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    I only got to 90 mph and I never dropped the tranny

    November 4, 2007

    Where was I?


    Why didn’t I tell you?

    Because I swear to God I thought that when I showed up at the airport, it was all a joke and there would be no plane ticket. No hotel on the other end. No BBQ to eat at 3 in the morning. No Chevy Malibu to test drive.

    2008 Chevy Malibu

    That’s right, Internet. GENERAL MOTORS sent me a plane ticket to come to Memphis to try out their brand new 2008 Chevy Malibu. They even housed and fed me.

    Invited me? I Heart Cars. I always wanted to be a race car driver. It was like a James Lipton-esque moment. How did they know that I subscribed to Road & Track for 5 years in junior high and high school? Did they know that my sister illegally let me drive my grandmother’s hand-me-down 1972 Chevy Nova and when SHE drove it, she could hit 120 mph before the back end started to get a little feisty and I started to yell? How about that gearhead ex-boyfriend that collected antique cars and whom I finally dumped when he couldn’t buy me dinner because he had just bought an 1974 El Camino?

    It was too much. OK, it wasn’t really. Sure, I’ll let you fly me to Memphis to drive around in your car. You can bring me together my sister from another mother/ co-founder of the Association of Middle Children. You can let me drive really fast safely in car after car that has that new car smell. Hold on. Let me grab my Days of Thunder tape and I’ll be on my way.

    Oh, I’m a former car geek, only ruined by the sands of time. This is perfect for me.

    2008 Chevy Malibu Designer Tim

    This is Design Guy Tim. You know what? I wanted to care when Design Guy Tim talked about D lines and A lines and center lines. Believe you me. If anyone was going to make you believe in the D line, it was Tim. I wanted to care when Gary talked about horsepower and suspension ( for heaven’s sake, I had bought 5 car mags so I could be properly prepared to discuss).
    Sadly, it’s clear my gearhead days are over.

    “Oh, it’s pretty.” I swear I used those words when I saw it. I’m not proud of myself. It’s not supposed to be about the pretty. My behavior got progressively worse when we all piled into the row of cars to drive around rural Mississippi.

    “Hey, guys, you don’t have to stick your arm up to your elbow between the seats and feel around for 27 minutes until you find the Latch. You can see each one.” I got the appropriate “ahhs” from the fellow mothers. Then when it was my turn to drive, I only cared about if I could outrun the car beside me. I pushed the pedal and the car went. Of course the V-6 was spunkier than the 4 cyl. LT, and the hybrid had a slight “I think I can, I think I can” feeling, but once it thought it could, it would get you there. It would get you there and you could feel like you were a better person because your car kicked out less emissions than that car beside you at the light. All for around $22,700. Back out the federal tax credit and it’s only costing you $500 more to get a hybrid. How’s that for a selling point?

    Things I liked….

    It’s pretty. Oh, we’re all shallow here. Let’s be honest. We are all tired of the “family car” looking like the “family car.” No worries here. I think I looked “HOT” driving it. I would definitely allow my husband to accost me on the hood.

    We already discussed the latches. Huge. HUGE. I would say that is only a temporary thing because kids grow up but since the law requires that kids be in a car seat until they are around 17 here, it’s something to think about.

    The remote vehicle starter. When you are as lazy as me, the only thing better is having a personal driver.

    Cockpit interior. The closest feeling I’ll ever have to a F-16.

    2008 Chevy Malibu interior

    Mocha Momma, tearing up the road with style.

    Rear power package. You can plug your laptop cord right into the car. Of course, if you are in the middle of nowhere in Mississippi and you can’t even get a cell signal, you probably aren’t going to be able to “blog this.” Then maybe you are using the plug for something more important–like an electric frying pan.

    Affordable hybrid that isn’t a Pious. The Malibu Hybrid is touted as a light hybrid because it only gets a few more miles to a gallon than its highly efficient non-hybrid sister, but I really like the idea that I don’t have to buy a clown car in order to clean up the air around town. At under $23,000 with room to stretch in the back seat, that’s what we call a bargain over here at my house.

    It was a really comfortable drive and ride. You felt like you could sit in this car on a long road trip and not feel yourself saying, “are we there yet?”

    Things I didn’t really like…

    That sun roof/moon roof/hole in the ceiling of the LTZ was loud and kinda cut off conversation between the front seat and the back seat. Frankly, I was in the back seat with Kristin so how much more conversation did I really need? Wait. Now that I think about it, if you have kids, it would well be worth the upgrade to the sunroof.

    Tapshift for the manual transmission feature. The buttons weren’t exactly intuitive (although I finally figured it out somewhat. I’m sure my riders would disagree). I know it’s supposed to give you that race car feel but after downshifting in a manner that could only be considered unrecommended and may have resulted in a couple of whiplash victims in the back seat, it really didn’t do anything for me. I was glad that I never figured it out because I’m thinking it would have just resulted in an unplanned trip in the back of a cruiser–if you know what I mean.

    Driver’s seat needs to extend about 1 inch more. I dragged The Husband into a dealership on the way home from the airport so he could conduct my “6’3″ driver’s seat test.” Even with the power pedals adjusted to the very end, he was still oh so slightly cramped. But it’s a mid-sized car. He did say it was more comfortable than my car that has been driving us insane.

    If you are a speed demon, you are gonna have to skip over the LS and LT and head straight to the LTZ. If you are a responsible parent, you can get any flavor available.

    I’ll admit it. I was surprised. The Husband was all “what happened to “Miss I only Drive Foreign Cars?” Um, see repeated complaints about repair costs for said foreign car. That and I’m getting greener and greener every day. Ten bucks says I have a hybrid before anyone else in the family. And I would definitely consider the Malibu.

    But was the trip really just about the car? Is anything with me ever about just one thing? No. I could bore you with all the silly details about being embraced by Elizabeth on check-in, finding my husband in a bar with The Baby, an empty beer pitcher at 4 pm and a room full of women saying he’s such a “great dad,” haikroozing (tm–oh, you know I beat you to it, Kelly) with Mocha Momma and Vicky, getting run off the road by a pickup, seeing a Grammy-in-her-panties sweeping the front porch, watching a man picking cotton in a field while his wife caught it on video, reliving my entire high school years–thanks to XM radio, singing showtunes, yelling “they are NOT selling lawn jockeys over there” repeatedly, leaving a trail of pink feathers from my boa all over Memphis (to include the Gibson Guitar factory tour) and finding out that my fried green tomatoes are still the best fried green tomatoes I have ever had. But enough about me. There are lessons to be learned.

    Recap: Notes to self on what NOT to say to car executives at future test drives.

    1. Oh, my 72 nova could TOTALLY outrun a Caprice cop car.
    2. So exactly what speed does this baby need to be going before the governor shuts me down?
    3. I haven’t gotten a speeding ticket in at least a year.
    4. So when do we get to open this baby up?

    I’m guessing those kids over at GM didn’t realize that they were inviting THE party to the party when they sent out the invite.

    Or maybe they did.

    Finally, a product review done Soprano style….

    A Coffee and a Cocktail

    Cause you know you wanted to know how many bloggers will fit in the trunk of a Malibu.

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