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Old 01-17-2011, 10:20 AM   #1
Stew


 
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Test Drives: 2011 Dodge Avenger mainstreet vs 2011 Malibu LTZ

Hello all. GOt a little bored Saturday so decided to go try out some sedans (in my neverending quest of Jeep replacement and not being able to make up my mind haha). Anyways here is a basic breakdown of the cars I drove.

1. 2011 Dodge Avenger Mainstreet with the heat package.
price around 24,700.

Pentastar V6/6 speed auto, nice allow wheels, fog lamps, spoiler, power seat, touch screen infotainment.

2. Chevy Malibu LTZ (only V6 they had on the lot). Fully loaded, price around 32k.

How about some comparisons? I will try to keep this as accurate as possible considering the differences in trim levels.

Engines/transmissions

Avenger: The engine felt really smooth, power seemed to live in the upper ranges. The transmission was almost maddening in it's workings. It wanted to hold onto high gears even when shifting manually and when it did downshift it was slow to do so and there was a delay between putting the pedal down and getting reaction. now this did seem alot like the computer was intervening and I know with my Jeep it did this quite a bit with the engine until about 2500 miles. I really want to get into one that has been broken in and really feel the Pentastar in action ans when the computer did set it free it easily pushed you into the seat./

Malibu: Great combination. The engine was very torquey (surprised when i pulled out and gave it the spurs and the tires starting spinning nicely. It easily had power when I needed it and the transmission responded decently quickly and had did pretty well in manual mode, though still a little slower than I liked. Ultimatley the engine and transmission worked pretty damned good togeher!

Advantage: Malibu


Exterior.

Avenger: Pictures do not do the 2011 Avenger justice. The refined front and rear fascias with the flared fenders and clean sides give it a really mean and menacing look. The wheel choices are very stylish, basically it is sporty and clacked out and even the new split/crosshair grill is a major improvement. this is the Sporty one.

Malibu: In LTZ trim this is a really striking car. It has a tasteful use of chrome accents, handsome wheels, and very lux/refined look. IMHO, n it's fourth year, the design is not getting old.

Advantage: tie, do you prefer sporty or sophiticated?

Interior

Avenger. The new interior is pretty striking and a huge step up. Materials are good and I leve the feel of the new steering wheel. The optional touch screen interface is amazingly intuitive, fun, and easy to use. The EVIC which shows different info including mpg info, tire pressure, and giving the ability to reset different options (ex: door lock settings, remote settings, etc) was really nice. It also had a really nice sounding stereo with 1 yr free sirius. The place where it is lacking is in room. Now I am just judging front seat room with my 6 ft tall leggy frame lol. The seat is comfortable and plenty roomy. It seems like it was lacking in kneeroom, of courtese I have this issue with about everthing, though the tilt/telescoping wheel was really helpful in getting comfy here.. Also the driver's side power seat controls were a pain to get to because the driver's door armrest was too large. Overall the interior did come off as really nice and and a huge step in the right direction, just a few more things to work out.

Malibu: THe drivers side area seemed quite a bit roomier here. I loved the seat and the guages. The look, like the outside, was pretty classy. The main demerits here lie in 2 places. The cover over the cupholders wanted to stick and was a pain. Also the center stack was simply riddled with too many buttons and was not nearly as intuitive as the Avengers touchscreen.

Advantage: tie: tech saavy or totally classy.

Suspension. Avenger: This is a nicely buttoned down car. The steering was heavy, but very linear and the work in the suspension pays pretty good dividends. The ride is a bit firm though and some bumps can protude into the cabin, but nothing bad and it was surprisingly zippy.

Malibu: Great handling/ride balance. Does a feel a little heavier, but more buttoned down at the same time. The ride seem a bit more supple. I was really impressed at the solid feel.

Advantage: Malibu

Winner: Malibu: I have to give it to the malibu. This is a well sorted car that is roomy, sophisticated and actually fun to drive. The tuning and communication between the engine and transmission are excellent.

2nd: Avenger: This car is truly deserving of attention, it is a highly improved package in need of a little more finetuning.

Now, the CHrysler dealer is supposed to contact me when get a 200 in (they are supposed to get a Limited in soon) and I also plan on testing a fusion (probably a sport) and also a new Optima Turbo.
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Old 01-17-2011, 04:53 PM   #2
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Awesome review! Here are my comments:

Naming: both suck. Will American companies please STOP with the corny names? Unless it's a Lamborghini or a classic car like a Mustang or Camaro or Corvette, you shouldn't give a run-of-the-mill car a name. It makes the car sound cheap.

