Saturday, July 31, 2010

AUTO REVIEW: Chevy Malibu is GM’s bright star

By Edward R. Noble
Almost lost in all of the bad news for General Motors in the past couple of years is a bright spot in the Chevrolet Malibu sedan.

General Motors still can design and build world-class, family-type sedans. While Toyota and Honda have almost dominated the mid-size sedan market, Chevy’s Malibu has dug into their one-time, safe-customer base. The Malibu beats the offshore cars in every category. And, you can identify a Malibu from blocks away, unlike a Toyota and the rest of the Asian copycats.

Even after a nearly unchanged two-year run, the Malibu still looks fresh. The interior is downright exciting, especially in the top-of-the line LTZ model with its two-tone color combinations. There are three models, starting with the base LS and the middle child LT. The LTZ with all of the desirable optional accessories, including the V-6 engine, will cost about $5,000 more. That puts it in a pricing advantage with its competition.

There is a base 4-cylinder with 2.4 liter, 169 horsepower and the standard 6-speed automatic transmission that is perfectly adequate for most family customers. The 4- cylinder engine delivers 22 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway. The base 4-cylinder model is equipped with an electric power steering, and that works just fine, but there is no real road feel back. This arrangement boosts the mpg slightly. Few buyers will care, and this is the most popular model. The V-6 model has the old-style power steering. At present, there is no all-wheel drive option.

I tested the middle level model LT with the standard 169 horsepower, 2.4 DHOC 4-cylinder engine and optional 6-speed automatic transmission. The 252 horsepower V-6 will add about $1,600 to the price. The Mocha Steel Metallic paint job was perfect. Seventeen-inch chrome wheel covers that look like real alloy wheels were an attractive accent to the slick styling that makes the Chevy Malibu a parking lot standout.

A family-sized trunk is home to a $100 optional compact spare tire. If you don’t pay for it, an inflator bottle and tire sealant is what you will deal with if you get a flat. My experience has encouraged me to pay for the real spare tire even if it’s a compact. Could save a long walk or an expensive road service call.

Under the hood, there is a good effort to keep everything tidy and the 4-cylinder engine looks reasonably easy to service. There are reports that the V-6 engine is more trouble-free. But, the standard 4-cylinder should get up to 33 mpg, and with the price of gas nearing $3 a gallon, the four is worth considering. I’d get the V-6, and just take fewer trips.

Given the LT was just the middle equipment model, it had all of the important accessories and only a few extra cost options such as the Power Convenience Package at $525, Bluetooth for cell phone USB port and 110 volt outlet for $250 and the $100 spare tire,  bringing the total price to $24,310. Not bad, and well within or even lower than the offshore models. A 100,000-mile powertrain warranty is standard, but it only goes for five years and that is where General Motors lags behind some of the competitors with theirs going for 10 years.

Interior styling is just as important as the exterior, and the Malibu is the best I have seen.

The mid-model LT even had a little touch of luxury with a band of faux burl wood round the cabin area. Be sure to take a look at the LTZ Malibu and the deep red and black leather combination for the interior. At night, the analog gauges are exciting with their color combination of lighting. All of this is stunning and makes every other sedan in this or even higher price class look old and tired. Hats off to the stylist that did the Malibu interior.

The proof is in the driving, and the Malibu will reassure the owner that it lives up to its good looks.

Even the 4-cylinder and the 6-speed automatic were going from 0 to 60 in just over 9 seconds, but too slow for me. On the expressway, the 4-cylinder engine seemed satisfactory. Perhaps you will not notice or care about the electric power steering, but I like the feel of the old-fashioned system with better connection to the road.

Woodward Dream Cruise Aug. 20-21!

Just letting you all know, from Aug. 20- 21 more than 40,000 beautiful vehicles will be out for the biggest car event in the world, the Woodward Dream Cruise.
This is the big one! Car nuts from all over the USA and beyond.
32 miles of crusin on historic Woodward Ave.
Start at Pontiac on lot 9 and secure your parking spot for the entire event.
Cruise all you can stand and return to Pontiac starting Friday after noon. This is where the action is .
Get to Pontiac early!

Cruising Dates starting Aug. 6

Aug. 6
Concours in the park
Depot Park, Clarkston 6-9 pm

Aug. 7
Car Show and Sock Hop
Knights of Columbus #5436
5660 Maybee Rd. Clarkston 248-766-4156

Aug. 7
North Oak Corvette Club
Behind 24th street Oxford 10-3 pm

Aug. 7
Mopars at Backers of Milford
2925 S Milford Rd 810-629-885

Aug. 15
10th Rock’Rods N Rochester
Dream Cruise Warm-up 9-5pm Rochester, Mi. 248-651-4155
Ed’s note; This is one of the three biggest shows in our entire area of the state.  All one block of Main Street. About 900 cars expected again this year.

Aug. 18
Classic Cruisers Night
W P Chrysler Museum
1 Chrysler Dr. Auburn Hills.

