A 2014 redesign turned the Chevrolet Impala into a seriously nice big car that deserves attention from more than taxi drivers and police agencies. My only knock against this big sedan is anonymous styling that pales next to the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300. Have a look at my review at Autofocus.ca.
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Hardcore fans of the modern Mini Cooper tend to turn up their noses at any Mini model that’s not the original hatchback. But of the many variants that now exist, this five-door proves it is possible to add practicality without watering down the Cooper S’ fun-to-drive nature. Check out my review at Autofocus.ca.
Chevrolet’s second-generation Colorado has kicked off a resurgence in the popularity of mid-size pickup trucks, and with good reason. It’s comfortable and spacious inside and has a great ride for a truck, and for what it’s worth, it’s a handsome machine. This is a great truck for drivers who drivers who need some utility but won’t make use of a full-size pickup. Read my review at Autofocus.ca.
The Verano is part of Buick’s plan to attract younger buyers. It’s a compact sedan that shares its underpinnings with the Chevrolet Cruze, but this upscale manufacturer has done a good job of giving this car a genuine upscale feel. Our main criticism is that the Verano feels like a small Buick, rather than the entertaining small sedan with which the Verano competes. Here’s my review at Autofocus.ca.
Just like the Porsche Macan I reviewed a few weeks ago, the Mini Countryman is yet another automaker’s attempt to break into the lucrative upscale compact crossover segment. This one is fun, but it’s expensive and noisy inside. For nearly $40,000, there are more refined small crossovers that represent better value for money. Read my review at Autofocus.ca.
The Macan is Porsche’s first compact crossover. This is a profitable vehicle segment, and Porsche seems keen to take advantage of that with a car that is far from a bargain even compared to other German models. Have a look at my review of the Macan at Autofocus.
1. Fun in the run-of-the-mill
Malibu, in southern California, is sexy and sunny. A car named after such a place must be a sleek convertible, right? Nope. It’s a family sedan, and a bland-looking one, but if you can believe it, this is the most interesting-looking Malibu since the mid-1970s.
2. Simply motivated
Just as the look is what we expect from a mainstream sedan, so is what’s under the hood. Our test car had the base engine, a 2.5-litre four-cylinder; the only transmission is a six-speed automatic. Ho-hum.
3. Good on its feet
But start driving, and you discover there’s a little more to this car than meets the eye. Okay, it’s not exciting, exactly, but the steering is quite good, and the Malibu handles better than I expected it to.
The 2.5-litre engine has an auto stop/start feature that shuts the engine off at stoplights, to save fuel. In my chilly winter test, it only worked about half the time, typical for this technology in cold weather. When it works, its operation is largely transparent, better than similar systems in some more expensive cars (right, BMW?), and contributed to a respectable fuel consumption average of 10.7 L/100 km.
5. Touchy, touchy
Touchscreens are quickly becoming a staple of car interiors. Chevrolet’s version of this technology is called IntelliLink. This one’s better than many, but still doesn’t always respond the first time, which not handy when you’re trying to, you know, drive a car. In fact, the best thing about this touchscreen is the storage compartment hidden behind it.
6. Never look back
Small, oddly-shaped side mirrors seem better suited to sparing you the worry of what’s behind you, rather than aiding visibility.
7. Put some junk in this trunk
Making up for that, perhaps, is the trunk, large enough to fit (for example) a two-drawer filing cabinet and a printer stand at the same time.
8. Identity crisis
A few people asked if it’s fun driving “a cop car.” Nope, that’s the larger Impala, I reminded them. This sedan is good at what it was designed for, but as those cases of mistaken identity illustrate, if you want something that’ll leave a lasting impression, Malibu – the place – is a better bet.