By on September 30, 2017

2017 Ford Fusion - Image: FordAcross the U.S. auto industry, there are a number of auto brands that are actually selling more passenger cars in 2017 than in 2016: Jaguar, Lincoln, Infiniti, Subaru, Volkswagen.

Some specific models, many with all-wheel-drive availability like the Audi A5, Subaru Impreza, and Volkswagen Golf, are enjoying far greater sales success this year than last.

But you know the story. Generally speaking, Americans are buying far fewer cars now than they used to. From more than 50 percent just five years ago, passenger car market share is down to 37 percent. Nowhere is this more obvious than at traditional domestic manufacturers, the Detroit Three. (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Malibu Premier vs. Malibu L - Images: Chevrolet.comSometimes the little things make a big difference. Body color door handles, for example, can take a simple compact car from appearing fit for penalty box duty to appearing worthy of driveway placement. Swap those black side mouldings and matte black mirror housings for body color paint and you’re home free.

In other instances, the absence of foglights in foglight housings turns a decent front fascia into a disappointment. A bigger front air dam has the potential to suggest the addition of horsepower. Chrome window surrounds, upgraded lighting, metallic paint, and red-trimmed grilles can add a premium aura to otherwise pitiful products.

Oh, and don’t forget the wheels. Wheels can cover a multitude of design errors.

But does any car benefit more from big, stylish wheels; body colour mirrors; and LED daytime running lights than the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu? And does any car suffer more from small wheels with puffy tires, black mirrors, and stock lighting than the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu? (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Equinox vs Impala/Cruze/Malibu - Images: GMIn June 2017, General Motors reported 29,182 U.S. sales of its Chevrolet Equinox, the company’s most popular non-truck model in America.

A 49-percent year-over-year improvement made June the best month for the Equinox since May 2015.

Combined with sharp declines from Chevrolet’s three mainline sedans, it also made the Equinox more popular in June than the Chevrolet Cruze, Malibu, and Impala combined.

As if we needed more evidence that Americans want crossovers, not cars. (Read More…)

By on June 16, 2017

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Fairfax, Kansas - Image: General MotorsIn September 2017, General Motors will be forced to lay off a large number of workers at its Kansas City, Kansas assembly plant where the Chevrolet Malibu is built.

Only two days ago we learned General Motors would stretch the Fairfax assembly plant’s summer shutdown by an additional three weeks — from two to five in 2017 — because of excessive Malibu inventory. But as GM seeks to maintain a more reasonable grip on incentives than in the past, the only remaining way of reducing an inventory glut is to stop building so many cars.

Unfortunately for some of GM’s Kansas employees, the announcement of a temporary shutdown — the third this year according to the Kansas City Business Journal — will be an insufficient means of reducing stock. The Kansas City Star reports the number of shifts at the plant will be reduced to two in late September.

After Chevrolet’s U.S. midsize sales rapidly elevated to a 36-year high in calendar year 2016 during the ninth-generation Malibu’s launch, volume has declined hard and fast in early 2017. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Malibu - Image: GMThe U.S. auto industry is shrinking. But only by a little bit.

Auto sales through the first five months of 2017 are down just 2 percent, a drop of roughly 140,000 sales across the entire industry. Aside from high inventories and rising incentives, it’s not all doom and gloom. 2016 was the highest-volume year in the history of the American auto industry — a 2-percent drop is hardly catastrophic.

This is therefore not 2009, when virtually every new vehicle suffered decreased volume. Many new vehicles are surging, selling significantly more often this year than last.

But in a declining market, many other nameplates are in fact losing sales. Many sales. We’ve compiled a list of the 10 volume nameplates losing U.S. sales most rapidly. (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

A striking neo-classic, the 1985 Armaretta

Initially, I drove to Penmar Golf Course expecting to find a Rolls-Royce.

My partner Leslie (a fine car spotter herself and the originator of the “Parked in Drive” name) mentioned seeing a swoopy car with a “flying lady” radiator mascot parked there for sale. When I pulled into the parking lot and saw this tan-on-brown behemoth, it was clear the Rolls was gone, replaced by something far more fascinating.

All the typical cues — separate fenders, landau top, whitewall tires — indicating a classic car also placed it in that most self-contradictory of categories: “Neo-Classic.” The coupe’s “bustle-back” trunk initially reminded me of the last Cadillac design approved by Bill Mitchell, the second-generation Cadillac Seville (which, in turn, took inspiration from the mid-1930s “Razor Edge” Bentley), and gave me a useful spread of dates to search: 1980-1985.

(Read More…)

By on December 2, 2016

1992 Nissan Altima (public domain)

I had somewhat of a unique high school experience, in the sense that it was the most after-school special, stereotypical experience possible. I went to a suburban school with just the right amount of ethnic diversity — which is to say that even the black and Hispanic and Asian kids listened to Pearl Jam and wore Ralph Lauren.