Aug. 20-21
Woodward Dream Cruise
32 miles of crusin on historic Woodward Ave.
The biggest car event in the world. 40,000 vehicles
Start at Pontiac on lot 9 and secure your parking spot for the entire event.
Cruise all you can stand and return to Pontiac starting Friday after noon.
Get you Pontiac early!  See you there. Ed
Or: you can go to Pontiac City hall and sign up

Aug. 22
23rd Lapeer Days Car Show
Rotary Park
Lapeer 10-3pm

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Troy Traffic Jam roars into town

Car enthusiasts better buckle their seatbelts because the 3rd annual Troy Traffic Jam: Chrome, Muscle and Music car show is back. 
The show will roar into the Columbia Center from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 1. This free event will combine all of the fun and excitement of traditional car shows with the addition of entertaining music and delicious food.
Come and see shining chrome and gleaming paint as a variety of classic automobiles, hot rods and muscle cars will be featured at the show. Visitors will be able to step back in time with vehicles from a variety of eras before 1974 or take a glimpse at what the future holds in store for the automotive industry with an assortment of innovative concept cars.
A family fun event for all, the show will feature hundreds of vehicles that will all be striving to win the coveted "Best of Show" title, which will be awarded based on votes from the public, as well as a number of additional trophies. Also featured will be great music by DJ Bob Steel and fabulous food for sale from local restaurants like Gateway Deli and Insalata.
Owners of vehicles are welcome to submit an application to have their car included in the Troy Traffic Jam. The $20 fee for each vehicle (or $15 for pre-registration) includes goodie bags, prizes, and dash plaques. Applications are available here. Flyer is available here. A map of the Columbia Center is available online to assist car owners who will be displaying their vehicle at Troy Traffic Jam.
All proceeds from this event will benefit the Troy Historical Society and Historic Village. The show will be held at Columbia Center is located at 201 West Big Beaver Road.  
The event is sponsored by by Kirco, Columbia Center, Kelly Services and The Suburban Collection. Contact Cindy Stewart at 248 524-1147.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Buick to expand line with coupe, convertible and wagon?

Buick conducted another in its series of webchats and this time product marketing director Roger McCormack attended the party. One of the first real signs of the brand's rebirth came three years ago with the debut of the Riviera concept. Since then, Buick has focused on launching its mainstream, higher volume products like the LaCrosse and Regal, and the Riviera coupe has languished on the sidelines.
However, McCormack says the coupe concept could live on as a production model. He acknowledged that a coupe is receiving "very strong consideration" and admitted that a convertible would help excite customers, but wasn't prepared to make any announcements. Even a wagon was not ruled out and could be among the first to join the lineup. A be-hatched version of the Insignia already exists in Europe and a prototype with Regal badges has been spotted in Michigan in the past. No doubt Buick will be watching the sales of the Acura TSX Sportswagon when it arrives this fall in deciding what to do with the Regal.  

Friday, July 23, 2010

AUTO REVIEW: Bad kitty! Jaguar not like past cars

In 1951, I was in high school in Palm Springs, Calif. Yes, that is the place that the moviestars had discovered. A few of their children went to the same school as I. One beautiful girl three years older than I was in the 12th grade had been given a brand-new Jaguar. I fell in love with her, but more so her Jaguar. I never forgot that car and now I can’t even remember the girl’s name. The Jag was a white 120 Roadster.

Jaguar has always had the most elegantly styled models in the past, but sadly I can’t say that about the latest XF sedan model. Sure, it displays the latest slick profile that seems like every sedan I see also has. One thing I always liked about Jaguars in the past is that they did not look like VW’s or Mercedes-Benz. And, those Jaguar grilles; few car companies have achieved that sort of recognition. Known for perhaps the worst record for reliability in the past, it was the styling that saved many sales. Ford saved the classic company from closing, and now the old girl is being passed on to Tata company in India.

The 2010 Jaguar XF sedan is available with five engine choices: The former 4.2-liter V-8 is still available, a new 3-liter V-6 engine at 238 horsepower, a 5-liter V-8 at 385 horsepower, and a 5-liter supercharged with 510 horsepower. That will get you to 60 mph is just 4.7 seconds. Perhaps the most fun could be the turbo-charged 3-liter V-6 diesel. It is fast at zero to 60 in just 5.9 seconds, and you can get as much as 42 mpg. All use the standard ZF six-speed automatic transmissions. I count 10 XF equipment options from the base XF to the XF-R supercharged top-of-the-line model.

Jaguar cars have always been leaders in handling, and the 2010 XF keeps that tradition alive with all of the latest stability controls and sports car 19-inch performance tires. Twenty-inch wheels and tires are available. The huge 17-cubic-foot cargo area is deceptive from the outward appearance. Up front is where my most styling disappointment occurs with the bland grille. I do like the steel mesh, but the ho-hum shape is just not Jaguar-like. I liked the past year S-Style sedan that the XF has replaced better. I can’t blame Jaguar for not having the leaping Jaguar emblem on the hood; thanks to the nanny state laws it’s now gone.

