Last night as I "chased the whirlwind" at work, trying to get and then stay caught up, my teamleader came and told me to report to our department superintendent's office. Since he was smiling, I didn't worry like I do at times...
When I got there Sue told me she had gotten to draw someone from our department to drive a new Malibu home, and I was the first name she drew!
I was a bit shocked; I haven't driven a test car since 1984, and usually decline offer when they do because I really don't want to be responible for something with that big a price tag!
But I accepted, and brought home a 2008 Malibu LS with the same engine as Dottie's 2006. Nothing else is the same except for the feeling of driving an awesome car that I am very proud to be a part of building!
Dottie got up in the middle of her night's sleep when I came home and we took it out on the roads we are most familiar with; the ones we drive every week on our shopping rounds. The ones where we know every tar strip, piece of ribbed concrete, etc..
The engine is the same 4 cylinder that's in Dottie's '06; the same one that averages 28 around town and we've gotten over 37 mpg on the highway from. It has enough power to startle you when you really "hit it"; I can't imagine what the V-6 must be like!
The redesign of the interior has added some subdued lighting that is very nice, extra cupholders (2 for the driver and 2 for the passenger) and cubbyholes that I'd have never thought of, plus a two layer console so you can put things 2 different places to keep them easier to find! We were also impressed with being able to place our sodas or whatever in the ones in the console and then cover them!
The cornering is even better than Dottie's '06, and when a fox decided to come out of the median at 3AM running towards the left front fender the 4 wheel discs did a nice job of shutting it down as I swung the nose to the right to avoid him. I hadn't planned on practicing avoidance maneuvers, but she handled it well!
We both enjoyed playing with the XM Satellite radio; I've never decided that I could deal with another subscription fee, but can understand how it would be easy to fall in love with! The car has anti-lock brakes, traction control, and On-Star as well. Apparently all standard in that model!
In Dottie's '06 there is a display in the dash that gives you your current fuel range, current mileage, average mileage, and how long you have until you need an oil change.
In this one that is controlled by a button in the steering wheel inlaid along with the cruise control buttons, and comes up under the speedometer so you don't have to look away from the road. Besides all of the above, it also gives you the current pressure in all 4 tires individually, fronts left and right and rears left and right!
When we got back we took turns sitting in the rear seat and moving the front seat around. I have ridden a lot in the back seat of ours as we take Mom places; always comfortable and enough room for a not so svelte old man, the new one has even more leg room!
The rear of the console has a cubbyhole and a 12V outlet added to it along with the cupholders that were in Dottie's '06. As much time as my grandkids spend with Gameboys and Leapsters, that's a bonus!
The back of the seats has a net to keep things gathered up as well!
The back of the rear seats folds down individually from the inside, unlike Dottie's where the latch is in the trunk and you have to fold down one before the other. A nice change!
Quite a Halloween treat for me! The only thing I noticed throughout the test drive is that the Uniroyal tires had a bit more road noise than the Bridgestones on Dottie's '06. Since we put 4 or 5 different kinds on them, I might opt for one of the others were I ordering one.
A dream to drive! To see how far the American auto industry has come in the 29 years I've been working in it is quite amazing! The changes inside the plants are staggering; the technologies I never dreamt of, etc.. Having the end result in my driveway every day for my wife to drive and get to know it throughly; knowing that the people I stock for every night are the ones that put the parts on it and their hearts and futures in it makes it a very personal thing.
Driving the successor, and probably the last "platform" I will be involved with building before I retire was a joy and gives me great hope for the future of both my plant and Chevrolet!
Not something I would have dared to say 20 years ago!