2002 Chevrolet Malibu Review

Pros & Cons

  • Comfortable and roomy interior, speedy acceleration, contemporary styling, ultra-low price despite high feature content.
  • No traction control, refinement is exchanged for low payments.
List Price Estimate
$655 - $1,636

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Chevy's non-descript Malibu is one of the best cars General Motors makes. Roomy, quick and loaded with features for a low price, it's tough to go wrong with the too-often overlooked Malibu.

Vehicle overview

Chevrolet is trying to claw its way back from mediocrity with cars that provide not only solid performance and good looks, but manage to do so with a low price, to boot. The Malibu is a perfect example of this philosophy, with good looks, a strong V6 and a sticker price that undercuts its foreign competition by hundreds of dollars.

Two models are available: Base and LS. Both Malibus feature a torquey 3.1-liter 3100 V6 engine, making 170 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque running through a standard four-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment includes four-wheel antilock brakes, a four-wheel independent suspension, battery rundown protection, theft deterrent system, tachometer, air-conditioning, tilt steering wheel and a remote trunk release. Step up to LS trim, and you leave the showroom in a fully loaded car that includes aluminum wheels, foglights, remote keyless entry, power driver 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. Thoughtful interior design elements include a handy, albeit shallow, 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 airflow to rear-seat passengers. Also notable is the retro-style, dash-mounted ignition switch, eliminating the need to crane your neck around to find the key slot.

Malibu has safety concerns covered, as well. 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 is easy with platinum-tipped spark plugs that last up to 100,000 miles, engine coolant designed to last 5 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 out of place in a car like this. And why can buyers get traction control on the Cavalier but not the Malibu? The latest list of improvements doesn't address our concerns, so we'll have to wait another year to see if our wish list ever gets fulfilled.

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. Its mainstream styling doesn't scream American econobox, and its long list of standard features won't leave you wishing you had anted up for an Accord or a Camry. If you're in the market for modestly priced midsize four-door, Chevrolet's Malibu is one domestic sedan that deserves serious consideration.

2002 Highlights

Only minor changes are added to Chevrolet's midsize sedan. Floor mats and an AM/FM CD stereo are now standard on all models. Three new colors have been added along with newly styled 15-inch cast-aluminum wheels.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2002 Chevrolet Malibu.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4 out of 5 stars
A 12 year review
4dr Sedan (3.1L 6cyl 4A)
I bought my Malibu in 2003 when the transmission in my old Grand Prix started to go. It was a rental previously, and I knew this going in. I will say though, despite it's faults, I have a hard time saying the car is complete junk, because my kids (ages 9-11) rode in it when they were babies. I will start with what I believe to be the minor faults, but they can cost: 1. 15 inch tires are getting hard to come by now, and being FWD, it eats up tires quick, if not rotated properly. 2. It only uses the front disc brakes for stopping, thus eats brake pads fast. The drums are only used for parking brake. That said, I will now go into the more expensive repairs I have had: 1. Fuel pump went out 5 years ago, driving down the road. 2. The starter has a safety switch, that will go bad in time, and require replacement, unless yu know how to bypass it, which I did. 3. The biggest....the head gaskets from the factory, are junk and a ticking time bomb. He manifold gaskets are plastic and will crack in time. You will start to lose oil and coolant once they do. I overheated the car 2 winters ago, causing the heads to warp, which required mill work, than changed the gaskets with Fel-Pro gaskets, use regular coolant, and since than, the car drives almost like new. It was a complete PITA to get the top half off and put back together. Just beware that if you have one, and are approaching 150k miles, you have a time bomb on your hands. I recommend flushing the cooling system, to help slow down erosion of the gaskets. Total time and money, we spent 4 days, and around $400 to fix. 4. The fan sensor, which turns the electric fan on and off, went bad, which caused my overheating problem. Would have cost $500 for a new one, but rigged a wire and toggle switch, and it now works. I just have to remember to shut it off, or I will have a dead battery. Interior: Not much, very basic, which I like. Over the years, the arm rest on the drivers door has developed a hole, a couple holes in the driver seat, and the headliner is starting to droop some. All in all, I would have to say that through it all, I should have considered more when buying a car, but I can't complain 100%, because after some work and money put in it, it still runs. Would I recommend it to anyone else? No, especially for anyone wanting a car that lasts a while. The only reason we put money into it, is because we couldn't afford to buy a new vehicle. After the first of the year, the Malibu will be retired to a local driving car only, and one used for a backup, as I will hopefully have a new vehicle.
4.13 out of 5 stars
Has its quirks but keeps on plugging
LS 4dr Sedan (3.1L 6cyl 4A)
I bought this car used from Hertz (at 24,000 miles) in 2003, and 11 years later it's at 152,000. I've used it for lots of city driving in San Francisco (those hills and traffic are hard on a car), highway driving, and trips on rough roads in the Sierra. Engine is still going strong, and I haven't had to spend much on repairs. The biggest (and scariest) problem was a fuel pump failure while I was on the road. The anti-theft system can be annoying when it won't let you start (has happened to me about 4 times over the years), but all you need to do is wait it out for 10 minutes.
3 out of 5 stars
Definition of a "normal" car
4dr Sedan (3.1L 6cyl 4A)
The 2002 Malibu is extremely normal. It's practical, a bit faster than you might think, but its boring looks keep it in the "grandma car" category. Pros: -Practical size. Not to big on the outside, plenty of space on the inside. -Reluctantly fast. At first I thought I was driving a slow car since I got it from my grandmother, but it's actually pretty quick compared to these new eco-friendly 4-cylinder sedans with a million gears that won't let you touch 4,000rpm. If you coax it, it'll move. Cons: -Looks. It's not ugly, it's just boring. Silver lining: cops won't notice you. -Lots of little repairs. Annoying things like the indicator keeps clicking for no reason.
4.38 out of 5 stars
Gone but NOT forgotten..........
4dr Sedan (3.1L 6cyl 4A)
I sadly had a wreck that totalled our 2002 Malibu last Wednesday. It was a very bad wreck with a fully loaded double-sized gravel truck hitting us on the rear passenger wheel. He was speeding along through a red light and hit us at roughly 50mph. The car withstood that awful impact so my son and I did not get hurt badly or worse yet- killed. We do have assorted bumps and bruises and a couple of very severe headaches but no broken bones, no serious cuts. The Malibu protected us beautifully- I'm glad to know it was such a safe car.


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
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    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 2002 Chevrolet Malibu

Used 2002 Chevrolet Malibu Overview

The Used 2002 Chevrolet Malibu is offered in the following submodels: Malibu Sedan. Available styles include 4dr Sedan (3.1L 6cyl 4A), and LS 4dr Sedan (3.1L 6cyl 4A). The Used 2002 Chevrolet Malibu comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic. The Used 2002 Chevrolet Malibu comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2002 Chevrolet Malibu?

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Which used 2002 Chevrolet Malibus are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2002 Chevrolet Malibu for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2002 Chevrolet Malibu.

Can't find a used 2002 Chevrolet Malibus you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Chevrolet Malibu for sale - 5 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $25,425.

Find a used Chevrolet for sale - 10 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $13,677.

Find a used certified pre-owned Chevrolet Malibu for sale - 3 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $9,187.

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Should I lease or buy a 2002 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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