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2008-2009 Chevrolet Malibu



  • jerrywimerjerrywimer Posts: 588
    We previously owned a 2004 Malibu LT sedan, loaded with everything but OnStar. Our new Malibu is a 2008 LTZ (completely loaded this time). So the comparison is basically the original 3.5l / 4 speed equipped car versus the new 3.6l / 6 speed car.

    It's hard to talk about the differences without going straight to how improved everything looks, but you said "Beauty aside", so here goes my attempt:

    It's been a couple of years since we had the 04, but my recollection was of a fairly spacious trunk, even then. The new car carries on with that tradition, but the longer, sleeker lines have led to a shorter opening (both heightwise, and especially, depthwise- as in, from the rear of the trunklid's upper edge to the front edge). The opening itself is wider, but the decreased depth still makes it seem tighter. I'd guess that some things would go into the original car's trunk easier (say, small computer CRT monitors) than the new one. And by the same token, some things will fit into the new one easier (longer slim objects that wouldn't fit through the opening because of the width). Overall, a tie- with a perk to the new one being the struts rather than intrusive hinges our 04 had (crushed a few Christmas presents with THOSE).

    The old car seemed to have better visibility. Enough so that my wife is nervous driving the new one (never was with the other car). It's mostly because of the higher beltline, as well as the more steeply raked windshield and the wider rear pillars / long, raked rear window. I find that it's mostly an illusion, but the feeling is what it is when you're behind the wheel. The guages in the old car were functional, if not necessarily superbly attractive. The new guages have gained some nicer trim, and blend well with the dash. Both cars were fine at conveying all the necessary information in the places you'd intuitively look for it. So another tie.

    The DIC issue- My Avalanche had the DIC display in the dash, just like the new car. I prefer it that way, especially with steering wheel mounted buttons to access it. My eyes feel less distracted when I am using them there than the original location in the center console (integrated with the stereo). Both the buttons and the display were there in the 04, and required not only looking down and to the side (as in the stereo display for the new car too), but also moving at least one hand from the steering wheel to find the button you want. The only downside I see with the new one's location is that there's not enough space to present much information at the same time. But of course, sharing DIC info with the stereo pretty much had the same effect.

    A bigger issue, and one that GM seems to be regressing in on all their vehicles lately, is the location of the compass display / external temperature readouts. The 04 Silverado and 07 Avalanches both had both items in the rearview mirror. The 07 Trailblazer moves the external temperature readout down to the automatic climate control's display (hiding the internal temperature setting within a second or so after changing the internal temperature!), while my 08 bu has it in the DIC, but only on the standard odo display. The new 09 Avalanches are also moving it to one of the latter locations for some reason. To me, making me toggle info displays to find something that was superbly located before (hiding other stuff I want to see quickly in the process) is an oversite that shouldn't be happening.

    V6 / V6 fuel economy. First, let's not forget that the 04-07 cars didn't stick with the same V6's throughout the run, so my comments are based both on personal experience with the *first* 3.5l (non VVT, etc.), as well as what I've read of the newer ones, and my current experiences with the 3.6l in just over 3 months of late winter / early spring driving.

    The original 3.5l cars were rated higher by the EPA than the later cars, but had lower horsepower and torque numbers. The addition of the VVT might've added something, but the marginal increase in power doesn't seem like it would've made an adequate tradeoff for the lost fuel economy in my mind, especially since I thought the torquey engine we had in the 04 was plenty strong, if not class leading. I never had issues pulling any of the mountains around here, even with the car fully loaded, nor any problems passing at will. And with my routine daily drive, at roughly 95% highway and 62 miles round-trip, it consistently returned 32-36 mpg (usually the lower end of the range). On long all-highway trips, even with my family and luggage included, the range was more like 34-38 mpg. For a 200hp V6, I was well pleased. Higher numbers seemed to occur during warmer months (so long as I left the A/C off, else about a 1 or 2 mpg penalty occurred). I have no doubt that the electric steering of the early cars with V6's helped somewhat, and the change to hydraulic assisted steering on the newer 3.5's (or later bigger 3.9 SS cars) probably subtracted even more from the ratings than just the engine change alone.

