The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu is a viable alternative to the ubiquitous Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion. The Malibu stacks up well when compared with other family sedans and in many ways outshines the competition. Strong styling, a roomy back seat and a number of engine choices (such as a 4-cylinder hybrid and a potent V6) give the Malibu broad appeal, while its ride and handling attributes universally receive high praise. Chevrolet used a European Opel platform to create a truly world-class sedan. Solid and stable, the Malibu instills a sense of luxury to a class of car often associated with airport rentals. From its quiet cabin to its stylish interior, the Malibu looks and feels like a more expensive import. Good resale and reliability ratings -- though not as strong as the Honda Accord's or Toyota Camry's -- should also make the purchase of a previously owned 2008 Chevy Malibu a no-brainer.
What We Like
Bold styling; smooth ride; quiet interior; superb handling; comfortable and roomy rear seat
What We Don't
Problematic 4-speed transmission; lower trims have too much gray plastic inside; small trunk opening; no navigation radio option
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The 2008 Chevy Malibu offers three engine choices. First up is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder teamed to either a 4-speed or optional 6-speed automatic. This engine makes 169 horsepower and 160 lb-ft of torque and earns an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-estimated 22 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway with the 4-speed, and 22 mpg city/32 mpg hwy with the 6-speed automatic. The 3.6-liter V6 bumps output to 252 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque, with fuel economy ratings of 17 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with the 4-speed automatic and 18 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with the 6-speed. Lastly, the Malibu Hybrid uses the same 4-cylinder engine as the gasoline car, but with a small electric motor wedged between the engine and transmission. This setup allows for better acceleration and slightly better fuel economy, earning an EPA-estimated 24 mpg city/32 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
For 2008, the Malibu can be purchased in five trims: LS, 1LT, 2LT, LTZ and Hybrid.
The Malibu LS includes 16-inch painted steel wheels, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, air conditioning, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with satellite radio and auxiliary input jack, keyless entry, OnStar, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, automatic headlights, outside temperature gauge, tire pressure monitor, trip computer, rear window defroster and six airbags including full-length side-curtain airbags.
The Malibu 1LT adds 17-in alloy wheels, electronic traction and stability control and steering wheel audio controls.
The Malibu 2LT goes further with heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver's seat, remote start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals and more interior color and trim choices.
The Malibu LTZ adds leather seating, dual exhaust, heated side mirrors, 8-speaker audio, 18-in alloy wheels, fog lights, automatic climate control, silver exterior accents, a 6-disc CD changer and a power passenger seat.
The Malibu Hybrid is similarly equipped as the 1LT but adds 16-in alloy wheels, a 2-way power driver's seat, automatic climate control and low-rolling resistance tires.
Options for the Malibu are bundled by trim, with many of the 2LT and LTZ's features available on the lower trims. Other options include 2-tone interiors, a manual rear sunshade and a 110-volt outlet. Sadly, there is no navigation system available, although the OnStar system can provide turn-by-turn navigation guidance.
The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu holds slightly above-average resale values, making it easier to get more car for the same money you might spend on a 2008 Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. To get a good idea of the Malibu's price range, we suggest using the Kelley Blue Book used car values at KBB.com. You can also search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see what models are currently for sale in your area.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recalls for the Chevrolet Malibu:
A recall was issued for a possible defect in the BCM (body control module) that may affect the brake sensor and cause numerous problems, including failure of brake lights, difficulty using the brake pedal to disengage cruise control and disablement of crash-avoidance features such as traction and stability control.
A recall was issued for a possible problem with the transmission shift cable fracturing, resulting in the shifter not pointing to the correct gear.
A recall was issued to correct the electric power steering, which may fail without notice while the car is in motion.
A recall was issued for a problem with the transmission shifter; the vehicle may appear to be placed in the park position, but may not actually be in park.
Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
As for safety, NHTSA gives the Malibu excellent scores, netting five out of five stars for the driver and passenger in both the front- and side-impact crash tests. The Malibu earns four out of five stars in the rollover crash test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also gives the 2008 Chevy Malibu high marks, with its highest rating of Good achieved in the offset front-end crash test, the side-impact crash test and the roof-strength crash test.
The Malibu left the factory carrying a 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/100,000 mile drivetrain warranty. GM also offers additional coverage on its certified pre-owned (CPO) Malibus, extending the factory coverage to as much as seven years/84,000 miles. All GM CPO vehicles are less than five years old and have less than 75,000 miles on them, so the 2008 Malibu wouldn't qualify but a newer model may -- they also come with a 3-day/150-mile money-back or exchange guarantee.
Other Cars to Consider
Honda Accord -- The Accord is still the benchmark in this class, offering superior resale and reliability ratings. But the Accord isn't as stylish as the Malibu, nor does it have as nice of an interior layout.
Toyota Camry -- Like the Accord, the Camry holds superior resale and repair ratings, but it's rather bland, not much fun to drive and has less front-seat legroom than the Malibu. The Camry Hybrid, on the other hand, gets much better gas mileage than the Malibu Hybrid.
Ford Fusion -- The Fusion feels sportier than the Malibu, and while its resale values are on par with the Chevy, the Ford has a much better recall and repair history. The Fusion can also be had with a manual transmission and all-wheel drive -- plus it has a larger trunk.
The best choice is the Malibu LT trim, namely because it offers the best range of features and options without breaking the bank. We'd think the 4-cylinder cars perform on par with their Japanese counterparts and should be satisfactory for most people's driving needs. But, we'd try to find one with the 6-speed automatic for the improved fuel economy and to avoid the 4-speed's numerous recall issues.