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Road Tripping with the Chevrolet Malibu: It’s the Little Things

Over the summer* I drove a Chevrolet Malibu for a week, through several states. (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, in case you were curious.) It was super-fun.

Driving new, clean cars is ALWAYS super-fun, you know?

Adding to the fun was the fact that this was my first road trip with a borrowed GM vehicle that was a car and not an SUV or a truck. Don’t get me wrong: I have LOVED driving those big vehicles, but this was a great change. It was just Jim and me, so we didn’t need a huge amount of space like we do when we’re traveling with the whole crew. The size of the car was perfect.

Chevrolet Malibu

The plan was to drive down to Tennessee together to visit our parents and then, since Jim had something for work down there the following week, he would rent another car and stay while I road-tripped up to see Momo in Ohio. Alone.

Nothing against my husband at all, but solo road tripping is one of my favorite things. Just me, an awesome car, and the open road. I smile just thinking about it.

I laughed a little bit when I found out that the car I was getting for that week in July was a Malibu, because my last happy, smiling-ear-to-ear solo road trip took place very close to Malibu (the city in California) back in April. I have fantastic memories of driving down the California coast all alone, wind whipping through my hair, feeling free. To merely say I was looking forward to the Tennessee–Kentucky–Ohio and (after a slumber party with Momo) the Ohio–Indiana–Illinois legs of the trip home would be a massive understatement.

So the car. It was great, of course. (See above statement about driving new, clean cars.) It was a smooth, quiet, and comfortable ride. The dashboard was just how I like it: full of buttons that operate user-friendly features, and all close-by.

Chevrolet Malibu dashboard

Yes, XM Radio: a lifesaver in the mountains and on the boring drive through all of Indiana. Sorry, Indiana people. I love you, but I-65 is a snoozer.

Oh, and with just a touch or two on the screen? OnStar, to which I’m addicted. Easy-to-set-up-and-then-follow navigation FTW!

I absolutely loved two features–one safety, one convenience–of the Malibu that I hadn’t seen before. The safety feature was the Forward Collision Alert, which uses a camera to sense cars in front of you as you’re driving and then, should you get too close, triggers a harsh beeping sound which in turn scares the crud out of you and then causes you to back off and/or touch the brakes.

(I’m serious about the scaring you part. Every. Single. Time. But that’s a good thing!)

Here’s a short video you can watch; check it out in action!

The convenience item I thought was so cool was one of those tiny details I’m always overjoyed to discover because I find myself completely in awe that someone thought of it. I was a backseat passenger (VERY different from a backseat driver) one day when Jim and I were taking his parents to dinner and I wanted to charge my phone. I plugged my charger into the outlet inside the console between the two front seats, and then as I tried to figure out how to bring the wire around to the backseat without it being in the driver’s (Jim’s) way, I found a little hole in the back of the console cover. Voila’! GENIUS.

Chevrolet Malibu console

That tiny detail made my day. (Nothing from the peanut gallery on how easily entertained I am.) This is also great for parents who are driving around with kids in the back seat: those hand-held games don’t charge themselves, you know.

I was telling my friend Fred (who works for GM) about this discovery and he smiled and told me about the Malibu Moms, a group of four ladies/moms/engineers who worked specifically on the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.

Chevrolet Malibu Moms

(As you can imagine, I did not snap that picture. I got it from Fred.)

The Malibu Moms:

Suzanne Cody, aerodynamics engineer.
Suzanne worked on the wind drag, making aerodynamic improvements that would provide 2.5 mpg more on the highway.

Julie Kleinert, child safety technical lead
Julie’s job is to evaluate and develop the safety performance requirements for the vehicle restraint systems that will protect children who ride in the Malibu and other GM vehicles.

Kara Gordon, lead acoustic noise engineer
Kara is a specially trained audiologist and a key part of a team that eradicated the main sources of noise (wind, road and tire) from entering the interior of the Malibu.

Tracy Mack-Askew, vehicle line manager
Tracy was responsible for the timely development and launch of the Malibu!

A couple of years ago there were media reports on women, cars, and cupholders. The details ended up getting twisted (surprise!) to make it sound like cupholders ARE indeed the make it/break it feature for women who are car shopping. Totally untrue. I think what women want (besides cupholders) are great features that make driving the car a joy, not to mention the quality and dependability of the ride because DUH. I enjoyed learning about the Malibu Moms and discovering that some great lady engineers are behind some of the great things you experience in vehicles these days.

Thanks again to the folks at GM: I adore you people (you know who you are), and the cars are pretty nice, too!

*GM allowed me to drive a Chevrolet Malibu for a whole week back in July without any requirement for a write-up (obviously, because I’m two months after the fact so this is more like a “Surprise! I wrote about it after all!” than a previously agreed-upon thing), but I did anyway, and I know the kind folks at GM appreciate it. Especially because I drove the car two months ago. Did I mention “Better late than never”? Oy vey.

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  • Liz September 19, 2013, 7:30 am

    Our days of driving a 7-passenger car are pretty much over (our teens are too busy or cool to travel with us, anymore) so, this post is perfect timing…really…now, all we have to do is wait for those freaking lottery numbers to come in. Actually, leasing is beginning to sound like a pretty good deal for us.

    Oh, and my first car was a Chevy Malibu (yes, they had stone wheels back then) gosh, how I loved that car!

    • Melisa Wells September 19, 2013, 5:58 pm

      Spit out my water on “they had stone wheels back then”. πŸ™‚

  • Connie Burke September 19, 2013, 8:59 am

    One word. Four syllables: Mali-BOO-ya. I just love how you brought in our Malibu Moms (which is a TERRIFIC story, btw). Suzy Cody, our aero engineer, gets my vote for coolest mom at GM – she’s often seen sporting a streak of blue (GM blue, of course) in her hair, and she’s a roller derby queen. Her derby name? Shovey Camaro. Because having two small kids doesn’t stop her from driving one.
    Thanks, as always, for being so darned thorough in your always-entertaining reviews. I look forward to seeing our vehicles in a new way through Scrawlsie’s eyes.
    And, Liz? Love hearing that your first car was a ‘Bu – it’s time to revisit the scene of the crime. November, maybe…? πŸ™‚

    • Melisa Wells September 19, 2013, 5:59 pm

      We’re Traverse-ing in November!! πŸ™‚
      (Thank you. )