When it came to our first cars, we didn’t just go down to the local dirt lot and buy something with our savings from fast food jobs. No, we were spoiled brats who were given sensible compact to mid-sized sedans by our parents. We didn’t lust after MK II GTIs or Geo Storms — no, we sat around the lunch table in 1994 and debated the merits of the fifth-gen Honda Accord, the basic but steady Ford Taurus, and the GOAT XV10 Toyota Camry, especially the blingy “American Edition.”

As for me, I had my heart set on the recently introduced Nissan Stanza Altima.

(Read More…)

By on October 20, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

The sport package, long associated with entry-level vehicles boasting questionable rear spoilers and not much else, remains a puzzling fixture in the automotive landscape.

For low-end imports — rebadged or otherwise — this package historically meant a swoopy graphic plastered along the bodyside, supposedly meant to alert bystanders to the vehicle’s blistering, paint-peeling speed. For others, it simply meant nicer wheels and a spoiler. Ideally a large one, so those same bystanders could ponder the downforce needed to keep a midsize, front-wheel-drive sedan’s tail planted. Rarely was there an addition of a single extra horsepower, and most lucid people knew this.

Chevrolet is keeping this tradition alive, resurrecting the sport package for its 2017 Malibu. However, while the current generation Malibu bowed to positive press, several changes coming for 2017 contain hidden downsides. (Read More…)

By on July 22, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

Driving off the dealer lot in a longed-for new vehicle is one of life’s richest pleasures, but there’s no joy if a buyer can’t find the chariot of their dreams.

Now, imagine that your dream ride is a gray Chevrolet Malibu — a 1LT model with two common options. Doesn’t that seem like an attainable goal? Shouldn’t be too hard to find, you’d think, right? Well, one would-be buyer says otherwise. (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2016

Renaissance Center At Night Circa January 2011

It was 8:18 p.m. on a Sunday night, and the situation was seeming grim. I had just returned a press car to the Parking Spot at the Philadelphia airport, and not a single rental car agency in Philly was willing to rent me a car.

A combination of poor communication and piss-poor planning on my part made it necessary for me to drive home nine hours through the darkness of Appalachia just so I could turn around and leave again in the morning. I had been awake since 6:00 a.m., and it seemed likely that the clock would make three full rotations before I’d shut my eyes again.

Through deceit and sheer willpower, I saw the bluegrass of central Kentucky at 5:07 a.m., but not before I discovered a few things about myself, not all of which I wanted to discover.

(Read More…)

By on June 14, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Malibu LT

We were in our Honda Odyssey last Saturday, transporting our dog to a special canine event 20 miles from our home, when the gorgeous 2016 Mazda6 was taken from our house and a Chevrolet Malibu was backed into the driveway.

Not the ninth-generation Malibu, a car which drew my ire in a TTAC review last spring. This is the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, a follow-up to the abbreviated ninth-gen car that chronically underperformed despite GM’s swift (and insufficient) response to early critiques.

Surely I’m no different from many of you. I’m predisposed to disliking Malibus, not because of inexplicable inner bias or a distaste for the Bowtie or a fondness for Honda Accords, but because the Malibu has spent much of the last two decades sucking. The eighth-generation car, which GM sold from 2008 to 2012, was an exception, but its two immediate predecessors were sad examples of the midsize breed. The 2013-2015 Malibu was a step backwards. As a result, the Malibu name conjures up memories of wooden dynamics, harsh interiors, strange noises, and pitiful styling.

Yet with each passing day of its stay at GCBC Towers, I’m steadily finding more and more things to like about the new 2016 Chevrolet Malibu.

What’s happening to me?
(Read More…)

By on June 2, 2016

2016 chevrolet impala

Summer’s here, and it’s never been a better time to please, please buy one of our cars, General Motors wants buyers to know.

The automaker plans to roll out a host of incentives during the month of June, Automotive News reports, to make up for a month that saw combined sales at all of its divisions sink 18 percent year-over-year. (Read More…)

By on March 14, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Malibu, Image: © Jack Baruth/The Truth About Cars

“Would you like a Ford Fusion or a Chevrolet Malibu?”

“Is it the new Malibu?”

“Absolutely. I’ll pull it around.”

“This isn’t the new Malibu.”

“It’s a 2016.”

“There’s a newer Malibu than this. Let’s take a look. Well, at least it’s an LTZ. And I just need it for a quick trip to Pittsburgh and back. What the hell. One last ride. As Thoreau once said, let’s try being the new man in the old clothes.”

“Thor who?”

(Read More…)

By on February 19, 2016

2006 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx rear three-quarter in California junkyard, Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars

The Malibu Maxx was a funny looking, crypto-station-wagon version of the 2004-2007 Chevrolet Malibu (which was itself based on the Opel Vectra C). It sold poorly and is now largely forgotten, which makes it exactly the kind of junkyard car I like to find.

Yes, obscure sales flops in the junkyard have stories to tell! (Read More…)

By on April 1, 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Well, it’s, uh…different.

(Read More…)

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