2008 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ V6 Test drive


As I mentioned before, I think the 2.4 Liter Malibu is an excellent family car.
A very well equiped model is around $23 000. So I was curious to see if the $26 500 LTZ V6 was worth it.
The main difference inside is, besides the leather, in the details. The metallic trim and the wood have a darker color.
And I must say this really changes the whole atmosphere. It just looks better and more expensive.
I guess that is the point…


On the V6, the transmission is a 6 speed auto. It is very smooth and responsive. The 6 speed will be available next sring in the 2.4 Liter version of the LTZ.
And later will just replace the 4 speed in all other versions.

The engine is very quiet. But the 4 cylinder cars were far from noisy. So there isn’t such a big difference there.
But the V6 sounds, well.. Like a smooth V6. Maybe not as creamy as some of the Japanese competition. But not by much.
And whenever you hear anything, it sounds great.
The main difference is the power available as soon as you start moving. I didn’t thing the 2.4 Liter car was slow. Until I drove the V6. But that’s usually what happens.

What I noticed was the difference in the steering. It is a bit firmer in the center, but gets a bit touchy off center. I found it a bit less linear than the one used in 4 cylinder cars. I guess it “wants” to feel a bit sportier.
But it takes a bit more getting used to than the other one.

The car also felt heavier. (Because it is by about 200 pounds) But in a good way.
It gives the car a more poised and expensive feel.

With every options, the LTZ V6 retails for $28 000.
The Accord EX L V6 is $28 700
The Camry XLE V6 is $28 800

So the Malibu does not really have an adventage in price. Unless you wait a few months. Even though it just came out Carsdirect has about $600 off the prices.

But I still would pick the Chevrolet.
The interior is my favorite of the bunch. It is well made, interesting to look at with lots of personality. A very nice place to spend time.
The powertrain is great. And the whole car is more enjoyable to drive.
There seems to always be something I really don’t like about the competition.
The Camry is just too forgetable. The ride of the Altima is too firm. The steering of the new Accord is too touchy. (And the interior weird) etc…

The Malibu seems to do everything really well. A very nice package you actually remember driving.
And the V6 LTZ feels like an expensive car. Even more than its price.
If you must have the V6, you can always get a loaded LT V6 for $25 500.
(Without leather of the darker interior trim)

A good choice no matter what.

Conversation 19 comments

  1. I agree with your assessment! I think the Malibu is a fantastic car and I hope people will give it a fair shake when comparing the imports to it!

  2. Vince, I happen to agree that this is a nice ride. It’s well about time that GM brought their game and game is what they have with this new re-designed Malibu!

    Ted

  3. That bit about the steering bits in the middle has a bit too much of the word bit, don’t you think?

    Otherwise, good review-this car is a step forward for Chevrolet.

  4. Good report Vince. I saw one of these with my girlfriend the other day. We both liked it alot. It was a v6 LT (not an LTZ). It was dark grey on the outside with the 2 tone light/dark grey interior. I was extremely suprised to wee SUEDE INSERTS on the leather seats. We were really quite impressed with the car as a whole. I think the only kink in the armor is that it uses a little more gas than the competition. I think it weighs a little more than them. But I think it looks way better, both inside and out than Accord, Camry and Altima. My girlfriend wants this Malibu. I like it alot too but I’m looking forward to seeing the new Mazda 6, Mercury Milan/Fusion and Pontiac G8 first and I’m considering purchasing one of those myself sometime in the future.

    John M.

  5. Milan/Fusion will have an all new interior in a few months. (And a new front end) So you should wait .

    But the G8 will be over $30 000. Not in the same league at all.

  6. I hope that the Malibu will have good ratings in the JD Powers quality survey. From your review, it seems that this car is at par with the until now superior japanese family sedans. Reliability is the obstacle for GM. If I were in their shoes, I would match the Korean warranties. That is the quickest way to put people in these redesigned GM cars.

