2009 Chevrolet Malibu Review

Consumer Reviews
4 Reviews
2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
July 19, 2009

The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu is a top contender in its class in almost every way.

TheCarConnection.com's reviewers 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 Chevrolet Malibu mid-size sedan received a complete redesign 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.

Two engines motivate the Malibu: an economical 2.4-liter inline-4 or a more powerful, refined 3.6-liter V-6, both mated to six-speed automatic transmissions. Performance from the four-cylinder is good enough, but you may prefer the V-6 for more responsive, sportier driving.

Review continues below

The Malibu's well-designed interior features pleasing instrument panel gauges and high-quality materials throughout. Front seats are some of the comfiest in the segment, and the backseat is quite roomy, too.

Three models grace the Malibu lineup—LS, LT, and LTZ—with the top-spec LTZ offering a long list of standard equipment and features.

The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu takes safety seriously. Front side thorax and side curtain airbags that cover front and rear occupants are standard. The Malibu earns the top five-star rating in all of the federal government's crash tests, along with top "good" ratings in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) front offset and side crash tests.

9

2009 Chevrolet Malibu

Styling

The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu looks great inside and out.

The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu is well liked in the automotive community and by some of the most finicky review sources. The 2008 redesign was sorely needed.

Edmunds and The Los Angeles Times note the Chevrolet Malibu's average but handsome redesign is free of self-conscious oddness and gimmicks found in segment rivals. Meanwhile, The Washington Post commends Chevrolet for its restraint in not trying to turn the Malibu into something it isn't.

Inside, the Malibu's modern, two-tone interior evokes some design elements from the '50s and '60s, putting it in a class above. Edmunds remarks its only bested by Honda's Accord, while Cars.com opines its better looking than anything else in the GM lineup, tied only by the Saturn Aura. If anything, the latest from GM is truly novel, giving consumers a reason to consider more than just Japanese brands.

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8

2009 Chevrolet Malibu

Performance

The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu offers solid performance across the line, but it's not exactly heart-stopping.

The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu is a pretty responsible car—but it's also fun to drive.

At the top of the Malibu line, an optional 3.6-liter V-6 produces 252-horsepower, providing a lot of kick and refinement for picky drivers. But the Malibu's most popular engine is an economical 169-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline-4, which achieves 22 and 30 mpg in EPA city and highway test cycles. For 2009, every Chevy Malibu gets the top-notch six-speed automatic.

The Chevy Malibu's performance has garnered mixed reviews. ConsumerGuide notes there might as well be "caffeine under the hood" of the 2009 Malibu, as it offers energetic performance. The New York Times characterizes both engines as eager, comparing favorably to the Nissan Altima and Honda Accord, while Cars.com acknowledges the sturdy V-6 doesn't feel like it matches its stated output on the butt dyno. The four-cylinder's characteristic thrashiness is gone thanks to a re-engineered intake manifold, claims Road & Track. But Edmunds gripes underwhelming fuel economy is likely due to the 3,649-pound sedan's heft when equipped with the optional V-6, making it the "fat kid" of the midsize segment.

The Malibu offers fairly benign driving dynamics according to most reviewers. Cars.com reports the Malibu exhibits an excellent ride and good handling, but body roll is more pronounced than competitors.

TheCarConnection.com's reviewers think the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu doesn't offer impressive performance dynamics, but its smooth ride at least provides confident handling. Four-cylinder Malibus have a electric power steering system to save fuel, but hydraulic power steering in V-6 models provides better steering feel and feedback. Stability control is standard across the line for 2009.

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9

2009 Chevrolet Malibu

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu has a very roomy interior and good-looking materials throughout.

On the inside, reviewers note that the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu is large and comfortable. Materials quality is better than generally expected from GM.

The Chevrolet Malibu's wheelbase, lengthened as part of the redesign last year, provides for good legroom front and rear while also easing ingress and egress, says Cars.com. Edmunds reports the sedan's ride will please passengers.

There are plenty of compliments on the Malibu's interior. Road & Track rejoices Chevy's mid-sizer has finally shed its rental-car hard plastics. MotherProof is a fan of the center console's ability to stow a purse.

On the comfort front, Chevrolet has made a concerted effort to free the Malibu of noise and vibration, going as far to install specialized engine mounts to prevent engine vibrations from entering the passenger cabin. Other countermeasures, including a tighter firewall, acoustic glass and insulation, lined wheel wells further aids in interior serenity, Edmunds notes. There are also numerous different tires fitted on various Malibus, and ConsumerGuide says they can significantly affect road noise.

Review continues below
9

2009 Chevrolet Malibu

Safety

The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu is fully loaded with safety features, and tests are all positive.

Reviewers commend the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu for safety. It hits all the right notes with features and crash-test scores, including five-star scores across the board in federal crash tests and "good" scores from IIHS in side and front offset crash tests.

Car and Driver states that the '09 Malibu is "loaded-up on safety features," and Edmunds confirms the competition doesn't match the Malibu on standard safety equipment. Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, and a full complement of airbags—which include dual-stage front, front side thorax, and side curtain airbags—are standard equipment.

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2009 Chevrolet Malibu

Features

The addition of Bluetooth capability now means that the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu has everything most shoppers look for—except a screen-based nav system.

Most reviews agree the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu offers a pretty good selection of features at a reasonable price.

Three models grace the Malibu lineup: LS, LT, and LTZ. The base-model LS includes keyless entry; power doors, locks, and windows; and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. By the time drivers make it to the top-spec LTZ model, the long feature list includes remote start, automatic climate control, universal remote, power-adjustable pedals, and appearance extras such as LED tail lamps and interior ambient lighting. For 2009, the revamped OnStar—offered on a trial bases for one year—include Bluetooth (features like navigation remain intact). Premium audio adds a six-disc CD changer and auxiliary input.

Edmunds slams Chevrolet for not offering a screen-based navigation system in the Malibu, calling it a mistake. During its testing of Chevrolet's newest mid-size sedan, drivers reported the OnStar system wouldn't function at first; once it did, those drivers were left unimpressed by OnStar's turn-by-turn navigation, saying it's a lacklustre substitute for map-based navigation systems.

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December 27, 2016
For 2009 Chevrolet Malibu

Car was not made to last.

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With only 34,340 miles on car that was well taken care of the transmission went. The brake pads don't last long. The car door electric locks don't work the way they should . I bought this car new and had to... + More »
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November 4, 2016
For 2009 Chevrolet Malibu

One of the worst mistakes in car choices

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Over the years, it's one thing after another. From trim falling off to sensors failing (After warranty) to turn signal switch fail (when have you heard of this failing?). It is nightmare of a vehicle but it's... + More »
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September 4, 2015
2009 Chevrolet Malibu 4-Door Sedan LS w/1LS

So far, so good

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This vehicle looks great for a 2009. For a base 4-cylinder engine, I'm surprised how well it performs. This car has done me well for around 70k miles, and I assume it will continue to do so for years to come... + More »
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May 17, 2015
For 2009 Chevrolet Malibu

The front end suspension is very poor

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This is my second Malibu , a 2005 and now a 2009 . Both have suppension issues . I was hoping it would have improved .
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8.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 9
Performance 8
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety 9
Features 8
Fuel Economy N/A
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