Reader Summicron manages to both praise Jack’s review of the Dodge Avenger while also bringing up a very interesting point. Summicron writes
Baruth does the best job I’ve ever seen of answering the question:
“What does this hardware actually do?”
“What will snobs think of me if I buy it?”
This immediately made me wonder what vehicle is most unfairly maligned by the auto press and popular opinion?
The Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger are most frequently singled out by the automotive media and armchair auto execs as some of the biggest stinkers for sale right now, but as Jack’s review shows, they really don’t deserve the bum rap they get.
My own nomination is “any crossover”. The amount of hate that this segment gets is, in my opinion, totally unjustified. I was at a launch event not too long ago where I overheard a fairly prominent journalist (in terms of access and audience, not necessarily talent) bragging that they “did not review crossovers, because who gives a fuck”. When I published a fairly positive review of the Infiniti JX35, which is guilty of being a CUV with a CVT, there were legions of negative comments decrying my fairly positive assessment. Such a vehicle was evidently a capital crime against all that car guys stand for. Meanwhile, the notion that some people want a CUV for any sort of rational reason seems to dumbfound a very vocal minority. Clearly, millions of consumers each year continue to make the wrong choice and must be re-educated. I still think the CR-V is brilliant (but boring to drive, yes).
But my real nomination will come as a shocker to many of you who insist that TTAC is nothing more than a propaganda arm for a nefarious anti-GM conspiracy. Are you ready for it? It’s the Chevrolet Malibu. I had the chance to drive the 2LTZ with the 2.0T engine and, well, it wasn’t bad. I wouldn’t say it’s top of the class, but there’s no way that it deserves the absolute dog-piling that the critics gleefully participated in. The 2.0T powertrain was quite powerful and dare I say smoother than in the Cadillac ATS, MyLink was simple to operate and it made a comfortable cruiser along I-95. The back seat was a bit small, but not enough to upset my brother, who is 6 feet tall and wears a size 48 suit jacket. And the trunk was certainly generous. I generally concurred with Michael Karesh in thinking that it was a pretty good car. It seems like the Malibu just became the unfortunate whipping boy for a journalistic corps that couldn’t tell human excrement from Swiss chocolate. The again, I haven’t driven the other versions, and Karesh was none too impressed with the eAssist. But who cares what I think? Let me know in the comments.