Object Lessons: Rantings of a Lone Pamphleteer
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Ridin' Along in my Automobile

2004 Chevy Malibu

I wish.

The one-time muscle car has become a comfy, roomy mid-size sedan with all the perks. Newly redesigned, the Malibu I rented while having the dings knocked out of my Altima is impressive. Mostly, it's the V6 that I love.

My first car was a first-issue V6 1988 Chevy Berretta, and I drove that car into the ground. I loved that car, mainly because it had great pick-up. The much lighter Malibu's V6 just takes off when you gas it a little, and I've been opening it up on 66 while heading to my editing job this week. It's 200HP engine had me going 90 before I knew it.

The rental has all the perks, including a CD player so fancy I haven't yet been able to adjust the bass, which is a problem because the last person left it on full, and the boom-boom against my calf (which I prop against the speaker) is bothering me no end. I haven't tried adjusting the pedals yet, either.

Drawbacks? The seats aren't terribly comfortable, and the headrests in the back seat (identical to bucket seat headrests) block a good portion of my rear view; I am forced to rely more on the passenger-side mirror than I'd like. It only gets 23 mpg city, but 33 mpg highway, which though not great compares admirably to the nicely priced ($22,750) Altima's 250-horsepower V6, which garners only 20/30 mpg. Even the Altima's got nothing on the restyled Accord's $26,400 V6 sedan's 240HP, which manages 26/34 mpg. (Prices are for 2004 models.)

Can't beat the Malibu's price with a stick, though. At $21,060 base for the V6, it's a steal. I'm enjoying the Malibu so much, I might steal it. However, I'm sure I wouldn't buy it. Given a choice of new cars, I'd get an Accord. Not that I have a choice; fixing my car means I'm going to drive it that much longer.

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