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. Fresh from last year's complete makeover, Chevrolet's Malibu has bolted from middle-of-the-road contender straight to the top of the mid-size sedan game. The 2009 Malibu 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 four miles-per-gallon better in city driving.
The 2009 Chevrolet 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. Unlike some competitors, the fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine is available on all Malibu trims, not just the entry-level model.
Minor changes for Chevrolet's major new player include standard StabiliTrak stability control on all trims, improvements to the Hybrid model's fuel efficiency and the addition of Bluetooth capability to the standard OnStar 8.0. A six-speed automatic is now standard on four-cylinder LTZ models.
Driving Impressions The 2009 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 fuel-efficient six-speed automatic, standard on the 2LT and LTZ trims, is a welcome addition to the Malibu lineup and offers paddle shifters for more spirited driving. For the more "green" minded, the Malibu hybrid, though not as fuel-efficient around town as the more expensive "full" hybrid Camry, delivers smooth performance and a four 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 2009 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 2009 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, StabiliTrak stability control, front seat-belt pretensioners, OnStar 8.0 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, 17-inch painted steel wheels, XM Satellite radio and (surprisingly) a choice of interiors that includes two-tone trim combinations. The range-topping LTZ offers front fog lamps, 18-inch aluminum wheels, dual chrome exhausts and clear-lens LED taillamps.
2009 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 2009 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 fuel-efficient six-speed automatic is standard with the V6 and optional across the rest of the lineup.
169 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
160 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30 (four-speed automatic),22/33 (six-speed automatic)
252 horsepower @ 6300 rpm
251 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26
2.4-liter 4-cylinder (Hybrid)
164 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
159 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 26/34
By mew on Thursday, August 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 65,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, handles very well, has get up and go"
Cons: "Narrow back windows can cause a blind spot"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love my car. She corners well, drives very nicely, stereo system is great. Absolutely love the OnStar. Only reason I am selling her is my husband doesn't have enough head room and since his neck surgery, has a hard time getting in and out. He wants a car that sits higher."
By FordHater on Monday, August 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price, fun to drive, smooth ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I recently traded in my 2012 Ford Focus SEL because I had nothing but problems with it. The SYNC system is awful and doesn't work right, and the transmission shutters and acts as if it doesn't know what gear it should go into. This Malibu is a DREAM compared to it. It's so roomy and the ride is so smooth. I am absolutely in love. I got it for a great price and although I was negative on the Focus, my payments only went up $30 a month. TOTALLY worth it. I will never own another Ford again. GM ALL THE WAY."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By red334 on Sunday, August 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "nice looking from afar"
Cons: "terrible quality, poor depedability."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"second chevy ive owned, and the last I will ever own again. nothing but problems from the first day I bought this vehicle. poor quality in craftsmanship, electronics are a hot mess, and the number of recalls......ridiculous!"
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
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."
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
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"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
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