Inside there is plenty to love with the rich materials and a sense that the Jaguar of old days is still alive. Jaguar still has some of the nicest leather in any luxury car. There is a tasteful use of brushed steel trim and a little wood band for accent. As a nod to contemporary ideas, when the start button is touched the air vents automatically open up and the engine comes to life. A large knob is turned to select the gear. I did not like that idea. It seemed gimmicky and out of place in a Jaguar.

I liked taking the XF for a hot lap or two into town. But this past winter, the Jaguar had to sit out the snow and ice. I could not even get to the end of a paved driveway due to the Dunlap 245/40x19 high performance tires. On a level ice covered driveway, the cat could barely move. It just sat there trying to get a grip even with the transmission set on the slippery conditions settings. A set of winter-type tires will become a necessity if you plan any icy road trips.

I had plenty of time to play with the sound system and navigation system. I soon found out that performing the basic requirements to select a function as simple as changing the temperature, or the heated seats, and almost every other type of change or adjustment, is frustrating. It is also unsafe if you’re not watching the road but looking at a poorly designed screen. In fairness, I would assume that the longer you drive the more comfortable and quicker you could manage the navigation-sound-climate systems. But, why make it so darn maddening?

The lack of logos or labels, it takes a lot of guessing to get them memorized. Just to add to the nonsense, the large gear shifter knob hides when the ignition is not on. It rises up once the start button is pressed. What’s the point? Just another thing to break, and will need a very expensive repair someday. The analog tachometer and speedometer are accompanied by a digital window for a fuel gauge and some other information. The entire package is uninspired and a considerable disappointment. I can only guess that the person in charge of the gauges had never seen a old classic Jaguar dashboard.

Pulling out on a dry highway from an icy side road will scare the pants off you and the approaching vehicles as the traction control limits forward movement until the rear drive wheels can get a solid grip. Once on a good stretch of road, the old cat came to life and delivered some nice acceleration. The steering and braking are up to Jaguar standards. For the $57,300 for this mostly base model XF, I would shop around for a used S-Type and pocket the difference.

I’ll give the folks that did any of the drivetrain engineering good marks. The people that did everything else on the XF get a big “F.”

Check out the Fast Eddie Cruisin’ Blog at

Car Toys

Over the years, I have come to trust Eastwood products and the latest is the Eastwood Rust Dissolver.
In all likelihood, you have used a rust remover at some time and found it to be a somewhat nasty job. Be careful if that hardware store runny rust remover spills or you may end up repainting something unplanned.
The new Eastwood Rust Dissolver is in a gel form and it is much easier to control and use on vertical surfaces. Eastwood Rust Dissolver will not harm any materials like brass, aluminum, rubber or even vinyl.
A quart of Dissolver is $ 24.99 , a Gallon at $ 49.99
To order; go to or call 1-800-345-1178. Be sure to ask for a free catalog, too.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Car shows starting July 29

July 29 USMA Cruise in
Golling Pontiac
1491 Lapeeer Rd. Lk Orion.
July 31
La Fontaine GMC Show and drive-in movie 3;30 -9pm awards
400 w. Highland Rd
Highland, Mi

July 25
Knockers Rock
Car Show,dinner, concert by Fairlanes and DeVilles
American Legion Post #16
1701 W. Genesee st. Lapeer. 810-664-9312
July 31
 Lake Orion Knights of Columbus
1400 Orion Rd. Lk. Orion,
Aug. 1
Classic Car Show
Downtown Ortonville
Aug. 26
Scholz Autofest
High School Capac, Mi.

Sept. 12
Lapeer Area Shrine Club Car Show
@ Past Tense Antiques
Daley &Farnsworth Rd. ( little north of Lapeer off M-24)
Sept. 18
Golling GMC Buick
1491 S. Lapeer Rd Lake Orion. 248-683-2066

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Upcoming events starting July 31

July 31
 Lake Orion Knights of Columbus
1400 Orion Rd. Lk. Orion,
Aug. 1
Classic Car Show
Downtown Ortonville
Sept. 12
Lapeer Area Shrine Club Car Show
@ Past Tense Antiques
Daley &Farnsworth Rd. ( little north of Lapeer off M-24)
Sept. 18
Golling GMC Buick
1491 S. Lapeer Rd Lake Orion. 248-683-2066
Aug. 26
Scholz Autofest
High School Capac, Mi.
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Location: Oakland County, Michigan

Ed Noble has been a car enthusiast his entire life. From the 1950s' on Woodward Avenue to writing automotive reviews for The Oakland Press Wheels page, car cruising is a summertime event he looks forward to each year. Ed will write new vehicle reviews for The Oakland Press and also provide some cruise news and other related information.

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