Serves the Commercial Small Fleet Market of 10 – 50 Vehicles

A New Halo Car for Fleet

November 2007, by - Also by this author

Fleet customers longing for a worthy American alternative to those very good Japanese mid-sized competitors can now look to the completely redesigned 2008 Chevrolet Malibu. With it comes General Motor's fleet infrastructure and fleet-specific customer care. Earlier this month Business Fleet had a chance to check out, compare and drive the 2008 Chevy Malibu through the city streets of Memphis and into the backcountry of northern Mississippi.

The Look

The new Malibu grew six inches longer than its predecessor, to a 112-inch wheelbase, and now rivals its mid-sized competitors in key dimensions. The car looks more expensive than its $19,995 base MSRP. The lines, stance and proportion are reminiscent of a Lexus ESÑintended, according to lead exterior designer Tim Koso. "Our idea from the beginning was to make this thing look dripping with luxury." That credo is reinforced in the interior. With the new dual cockpitÑa Chevy signature –accentuated by pleasing ambient light, two-tone color schemes and brushed metal or wood trim, the new Malibu gets a refined, upmarket feel.

The Drive

On our four-hour trek through the heartland, the Malibu handled the dips and curves of the country roads nimbly. The standard 2.4L, 169 hp four-cylinder, four-speed engine was smooth, responsive and had plenty of pickup, which would seemingly quell complaints from fleet drivers that they were given a car that lacked power. The engineers stressed attention to dampening NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) with a liquid spray-on sound deadener and laminated "quiet glass." The result was simply "quiet." We averaged 24 mpg in the standard four-cylinder and 26.7 mpg in the hybrid on country roads and some highway.

Fleets Only, Please

The 2008 Malibu LS is offered with a fleet-specific package. The 1FL package includes all of the Malibu LS retail model's standard features, such as side-impact air bags, air conditioning, rear defogger, remote keyless entry, tire pressure monitoring system, XM Satellite Radio and OnStar, as well as the standard 2.4L, 164 hp four-cylinder, four speed engine. Yet unlike the retail LS, fleets can order the 1FL package with "free-flow options" such as adjustable pedals and a six-way power seat adjuster. And only fleet customers can order the LS with the 3.5L, 219 hp V-6.

The hybrid is available to fleets right out of the gate. Fleet customers will also like the money-saving potential of the standard oil life monitoring system and the versatility of the flip-down rear seat. Standard OnStar Gen 7 delivers advanced automatic crash notification, remote diagnostics, a monthly status report and available Turn-by-Turn Navigation. (Tell a live advisor your destination and you'll get turn-by-turn audio directions.) With the level of refinement in the 2008 Chevy Malibu, fleet drivers might think they jumped a peg on the selector totem pole. No harm in letting them think.

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