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Discussion Starter #1
On Tuesday I test-drove the 2008 Malibu 2LT, Honda Accord EX, Nissan Altima 2.5 S and Ford Fusion SE, all 4cyl models.

Going into the day, the Malibu was my frontrunner, almost by a lot, actually. By the end of the day, I actually think I preferred the Accord and Altima a notch above the Malibu. A lot of things were very comparable (although overall engine performance/responsiveness tipped a little in favor of the foreigns), but one thing that really bugged me about the Malibu, especially at first was the visibility issue. I felt like I was trying to look around a tree whenever I needed to glance a little to my left. And the view out of the rear windshield was a little more like peering over something.

I did notice that it was somewhat easy to get used to as I took it on the highway and got a little more used to it, but I feel like it gave me a little more to worry about when driving. So I'm wondering if it's something I could get used to or if it will just bother/worry me more over time?



Any thoughts? I guess I should add that I've driven Chevy and/or GM products my whole life, and this is the first time I've even considered anything else because it is my first "brand new" car buying experience.

Thanks in advance for any input. This whole new-car buying process is a little overwhelming at times.:confused:
 

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Shane, if I recall correctly the LT2 has a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, power drivers seat and adjustable pedals. I'm surprised you could not find a position that would eliminate or minimize the visibility issue for you.

In the end, you must find the car that best suits your needs and makes you comfortable. Be sure to keep in mind the Malibu 100K mile drive train warranty. You won't see that on the Honda or Nissan.

My other vehicle is a Honda and although it has been a fine truck I don't think it performs any better than the GM's I've owned. The leather is cheap and thin, not at all like the Malibu. I also find the Honda interiors to be a bit drab and boring. The Malibu interior is a real eye opener. In general, the new 'Bu gets a lot of attention from onlookers. The Honda is, well, just another Honda!

The choice is yours, good luck! :)
 

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I've sat in all four of these vehicles, and the Malibu's interior is by far the nicest of the four. I checked out an Accord last week and the dash's center stack and console is an abomination if you ask me. The Fusion's interior is somewhat boring, and I don't particularly like the fact that all Nissans basically look the same inside and out.

The Malibu is different than any other GM or other manufacturer's offering. I can't comment on the driving experience because I haven't test driven them yet.
 

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You get used to the large "A" pillar; there is only a few times that it has bothered me. Having the luxury of telescope steering wheel and adjustable pedals make it easier to find many comfortable positions in the cockpit.

What bothers me the most on the malibu for visibility is the slope away trunk design. I don't know how this compares to the others you test drove, but I never know how close my rear-end is to an object I am backing up to... I've even tried "backup until it sounds expensive" and I still have more room than expected. For that reason I wish the Malibu had a stock spoiler option or backup sensors.
 

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I drove an 08 Altima 2.5s on a bussiness trip in NC a few weeks ago and I liked it. The keyless thing was cool but I trade auto headlights on the Chevy for that feature any day. For the 3 days I had it is got I averaged about 27mpg but in the end I like the Malibu even in LS trim with a 4 speed over the Nissan.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Shane, if I recall correctly the LT2 has a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, power drivers seat and adjustable pedals. I'm surprised you could not find a position that would eliminate or minimize the visibility issue for you.

In the end, you must find the car that best suits your needs and makes you comfortable. Be sure to keep in mind the Malibu 100K mile drive train warranty. You won't see that on the Honda or Nissan.
Yeah, those features were great, but i still did have a little trouble finding a way to minimize my issues with the pillar(s).

Another one of the issues of course, is reliability. The warranty is great, definitely, but I have been wondering how all of this is going to shake up as far as dependability for this model. Almost every single thing GM has done on the new Malibu seems to be a vast improvement over years past, but only time will tell if the reliability factor can compete now with the Honda or a Nissan now. I hope that it can, but I have to have my doubts...

I will likely be buying, not leasing, so I'd be looking for a car to drive for 7-10+ years, and the proven track record of Honda (and even Nissan to a lesser extent) is pretty enticing, I have to say.

I've even sort of tried to rationalize it by thinking that maybe if I go with one of the others, and I see the reliability of Chevy actually become better a few years down the line, then I could go with it... but then of course, I miss out on a car that I'm otherwise pretty much in love with.
 

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You get used to the large "A" pillar; there is only a few times that it has bothered me. Having the luxury of telescope steering wheel and adjustable pedals make it easier to find many comfortable positions in the cockpit.

What bothers me the most on the malibu for visibility is the slope away trunk design. I don't know how this compares to the others you test drove, but I never know how close my rear-end is to an object I am backing up to... I've even tried "backup until it sounds expensive" and I still have more room than expected. For that reason I wish the Malibu had a stock spoiler option or backup sensors.
The "A" pillar was definitely a problem. I did notice that I got used to it to some degree, but with the other cars, I didn't have to get used to it, it was just easy visibility from the start.

I know exactly what you mean about the trunk design. The dealer asked me to back it in after we were done, and I ended up being a couple of feet or more away from where I actually thought I was. Naturally, the more familiar you become with a car, I guess you could get used to gauging that, but it sounds like you still haven't gotten accustomed to it.

