In August, 2007, General Motors invited a group of journalists to its proving grounds in Milford, Mich., to test the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu.
GM didn't just provide the Malibus, the test tracks and a lot of orange cones. It also provided a little competition: a group of Toyota Camrys to put through the same tests.
We did have to promise one thing in return: That we wouldn't reveal what we thought of their car before today, just as Malibus start hitting dealerships.
This was a test organized by GM to show off their own car. I kept in mind that no one from Toyota was there to make sure the Camrys were in tip-top shape while I could be sure GM had checked the tire pressure and window seals on all of its cars. Also, given the mid-August date, the competitive 2008 Honda Accord wasn't there to play with.
But the tests were thorough, realistic and very convincing, even if I made allowances for the competition being, perhaps, a bit off its game that day.