1998 Chevrolet Malibu Review

Pros & Cons

  • Lots of room. Peppy powertrain. Plenty of features. Great value. Seat comfort.
  • Poor noise isolation. Needs more mid-range power.
List Price Estimate
$286 - $734

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Vehicle overview

Chevrolet is producing good cars and trucks. Witness the excellent values to be found in the Blazer, Camaro, Cavalier and Lumina. The Malibu is more of a good thing. In fact, this is probably the best family car produced by any domestic automaker today.

Consumer clinics determined much of the Malibu's design. Engineers used a nearly identical methodology when concocting the recipe for the successful Lumina. What consumers have demanded is a tight, solid, roomy fun-to-drive midsized sedan. Guess what? Chevrolet delivers, and delivers big. The Malibu is all of these things and more, wrapped in unobtrusive but attractive sheetmetal and sold at a price that undercuts similarly equipped imports and domestics.

Two models are available. The base Malibu features a 2.4-liter twin-cam four-cylinder engine, which is the same one found under the hood of the Cavalier Z24. 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 a 3.1-liter V6 engine, 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. 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 dash-mounted ignition switch. Moving the switch from the steering column to the dashboard means the driver doesn't have to crane his neck around to find the ignition slot.

Safety concerns are covered by the Malibu. 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 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 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 1998 is a short one, and doesn't address our gripes. A sunroof is newly optional, and LS models can be equipped with leather seating. Aluminum wheels get an enhanced appearance this year.

We're impressed by the new Malibu. Evidently, both Motor Trend and AAA are as well. Motor Trend named the Malibu Car of the Year for 1997, and last year AAA lcalled the Malibu the best car to buy in the $15,000 to $20,000 range. Great job, Chevrolet.

1998 Highlights

Leather trim is newly optional on LS models, aluminum wheels are revised, a sunroof can be ordered and Base models can be equipped with Medium Oak colored interior. Second-generation airbags debut.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1998 Chevrolet Malibu.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

My Malibu
LS 4dr Sedan
First of all this car is no where near luxury so if your looking to buy your first car with an upscale cabin with a button happy dash, your barking up the wrong tree buddy. This car is for the mondern teen. It has help haul people all across the state of arizona & when it needed to it indeed DID haul ass. Well for the 3.1L V6 atleast, idont know about the smaller engine. Anyways , idont know what those other reviews are talking about when they said " problem after problem " , because the only problem i ever encountered was a blown out turn signal, which was a super easy fix. 7 bucks later & i had no issuse. My car has 178,239 miles as of right now & i got the car when it only had 80,000 miles on it. And its still running strong. The only thing i would complain about is the a/c unit. Theres a copper peice inside of it that when you press the air recycler it dosent go. But again , an easy fix.
From a College Commuter
I bought this car for around $3500 and it is definitely worth it. It's alright on gas. I work weekends and put 32 miles in total on that travel. Then, I put around 40 miles throughout the week and only put $17 of gas weekly. I've had this car for some time now and the only thing wrong with it was a little ring piece for the A/C which the mechanic fixed for free during an alignment/oil change. The A/C blows nice and the size of the car is good enough to fit 5 people max. I plan on getting to the 200,000 mark from it's current 128,000. Just perform general maintenance of your car and don't be and idiot and this car will treat you with respect.
American Trash
The V6 is strong but as with most American cars, it is poorly built. At 100,000 the intake manifold gasket went. I can already tell the transmission is living on borrowed time as it, like most American transmissions, can't make up its mind which gear it needs to be in. It also shifts hesitatingly. Fortunately this was a hand me down from my wife's parents and we have only had to pay for the repairs, not the car. I just wish the American's could build something that lasts.
My Malibu
I am now 17 years old and my dad has just given me the family 1998 Malibu. Bought brand new in 1998 with almost all of the features available. It now has 300 000km on it and is running just fine. Aside from my dad never taking care of the car (oil changes once a year) I am amazed that it still runs. It charges through Canadian winters like a champ with no snow tires unlike all of those crappy Camrys or Accords. It blows away every single foreign sedan I see on the road and I love it. I am sad to see it go next spring when we upgrade to a new Chevy, but yes, Chevy has won me over and I will definetly purchase a vehicle from them.

Features & Specs

See all Used 1998 Chevrolet Malibu features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver1 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1998 Chevrolet Malibu

Used 1998 Chevrolet Malibu Overview

The Used 1998 Chevrolet Malibu is offered in the following submodels: Malibu Sedan. Available styles include LS 4dr Sedan, and 4dr Sedan.

What's a good price on a Used 1998 Chevrolet Malibu?

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Which used 1998 Chevrolet Malibus are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 1998 Chevrolet Malibu?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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