The Solstice is out getting repaired in sections after a brutal break in by a crack head who attacked the car with a blunt screw driver. Top is wrecked, convertable top frame bent, door handle, door lock, paint and dents from the alarm going off making the crack head strike the car before running off.
I had to get a rental while the door is being repaired, so I got this 2009 Chevy Malibu Lt. It has the same engine as the Solstice, the Ecotec 2.4 and it's the got the new 5 speed auto with paddle shift. So of course the first thing I want to do is test the Chevy claims of a 30 MPG car. So far with city combined heavy traffic and 50% highway I'm getting 28.8. It's currently beating the Solstice at 26-27.
The star of the car is the 5 speed transmission, this thing shifts at 2200 to 2500 RPM, I switched to manual mode and shifted at 3000 and managed to get 27 mpg. Here is a case of an automatic transmission beating a stick shift.
Now compared to the Solstic, it's a race car vs. a Cadillac, the Malibu is like being in a cathedral, you dont feel bumps, where the Solstic sees gravel like a speed bump. It's loaded with the satellite radio and seat warmers. The 2 level seat warmers are a dream, it was 32 this morning, yet I felt like I was sitting in a warm lounge chair in front of the fire. Oh let me tell you this car is realy changing my minimalist car flavor.
The Malibu is big, well considered a mid size by the manufacturers and it's long, would I like to get one? Sure, but I would go for a smaller Cobalt, with the 5 speed automatic. I like the auto in the city, I shift into neutral at each light, feather foot my starts, slip stream with cars on the freeway or find a big rig to draft. I love the luxury, I love to stretch out while getting 1 mpg better than the Solstice. Now the weight is 3400 lbs., 3600 for the V6, the Solstic is 2900, so with 500 extra pounds I'm getting almost the same MPG. I have really been considering an auto since I have to do so much city driving and this car really pushed me over the edge.
Now depending on what I get, I still plan to do the same things, warm or hot air intake, body panning, LRR tires, HHO, header into a stock exhaust, every trick I can think of. I want luxury and an automatic and get over 30 mpg.
As I continue to drive this car I'll include updates.
It's a allot like a video game, you have to think 300 rpm before your shift, if you aim for 3000 rpm, hit the paddle at 2700. Downshifting, you have to use a double clutch method, you have to blip the throttle, it will hammer into a lower gear once you hit the downshift paddle. Short shifting at like 1700 rpm it will shift at 2000, but if your peddle pressure is too high, the gear will hold out 500 rpm longer after the up shift paddle is pressed.
If left in auto mode it will shift at 2000 and once at a cruise of like 35 to 45 is held it will drop down to 1200-1500 in the city. So far city only mileage was 24 mpg, I'll play with it more tomarrow.
Friday was the last day I had the car, it sat through a grueling 2 hour bumper to bumper city commute across D.C. in the Holiday rush. Then put up with a 1 hour plus heavy traffic commute home. It's electric seat warmers were a joy in 20 and 30 degree mornings, had satellite radio, tilt and telescopic steering and an electric seat. This car was luxury, it was big and rode smooth. The best part is, it beat the Solstice in the city 24 grueling city vs. 18-20 in the Solstice. Same engine, a car 500 lbs. heaver than the Solstice and it matched highway mileage (30), but beat it in the city.
It's an automatic, (which if you want to read more I cover in the automatics section) my clutch, brake, and gas foot had a break. In heavy traffic I double footed, (left foot brake, right foot gas) I used to drive a van for deliveries and when I broke my foot in 93, I had to drive left foot for 6 month until the bones healed. It's been a while since I did that and took practice to get the braking right. If you want to double foot, practice in a residential till you get used to the brake pressure on the left foot. If you drive a clutch and double foot, the first time you hit that brake, you will send yourself right through the windshield.
Would I get a Malibu? Yes, the only thing holding me back is the length, its a long car, considered a midsize, I would like to get something a wea bit smaller, say a Pontiac Grand Am or a Cobalt, maybe a Saturn Ion. They all have the 2.2 or 2.4 4 cyl engine and the lock up automatic available. I'm hooked on GM's, way cheaper for a used 05 or 06 than the equivalent Toyota Camry, or Honda Accord. Also the GM can be modified for WAI and easy to lean out with a few simple tricks.
My current residence is in Baltimore and I only have street parking, so the small size of the Solstice is needed. If I go up to the midsize Malibu or Impala, I'm going to have to compete for parking with my pickup truck neighbors. The only thing in a comfort complaint is the size of the consol, same with the Solstice, both cars have giant consols, so big they press against the side of my right leg when on the highway. It get's exhausting after a long drive, you have to do a foot dance to keep the blood moving. Aside from that and the size, it's a great car, luxury with 24 heavy city and 30 hwy. GM's claim to deliver a 30 mpg car is true.
Nice review! Some review that I have read elsewhere (forgotten where ) described the car as very quiet. I don't know if that is true. However, I think the car has to carry more sound absorbent materials, and hence weight, to be quiet. That will hurt fuel economy. Obviously this is not true for this car as it seems to be quite fuel efficient for its size after all. GM may have somehow done something right.