By KBB.com Editors
Chevy's mid-size Malibu, like most GM passenger cars, suffered corporate neglect in the 1990s and early 2000s as customers---and the company's engineering attention and budget---increasingly shifted toward trucks and SUVs. Still, the plain-looking previous Malibu has drawn kudos as a solid, reliable, high-value contender and has sold fairly well. This new one, though, vaults Chevrolet straight to the top of the mid-size sedan game. It looks wonderful, is solidly built and carefully crafted inside and out, offers good fuel economy, drives wonderfully and is priced to sell in serious volumes. There is even an affordable "mild" hybrid version that performs better than the base four-cylinder car and gets two miles-per-gallon better economy.
The Malibu's bold, attractive sheetmetal and stylish interior touches are backed by confident handling, a quiet ride and an overall level of refinement competitive with the category's best.
The Malibu doesn't offer the same all-encompassing feel of precision that some of its competitors have been able to achieve.
The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu---which shares GM's global mid-size platform with the Saturn Aura, Saab 9-3 and same-size German Opels---offers a stiff, solid, quiet-riding structure and precise build quality. More than three inches longer than the 2007 Malibu sedan, and on a six inch-longer wheelbase, its added length and wheels-at-the-corners stance simultaneously enhances its appearance, handling and interior roominess.
Driving Impressions The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu's long wheelbase, wide stance and stiff structure combine for a pleasing balance of ride and handling that's not at all common in this class, particularly for...a domestic brand. The energy-efficient electric power steering on four-cylinder models---though better than earlier GM electric power steering applications---feels a bit artificial on-center; the conventional hydraulic power steering on V6 cars offers more precise feel. The standard four-speed automatic, a perceived disadvantage to competitors with five-speeds, is smooth and pleasant on the road. GM's new six-speed automatic, offered with the V6 only at launch, will become available on four-cylinder cars later in the year. The Malibu hybrid, though not as fuel-efficient around town as the more expensive "full" hybrid Camry, delivers smooth performance and a two miles-per-gallon economy enhancement for about $1,800 more than a conventional 1LT four-cylinder.
Available on 1LT models and standard on 2LT and LTZ, this terrific feature lets you start the engine and warm or cool the interior from a distance, with the car still locked, well before departing.
A GM OnStar feature, this service provides precise verbal directions through the car's audio system without the need to program in a destination.
The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu's beautifully crafted interior uses premium materials throughout. The "dual-cockpit" instrument panel's major gauges are backlit in blue, ambient lighting provides a warm environment and overhead LED floodlights project subdued light on the console area between the front seats. The deep center console's sliding cover opens to accommodate large items, there's a handy storage compartment atop the instrument panel and an available "rear power center" provides a 110-volt AC power outlet. Two available two-tone trim combinations---Ebony and Brick and Cocoa and Cashmere---offer a choice of metallic-look or woodgrain accents, while an all-Ebony combination is accented with tasteful woodgrain.Exterior
The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu hits a high-water mark for its size and price with taut proportions, elegant lines and a crisp, clean profile. Its split grille represents the new global face of Chevrolet cars, and its twin round taillamps are traditional Chevy cues. LTZ models feature front fog lamps and clear-lens LED taillamps, while V-6-powered Malibus sport twin chrome exhausts. With tight panel gaps and rich-looking details, this new mid-size Chevy looks like $40,000 while starting at half that price.
Malibu's comprehensive list of standard safety features includes four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and traction control, front seat-belt pretensioners, "Gen 7" OnStar and six air bags: Dual-stage front, front seat-mounted thorax (side) and two-row head-curtain bags. Also standard are a four-speed automatic transmission, 16-inch painted steel wheels, XM Satellite radio and (surprisingly) a choice of interiors that includes two-tone trim combinations. Mid-range LT models add Stabilitrak stability control with panic brake assist, remote starting (2LT) and 17-inch chrome wheels. The range-topping LTZ offers front fog lamps, 18-inch aluminum wheels, dual chrome exhausts and clear-lens LED taillamps.
2008 Chevrolet Malibu option and equipment packages include such features as power-adjustable pedals, uplevel interiors, leather seats, power equipment groups and a premium audio system. A GPS navigation system is not yet available (partially because the center stack design doesn't provide room for a screen), but "turn-by-turn" verbal directions can be easier to use (you call in destinations to an OnStar operator rather than program them in) and you may not miss the screen.
The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu offers a choice of a standard 169-horsepower 2.4-liter ECOTEC four, a 164-horsepower four-cylinder "mild" hybrid system or a 252-horsepower 3.6-liter V6, all with dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing. The Hybrid teams a small electric motor with a more fuel-efficient version of the 2.4-liter four-cylinder to deliver two miles-per-gallon better fuel economy. The four-cylinder is teamed with a four-speed automatic, while a six-speed automatic is standard with the V6. A new six-speed automatic will become available on four-cylinder models later in the model year.
169 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
160 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30
252 horsepower @ 6300 rpm
251 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26
By Duke on Monday, July 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Pearl white paint is drop dead good looking."
Cons: "Low on power"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Great everyday car with fair gas mileage. The LTZ package in this last year of body style is super comfortable with a great look. Two toned leather seats set the interior apart with tons of style. The 2.4 Ltr engine is a bit low on power, but the 6 speed auto shifts well in all the right places to make this a great daily driver. No complaints or service issues in 28,000 miles."
By John on Sunday, July 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"Hard ride, Tires noisey, Trunk opening to small, Seats not made for long ride, Back seat area to small, Looks and feels like is was made from Beer cans, not worth asking value"
By red on Thursday, July 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Well built, good handling, great running car. Jury still out on transmission, un-happy with shift feel, dealer says normal. I like a transmission with good shift feel. Feels confused at times as to what gear it wants to be in. Overall, solid car, good quality."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By bstowers2014 on Wednesday, July 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 33,600overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty, Economical, Comfortable"
Cons: "Can't think of any"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car is a 2012 Malibu LT and a great vehicle. I am wanting to get back into an SUV, is the only reason I am wanting to sell. Everything has been well taken care of, maintenance, tires, body and interior. Great gas mileage etc. All new matching tires! Tinted windows. Extra hookups for back seat passengers for electronic devices. Electrical plugin as well."
By Jenny on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Cons: "Does not hold trade in value"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I bought my 2012 Chevy Malibu brand new and have loved it ever since. Gas mileage is wonderful. It's the perfect size sedan for my small family. Very stylish and sporty looking. The only downfall is that it started losing value as soon as I drove it off the lot. Now, 2 years later, it is only worth 1/2 of the purchase price. Therefore, if I ever decided to trade it in, I would take a large financial hit."
By reilly on Friday, July 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 93,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles very well very smooth ride"
Cons: "Too much electronics (computers)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"One of the most comfortable cars I've owned. The little 4 cylinder engine is enough for it to get up and go. the highway mileage is phenomenal for the size of the car. I'm 6'2" and this is the only car that the seat isn't all the way back. The telescopic steering wheel is great. The room this vehicle has is almost comparable to a 70's Cadillac almost. It has a huge trunk and spacious interior."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful