2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
September 7, 2008

The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic is a good car, offered at a slight discount, but the new, redesigned '08 Malibu is much better.

To prepare this review of the Chevrolet Malibu Classic, the experts at TheCarConnection.com searched many different review sources to bring you the best information. TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the Malibu Classic and interweave their own experiences with the vehicle.

A completely redesigned Chevrolet Malibu mid-size sedan was introduced for 2008, but the old version of the Malibu soldiers on, as the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic. The Classic comes in one streamlined trim, with the 219-horsepower, 3.5-liter pushrod V-6 engine and four-speed automatic transmission. The so-called Maxx model, a hatchback or wagon version of the Malibu Classic, has been discontinued.

The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic's design, when it was originally introduced in 2003, stood out for its quiet and refinement inside, and for a commendable combination of a supple ride and decent handling--though the electric power steering can be uninspiring at times. The 3.5-liter V-6 can be coarse but provides plenty of power, and the four-speed automatic handles it well; what's more, the combination returns excellent fuel economy, with estimates of 18 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and near the upper end of that in real-world driving.

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The Malibu Classic's packaging allows decent comfort for front occupants, though the seats could be more supportive; in back, most adults will be able to fit without a wedge, and entry and exit are easy. The trunk of the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic is especially roomy. The instrument panel keeps it neat and simple in design, but the execution is rather dull, with unexciting finishes and some materials that feel cheap.

Value is the primary reason to look at the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic, as opposed to the updated Malibu. The single V-6 model comes quite well equipped, with standard keyless entry, power accessories, cruise control, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Options include a remote start system, a sunroof, and an XM Satellite Radio tuner. A screen-based navigation system isn't on the options list.

The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic has done quite well in crash tests, with top five-star results in the federal government's frontal tests and four- and five-star results in the side tests. The insurance-affiliated IIHS gave the former Malibu design "good" ratings for both frontal and side protection, with an "acceptable" rating in the rear-impact test, which estimates the likelihood of whiplash and other injuries. The Classic comes with head-curtain side airbags, but side airbags aren't offered, nor is electronic stability control. Anti-lock brakes are standard, however.


2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic


Buying a 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic is like shopping at a discount retailer; you'll save quite a bit, but you won't be sporting the latest and greatest fashions.

The styling of the Chevrolet Malibu that debuted in 2004 wasn't very exciting at the time, and now that the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic has to compete with a redesigned Chevrolet 2008 Malibu, the design seems even blander.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com largely pan the exterior styling of the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic. Car and Driver is first on the critique list, calling the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic a "mid-size sedan that has a better-than-average chassis in a forgettable wrapper." AOL Autos reports that the "one trim" of this Chevrolet 2008 Malibu features "quiet styling," which comes across as "boring." Cars.com tries to salvage some of this 2008 Chevrolet's styling cachet by saying that it "blends corporate heritage with European influence," but other reviewers aren't buying it. Cars.com describes some of the exterior elements of the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu in Classic trim as "a chrome front bar and a gold bow tie emblem," while also noting that "other badging was eliminated for a cleaner appearance." Despite the aging styling, Edmunds feels that "if having the latest version of something isn't important to you, then the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic could be a good choice."

The interior of this Chevrolet 2008 Malibu Classic doesn't fare particularly well with reviewers either, as it comes across as boring and uninspired more than anything else. Edmunds reviewers lament the "bland interior design" on the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic, which they say is far inferior to the "vastly different, vastly improved new Malibu." Perhaps the most telling feature about the interior styling of the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic is how little attention it receives in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. However, among the few critical reviews, there are a couple of positives to be gleaned. Most notably, ConsumerGuide says that this Chevrolet 2008 Malibu boasts "large, legible gauges and conveniently located, clearly marked audio and climate controls."


2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic


A sport sedan it is not, but the V-6 in the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic should keep drivers from falling asleep at the wheel.

The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic doesn't scream performance machine, but its engine is peppy, and the chassis provides a comfortable, if not exhilarating, ride.

According to AOL Autos, Chevrolet's 2008 edition of the Malibu Classic "comes in one trim, equipped with a 219-hp, 3.5-liter V6" engine that fares well in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. ConsumerGuide reviewers claim that the V-6 engine is "robust in all situations." Edmunds, meanwhile, feels that the powerplant "offers plenty of spirited performance for around town and the highway." Other reviews read by TheCarConnection.com praise the singular engine option on this 2008 Chevrolet, but ConsumerGuide notes that the V-6 can "drone loudly at full throttle" and lacks "the refinement of Japanese-brand rivals."

The theme of overall simplicity on the Chevrolet 2008 Malibu Classic carries through to the transmission options, which is to say that there are no options. AOL Autos reports that the only transmission offered on this 2008 Chevrolet is "a four-speed automatic transmission with overdrive." Reviews show that the transmission is capable, though certainly not exceptional, and Car and Driver describes it as "ho-hum." ConsumerGuide adds that the transmission is "smooth" and "works well" with the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic's V-6.

One surprising aspect of this Chevrolet 2008 Malibu's performance is its fuel economy, which is impressive for a V-6 engine that has only four forward gears to work with. The EPA estimates that the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic will get 18 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. In real-world testing, ConsumerGuide reports that they "averaged 20.9-23.7 mpg depending on driving conditions."

