Roadtest: 2008 Chevrolet Malibu LT

Your Camrys and Accords? Put 'em on Craig's List and meet your new DD.

2008 Chevrolet Malibu LT

Image:  Author

©2008 Hib Halverson
No use without permission

Betcha 80% of CAC members don't drive their Corvettes regularly. They have a daily driver and, for some, it's a Toyota or Honda garaged next to their recreational Vette. If that's you; time to come home to Chevrolet.

Late last January, during a trip to Detroit to research our coming article on the LS9, GM loaned us an '08 Chevy Malibu LT to drive and, we get why even media biased against American cars begrudgingly admits: the mid-sized Malibu is a darn fine product.

Your Camrys and Accords? Put 'em on Craig's List and meet your new DD. It's the first "new" Malibu worthy of the name. Why? It's has great style, good performance, comfort and roominess. It's got great quality, is priced right and-it's a Chevy.

On a windy, snowy day at Detroit Metro Airport, after dumping 100 pounds of photo gear and other bags in the spacious trunk then scraping ice off the windshield, I made hasty entry into the Malibu and out of the wind. First, I noticed good seats. Second, what a nice interior! Third, the HVAC controls were easy to use-a good thing because it was freakin' cold.

This car drives well. The steering has the right feel and effort. Ride is comfortable but firm enough for Corvetters to appreciate. The car is quiet, yet not too isolated-another trait Vette owners will like. It comes standard with a Malibu version of Corvette's Active Handing and Traction Control, both welcomed while driving around snowy, icy Detroit on all-season radials. The 169-hp Ecotec four's performance was adequate. It works hard, but gets the job done more quietly than other Ecotecs we driven-a testament to GM's attention to noise in Malibu. If you want more power, a 252-hp V6 is available but, Corvette-grade acceleration? That's not what this car is about. You need wait for a future Malibu SS or the coming Pontiac G8.

In 10-15° weather, we didn't stand around very long looking that this car but one of Malibu's strong points is its exterior. Long hood, short deck, Chevy's characteristic front grille with gold Bow-Tie, clean sides interrupted only by wheels openings, a seductive roof line and some Corvette styling cues at the rear all make this car as pleasing as it is unique to look at.

A few things I don't like? The cheap Hankook tires. They're ok on a base model but on the LT? Not. GM's automatic door locks are exasperating. I hate being forced to buy XM. But, that's all minor stuff, really, far offset by what is a damn nice, mid-sized sedan from the Bow-Tie folks.

If I was a Toyota or Honda dealer thinking about 4-door sedan sales and the weak dollar, then seeing Malibu's style, features, quality and price; I'd be nervous-real nervous.

Shopping for a daily driver? Put Malibu on your list.

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As soon as you get inside the Malibu, you get a really good feeling about what you see...something Chevrolet owners have not felt in the Bow-Tie folks' mainstream offerings in a long time.
Image:  GM Communications
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GM's 3.6L "high-feature V6" is optional in it's 252-hp, port-injected, variable valve timing version.
Image:  GM Communications