It seemed like flying over the beautiful islands between Vancouver and Victoria on a fabulously sunny spring day would be the thing that really launched this adventure on a high note—that is, until I saw a tiny deer grazing on the grass of a residential home in Oak Bay. Even though I was here to test drive a vehicle, I had a hunch that this journey had a little magic in it’s back pocket, but the big surprise was that the cool activities I was scheduled for at the spectacular resort I would be visiting, totally did not overshadow the experience of driving the new 2016 Chevy Malibu.
It was my tenth wedding anniversary and I was fully surprised as I got whisked off to Los Angeles. The tenth seems to carry more weight than it used to. We were upgraded and treated like royalty everywhere we went and it began with the car rental agency. Noting the special occasion we were given a Ford Mustang convertible. And I happened to have a scarf to tie around my head a la Grace Kelly. (But of course).
The Ford Mustang has always held allure for me. Rugged and manly yet powerful with crisp lines, it produces a visceral reaction. I have to stop writing auto reviews. They always sound racy to me. (But to be fair you should read their slogans). Even as an automatic the car is easy to handle and the turning radius was impressive in tiny LA parking garages. Delivering up to 662 HP (V8 Manual Supercharged), I can’t think of a better vehicle in which to see the southern California coast. No longer intimidated by the sunroof, it was fully automated with 2 manual levers that were easily operated.
I happened to be attending the Ford Trends Conference in Detroit for the 50th anniversary of the Mustang. Unlike the image in my mind of the vehicle of 50 years ago (my close friend was given one by his dad), I was taken with the modern design and extras. Trends discussed at the conference about environmental responsibility, technology and the notion of cars making life easier for their drivers were evident in the vehicle. The SYNC® with MyFord Touch® systems allow you to use the RCA connectors to plug in all kinds of video players such as gaming consoles and iPods. You can even turn your smartphone into a wireless router, so your passengers — big and small — can surf the Web! Hold me back – I’m trying to unplug this summer.
The steering wheel was stitched beautifully through leather and ergonomic to the hands. The square detailing on the dash juxtaposed against the curves of the outside shell made for a ying-yang experience. Our music blared clearly from huge speakers and as we drove through Malibu and Hollywood I played with the dials styled like old-school radio accessories. I may have been singing a bit too.. Capitol Records, are you listening? More a ‘date-night’ vehicle, there were of course carseat latches but you’d be hard-pressed to fit a third person between two carseats. That, of course, isn’t the purpose of this machine. As a date vehicle for fair weather? Perfect.
I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia and am embarrassed that I’d never been to Cape Breton. I have been yearning to drive the Cabot Trail. My chance finally came when the 2013 Chevy Malibu hits the Cabot Trail with spectacular September weather, lobsters and whales.
Those of you who follow my auto stories know that I’m not too technical. I know what a Mom needs, what it means to be family-friendly, and how important style is to exhausted parents who always considered themselves cool. I’ve never even written about gas mileage. You do what you have to do as a Mom. Space, sightlines, safety and cargo seem to trump everything else. So I was SHOCKED that not only did this 4-cyllindar peppy Malibu have what it took to be a family vehicle, but I drove around the entire Cabot Trail (501 kilometers) on just under ¾ of a tank. Wow. For the people who understand these things, it gets 8.1 L/100km city 5.3 L/100km hwy.
Drive Partner: Let’s take the quick route to the Normaway Inn in the Margaree River.
Me: Hmmm. Looking at the map, I think we can bypass the paved road and get there even faster if we follow this one-lane dirt path. There’s a fork somewhere that we have to find though….unless it is grown over.
Drive Partner: OK but if we get murdered/lost it’s your fault. I wonder if Onstar can track us here. (it could)
40 minutes later, after picking apples out the window of the car while giggling incessantly, we realized that it wasn’t much shorter. But we gave the car quite the run! I can honestly say that the shocks are great after going over potholes and puddles the size of apple barrels. You should have seen the caked-on dirt when we arrived. Now that’s driving! And we took the road less traveled. Walt would be proud.
- The touch screen allowed you to select options, sync your phone, change the XM station and was very easy to use. Unfortunately there was no twitter on the screen. (With a lack of Rogers cellular service in northern Cape Breton, all of us social media geeks could not text, phone or use the MiFi units in the cars. It was amusing to see us slowly crumble as the stress of ‘going dark’ set in. I admit – I was the worst of all of us and met many a bed and breakfast owner as I begged for wifi passwords.)
- So thank GOODNESS for OnStar Hands Free Calling. Because it is phone via satellite, it had our backs. In a humourous way, we all kept ducking out to ‘sit in the car’ so that we could call our children. The owner at Cheticamp’s great Horseback riding excursion – Little Pond Stables – screamed “One of your Malibu’s is ringing!!”
- The Driver’s window touch feature allowed for straight up and down with one push or pull– convienient at drive-thrus and toll booths.
- A button on the trunk allows it to open by pushing from the outside if car is unlocked.
- James Bond alert. There’s a hiding spot and sync feature for your phone in the dash – right behind the flip-up Mylink screen.
- The remote start on the key fob would be great on the cold winter days. This feature is standard on 1LT and up.
- It’s super roomy (ie you can breastfeed easily in the front or back seat).
- The rear backup camera is standard – even on the base models. My own car only beeps when I get close to something while reversing and I was so used to the beep I almost crashed while forgetting to look at the rearview camera. Laugh. Blush. Just kidding. The rear camera is available in the Power Convenience or Entertainment Packages on the 1LT, 2LT and LTZ models.
- USB connectivity allows you to upload a favourite photo onto the screen – perfect for a family road trip.
- The sunroof was quiet when opened and didn’t distract the driver as some noisy sunroofs do.
- There are 10 standard airbags.
- There are blockers in the grille and specially shaped side mirrors to help reduce drag. Unless you’re on a one-lane dirt road, in which case you probably won’t notice. Both Malibu Eco models have aerodynamic shutters that open and close depending on the speed of the vehicle for aerodynamic reasons.
- The LTZ offers a lane departure warning and forward collision alert that are available in the Advanced Safety Package. Oh. That’s what those beeps were for. Usually these features only exist on much higher-end vehicles.
- The Cabot Trail isn’t the easiest drive. If you’re not completely distracted by the beauty, way too full from the poutine covered in chesse/gravy/onions/peas/ground beef, or staring at the piles of empty roadside lobster traps, you are jigging down hills with windy curves and hairpin turns. And here’s me forgetting my Grace Kelly hair scarf. But I do know that the Malibu hugs the road. Tight.
The All-New Chevy Malibu
Disclosure: UrbanMommies was hosted on a drive trip through the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia. As always, our opinions are our own.
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