- Smooth responsive engines and transmissions
- Good fuel efficiency from four-cylinder models
- Surprisingly elegant interior styling and materials
- Doesn’t feel very sporty
- No Bluetooth hands-free interface
- No screen-based nav system
After years of being a second-stage alternative, the Malibu is a legitimate contender for best-in-class.
The mid-size Chevrolet Malibu sedan has been completely redesigned for 2008. New proportions and very handsome, attractive styling inside and out give the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu a more upscale appearance, while a newly available 252-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 and six-speed automatic--optional on the top LTZ model--brings newfound refinement.
The more popular engine choice for the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu lineup is the economical 169-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which is rated at a frugal 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and comes only with a smooth-shifting four-speed automatic transmission. Performance is good enough with the four-cylinder, but if you plan to haul full loads or take on mountain passes, you may be wishing for the V-6, which is very responsive and much more refined than the V-6 in the previous Malibu.
The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu has a very smooth, well-controlled ride and handles securely, though without much performance flair. If equipped with the four-cylinder engine, the Malibu has a fuel-saving electric power steering system, but V-6 versions come with a hydraulic power steering that gives a bit more road feel. The cabin is very well designed, with an attractive instrument panel and materials that are pleasing to the touch. Front seats were among the most comfortable in the mid-size sedan class, and the backseat is quite roomy.
Three models grace the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu lineup: the base LS, midrange LT, and luxury-laden LTZ. The LS includes power accessories, keyless entry, and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, while LTZ models get plenty of noteworthy features such as remote start, automatic climate control, a universal remote, and power-adjustable pedals, plus a number of appearance extras like LED taillamps and interior ambient lighting. An integrated Bluetooth hands-free calling interface isn't offered; there's no screen-based satellite navigation system available, either. But OnStar turn-by-turn navigation is included in addition to the other emergency and concierge services OnStar provides. The Malibu comes with a one-year subscription, but after that the owner must pay a fee.
Safety is a strong point for the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu; it's earned the top five-star rating in all of the federal government's crash tests, along with top Good ratings from the insurance industry in frontal offset and side tests. Front side thorax airbags and side curtain bags that cover front and rear occupants are standard, plus anti-lock brakes. Electronic stability control is standard on all but the base Malibu LS.