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.
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.
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.