Midsize car; Built in USA
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $9,800 – $19,500*


2008 Chevrolet Malibu Front


2008 Chevrolet Malibu Rear


2008 Chevrolet Malibu Interior


2008 Chevrolet Malibu Profile

Pros:
  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Controls/materials
  • Fuel economy (Hybrid)
  • Passenger room
  • Quietness
Cons:
  • Rear visibility
  • Ride with 17-inch and 18-inch tires

Chevrolet took Malibu from the realm of rental-fleet darling to a must-see in this highly competitive segment. This midsize sedan stands out for its refined powertrains and smart interior design, as well as value pricing when new. We especially like the smooth, quiet four-cylinder engine and the frugal Hybrid. Malibu holds its own when compared to midsize-class sales leaders: The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Add it to your test-drive list.

Overview

Chevrolet’s Malibu was redesigned for 2008 with new styling, more available power, and added safety features. This model was smaller than Chevrolet’s other front-wheel-drive midsize sedan, the Impala. Malibu continued to share its basic design with the Pontiac G6, Saturn Aura, and Saab 9-3. The 2008 Malibu was six inches longer in wheelbase, and three inches longer overall, than the 2007 sedan. The Malibu Maxx hatchback, which rode a longer wheelbase, was dropped as the new model emerged.

Three trim levels were offered: LS, LT, and LTZ. Arriving later in the model year was a gasoline/electric Hybrid model. LS and LT sedans had a standard 169-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that teamed with a four-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed automatic for the four-cylinder arrived later in the model year. Optional on the LT and standard on LTZ was a 252-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 that mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. The four-cylinder engine was a no-cost option for LTZ. Standard safety features included antilock braking, traction control, an antiskid system (new for 2008), curtain side airbags, and front side airbags. Principal competitors included the Honda Accord, Mazda 6, and Toyota Camry.

The Malibu Hybrid combined Chevrolet’s four-cylinder gas engine with an electric motor. The sole transmission was a four-speed automatic. The Hybrid system could turn off the gasoline engine while at a stop, but the car could not accelerate solely on electric power. No plug-in charging was required.

Yearly Updates

2009 Malibu
Little changed on the Malibu for the 2009 model year, though power-adjustable pedals were no longer offered. GM’s OnStar 8.0 system had new Bluetooth capability. A six-speed automatic transmission for the four-cylinder engine was available for the LT model and standard on the LTZ. All models had a standard four-cylinder engine, with a 3.6-liter V6 optional for LT and LTZ.
2010 Malibu
The gas/electric Hybrid model was no longer available for retail sale in 2010, though it was still offered to fleets. The 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine was now capable of running on E85 ethanol-blended fuel. Otherwise, there were few changes for 2010.
2011 Malibu
The 2011 Chevrolet Malibu came only with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
2012 Malibu
There were no changes of note to the 2012 Chevrolet Malibu, the last model year of this generation.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, rated at 169 horsepower, has gone into LS, LT, and LTZ models. LT and LTZ models may instead hold a 3.6-liter V6 that generates 252 horsepower. Either a four-speed or six-speed automatic has been available for four-cylinder models. All V6 sedans have a six-speed automatic, which became standard on all models for 2011. In the Malibu Hybrid, a 2.4-liter gasoline engine works with an electric motor and four-speed automatic transmission. The Hybrid model was dropped for 2010.

dohc I4/electric
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/145
Engine HP 164
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 159
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic

26/34

31.3

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/145
Engine HP 169
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 160
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic
6-speed automatic
22/30
22/33
23.2
25.1
dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.6/217
Engine HP 252
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 251
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic

17/26

21.4

Road Test

Four-cylinder models (regular and Hybrid) don’t jump from a stop, but build speed reasonably quickly. Pre-2011 lower-line models came with a four-speed automatic ransmission, which performs well with prompt, smooth shifts. The six-speed automatic is similarly smooth, but tends to get caught in the wrong gear for best response. The V6 versions are strong off the line and spirited at any speed. In both, the transmission upshifts smoothly and downshifts quickly for passing; V6 versions include manual-shift steering-wheel paddles.

Fuel economy is best with fewer cylinders, as expected. Test four-cylinder models averaged 23.2 mpg in city/highway driving, and 24.5 mpg with more highway use. A four-cylinder sedan with the six-speed automatic averaged 23.4 to 26.6 mpg; a V6 averaged 21.4 mpg. A test Hybrid model averaged a miserly 31.3 mpg. All Malibus use regular-grade gasoline.

