Buy/Drive/Burn: Upmarket Brand American Midsize Sedans in 1997

We’re back with more 1997 midsize sedan action in today’s edition of Buy/Drive/Burn. They’re all on the smaller end of the midsize sedan scale, all American, and crucially, all wearing semi-upmarket branding.

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Breaking: The Chevy Sedan Is Not Yet Extinct (Though Buyers Are Working On It)

Unlike Ford, which plans to put its sole remaining four-door passenger car underground by 2021, General Motors’ Chevrolet division is not quite ready to kiss the sedan goodbye.

While the automaker did cull its compact Chevrolet Cruze earlier this year (sparking a wail of grief from a certain writer whose year-old daily driver now bears an defunct nameplate), and while the Chevy Impala is also scheduled to bite the dust come January, the long-running Malibu is said to have at least a few good years left in it.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Ace of Base A-Bodies From 1979

After our most recent Rare Rides post, your author perused The Big List of BDB Ideas and discovered a suggestion commenter Sgeffe made many moons ago. He suggested the most basic coupe A-bodies on offer in 1979. Feeling cheap? Let’s get weird.

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2019 Chevrolet Malibu RS First Drive - Curiously Viable Transportation

I thumbed the start button, adjusted the mirrors, and backed away from the coffee shop. A couple of miles later, my co-driver/navigator was distracted and we missed a turn on our route guide. I hustled around an unexpected roundabout, trying to make up time, and the mid-sized sedan dove into the corners like a much smaller car.

It’s remarkable how unremarkable the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu RS really is. I expected a dull car with dull responses and no power — which would provide ample opportunity for devastating snark. And yet, I can’t stop thinking about how surprisingly well this Chevy drives.

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Brawny, Four-cylinder, CVT-equipped Chevrolet Malibu RS Demands a Modest Price

It’s easy to make fun of what amounts to an appearance package, but appearance remains a very important part of the car-buying decision. This isn’t a Warsaw Pact country, circa 1980.

To sweeten its midsize pot, Chevrolet crafted an RS-badged version of its Malibu sedan for the 2019 model year, perhaps as a way of tempting current Redline Edition owners to trade in their rides. Once glance should tell you this thing isn’t a rental, though it still contains the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-banger you’ll find under the hood of lesser-trimmed variants. But what does extra flash and no added dash cost compared to a volume LS? As it turns out, not a lot.

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Rental Review - Mishaps With Maven

General Motors launched its Maven rideshare service in 2016 with the goal of providing renters with a taste of its vehicles, while also bringing in a little extra revenue. The service offers a wide array of vehicles ranging from small hatchbacks like the Chevrolet Spark to large SUVs like the Tahoe.

The service is available in many larger cities across the country and, since I was visiting Detroit for the auto show, I decided to give it a try to see what a potential renter might encounter. I signed up for the app and rented a couple of vehicles without notifying GM in order to experience the vehicles just as the general public would.

The vehicles were far worse than I expected.

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QOTD: Does Any Car Do a Better (or Worse) Job of Looking Good and Bad Than the Chevrolet Malibu?

Sometimes 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?

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Ask Jack: My Name Is Camry McLeod, and I Cannot Die?

“The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride f***ing with you. F*** pride. Pride only hurts. It never helps.” Recognize that quote? It’s from Pulp Fiction, of course. There’s only so much wisdom you can take out of any Quentin Tarantino movie, but if you’re looking for some, there it is.

Unfortunately for you earnest advice takers out there, the auto business runs on pride. From the websites to the styling studios, from the wash rack to the RenCen, you’ll find insecure, petty, miserable people who allow their perpetually wounded pride to make astoundingly indefensible business decisions on their behalf. Here’s an example: I once worked at a dealership that was pretty much run into the ground by a pair of incompetent, dishonest managers. The owner was despondent and he had pretty much decided to sell the franchise, but at the last moment he changed his mind, took some good advice, and brought in a fellow who was kind of a superstar but also kind of a loose cannon.