Styling: you want to go sophisticated with a sedan, not sporty. People who think a sedan can look like a sports car never owned a real sports car. Let sedans be sedans and sports cars be sports cars. When a car tries to blend the two, more often than not it looks like crap. Case in point: Porsche Panamera. Of course there are exceptions like the Fisker Karma and the Aston Martin Rapide - arguably the only two sedans in existence that look like sports cars. Not coincidentally - Fisker worked as lead designer in both companies.

The Malibu looks inoffensive, and pleasant. The Avenger looks offensive to some, including me, who thinks it looks like a hippo with a tutu. It's a hit and miss - you think it looks aggressive and cool, and I think it looks like a hippo wearing a pink frilly dress. Therefore, go with a sophisticated design which pleases both of us.

Bottom line: I really like the Malibu, it's a fabulous value for money, but I just can't get past the fact that all these "reasonably priced" mid-sized sedans are so utterly boring. They are loaded with features and all that but utterly uninspiring to drive. IMO, in this segment one has to buy a performance sedan like an Infiniti, Lexus, BMW, Audi or Merc. If you just want boring practicality - buy an SUV or minivan.

I honestly don't think there's a difference between a non-performance sedan and an SUV or minivan. People who think there's a difference think there's also a difference between a Burger King burger and an A&W burger - yeah they're "different", but they're both boring - so who cares? People resist the idea of getting a mini-van with all their soul, but there are things a mini-van can do that neither an suv or a non-performance sedan cannot do, but there's nothing (practically) a non-performance sedan or suv can do that a mini-van cannot do. A performance sedan on the other hand will give you thrills and prestige - something that neither an SUV or a mini-van can give you so that makes it worth it IMO.
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Old 01-17-2011, 05:05 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rez333 View Post
Awesome review! Here are my comments:

Naming: both suck. Will American companies please STOP with the corny names? Unless it's a Lamborghini or a classic car like a Mustang or Camaro or Corvette, you shouldn't give a run-of-the-mill car a name. It makes the car sound cheap.

Styling: you want to go sophisticated with a sedan, not sporty. People who think a sedan can look like a sports car never owned a real sports car. Let sedans be sedans and sports cars be sports cars. When a car tries to blend the two, more often than not it looks like crap. Case in point: Porsche Panamera. Of course there are exceptions like the Fisker Karma and the Aston Martin Rapide - arguably the only two sedans in existence that look like sports cars. Not coincidentally - Fisker worked as lead designer in both companies.

The Malibu looks inoffensive, and pleasant. The Avenger looks offensive to some, including me, who thinks it looks like a hippo with a tutu. It's a hit and miss - you think it looks aggressive and cool, and I think it looks like a hippo wearing a pink frilly dress. Therefore, go with a sophisticated design which pleases both of us.

Bottom line: I really like the Malibu, it's a fabulous value for money, but I just can't get past the fact that all these "reasonably priced" mid-sized sedans are so utterly boring. They are loaded with features and all that but utterly uninspiring to drive. IMO, in this segment one has to buy a performance sedan like an Infiniti, Lexus, BMW, Audi or Merc. If you just want boring practicality - buy an SUV or minivan.

I honestly don't think there's a difference between a non-performance sedan and an SUV or minivan. People who think there's a difference think there's also a difference between a Burger King burger and an A&W burger - yeah they're "different", but they're both boring - so who cares? People resist the idea of getting a mini-van with all their soul, but there are things a mini-van can do that neither an suv or a non-performance sedan cannot do, but there's nothing (practically) a non-performance sedan or suv can do that a mini-van cannot do. A performance sedan on the other hand will give you thrills and prestige - something that neither an SUV or a mini-van can give you so that makes it worth it IMO.
Malibu is a corny name? It's been around since the Chevelle.

GM shouldn't name their midsize sedans? What?

Sounds like you're not exactly the target audience that the midsize sedan segment is aiming for, which is perfectly fine. But you also have to understand that there is a market out there with millions of consumers who want a family car but don't want the size of a minivan or SUV.

Basically...not everyone's priority in a car is performance. If performance is all that matters to you, then you'll most likely not be interested in this segment. But automakers need to build products that the majority of the market will buy, not one-off niche products. There's a reason every major automaker has a tiered brand system that most performance sedans (which are niche products) are sold through.
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Old 01-17-2011, 05:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FenwickHockey65 View Post
Malibu is a corny name? It's been around since the Chevelle.

GM shouldn't name their midsize sedans? What?

Sounds like you're not exactly the target audience that the midsize sedan segment is aiming for, which is perfectly fine. But you also have to understand that there is a market out there with millions of consumers who want a family car but don't want the size of a minivan or SUV.

