What's New for 2000
Revised front styling ties Malibu to Impala, and the 1999's brushed-aluminum wheels have been redesigned. The 3.1-liter V6 engine is standard this year, and has been improved to offer more horsepower while meeting low emission vehicle (LEV) standards. A spoiler and a gold package are available.
Chevrolet is producing good cars and trucks. Witness the excellent values to be found in the Blazer, Camaro, Cavalier and Impala. The Malibu is more of a good thing. In fact, this is one of the best family cars produced by any domestic automaker today.Consumer clinics determined much of the Malibu's design. What consumers have demanded is a tight, solid, roomy, fun-to-drive midsized sedan. Guess what? Chevrolet delivers, and delivers big with this car. The Malibu is all of these things and more, wrapped in unobtrusive yet attractive sheetmetal and sold at a price that undercuts similarly equipped imports and domestics.Two models are available. For 2000, the base Malibu features a substantially improved 3.1-liter V6 engine, now making 170 horsepower and 190 foot-pounds of torque. What's more, this venerable motor meets low-emission vehicle (LEV) standards. Gears are shifted automatically, and standard equipment includes four-wheel antilock brakes, four-wheel independent suspension, battery rundown protection, theft deterrent system, tachometer, air-conditioning, rear-seat heat ducts, tilt steering wheel and remote trunk release. Step up to LS trim and you leave the showroom in a fully loaded car. The LS includes aluminum wheels, fog lights, remote keyless entry, power driver's seat, power windows and door locks, cruise control, uplevel stereo, and a trunk cargo net.This Chevy goes, slows and turns corners well enough to be entertaining, particularly with this year's boost in power. Interior design elements include a handy, left-handed cupholder, backlighting for major controls and switches throughout the interior, and heating and air conditioning ducts located on the A-pillar to help direct air flow to rear-seat passengers. Also notable is the retro-style dash-mounted ignition switch, because the driver doesn't have to crane his neck around to find the key slot.Malibu has safety concerns covered, too. Dual airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes and child-safe rear door locks are standard. According to Chevrolet, side-impact door beams exceed federal standards for protection, though federal side-impact crash tests indicate that occupants may actually be rather vulnerable in this car. Maintaining the Malibu has been made easy with platinum-tipped spark plugs that last up to 100,000 miles, engine coolant designed to last five years or 150,000 miles, and transmission fluid that never has to be changed or checked.
Our list of gripes is short. The fake wood in the LS, revised for 2000, is unnecessary. We also want to find an integrated child safety seat on the options list in the future. And why can buyers get traction control on the Cavalier but not the Malibu? The list of improvements for 2000 doesn't address our concerns. Assist handles have been added to the headliner, door lockout protection is standard, and seat fabric has been revised. Mudguards front and rear are now body-color, and base wheel covers are redesigned.
Still, the Malibu impresses us. It's one of the few domestic models that can go toe-to-toe with the imports on comfort and features, while beating them on price.