    Keeping the above in mind, the new car with the 3.6l, six speed automatic, and hydraulically assisted steering hasn't been too bad. I haven't hit the highest numbers I expect to see for my daily drive, as we've only recently been getting into consistently > 70 degree fahrenheit daytime temps throughout the week. Still the worst numbers I've seen were over 25 mpg, and that was for the two weeks I drove by the breakin instructions, keeping under 55, staying to side roads (so varied speeds were the rule, with stop and go more than usual- think 50% highway equivalent). Once the breakin was done I went back to my usual drive, but in colder, windy, and sometimes rainy weather, all of which seem to sap economy a bit over the ideal warm dry windless days. The numbers I've seen so far have been between 28 and just over 31 mpg. I expect to see 32 or maybe even 33 mpg at the best, with 30 being just about average with this car. That's a decent drop from the 04's fuel economy, but still not bad, especially when you have to step into the car for a pass and realize just how much more is waiting under the hood. As I said, I wouldn't classify the last car as a slouch, but in comparison to the new one, it sometimes feels like it was just the same.

    Back to the four cylinder cars- purely based on reading here and elsewhere, the newer car seems to actually be holding its own on fuel economy and performance when compared to the last gen cars. I don't know why that is, but I suppose it's all to the good if the best possible fuel economy is on your list. And the 6 speed automatic equipped cars are expected to improve to best-in-class highway ratings, so that may be right up your alley.

    Do I miss the old car- DEFINITELY. But not in a I-wish-I'd-kept-it-and-hadn't-bought-this-one sort of way. More of a I-want-both. ;)
  • bryanbryan Posts: 217
    As to axeing the Olds brand, I'm one who thought it should have been Saturn, as Olds had the 100 year history, and for many years they were very popular and sold well. And at the time the decision was made, Saturn seemed to be really struggling with its quality, etc. Interesting how Saturn seems to have turned the corner now.

    Some history--I've been in the GM stable since my first car ('72 Nova bought new), except for the 1981 Datsun 200SX that, looking back now, was the stupidest impulse buy ever! It did get good mpg, especially coming out of a 1978 Pontiac Grand Prix. I ended up hating that Datsun; traded into an '83 Olds '98 Regency Brougham. What a slug that car was, but oh was it stunning!

    In looking back at all the cars I've owned, two Olds come to mind--the first one was my 1977 Olds Cutlass Salon. It had a firmer ride that the other Cutlass models that year, which I really enjoyed, and it was a blast to drive. Only problem with that car was the clock never worked right. That's the excuse I used to buy a new car--the '78 GP! :shades:

    Second was my '96 Olds LSS, until now, the best car I've ever owned--the ONLY warranty repair was a cracked door sill on the front passenger side. 30 mpg highway, wonderful to drive, comfortable, fit and finish best I'd had until the '08 Malibu. I kept that car until 110,000 miles (11 years, longest ever for me), but it needed more $$$ to keep it going than the car would be worth, so I sold it to my Olds mechanic! It only costs him parts since his labor is free! ;)

    As to the '08 Malibu, I've only had it since May 3, 220 miles so far. I'm just blown away by the fit and finish--best in any car I've ever owned, and it's quiet. I traded an '04 Olds Alero Final 500 on it, and do NOT miss that car, at all! Had a nice peppy V6, but just a tedious car to drive.

    I also have an '03 Olds Aurora. It's simply stunning--Red Bordeaux with the cashmere leather interior. That car has had quite the relationship with the Olds service shop--blown Bose speaker, rattling door speaker, sunroof rattles, DIC misfires that resulted in some computer stuff being replaced twice, stupid stuff that should not have happened in an almost $40K car! Has had the intermittent steering shaft issue twice. Had a wheel bearing issue that was replaced. Recently was getting hard shifts, and since that repair, car drives like new. But, other than normal maintenance, it's been covered by warranty. It came with a 5 year, 60K warranty, and for an additional $100, I was able to add one year. The car has 41,xxx miles, and will be out of warranty in February '09. It's paid for, and I do like to drive that lux-o-boat! Same Olds mechanic has taken care of this car that serviced the LSS, and he wants this one when I'm done, It's paid for, not worth much now, so I'll keep it until it starts to cost $$$.

