Chevy Malibu 2008 Review


The Car You Can’t Ignore

Chevrolet’s new Malibu is great competition to Toyota’s Camry and Honda’s Accord. Louis Chevrolet’s domestically grown Malibu starts with a uniquely rigid structure and well-executed suspensions.

Physicians may remember a few decades ago Chevrolet owned this marketplace with a car called the Nova. This mid-sized marketplace is extremely lucrative and often holds the title as the number one volume selling car in the US as the Camry is now, as been the Accord, as been the Taurus, and the Cutlass in the late 1970s.

This new model only comes as a front-wheel drive 4-door sedan. Malibu’s inspiration is Cadillac and Corvette in its combo of luxury and performance. There are four levels of Malibu; LS, LT, LTZ and Hybrid. The 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder LS with automatic transmission starts below $20,000. A loaded LTZ may cost a bit above $25,000. No matter the model, you get the same structure and suspension geometry. For each model the suspension is adjusted relative to the performance the engineers estimate the drivers will desire. We drove the top of the line LTZ with 6-cylinder engine. We’ll review the 4-cylinder and hybrid models at a later date.

Attractive Design

The new Malibu has an overall length of about 192 inches. Wheelbase at a little over 112 inches is noticeably comfortable and over 2 inches longer than the competitors. The independent suspension and wide 225/50R tires on an 18-inch wheel are responsive. The suspension itself consists of some very attractive caste aluminum components like Porsche or Audi might use. Go ahead look under the car. The hydraulic power steering is nice, light and fast.

The 3.6-liter V6 engine is optional in the LT and sporty LTZ sedan. None of the V6’s in this class has direct injection. The sexy single serpentine belted V6 cylinder engine is a smooth pump. Variable valve timing is a great way to top off a substantially aluminum engine. The engine response upon firm accelerations is pleasing as is the noise produced. This 6 offers meaningful torque at 1500 lower RPM’s than its competition.

Standard transmission is an automatic six speed is good; the gear ratios are chosen well and it offers you a secret weapon usually found on the German car—shift paddles for a manual control of six-speeds on the steering wheel. The shift response is absolutely quick, maybe quicker than Audi and BMW and certainly more satisfying. This six-speed transmission employs a lock-up torque converter and lacks the exotic efficient clutch mechanism you find in German cars. Most all things that make a good basic car GM has done well with tight fit on all the early models we examined. The hood is a most interesting panel. Is it spaced symmetrically to all the surrounding panels? Yes, and this is a special way to cut a hood, please compare when you are looking.

European RideThe ride quality for the driver is really enjoyable, quiet and most European. Your passengers may have a softer ride in a Camry but there is no way you’ll have as much fun driving the Toyota.

The driver’s cockpit is simple. The speedometer, tachometer, fuel and temperature gauges are directly ahead of you in an attractive backlit electric blue. Steering wheel switches can all be operated by the thumbs, even up-shifting with your left or right hand, downshifting is accomplished by pulling back with your left or right fingers.

The center binnacle of controls, climate and entertainment systems are the most direct of any. XM Satellite radio is standard and integrated right into the system. Whether you want to listen to your I-Pod, XM, AM, FM, or a CD it’s hard to imagine what you could be missing. The Malibu is unique in that it has a navigation system standard. It works with one button on the mirror and your voice. This service comes via On-Star. All Malibu are standard with On-Star. In most serious crashes On-Star automatically contacts the driver and an emergency response team.

The LTZ comes standard with power-adjustable pedals, tilt, and telescoping steering wheel in combination with a power seat that offers height adjustment. If you stand shorter than 5 foot 5 inches the Malibu offers a special fit where you will enjoy better comfort, control and visibility.

For years we’ve looked at Chevrolet value. What this division of GM works hard to do is to give you more car for less money than other GM divisions and competitors. Sometimes Chevrolet just doesn’t have a good competitor in a class even though it appears to be a solid value. Warren Brown the notoriously tough automotive critic for the Washington Post, said, “It’s fair to say that Chevrolet now actually has something where it can actually compete legitimately against the Camry.” The new Malibu is something different and demonstrates Chevrolet is coming on strong with an ingenious package of features that just may win you over.

Active and passive safety is very good with stability control, side curtain airbags and a lot of high strength steel to protect the passengers. Early safety data looks good. Take a look at some of the unique features on this new Malibu when you test drive, “If you enjoy driving you’ll enjoy this car.” You can’t always say that about the competition anymore.

Fast Facts: Chevrolet Malibu LTZ 2008


191.8 in.


70.3 in.


3,649 lbs.






Gas V-6




Auto 6-spd


17/26 MPG


Kansas City, KS

*Safety SCORE


**Real Price



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