The chassis of the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic, which like the rest of the car is a carryover from the 2007 version, is tuned more for comfort than performance. GM designers did manage to meet their comfort targets, and Car and Driver raves about the "good road manners" on this Chevrolet 2008 Malibu. AOL Autos also mentions the "civilized road manners" of the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic as one of its strengths, while Edmunds emphasizes the "smooth ride and predictable handling in the corners." On the critical side, Edmunds says that "the car's electric steering provides too much power assist most of the time, lending it a very detached feel." ConsumerGuide chimes in that a "rigid body and taut suspension help Malibu corner with agility and confidence," and they mention that this 2008 Chevrolet has "adequate" brakes.


2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic

Comfort & Quality

As long as your expectations for interior materials are appropriately low, the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic matches its competitors in most other comfort categories.

The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic leans toward the smallish side of the mid-size sedan segment, but that doesn't mean it's incapable of hauling its fair share of people and cargo in decent comfort.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic offers seating capacity for five, and Edmunds reviewers note that the "space-efficient cabin offers plenty of room all around for four adults." In the front seats, ConsumerGuide says that the "standard power seat-height adjuster" and "tilt/telescope steering wheel allow comfortable driving posture," while this 2008 Chevrolet's dimensions afford "good head and leg room for larger adults." Edmunds reports the "front seats are broad and comfortable, even on long trips," and the backseats offer additional comfortable seating capacity. With the backseats in use, Edmunds says that the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic "will easily accommodate five if your backseaters are children." ConsumerGuide disagrees somewhat, finding that a "low seat cushion forces awkward knees-up stance" and "taller adults may lack head room," but they praise the Chevrolet 2008 Malibu Classic's "adequate leg room."

Cargo space inside the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic is average for the class, which is impressive considering that Car and Driver calls this 2008 Chevrolet a "smallish mid-size sedan." Cars.com reports that "the trunk holds 15.4 cubic feet of cargo," while extra space on the Chevrolet 2008 Malibu Classic can be achieved thanks to the "flat-folding front passenger seat and a 60/40-split, folding rear seat." Edmunds calls overall trunk capacity "respectable," though reviewers don't regard the cabin so kindly. The interior of this 2008 Chevrolet Malibu in 2007 clothes offers "unexceptional" interior storage, according to ConsumerGuide.

One area where the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic has trouble matching its competitors is in build quality, which is unimpressive according to reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. Edmunds writes that the "materials quality is on the low end for the segment." Other reviewers agree, especially Car and Driver, which claims that this Chevrolet 2008 Malibu sports a "cheap-looking interior." ConsumerGuide adds that the "interior materials are visibly below Honda/Toyota level," but they moderate their criticism by saying that the materials "are serviceable and show good workmanship," though this sounds somewhat similar to the old "A for effort, F for execution" adage. While the materials quality may be poor, reviewers at AOL Autos are impressed by the "quality construction" on display in this 2008 Chevrolet Malibu.

One benefit of the high build quality exhibited by the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic is that it does a superb job of hushing outside noises. ConsumerGuide in particular loves how "wind and road noise" are "well-muted" on this 2008 Chevrolet, and they add that the engines are "quiet enough at cruise."


2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic


Strong crash-test ratings and most of the usual safety features make the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic a responsible family pick.

Despite the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic's dated architecture, at least when compared to the latest Chevy Malibu, this 2008 Chevrolet Malibu performs well in safety tests.

The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic has been crash tested by the NHTSA and the IIHS, and both report impressive results for the Chevrolet 2008 Malibu Classic. In NHTSA tests, the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic earned a perfect five-star rating for front impact protection, as well as four of a possible five stars in the rollover category. For 2008, Chevrolet's Malibu Classic also earned high marks from the IIHS, which awarded the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic the highest possible rating, "good," in the Institute's frontal offset impact test. This Chevrolet 2008 Malibu also earned a "good" rating in the IIHS's side impact test.

In addition to above-average crash-test results, the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic comes with most of the modern safety features that consumers have come to expect, according to reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. Reviewers at AOL Autos report that "standard safety features include front and side-curtain airbags," while Edmunds notes that, for 2008, Chevrolet has added "standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes" to the Malibu Classic. Edmunds adds that the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic includes standard "traction control," though they are disappointed to find "stability control is not available."

One of the other noteworthy safety characteristics on the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic is that it affords very good overall driver visibility. ConsumerGuide is most vocal in its praise, reporting that "outward vision is good" on this Chevrolet 2008 Malibu Classic, "enhanced by large door mirrors."


2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic


You won't find the latest and greatest features on this value-oriented 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic, but at least you're getting what you pay for.

In an effort to keep the price down on the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic, GM offers this Chevrolet 2008 vehicle in just one trim level and with few options, though the standard features list is nice for this price level.

For a vehicle that starts in the low-$20,000 range, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic doesn't want for standard features. ConsumerGuide reviewers note that all 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic models come with "folding rear seatbacks," along with such niceties as "air conditioning, power steering, tilt/telescope steering wheel, cruise control," and an "AM/FM/CD player." Edmunds adds that other standard equipment includes a "six-speaker stereo and 16-inch steel wheels," as well as "a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls."

Along with the standard features found on all Chevrolet 2008 Malibus in Classic garb, several noteworthy optional features can be added to this 2008 Chevrolet. Cars.com reports "GM's OnStar communication system is optional," while ConsumerGuide lists a "power sunroof" as an $800 option on this 2008 Chevrolet. Edmunds says that other options are available as well on the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu, including "satellite radio" and "remote engine start"; for the style-conscious, "chrome-clad wheels" are offered on the Chevrolet 2008 Malibu Classic. However, as the experts at TheCarConnection.com noted earlier, the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic does not offer any sort of screen-based navigation system, nor does it provide Bluetooth or any advanced entertainment options like those found in the newly revamped Chevy Malibu.

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