2013 Chevrolet Impala- Old School, Please Proceed To The Exit

CAM00342According to a popular 80’s sci-fi film, the best automobile to travel back in time was a DeLorean.  Not just any DeLorean, mind you, but Doc Brown’s highly modified DMC-12 equipped with a flux capacitor and some plutonium stolen from Libyan terrorists.  Great in concept perhaps, but also somewhat pricey to buy and it could cause an inadvertent nuclear war.  A much easier and less risky alternative to time travel only requires a visit to your friendly, local Chevrolet dealer.  There, they will be happy to show you the remaining outgoing 2013 Impalas that tenaciously remain unsold on their lots.  Yes, there is a feeling of deja vu with the Impala; a sense that I’ve been here before in the past and that this car is awfully familiar.  This ninth-generation ‘pala has remained virtually unchanged since its last redesign back in 2006, making it the oldest unchanged model in all of GM’s American lineup.  It’s a quick study on how GM used to do things before the recession and the government bailout, both good and bad.  And despite all of this, it remains the corporation’s best-selling passenger car, although the vast majority of sales are ironically to rental fleets.  Alas, Chevrolet has recently introduced an all-new 2014 Impala to continue the sales momentum but this time intends the brand to land in more driveways than before.  Considering its long and loyal service to the General, it was only fair to take one last look at the outgoing Impala.

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2012 Chevrolet Captiva- Forbidden Lust

DSCI1313It’s been said that money can’t buy happiness…. or love.  And it certainly can’t buy you a new Chevrolet Captiva.  This otherwise unassuming compact SUV is probably the strangest anomaly in the US auto industry.  It’s designed for the American market and imported here, but even if your last name is Trump, you can’t buy one.  Look on the Chevy website and there won’t be a mention of it.  It’s not promoted at any American auto shows.  The Captiva is sold solely to rental fleets and not to the public- the only new vehicle out there that can make this bizarre claim.  So what gives?  Why would Chevy go to all the trouble to build a car that no one can purchase?  The answer to that question is complicated and has the makings of a telenovela- involving new relationships, breakups, and even a death.

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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 Chevrolet Cruze- Is It Ready For World Domination?

Someone at Chevrolet must’ve paid close attention to the episode of  “Sesame Street” that featured the letter “C”.  Throughout the decades Chevy has always featured a compact model whose name began with that special third character of the alphabet- namely the Corvair, Chevette, Citation, Cavalier, and Cobalt. The majority of them sold well- mostly due to low pricing, an extensive dealer network, and demand from fleets. None of them were cars that you’d want to recommend to a friend while keeping a clear conscience.

Ahhh….but today we have the Cruze.  And although this new compact Chevy still continues the same compact “C” tradition- it represents something new for GM.  Unlike the others which were targeted solely for the North American market, the Cruze is a true world car. Designed in Korea, engineered in Germany, and built in eleven different car plants on three continents, it’s a car designed to appeal to everyone, no matter which country they live in.  A car that is so good that it’d be desirable to anybody, not just the folks in Iowa.  It was time to see if it could live up to the hype.

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