The visibility out the back wasn't really the biggest issue, not while driving, it was exactly what you said with being able to judge how far away you are from an oject.


Sigh... I really almost expected to come out of that day with Malibu as a clear favorite, and in fact it came out more the opposite. The problem is that I still love the car, I just have to decide if it's right for me (for right now, I guess).
 

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What did it for me was the LTZ features such as paddle shifters and unique differences over the 2LT (appearance and options) that you can't get in the accord or altima. I also have a great relationship with my local dealership. If you aren't in the market for an LTZ than the 2LT may be much closer to that of the altima and accord. I have heard many reviews that the Altima is more of a driver's car; does the model you are looking at have the sequential shift on the floor? However, Nissan's reliability is not high either. I built a spreadsheet of options and pros and cons when looking for my next car; however I also had the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Saab and Cadillac on my list. The Malibu LTZ won hands down.
 

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What did it for me was the LTZ features such as paddle shifters and unique differences over the 2LT (appearance and options) that you can't get in the accord or altima. I also have a great relationship with my local dealership. If you aren't in the market for an LTZ than the 2LT may be much closer to that of the altima and accord. I have heard many reviews that the Altima is more of a driver's car; does the model you are looking at have the sequential shift on the floor? However, Nissan's reliability is not high either. I built a spreadsheet of options and pros and cons when looking for my next car; however I also had the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Saab and Cadillac on my list. The Malibu LTZ won hands down.
The 2LT is the trim I am looking at.

The Altima did have the "manual" mode to it's transmission, which was pretty cool. The variable transmission was a little weird at first (no shifts) but ended up being a big selling point of the car. Ultimately, I am not basing my decision primarily on performance (I'm looking exclusively at 4-cylinder) or "sporty-ness," although I do appreciate a vehicle that is fun to drive.

I'd agree that it looks like the Altima doesn't have a perfect reliability record, it looks to be easily better than Chevy's sedans in the recent past. Even though everything is looking up for the Malibu, it makes it difficult to essentially "take their word" for it and just hope that reliability will hold up for the redesign.

The spreadsheet is a good idea that I had been thinking about doing. I've never done it for such an important purchase/decision before.
 

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Interesting. I drove the same 3 caes on the first day of my search. I thought I was going to buy an Accord and I drove it, an Altima, and the Malibu the same day. I didn't like the "twitchy" feel of the Honda steering, thought that ride and road noise were average, and that the interuior was just OK. The ride, steering, and interior layout in the Altima were better. Finally the Malibu had a better ride, was quieter, had a far more pleasing interior, and I liked the steering better than the Accord, although it was no match for the very high milage 325i that I was parting with. I also liked the exterior styling of the Malibu best. Visibility was the only negative for the Malibu based upon driving impressions. Obviously the 100K drivetrain warranty vs. Japanese reliability was a question mark.

I drove the Altima and malibu a second time each and purchased the 4-cyl. LT1, my first American car in 31 years after 7 Saabs and a BMW. I still have a Miata for the ultimate in road feel and visibility in the summer. Interestingly, the 2008 Malibu is the functional equivelent of my wife's 2001 Saab 9-5 in terms of weight, wheel base, horsespower, and transmission. It exceeds the Saab in safety and radio / navigation features. For 55% of what I paid for the Saab, 45% in inflation adjusted dollars, the Malibu just lacks power heated leather seats, a sunroof and the scoot of the turbo.

The visability issues with the A column and the trunk are real but I have adjusted to them and do not find either to be a safety issue.
 

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l likely be buying, not leasing, so I'd be looking for a car to drive for 7-10+ years, and the proven track record of Honda (and even Nissan to a lesser extent) is pretty enticing, I have to say.
I had a 98 Malibu that lasted 10 years with no major repairs needed - just brakes, tires, and front struts.

I have three 2005 Malibu's - LT2 V-6 Sedan (46K miles), LS V-6 Sedan (34K) miles, and Maxx V-6 LT2 (59K miles). Brakes and tires are the only service items on my "pay for it list" other than oil changes except for the Maxx which had a rear main seal oil leak that was fixed under a warranty extension as it was a manufacturing defect per Chevy. I took all of the cars in for the free 29 point inspection as the warranty was close to expiring and GM replaced the steering rod on two of them as it was binding and right front tie rods on two of them as they had loosened and were clunking. Other than that, these cars have had bulletproof reliability and cost me very little to run.

Why does this matter to you? The 2004 to 2007 Malibu's have the same underpinnings as the 2008 model and only the engines and interior finishes are different. They will give you a good experience factor to apply to how well your 2008 Malibu will age. Best of luck in your choice!!
 

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I remember reading an article on the Altima, and they said the car felt like it was powered by rubber bands because of the continuous variable transportation.
 

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Hey, I have been lurking but felt the need to chime in about the reliability of Honda's. We owned an Accord since the 94' model year and while a decent car the reliability is over rated IMO. I will say right now except for the battery dying 2 times and how expensive it was to replace the timing belts the powertrain has been flawless.