Chevrolet claimed suspension tuning was about the same for all models, so differences in ride quality are likely the result of tire choice. Early LS and Hybrid models used 16-inch tires that allow bumps to be taken in stride. LT (and later LS/Hybrid models) came with 17-inch tires that make bumps more noticeable. The LTZ sedan’s 18-inch tires make it somewhat stiff over smaller bumps.

Handling is affected by the power-steering type. Four-cylinder versions use electrically-assisted steering that’s light at low speeds for easier maneuverability, whereas the LTZ’s weightier hydraulic power steering and wider tires provide a sportier driving feel and better grip in fast turns. Body roll is well controlled in all models.

Pleasantly quiet overall, the Malibu does emit mild road noise and modest wind rush from the side windows at highway speeds, which slightly mars an otherwise tranquil driving experience. The four-cylinder engine is much quieter now than in previous years, emitting only a refined growl under heavy throttle. Chevrolet’s V6 is quieter still, with a sporty but subdued full-throttle whine.

Gauges are easy to read. Audio and climate controls are mounted high on the dashboard, within easy reach. They feature handy rotary knobs along with easy-to-use pushbuttons.

Chevrolet takes great pride in Malibu’s interior design and materials, and it’s not without merit. Chrome trim outlines the gauges, center vents, and console shifter, while simulated wood trim and striking two-tone color combinations have been available. Padded surfaces are found throughout, though the padding is surprisingly thin-or nonexistent-in areas such as the door tops and armrests where elbows may rest. Bodies of test Malibus have been squeak- and rattle-free, though a few panel gaps, inside and out, marred otherwise solid assembly quality.

Front seats are comfortable, and the driver’s seat includes standard height and lumbar adjustment. Aiding occupant positioning is a standard tilt/telescopic steering wheel, though it may not rise high enough for some drivers. Headroom and legroom are ample. Adjustable pedals-a boon for shorter drivers-were available at first, then dropped by 2009. Visibility is obscured to the rear corners by thick roof pillars, but is okay elsewhere. Sun visors extend on their support rods to cover the front side windows.

Rear occupants can expect quite roomy and fairly comfortable accommodations, though the seat cushion is low and a bit soft. Headroom is just adequate for six-footers. Legroom and foot space are good even with the front seats all the way back and down, though that tightens foot space through the doors upon egress. Three passengers could sit abreast, but the center-seater’s feet will likely have to straddle a hump in the floorboard.

Malibu shines in cargo space versus top competitors. The trunklid opens to a large portal and is supported by strut-type hinges that don’t dip into the cargo area. In addition, the pass-through revealed by the standard split-folding rear seat is much larger than in many rivals. Though the seatbacks don’t fold flat, they have mar-resistant hard-rubber backs. Interior storage includes a dashtop bin, small left- and right-side dashboard bins, two cupholders, and two small bins in the console, a two-tiered console box, and a good-sized glovebox-all covered.

Ratings

Model Tested: Malibu LT 4-cylinder

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
60%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 8
80%

Total: 60

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
112.3 191.8 70.3 57.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.1 16.3 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.4 37.2 42.2 37.6
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2008 Malibu 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Front Passenger Injury - 5
100%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
100%
Rear Passenger Injury - 5
100%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Coolant leak
Description: Coolant may leak from the area of the cylinder heads due to bad head gaskets or from the coolant crossover pipe gasket at the right (rear) cylinder head. (2008)
Engine noise
Description: Squealing or vibration from the engine at startup likely due to a slipping vibration damper on the front of the crankshaft. (2007-08)
Transmission problems
Description: The transmission (model 4T80-E) may leak and/or slip in gear due to a worn bushing on the clutch housing that allows fluid to build up and leak at the axle seal. (2001-08)
Transmission problems
Description: The transmission may not work or may slip in reverse requiring replacement of some clutches. (2008-09)

Recall History

2008-2010 Malibu with 4-speed automatic
Description: Tabs on the transmission shift cable end may fracture and separate, potentially causing the gear and shifter not to match up. The shifter could indicate the car is in park when it isn’t.
2009 Malibu
Description: On some cars, transmission shift cable adjustment clip may not be fully engaged, so shift lever might not match actual position of transmission gear; if indicator showed “Park,” transmission may not actually be in that mode, vehicle could roll away, or driver might be unable to restart the vehicle.
2009 Hybrid
Description: On a small number of vehicles, the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system may become inoperative, possibly affecting visibility if the windshield begins to fog or frost.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.