2012 Chevrolet Malibu- Finally, A Car That’s Found Its Place In The World

Manufacturers love to name boring cars after exciting places.  The Dodge Monaco, Mercury Monterey, Kia Rio, Suzuki Verona, and Chevy Corsica come to mind.  They may be fascinating destinations, but all of those cars  have the sex appeal of a rainy Wednesday in Buffalo.  The Corsica’s replacement, the Malibu, faced a similar problem when it debuted in 1997.  The town of Malibu is known for its 27 miles of sandy beaches and being home to many of Hollywood’s movie stars.  That four-door family sedan didn’t quite conjure up mental images of such an upscale area.

Now, don’t think that I have a grudge against the Malibu.  On the contrary, I personally have a soft spot for the car.  My parents had a 1999 Malibu while I was in college and the car proved to be reliable and served its intended purpose as a family hauler well.  I grew to really like the car and it became my vehicle of choice to cruise around in.  However, my folks didn’t quite warm up to it and I ended up driving it more than they did.  Why?  In the generic white color that it was graced in, the only thing missing on our Malibu was a city or public works logo on the side.  It wasn’t exciting to look at, and if my parents were to ever visit Buffalo, they would be reminded of that car.

But this Malibu is different from the dowdy one we had.  It’s the seventh generation that debuted in 2008 under the direction of GM Vice Chairman and car guru, Bob Lutz.  It was to be as good as the Japanese competitors and was awarded the highly revered title of North American Car of the Year.

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2010 Chevrolet Cobalt- Bye, Bye Miss American Pie

It’s always good to be the home team during any sports game.  There’s the unmatched support of the fans, familiarity of the turf, and a feeling of honor from hosting the game.  Of course, there’s also the added pressure of letting down your most loyal followers.  It can be intense and overwhelming.  That must be something similar to how my inconspicuous Chevy Cobalt may have felt.

I picked up my Cobalt from Cleveland Hopkins Airport on a chilly March morning.  This is an area that the Cobalt is very well acquainted with.  All of these compact Chevys were built only an hour away at GM’s Assembly Plant  in Lordstown, Ohio.  There’s a huge sense of pride among residents of the Buckeye State that the car was assembled there.  I emphasize “was” in the past tense, as the last Cobalt rolled off the assembly line on 23 June, 2010.

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2012 Hyundai i20- The Revolution Begins In Sriperumbudur

It’s no secret that Hyundai is on a roll in the US.  Starting with the redesigned 2010 Sonata, the company has gone through a renaissance with a continual surge of all-new products in the last two years that offer lofty fuel economy figures, daring styling, and a long-time Hyundai favorite; aggressive pricing and an industry-leading warranty.  Consumers have noticed and sales increased 29% in 2011 over an already successful 2010.  Gone is the stigma that Hyundais are cheap, cheerful cars that disintegrated soon after being purchased.

The car you see in these photos was not part of that resurgence.  At least in the US it wasn’t.  It’s called the i20, and although it may not be a car that will ever see American soil, it still plays a very important role for Hyundai.

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2012 Jeep Liberty- Begging To Be Released Into The Wild

Owning a Jeep Liberty could be likened to possessing an exotic animal, such as a tiger or a serval.  Sure, it’d be fun and a little wild, and your neighbors would think of you as being adventurous and fearless.  Heck, they may even be a little envious.  But life with a Liberty, or that aforementioned serval, could get tiresome and unwieldy once the novelty has worn off.

Like any exotic critter, the Liberty doesn’t belong in the city.  It’s natural habitat is in the great outdoors.  All Libertys, and most Jeep models, proudly wear a “Trail Rated” badge on their flanks.  That isn’t just some overcrazed marketing hype- it’s the real deal.  Any Jeep model that can pass the challenging Rubicon Trail in the high Sierras or overcome Moab is given the lofty status.  The main idea of the Liberty is to be a serious off-roader first and a comfortable boulevard cruiser second.  This is both the Jeep’s biggest strength and also exposes its most obvious flaws.

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