compared to the base and LE models.

    Before you knock the Camry SE or make a knee jerk assumtion that the Accord will naturally handle better you do need to drive both cars.

    Oh, yeah C&D does have abad habit of rigged comparo tests. The best example is the comparo test between the former IS300 and the rest of the field. First the IS300 comes in second because it is automatic only, then they retest with a stick but use an IS300 not equiped with the sport package, needless to say it loses to an underpowerd 3 series because of the handling.
    Now the catch is C&D has transposed data in the past to ensure that a particular cars is the winner. Meaning if C&D wanted to be fair they could have used the acceleration test of the 5psd manual and the handling result of the sport package equiped IS and simply inserted an *.

  • avatar

    Thanks geeber. Didn’t the Bud Moore prepared Mercury Cyclone blow up? My 442 seldom won anything-economy gearing I guess.

  • avatar

    Interesting article. I don’t think the article has anything to do with the actual cars GM and Honda/ToMoCo put out 30 years ago vs. today. The point, to me, is that GM has a long history of overpromising and underdelivering, while Honda and ToMoCo (for the most part) do not. It hardly matters how well the Malibu stacks up to the Accord and Camry. The hype from GM says “Malibu ROX, Camry SUX”, rather than “the Malibu is comparable and may be a better value”. Honda and Toyota seem to be able to sell “boring but reliable and affordable”; why can GM only sell “we’re number one!”?

    That’s the truly damning aspect of this article, to me. GM is out screaming “we’re number one, with a bullet!” about the Malibu, when really it’s probably number 2 or 3 (or 4). And that’s fine – the gap between 1 and 4 is not very big, and there are plenty of customers out there for all of these cars. But if a car company does a poor job of setting its customers’ expectations (as GM seems to be doing with the Malibu) it will cost them sales when the inevitable disappointment sets in.

    Plus, I imagine this marketing hype simply reflects an even greater amount of Malibu hype within GM, so I expect to see overestimates of demand, thus overproduction, thus fleet/fire sales, thus high depreciation, thus further downward pressure on sales, all of which will be blamed on the economy and oil prices. In other words, same old story. And the sad thing is that all of this could be avoided if GM would just pull its collective head out of its collective ass and do what every college grad learns in his first day on the job (underpromise, overdeliver). But it just… can’t… seem… to… do it.

  • avatar

    The Saturn Aura wasn’t a success for a simple reason: it didn’t initially offer a 4cyl engine and that’s what people wanted. GM marketers went upscale and offered a family of decent sixes (1990’s-think?).

    The Pontiac G6 underwhelmed because of its name change from Grand Am. Plus it doesn’t offer a stick. And the Ford Fusion really robbed its thunder. Its only viable domestic alternative is the Fusion. The Fusion is made in Mexico and it has a price advantage over the G6. The G6 is made by union members; GM can only discount it so much.

    Both the Aura and G6 should have been released with a 5sp autotranny. No excuse for that.

    It’s not fair for Bedard to compare the Malibu to the 30-yr-old x-cars. GM just isn’t the same company. I remember when the Citation was introduced. On the radio, at every break, there was a Citation ad. GM must have spent a fortune marketing that thing.

    Bad as the x-cars were, GM eventually got it right with the Cutlass and Celebrity. Those cars were bulletproof.

  • avatar

    Wasn’t the X car from 28 years ago? And didn’t it lay the foundation for future front wheel drive platforms?
    And GM has a “shitty” history? I know, all those flops like the hydra matic transmission, Corvette, GTO, the small block V8, etc. Spot on!
    As compared to other companies with no history I guess.

  • avatar

    The comparison is still valid simply because manny of the folks that purchased those POS car are still in the car market today!

    It not like GM got its act in order since that time and there were not many other GM disasters since then.

    GM today is in possession of a self-inflicted bad reputation born out of a consistant and presistant “Who gives a shit” attitude about building cars and caring for the people who had enough faith in GM to purchase said cars.
    GM is the poster child company of the “pennywise pound foolish” approach to business; save a few pennies on a plastic manifold, screw your costumers with a defect critical part, ignore the problem until you get sued and lose, now spends millions on legal fees, spend more millions to settle the suit. Needless to say that the lawyers for the plantiffs took a enormous sum from the settlement so GM FORMER agreived costumers get pennies for their dollars (no real recovery there).

    But I know, GM has its act together today!

  • avatar

    To be fair we owned an early 80’s Citation and it was an above average car. I mean to say – durable in both appearance and number of miles driven.

    My parents bought a TVA surplus Citation that had 45K miles on it back then. Base interior, automatic, air cond, power steering and brakes. It had bench seats front and back and the basic plastic everything. Mom then put about 90K miles on it and it it just worked. Looked new when they bought it and new when they sold it.

    Now compare this to my ’99 CR-V from the famed Honda Motor Company. Same hard plastic door panels and dash. Now of course the CR-V has gone “upscale” with cloth bucket seats and a thousand little details but the CR-V is not any faster, certainly not any quieter, and the mileage is not any better. The Honda has 157K miles on it and the Citation had 140-something thousand miles.

    My point is that the Honda shares some of the same short comings as the Citiation and doesn’t get bashed. The Citiation had many of the same postive qualities as the Honda and yet does not get the praise.

    And for the record everything from the 70s rusted especially anything that relied on paint as a rust preventative like my VWs, Toyotas, and Hondas.

    Hopefully GM will prove that their latest products are quality products (takes time) and that they keep making little improvements just like the Asian companies do to make their products better and better. I’d hate to see them start all over AGAIN and thus have to start all over again fixing their quality problems.

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