    The new Malibu seems to be perfect for me. I fit just fine, have more legroom than any car yet, it has all the bells and whistles I need. I test drove an '08 LS, and was so impressed with that lower end model, that I decided to special order my 2LT. I'm looking forward to a couple of hundred mile drive in the car this weekend.
  • malexbumalexbu Posts: 169
    Thank you very much, jerrywimer, for the extremely thoughtful and objective report -- this is exactly what I was looking for!

    I know that beauty is important, and I remember the feeling when I got into my beloved Bu-05 after test-driving Bu-08: boy, wasn't I shocked with the "plainless" of my car!...

    But in a while that feeling went away: I feel quite happy inside my 05 -- and I mostly look at the road, not at the panels (which, thankfully, don't rattle :-). Functionality, however, never loses its importance.

    I'll be rereading your post more attentively later -- there is plenty in it. Thank you again!
  • Karen@EdmundsKaren@Edmunds Posts: 5,024
    A reporter is hoping to talk with consumers who had considered purchasing a Hyundai Sonata and ended up purchasing another vehicle. Please respond to before Friday, May 16, 2008 with your daytime contact information and what you ended up purchasing.

    Karen-Edmunds Community Manager

  • mazda6dudemazda6dude Posts: 283
    Does the 2008 chevy malibu LT1 have a timing belt or timing chain? Thanks.
  • beach15beach15 Posts: 1,305
    ALL Malibu drivetrains use a timing chain--2.4L and 3.6L.

    Actually, ALL GM vehicles and their engines use a chain except for the new Saturn Astra (engine is a slightly different iteration, as it's a Euro vehicle) and the Chevy Aveo, also a foreign based vehicle. All else, chains, and no change interval.
  • sidewinderzsidewinderz Posts: 49
    I always owned a GM car . Before the 08 Malibu was announced , I was looking at the Hyunda Elantra or Sonata . However after finding the following site
    I decided not to purchase either one . Looks like they don't really want to back their warranty . I'll probably get the LS before the end of the month .
    Just my 2 cents
  • kingdomsakingdomsa Posts: 14
    It seems GM has put lots of 'quality' into even their lowest LS level 08 Malibu. Which makes the LS seem like a very nice basic car - what I need. Can anyone comment on the noise/vibration/harshness & 'quality' differences between the 08 LS and 08 LT-2LT-LTZ? I've read the spec differences & test drove, but is there any less quality in the LS design/construction that I might notice in the longer term - like less insulation, lower quality seats, less of anything?
  • mazda6dudemazda6dude Posts: 283
    Thanks for the info.
  • beach15beach15 Posts: 1,305
    No, there's ZERO difference in NVH between the trim levels. The only difference are wheels & tires, with the LS (at least until '09) using steel wheels and 16" Uniroyal tires. So, if anything, in that regard, it has the most cushion in ride due to the extra sidewall.

    But otherwise, all the glass, all the insulation, the suspension tuning, etc. is identical across all the models. Only the features and trim details separate them.
  • bwiabwia Boston Posts: 1,061
    Yesterday I dropped by a local Chevy dealer and the place was drab an uninviting, nothing close to those snazzy and upscale Nissan, Honda, and Toyota showrooms.

    Is it no wonder there were no customers? Only two salesmen twiddling their thumbs and a mile long parking lot with trucks and SUVs but only 3 Malibus (one LS and two LTs).

    The saleman informed me that sales are extremely slow with high gas prices and and slow(ing) economy. He said the Malibu was selling well but have already exhausted their build quota for the 2008s. He said that they expect the 2009 to begin arriving in August.

