Car Review

2009 Chevrolet Malibu: Used Car Review

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author photo by Joe Tralongo July 2014

The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu is a viable alternative to the all-too-familiar Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion. Overall, the Malibu stacks up well when compared with other family sedans and outshines the competition in many ways. 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 have received universal 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 that's often associated with airport rentals. For 2009, the Chevy Malibu sees some improvements over the previous year, namely the addition of StabiliTrak stability control as standard equipment, Bluetooth capability for the OnStar system, and a standard 6-speed automatic transmission on LTZ trims.

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 2009 Chevrolet 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 2009 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 26 mpg city/34 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

For 2009, 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, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with satellite radio and an auxiliary input jack, keyless entry, OnStar, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, cruise control, automatic headlights, an outside-temperature gauge, a tire-pressure monitor, a trip computer, a rear-window defroster, electronic traction and stability control, and six airbags, including full-length side-curtain airbags.

The Malibu 1LT adds 17-in alloy wheels and steering-wheel audio controls.

The Malibu 2LT goes further with heated front seats, a power adjustable driver's seat, remote starting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power adjustable pedals, and more interior color and trim choices.

The Malibu LTZ adds leather seating, dual exhausts, heated side mirrors, 8-speaker audio, 18-in alloy wheels, fog lights, automatic climate control, a 6-speed automatic transmission, 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 and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity.


The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu holds slightly above-average resale values, making it easier to get more car for the same money that you might spend on a 2009 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 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 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, which results 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 issue is that the vehicle could appear to be placed in the park position but not actually be in park.

A recall was issued for the Malibu Hybrid. Under certain circumstances, the windshield defroster system may fail, resulting in decreased visibility for the driver.

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 2009 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 7 years and 84,000 miles. All GM CPO vehicles should be under 5 years old and have fewer than 75,000 miles on them. The 2009 Malibu likely wouldn't qualify, but a newer model might. Malibus 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. 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, earns higher city fuel economy figures 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 be had with a manual transmission and all-wheel drive, plus it has a larger trunk.

AutoTrader's Advice

The best choice is the Malibu LT trim, namely because it offers the best range of features and options without breaking the bank. We think that the 4-cylinder cars should perform on par with their Japanese counterparts and be satisfactory for most people's driving needs, but we would still try to find one with the 6-speed automatic for the improved fuel economy and to avoid the 4-cylinder cars' numerous recall issues.

Find a Chevrolet Malibu for sale

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2009 Chevrolet Malibu: Used Car Review - Autotrader