Anyway the car was reliable for the first 6 years then things started to break, not major things (For the most part) but overtime they added up. Here is a list:

1) Air Conditioner: It just stopped working again, we spent thousands on it over the past few years.

2) Alarm System: Went through 3 sets of beepers, cheaply designed. Plus the alarm itself died on us nearly 2 years ago.

3) Master Cylinder and Rear Calipers went on our car last fall.

4) ABS: crapped out on us twice.

5) One of the power locks stopped working.

6) Seals on the doors fell apart.

7) Went through a ton of mufflers.

8) We just learned a month ago from the mechanic the Catalytic Converter is on its way out. (When we got the exhaust rattled fixed)

9) Had a few rattles in the exhaust fixed.

10) Struts needed to be replaced.

11) Timing belt replacements.

Plus the parts were expensive, and the dealer (Long time ago) tried ripping us off. I am concerned with reliability but as you see Honda's aren't all they are cracked up to be.
 

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Thanks Curious C, it does prove even the ""bullet proof" cars have their issues. I can agree with this having gone through it with a Toyota Highlander that had engine sludge so bad (even with regular oil changes) that the engine had to be re-built. I understand what you are talking about and sometimes it is hard to not let the hype dictate your every move in terms of car buying. Buy what you are comfortable in and what makes you happy.
 

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Thanks Curious C, it does prove even the ""bullet proof" cars have their issues. I can agree with this having gone through it with a Toyota Highlander that had engine sludge so bad (even with regular oil changes) that the engine had to be re-built. I understand what you are talking about and sometimes it is hard to not let the hype dictate your every move in terms of car buying. Buy what you are comfortable in and what makes you happy.
You can't believe the hype, Domestics made bombs in the past and I can't deny it. However, current quality is close if not equal to automakers like Toyota and Honda. Go to their web forums and plenty of members are having serious issues with their cars.

This car has eaten into our wallet and has the shop plenty of time. Where is the superior reliability when I am pouring thousands, yes I said thousands into my A/C alone? Now I am on the internet trying to solve the problem myself because I am trading in this vehicle soon and I refuse to give it more of my money. Powertrain again flawless, but the past few years it seems one thing after another goes wrong with this car. BTW, it only has 93k miles.

Granted I have no experiences with Chevy products and I worry a bit, but I can't let it consume me. It has a 5 year/100k mile warranty, when/if I buy this vehicle I am going to make sure I get a loaner if the car has to be in the shop for any reason. Its a machine it will have parts that wear from age/mileage and it will need maintenance to keep it running good.

My other concern, maybe a bigger concern is finding a good dealership. Most dealerships I been too had terrible customer service and that worries me. Especially once they have my money.
 

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CuriousC I understand your concerns. I have only driven foreign cars for the past 15 years and when I realized to my surprise that I liked the Malibu better than the Camry or the Nissan I had to really take a chance and go with my gut. I am very happy with the car so far and love all the littel extras that would have cost me extra on the others. Time will tell on reliability but I am lucky in that we have a great dealership and if something goes wrong I trust they will come through. I really think Chevy has improved because they have too, their future depends on it.
 

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Your last line sums up my conclusion. People aren't going to accept inferior quality and reliability, the consumer has many choices and can easily go to another brand. If Chevy/GM is interested in getting back lost customers and attracting new customers this car will be reliable.

Of all the cars I have researched I never seen a car with so few problems, I know its new but still the Malibu been out for half a year and the problems people are reporting are minor in nature. Extremely impressive for a brand new, first year model.
 

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Of all the cars I have researched I never seen a car with so few problems, I know its new but still the Malibu been out for half a year and the problems people are reporting are minor in nature. Extremely impressive for a brand new, first year model.

The majority of the running gear (6 speed auto and 3.6L V-6 excluded) is in it's 5th year and should be sorted out. The 2008 Malibu is built on the same frame and has the same hard points as the 2004 to 2007 Maxx model. It just has a different body and some updates to brake sizes and shock strut setups.

The Camry has been reliable for the same reason. Toyota slaps a new body and spiffs up the interior on an existing model and it's more an update than all new.
 

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The majority of the running gear (6 speed auto and 3.6L V-6 excluded) is in it's 5th year and should be sorted out. The 2008 Malibu is built on the same frame and has the same hard points as the 2004 to 2007 Maxx model. It just has a different body and some updates to brake sizes and shock strut setups.

The Camry has been reliable for the same reason. Toyota slaps a new body and spiffs up the interior on an existing model and it's more an update than all new.
Yea and that was a smart thing to do, I just hope when they came out this Malibu they put better brakes onto it. Brakes on the past Malibu sucked.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Obviously the 100K drivetrain warranty vs. Japanese reliability was a question mark.
You know what I keep thinking about as far as the new 100K powertrain warranty? Ever seen Tommy Boy? The part when Chris Farley starts talking about why people put a guarantee on a box to make the buyer "feel all warm and fuzzy inside," and how it may really just be "a guaranteed piece of sh**."

I'm sure that's a vast overstatement as far as the actual warranty goes, but nonetheless it keeps popping into my head. And then it makes me think of the rest of that movie, and I laugh. So it's an overall positive experience, haha.
 
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