Basically...not everyone's priority in a car is performance. If performance is all that matters to you, then you'll most likely not be interested in this segment. But automakers need to build products that the majority of the market will buy, not one-off niche products. There's a reason every major automaker has a tiered brand system that most performance sedans (which are niche products) are sold through.
The Malibu is the bread and butter of Chevrolet. GM is hoping the Cruze becomes the meatiest segment, but for now the Malibu is a big player in GM's success. It is sophisticated, and reflects the interests of mainstream buyers who tend to have no interest in performance. I'm a big fan of the Malibu. It continues to leave its buyers very happy.
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Old 01-17-2011, 05:38 PM   #5
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WHil, yes, they are not sports cars, each one had enough cajones and personality to be entertaining and yes, i do believe there is room for sporty looking sedans. I don't think the Malibu or Avenger are really plain looking. the funny thing is, the salesman at Chevy dealership drives a new Camry and was gushing how much better the and nicer the malibu is. I would take it as just him trying to sell a car, but he is part of a network of dealerships that allows him to sell Buicks, Chevies, Fords, lincolns, nissans, and yes, Toyotas. Speaking of Toyota Camry there is your boring appliance lol.
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Old 01-17-2011, 05:42 PM   #6
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the salesman at Chevy dealership drives a new Camry


I'm assuming he's new at the Chevrolet dealer?
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Old 01-17-2011, 05:47 PM   #7
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I'm assuming he's new at the Chevrolet dealer?
I think so lol
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Old 01-17-2011, 08:47 PM   #8
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Nice writeup. You seemed very impartial in your comments, and I can definitely appreciate that!!

I've always liked the Malibu inside and out...even in base trim it catches my eye. The Avenger is a huge improvement over its predecessor, though. I'm glad to see it because that was a rough car to live with, imo.


I wanted to just chime in with my two-cents to a comment made here....I can't STAND no-name cars like the "335i", or the "A4" or the "ISF", or hell even the "CTS"....Can. Not. Stand. It. I liked the day when all cars had a soul and a name to go with it. These ID-codes make a point of saying they're just machines (however awesome, Mr. CTS-V...). For my part -- and it's PURELY a personal preference...God forbid this horrible trend ever breach Chevy's showroom.
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Old 01-17-2011, 11:12 PM   #9
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+1 on Dragoneye's dislike of numbers and letters. When someone said Eldorado, you knew what they meant. Now, unless you are a complete car freak, you have no idea what car is being discussed. I have no idea what the Lincoln line up is, telling me MKZ means nothing to me.
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:08 AM   #10
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Thanks for the comments I agree about the whole letter and number thing. i hate it! I can't keep track of which Lincoln is which for example lol. I think an actual name is a better way to build real recognition for a car too. Ford tried it on their bread and butter cars with the 500 and that lasted all of 2 years before Taurus returned.

Another thing, I think anyone that goes straight to a Toyota or Honda dealership without taking the domestics out is out of their mind. We aren't looking at Luminas, Intrepids, and egg shaped Taurus here, we ae lookingat truly competitive cars that meet and even IMHO exceed the Japanese competition.
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:06 AM   #11
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I couldn't imagine paying 32k for a malibu. In a year, it would be worth 20k if you are lucky.

That being said, they are really nice cars and I have nothing bad to say about them.

The new body style avenger is nice looking too, and a huge improvement over 2010 and earlier.

Have you seen the new durango's yet? The local dealer has a new durango citadel, that thing is really cool.
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:42 AM   #12
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One good thing about the malibus is that they have huge rebates and will be willing to deal giving the 12s are gonna be a new model and should be out before the end of the year. i figure I could get a price of around 25k plus TTL on that one. The local Mopar dealer has had 1 Durango, had it for one day and sold it, didn't get to give a closer look unfortunetly :(
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:28 AM   #13
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Nice write up Stew. I, for one, am one of the happy happy Malibu LTZ owners, even if mine just has the 4cyl one, lol.

That said, I need to go check out this new Avenger. I don't really have anything to do today, lol!
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Old 01-18-2011, 03:30 PM   #14
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Nice write up Stew. I, for one, am one of the happy happy Malibu LTZ owners, even if mine just has the 4cyl one, lol.

That said, I need to go check out this new Avenger. I don't really have anything to do today, lol!
It really is a major improvemnt, I do wish the tune on the transmission was a little better. of course the 4 cylinders are supposed to have dual cluthers and the V6 a 9 speed getrag before the end of the year so that may do it
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