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Editors at TheCarConnection.com have driven the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu and spent a lot of time with several of the variants, from basic to luxurious, to compile their overall impression in this Bottom Line. Then TheCarConnection.com combed the Web to gather insight and input from other driving opinions to create a review that covers all the bases.
The mid-size Chevrolet Malibu sedan was completely redesigned for 2008, and most of the changes hold over into 2009. In 2008, all the proportions and interior/exterior styling were reworked, so 2009 sports the newly upscale appearance. At the top of the Malibu line, an available 252-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 provides a lot of kick and refinement for picky drivers.
The most popular engine choice for the 2009 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. For 2009, every Chevy Malibu gets the top-notch six-speed automatic transmission. Performance in the 2009 Malibu is good enough with the four-cylinder engine, but if you plan to haul full loads or take on mountain passes, you may prefer the V-6, which is very responsive and better suited to sporty driving.
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. The 2009 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 hydraulic power steering, which provides a bit more road feel. For 2009, stability control is standard across the line.
Three models grace the 2009 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. By the time drivers make it to the top LTZ model, however, the list gets much longer. It includes features such as remote start, automatic climate control, a universal remote, and power-adjustable pedals, plus a number of appearance extras like LED tail lamps and interior ambient lighting. For 2009, the OnStar system has been revamped to include Bluetooth (features like navigation remain intact). The Malibu comes with a one-year subscription, but after that the owner must pay a fee.
Safety is a strong point for the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu. Front side thorax airbags and side curtain bags that cover front and rear occupants are standard, plus anti-lock brakes. The Malibu earns 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.