2008 Chevrolet Malibu Performance
Reviews generally find the 2008 Malibu is a pleasant-driving family sedan, but some issues with its transmissions and steering drag down its performance score.
- "Driving the Malibu is an eye-opening experience." -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- "Modern shapes, a classy cabin, and some caffeine under the hood, this is a midsize American car we should pine for rather than settle for." -- Consumer Guide
- "Overall, the feel of this car puts the Camry to shame, though someone wanting as sporty a ride as possible in a mid-market sedan might still opt for the latest version Accord." -- The Car Connection
- "In several hundred miles of driving, particularly on challenging two lanes through the White Mountains of New Hampshire, both the 4- and 6-cylinder Malibus had the kind of eagerness one normally associates with the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima, which are among the sportiest family sedans. Only on the tightest turns did the Malibu feel nose-heavy, a problem common to front-wheel drive vehicles with so many components (and weight) up front. Overall, the Malibu rides more comfortably than the Honda Accord and is far more fun to drive than the standard Toyota Camry." -- New York Times
Acceleration and Power
Automotive reviewers say the Malibu's two engines have their own positives and negatives, the standard four-speed automatic transmission is outdated, and the six-speed automatic offers less than ideal paddle shifters. Nevertheless, the Malibu is described as a worthy alternative to the high-scoring Honda Accord. The EPA rates four-cylinder trims with a city/highway rating of 22/30 miles per gallon. Six-cylinder trims equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission get 17/26 mpg.
- Motor Trend editors pitted the Malibu's V6 engine against a Honda Accord V6 and found "the Accord and Malibu perform about as similarly as possible: 0 to 60 is a push; the quarter mile goes to the Accord by a tenth; 60 to 0 to the Malibu by four feet; lateral acceleration separated by a scant 0.01 g; and a figure-eight advantage to the Chevy by 0.4 second. It's plausible that the numbers represent two runs by the same car." -- Motor Trend
- "The four, which has lost much of its thrashiness with the redesign of its intake manifold, also benefits from the extra gears by running at lower and quieter rpm at highway speeds." -- Road and Track
- "There was some torque steer present in the V-6 when accelerating hard. It was quite unpleasant, and in one instance was harder to wrangle than I had anticipated. The four-cylinder has less of that steering-wheel wrenching attribute, but it obviously doesn't have as much passing power." -- Cars.com
- "GM is launching with an outdated four-speed automatic. It's a good transmission, but the competition has been moving to five-speeds and beyond." -- The Car Connection
- "The four-speed comes with an 'I' mode that holds gears a bit longer, albeit a bit too long in some cases. Want more gears? The LTZ trim level comes with a six-speed automatic, complete with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles." -- Car and Driver
- "The Chevy's six-speed automatic transmission isn't without its own shortcomings, principally its reluctance to downshift and the rudeness with which it finally executes." -- Wall Street Journal
Handling and Braking
Though experts overall report the Malibu has a competent ride-handling package, the Malibu's steering gets negative reviews.
- "The Malibu is exceptionally quiet, smooth and comfortable on the road." -- Detroit Free Press
- "Perhaps the best thing about the Malibu's driving dynamics, though, is its ride-and-handling balance. It's still no Accord, but it's nonetheless competent while at the same time isolating the interior from vibrations, impacts, and road noise." -- Car and Driver
- "While we found Malibu's overall cornering prowess superior to Camry, it still felt heavier than the benchmark Accord. Malibu's steering, however, is delightfully quick and well weighted." -- Motor Week
- "The V-6 models go with hydraulic power steering, and…this is still our preference. Here you'll find a very direct connection to the road, with steering that's predictable, precise, and unexpectedly sporty for a car in this mainstream segment." -- The Car Connection
- "The electric assist feels less artificial than it used to, and GM should get some credit for that. But…the Malibu's steering wheel feels dead on-center and then seems to abruptly come to life as you begin your turn." -- Edmunds