The Malibu Eco's FORTUNE Has Been Read, And It Looks Like "The Hanged Man"

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

“It’s nice to be liked,” my future third wife Liz Phair sings, “but it’s better by far to get paid.” When your humble author began a vigorous program of auto-media meta-criticism under the guidance of the august Robert Farago a few years ago, I expected to be hated by my peers, and I was. I expected to be shunned by the industry PR people, and I was. I even feared I might be the subject of underhanded personal attacks designed to cost me my job, my home, and my ability to feed my son, and I wasn’t disappointed in that, either. The only thing I didn’t expect was to be emulated.

Now we have the nice folks at FORTUNE doing their own meta-critical review-the-reviewers, complete with double helpings of cynicism and supposition. Their target: The new Chevrolet Malibu ECO. They credit TTAC’s own Michael Karesh with being “an early sign that consensus was building” on the car. And the verdict?

The article title res ipsa loquitir and all that jazz: The Most Disliked Car Of The Year (so far). FORTUNE editor Alex Taylor charts the media’s desperate, fawning attempts to like the underwhelming underAchieva even as the evidence for the vehicle’s utter fecklessness stares them in the face. I won’t bother to excerpt the article: you can go read it if you’re interested, and the whole thing is worth reading.

This article is important, because it points out three important facts:

  • The new Malibu sucks. It’s probably worse than the old one, which was only really good when viewed against the two-generations-ago Japanese competition. We all kind of knew that, though. GM’s inherent inability to capitalize on success almost guaranteed that the new ‘Bu would disappoint. The company continues to sabotage itself as if it were 1955 and the government were anxiously considering trust-busting it, rather than anxiously considering when the RenCen Fools will need another billion-busting bailout.
  • The media really didn’t want to let anybody know that the new Malibu sucks. And why should they? The real customers of the auto media outlets are the PR people, not the buyers. Why give a shit about some sad-sack single mom out there trying to buy a decent car when your very good friend from Cadillac is ready to send you some place like this? Everybody who wrote a negative review of the new Malibu had to face the unpleasant fact that, although they’d never meet the families they’d no doubt spared from buying that piece of crap, their friend in Chevrolet PR was going to be sitting next to them at the next Vail/Napa/Jackson Hole/Las Vegas $250-a-plate dinner, and that friend was going to be upset with them.
  • The edifice is collapsing. Thank G-d. The day is coming when it won’t be possible to ride the gravy train by writing fawning garbage any more. There are too many competing sources of information. The arbitrage of information is coming to an end. The good guys are going to win.

I will repeat it, and I believe it. The good guys are going to win. The cream will rise to the top. Bad cars will be shamed. Good cars will be praised. The journosaurs will disappear as the comet of globally instant information strikes their dark little planet and snuffs out their lives. The good guys are going to win. What would Liz say? Hmm… how about “I believe we have things to do. I believe in myself, and I believe in you.”

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3 of 69 comments
  • Conslaw Conslaw on Jul 16, 2012

    Other than cost, the problem with the Malibu Eco as a rental is trunk space. The hybrid components eat into the trunk space. The Buick Lacrosse with the Eco is worse than the Malibu.

  • Huh Huh on Jul 16, 2012

    Jack, what made you post the link to the Maserati review? Is it something about the car itself that you've driven and have had a contrary experience with? Or is it just an extreme example of fawning drivel? For the record, I wholly agree with the sentiment in your post.

    • Huh Huh on Jul 18, 2012

      I ask because I own that car and it bugs me that, for example, everything electronic related (nav, bluetooth, stereo, even hvac controls) is complete trash, but never have I read a review that calls these things out. It's looked at as so "aspirational", something in its own class where these things shouldn't matter, because it's supposedly too special. But when you spend any significant amount of time in a car, those things matter a whole hell of a lot. It sticks in my craw that yes, the reviews for that car, more than most, are truly fawning garbage.

  • FreedMike I guess it's good to hear they finally made the third row livable - the one on the old RX was a joke - but, man, is this generic-looking.
  • Alan I read the front wheels are driven by the engine and the rear wheels by electric in the hybrid. I also find it odd it isn't offered as the 2.4 hybrid with 250kw on tap.
  • KOKing That base hybrid system must be something other than the normal Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive, since that uses the two electric motors as the ('CVT') transmission without a separate transmission of any kind.
  • Analoggrotto Too much of the exterior is shared with the Grand Highlander. Toyota/Lexus is clearly over extended here as this was rushed in direct response to the Kia Telluride which has decimated RX sales. Lexus was not such a major offender of just changing the front and rear end caps on a lesser Toyota model (this worked for LX / Land Cruiser as the latter is already expensive) but for such a mass market vehicle, buyers will notice and may just go to Toyota (or Kia) for their big SUV.
  • Crtfour I'm a BOF SUV fan. In my opinion it's certainly not a looker (but what is these days). But it does look the part and should be great off road. Plus kudos to Toyota for retaining actual shift levers. So I give it a thumbs up.