What's New for 2008
Nothing. This is a quasi-renamed version of the previous-generation Chevy Malibu, aimed mostly at fleet buyers. Trim levels have been subtracted, and the only significant addition is standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes on every model.
Are you OK with buying last year's fashions if it means saving some cash versus this year's duds? Do you not care about the picture quality difference between VHS and DVD? If having the latest version of something isn't important to you, then the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic could be a good choice.
In Chevy vernacular, "Classic" equates to the previous generation of a particular model that is still sold to those -- especially fleets -- willing to buy an antiquated model for less money than the current version. And in this case, the Malibu Classic is the final year for the previous-generation Malibu that's been in production since 2004. A fully redesigned Malibu (sans "Classic") debuts for 2008 as well. Compared to the '07 Malibu, the 2008 Malibu Classic is available in LS and LT trim levels only -- there's no more luxurious LTZ trim or powerful SS. Although the Classic has a $1,400 lower base price than the all-new Malibu, it actually has a higher base price than last year's model, a difference explained by the addition of standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes.
Overall, this midsize sedan has the bases covered when it comes to providing what most buyers in this segment require -- affordability, a comfortable ride, respectable performance, a roomy cabin and excellent crash test scores. As a rep mobile or rental car, it's perfectly adequate. However, the all-new Chevy Malibu has been redesigned top to bottom and is substantially better than the car it replaces. The new 'Bu offers distinctive styling, improved road manners, more potent engines and a much-improved interior in terms of both design and quality. That's not even to mention all the other superior midsize family sedans. So, unless yesterday's fashions are your cup of tea, we'd keep this Classic in the closet.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic is a four-door sedan available in LS and LT trim levels. Standard equipment on the LS includes 15-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, cruise control, full power accessories, keyless entry, driver seat power height adjustment, a tilt-telescoping wheel, a trip computer and a four-speaker stereo with single-CD player. Optional on the LS is upgraded upholstery, lumbar adjustment for the driver seat, an upgraded six-speaker stereo and 16-inch steel wheels. All of these are standard on the LT (the wheels are alloy), which also adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. Satellite radio, a sunroof, remote engine start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, foglamps and chrome-clad wheels are among the options on the LT. Heated front seats and a six-way power driver seat are optional on all Malibu Classics.
Powertrains and Performance
The Chevy Malibu Classic LS comes standard with a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 145 horsepower and 152 pound-feet of torque. Optional on the LS and standard on the LT is a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 219 hp and 219 lb-ft of torque. A four-speed automatic is standard with both engines. Fuel economy for the 2008 four-cylinder is 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway, while the V6 rates 19 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
Four-wheel antilock disc brakes, traction control, front seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on each 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Classic. Stability control is not available. In government crash tests, this previous-generation Malibu scored five out of five stars in frontal protection, five stars for front seat side protection and four stars for rear seat side protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, this Malibu received the best score of "Good" for frontal-offset and side crash protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2008 Malibu Classic's space-efficient cabin offers plenty of room all around for four adults and will easily accommodate five if your backseaters are children. The front seats are broad and comfortable, even on long trips, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and power-adjustable pedals ensure an ideal driving position. The design is bland, though, and materials quality is on the low end for the segment. By comparison, the snazzy, all-new Malibu makes this retread edition certainly look and feel like a "classic." Trunk capacity stands at a respectable 15.4 cubic feet and cargo capacity is optimized via the fold-flat front passenger seat and 60/40-split rear seat.
Power is adequate with the base four-cylinder, but most buyers will want to step up to the V6, as it offers plenty of spirited performance for around town and the highway, while providing fuel economy similar to that of the smaller mill. A softly tuned but composed suspension gives the Malibu Classic a smooth ride and predictable handling in the corners. Unfortunately, the car's electric steering provides too much power assist most of the time, lending it a very detached feel.