New Chevy Malibu: Six Into Four Does Go
While we await GM's next Next Big Thing, one of The General's generals is touting one of its last next big things: the new Chevrolet Malibu. Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, Chevy Chief Ed Peper revealed that "38% of Malibu buyers are trading in a non-GM vehicle, another key goal, and that the Camry is the car most frequently traded in." So, what time period are we talking about? Since the new 'Bu debuted? Last month? Quarter? Not specified. If Ed's talking about March, 38 percent of 15,082 total sales equals 5731 Camry defectors. During that same month, Toyota sold 40,487 Camrys. Oh, are those stats for ALL Malibu sales– including fleets– or just retail? Not specified. But hey! The International Tribune reports that GM's new six-speed gearbox has finally made it to the four-cylinder Malibu. What's more, it bumps highway mpgs by two, beating Camry and Accord by one (and equaling the Malibu Hybrid's highway rating). Unfortunately, the new 'Bu's new box is restricted (until next year) to the $27,745 LTZ trim level– $7500 more than the four-speed base 'Bu. Or $7975 more than the base, five-speed Camry. We now return you to your regular cheerleading.
Mj0lnir: "It's not until you respod to me that you bring up reliability and driving 'feel'". Am I under some sort of obligation to you to describe every little factor that added up to, "I am willing to spend more on this '86 Volvo than that '86 Chevy?" No. "A nicer car" and "it was worth it," covers it all. Quite a few things added up to, "this is damned nice, we can afford it, we're buying it." It was gravy that the car lasted for a long time with little trouble. Mj0lnir: "Based on what you’ve posted, it seems that you should be willing to buy a vehicle that is generally rated as the better driving car and that also comes with more gears and better mileage, particularly when the firms producing the two vehicles in question are undergoing reliability and brand image shifts." What reliability and brand image shifts are those? It sure as heck isn't one that I've seen. I have 4 Toyotas that are 100% trouble-free at mileages where I used to throw cars away. And "better rated" by who and for what? My personal rating of my Toyotas is "perfectly satisfactory in every way and saves me money." Do you have a better rating than that? No. I switched from GM to Volvo because GM didn't offer what I wanted. It also was an opportunity to learn what I should have learned from CR, that cars can be very reliable. I switched from Volvo because they didn't offer what I wanted. And then I learned that Volvo wasn't the last word in reliability, either. From here on, I get a lot of my decision help from CR. Now, you can quibble about my decisions and whether or not they're personal predudices or whatever you like but the fact is, Chevy's penny-pinching ways cost them a sale in 1986 when they didn't put the fuel-saving transmission into the 4-cylinder car. Today, Chevy history repeats itself when they force you into an upscale trim to get the fuel-saving transmission. If I were in the market for a Malibu, I certainly wouldn't be in the market for a loaded Malibu, I would be in the market for a base Malibu with good fuel economy. 22 Years later, Chevy still disappoints. History also repeats with the Cobalt. They will soon release an upgraded Cobalt that gets 36mpg on the highway. Bravo! However, it's not improving the LS/Special Value Edition (or whatever they call it now). To get good fuel economy, you have to buy up. Screw that. And, by the way, for the kind of money they want for a Malibu, I can get a Prius and I probably would. Times change. Getting good fuel economy was always a factor for me, even in 1986 when gas was $0.95/gallon or whatever. Nowadays, at $3.42 and probably going up, It's more important. The Prius might not have the same characteristics as my Volvos but 45mpg is a powerful argument in favor of it that GM isn't prepared to make on ANY of their cars.
Mj0lnir: "When you make assertions about a manufacturer and product, and then go on to make statements that appear to contradict your assertions, you do need to describe other factors that influenced the decision." No. What I wrote covered it. I could list quite a few things, which are covered by "Was it worth it?" and "Yes." The fact that I bothered to cite two specifics does not imply a comprehensive list, even if you choose to interpret it that way. Mj0lnir: "As far as “better rated”, go read any comparison of the Camry and Malibu. Most journalists/bloggers, including the ones here, rate the Malibu as a better driving car with a nicer interior than the Camry, particularly in the higher trims." And how are any of those reviews of more value to me than, "switching to Toyotas saved me money?" You might recall that the automotive landscape is littered with cars that initially reviewed very well and, ultimately, sucked. I like a car that drives well. I want good fuel economy. I do insist on a certain feeling of solidity. Most features are negotiable because the car is, day in and day out, a transportation device and expense. "Saves me money" wins over a lot of factors that begin with "I like." At the moment, there's one manufacturer that has given me a very good track record in that regard. People that expect me to discount this are nuts. And the Malibu might be arguably better (I note you mention better fuel economy but we know I can't have the gas-saving transmission with the 4 for a reasonable price) in some ways but it's doubtful in the extreme that it's "better enough" to make a bit of difference.
Frank Williams, I know it has been a few days but would you mind explaining what the numbers you posted on 23-April-2008 at 2:42pm in response to jthorner's question actually are? From the context, it's not clear to me what they represent. Thanks.