    If the situation is as bad at other Chevy dealers, then GM will have yet another bad year.
  • kplacerkplacer Posts: 94
    Obviously each dealer experience is unique to the locality. Around here the Honda dealer is impossible to deal with, selling only to those members of the cult who are willing to accept whatever is offered. The Toyota and Nissan dealers are similar but to a lesser extent. I have noted a much more welcoming experience at the Chevy stores. The pickups and SUVs are stacking up like cordwood everywhere. I cannot imagine Toyota is selling many Sequoias and doubt if Nissan is selling many Titans.
  • bwiabwia Boston Posts: 1,061
    Despite the soft economy new mid-size car sales were up for May and for the year-to-date. The table below from the Wall Street Journal is from the Top 20 vehicles current month's sales.

    Make/May 08 Sales/% Change from May 07/YTD 2008 Sales/% Change from 2007 YTD
    Toyota Camry/…51,291/…2.3%/…198,309/…2.3%
    Honda Accord/…43,728/…37%/…166,158/…8.3%
    Chevy Impala/…23,803/…(33.3%)/…122,281/…(15.4%)
    Ford Fusion/…18,088/…26.7%/…73,197/…10.5%
    Chevy Malibu/…15,634/…51.3%/…73,760/…40%

    From the above it is clear that the Camry and Accord sales more than 3 times that of the Malibu. With such low volume sales it does not appear that GM’s $100 million advertising campaign for Malibu is working effectively.

    The figures above include Hybrid sales for the Accord and Camry. By the way, neither the Sonata nor the Altima made it in the top 20.
  • dconnordconnor Posts: 20
    I recently had a 2008 Malibu as a rental for 3 weeks while my car was in the body shop due to a recent vehicular mishap. These are my observations, for what they are worth. Good-looking car inside and out. Drives and rides well. Head room okay without moonroof ( I am 6' 3") with front set leg room marginal for my long legs. The back set leg room is quite limited, as it seems to be with most cars now making it difficult for tall families to be fuel conserving even if they want to. My biggest surprise was the mileage. I am usually pretty good at getting reasonable mileage. On my 2005 4 cyl. Altima, which I gave to my 6' 5" son to take to college, I averaged around 27 mpg combined highway and city and could get between 29 aand 30 on an all highway trip. However, over three weeks in the Malibu with several tanks of gas
    and mostly highway driving I could get no better than 24 mpg. Also the 4 cyl. Malibu seemed anemic when accelerating compared to the 4 cyl Accords, Camrys, and Altimas I have driven, all of which got considerably better mileage. I thought about getting a Malibu, but that is unacceptable mileage for a 4 cyl in my opinion.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,448
    Just curious...why make the exact same posting in multiple forums?
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I had the same experience with the lack of room in the Malibu. I'm 6'5", and have much more room in my 2006 Accord Sedan, which has a moonroof.

    The back seat of the Malibu feels like a compact car, through and through.
  • tsgraysontsgrayson Posts: 9
    I have a choice of a black granite metallic 2LT with sun roof for 22.3K or a black granite LTZ with rear power, sun roof, and the new 4 cyl with 6 sp transmission for 25.5K....

    Those that own them, what would you take?
  • roho1roho1 Posts: 317
    I'd pick the one that isn't black :)
  • tsgraysontsgrayson Posts: 9
    I like the black though!
  • au79enau79en Posts: 2
    I just bought the LTZ last month. I hadn't bought a GM product in ages, and the last one I'd bought was horrible (2002 Alero). I really liked the looks of the Malibu, and saw that it was getting a considerable amount of good press, so decided to gamble on it (albeit the 3480.00 accrued on my GM card did help make the decision easier). I have to say I'm very impressed with it. It has been flawless - not a rattle, squeak, or defect of any kind. It's fun to drive, comfortable, fast, and has lots of features. I'd previously owned a couple of Mazda6's (traded one). The Malibu has not made me regret trading the 6, even though it too was a very good car.
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