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Let's Make American Cars Great Again, While Remembering That Some American Cars Are Already Great

Make America Great Again! It’s a dynamite slogan, simultaneously implying that America has fallen a little short of greatness lately and that a return to said greatness can absolutely be accomplished in short order. It’s a winner’s slogan, and it did wonders for that noted repeat winner, Ronald Reagan. By contrast, “I’m With Her,” the current slogan of choice for Mrs. Clinton, sounds like something a henpecked live-in boyfriend would tell a too-inquisitive salesperson at the Pottery Barn.

Whether or not Mr. Reagan truly made America great again is a discussion for another time. I will say, for the record, that I am on a particular side of that discussion, and the quasi-musician known as “Jello Biafra” is on the other.

What cannot be denied, however, is that the Reagan era saw the arrival of some truly great American cars. The C4 Corvette and its third-gen F-body cousin. The 225-horsepower Mustang GT. The Dodge Rampage 2.2. The list goes on and on, although you wouldn’t think that it does from the fact that I got to the Rampage 2.2 so quickly. I would also definitely include the Plymouth Turismo 2.2 in the list, although it would be after the Rampage because the Rampage had more cargo capacity.

Could a Trump presidency spur another era of great American cars? Or would Mrs. Clinton be the right choice to unleash a new generation of “superpredator” sports cars on the American public? While we wait for the American motor-voter to decide, let’s take a look at some of the current lows, and highs, in the domestic-brand arsenal of democracy.

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Sorry, No Impala Production For You, GM Tells Korea

There are a lot of unhappy union executives in South Korea today after General Motors announced it won’t green light Chevrolet Impala production in the surging Asian market.

The model will continue to be imported from GM’s Hamtramck assembly plant, despite the popularity it has shown since going on sale in September of last year.

The union representing the bulk of GM Korea’s 17,000 workers isn’t taking the news lying down, saying the move threatens the existence of the company itself. Ko Nam-seok, leader of the GM Korea branch of the Korean Metal Workers Union, is expected to pan the decision in a meeting with GM CEO Mary Barra later this month.

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Rental Review: 2016 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

“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?”

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Junkyard Find: 2006 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx

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!

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TTAC News Round-up: Chevy Hot to Sell You a Sedan, Volvo's V90 Peek and Cheap Gas

“What do I gotta do to get you to drive out of here in a brand-new 2016 Chevrolet Malibu today?”

That, Ford and Google are moving to the country, Hyundai halts in China and Volvo’s wagon spied in some guy’s garage … after the break!

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2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Priced At $28,645, Nation Furrows Brow

Chevrolet announced this week that its hybridized version of the mid-sized Malibu would start at $28,645 including destination, for a fuel-sipping, 48 city-mpg, long-legged miler with all kinds of good looks.

Those are the facts.

Also true: the Ford Fusion Hybrid is $3,585 less expensive (although it only manages 41 mpg in the city), the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is $1,810 less expensive (40 mpg city), the Toyota Camry Hybrid is $1,220 less dear (although it manages 43 mpg in the city) — so only the 50-mpg Honda Accord Hybrid starts at a higher price ($1,495 more).

The Malibu Hybrid will be available only in LT trim when it goes on sale in the spring.

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Here Are The North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year Finalists, Let's Make a Bet

The North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year finalists were announced Tuesday and clearly the jurors read our September handicap — and completely mostly disregarded our odds.

According to jurors, the finalists for 2016 North American Car of the Year are the Honda Civic, Chevrolet Malibu and Mazda MX-5 Miata. The finalists for the 2016 Truck/Utility of the Year are the Volvo XC90, Nissan Titan XD and Honda Pilot. The winners will be announced at the North American International Auto Show in January.

Let’s review the finalists and definitively state in each capsule why that car will absolutely win:

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  • Jeffro As I sit here this morning with my 2 day old TRD OFF ROAD 4RUNNER tucked safely away in the garage, my head spins with this weird desire to locate a 85 LTD equipped with the epic 😵‍💫2.3 and the FOUR ON THE FLOOR. THE HOLY GRAIL. Ying and yang baby!The search begins.
  • ToolGuy 404 error on the product link. Which probably isn't terrific marketing on TTAC's part. https://thinkwarestore.com/product/f200-pro-ca
  • ToolGuy Second picture: Do you like pegboard storage? (I don't.)
  • ToolGuy "WHAT???"(old 'I was in the artillery' joke)
  • ToolGuy Oh and this.