  7. Wow. It’s pretty amazing to hear all the Malibu reviews. I haven’t heard a negative one yet. In my entire life, I haven’t witnessed a Chevy that clearly was a category benchmark… and that includes the Corvette. I had convinced myself that Chevy (and all of GM) didn’t know how to build competitive cars, and I have always been vocal about my disgust toward the brand. I am very pleased to say that this car, and the CTS and possibly the G8 has changed my thinking. These cars are the new benchmark sedans. It’s ’bout damn time! With the exception of SAAB, every GM brand is really rolling up their sleeves. Keep it up!

  8. I went to the LA Auto show this weekend and nobody was looking at the malibu. This car has been beating so bad, during the past decade, that i don’t think it will be GM’s salvation. I drive a toyota camry 08 and I love it.

  9. Vince,

    Yeah I can’t wait for the new Milan/Fusion and Mazda 6 to come out. I especially like the fact that they’ll have available all wheel drive where the Malibu won’t. I mention the G8 because that thing kicks @$$. I probably won’t get the G8 though because it’ll probably use a lot of gas. Any word on when the new Milan/Fusion/Mazda 6 is going to debut?

    John M.

  10. The Camry is a great car. But the Malibu does have more character.

    The Milan/Fusion was supposed to be at the L.A show but wasn’t. So Detroit is will be…

    Sorry but the Bugatti test drive won’t happen here.

  11. Thanks for the info Vince. Hey if you need a letter of recommendation from us to get that Bugatti test drive, I’m sure we can all work something out:)

    John M.

  12. Please correct if I am wrong, but the new Mazda6 is all new based on the new euro-Mondeo, whereas the new Fusion is essentially a refresh on the old model, right? The Fusion is okay, but given the current/upcoming choices in this range it would be 3rd on my list behind this Malibu and the new Mazda6 (sight-unseen, I know). I really dislike the Camry so that is at the bottom, and the Accord is too much of a soccer-mom mobile for any man with self-respect to want to be seen in.

  13. idk if what people are saying about the malibu is honest and true (not biased or bribed), i would check this out. but i dont see how the exterior can be considered so new and radical because to me, it still looks kind of blah. the 6 and possibly even the accord at least have some originality to them, and probably will for years to come.

    but i will never buy this car because i cant get a manual transmission with it. (that goes for mitsubishi, too)

  14. Maybe it’ll be like the Fall of 1954 when the all-new, 1955 Chevy was introduced. It was (and still is) a beautiful car–within a few months those ’55 Chevys were everywhere, and deservedly so.

    It’s been a long time since GM has had a high-volume car to get excited about. Nice to learn the the 4 cylinder Malibu is so satisfying to drive because most people really don’t need V6 power.

    If I were in the market for a new sedan, I’d give the Malibu a serious look, but I’ve been spoiled
    since owning an Accord which is a tough car to beat.

  15. i saw a malibu on the road today……i was surprised it looked so big….bigger/longer than the camry, accord, altima, mazda6 class. i’d be interested to see what the dimension comparisons are.

  16. Length of the Malibu and competition:(In inches)

    -2008 Malibu. 191.8
    -2008 Camry. 189.2
    -2008 Altima. 189.8
    -2008 Accord. 190.9

    So the Malibu is just a bit longer.
    But not as wide as others. The new Accord is 72.7 inches wide and the Malibu is only 70.3 inches.

  17. Well it finally happened! Vince has lost his mind. Character? a VW Jetta clone from the rear. The front looks ok. Looks like one of their trucks. 4 speed xmission and later a 6 speed? How are the folks that buy a 4 speed going to feel when a 6 speed comes out?:CHEATED. I think GM still doesn’t get it. They spend millions on advertisements but yet the dealers have no inventory, I’ve yet to see a real live one. From what I understand most dealers are getting one or two a month. That will get them past the Accord and Camry 😉
    I really wish the domestics would get their shit together and be the benchmark of automotive superiority we used to be.

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