2009 Chevrolet Malibu Review

Pros & Cons

  • Strong performance from V6, excellent ride and handling balance, roomy cabin, comfortable seats, high crash test scores, solid fit and finish.
  • Some subpar cabin materials, no rear center armrest, fussy manual-shift feature, a few key luxury features are unavailable.
List Price Range
$5,800 - $8,900

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Edmunds' Expert Review

With newly available Bluetooth connectivity, standard stability control and the widespread adoption of the six-speed automatic for four-cylinder models, the already respected 2009 Chevy Malibu makes a stronger case for itself in the midsize sedan arena.

Vehicle overview

In sports and the entertainment industry, there is a phenomenon known as the sophomore jinx. It's that inexplicable occurrence when an athlete who was a standout his rookie year bombs the next season, or when a movie's sequel doesn't come close to the excellence of the original. Thankfully, the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu isn't another Matrix Reloaded.

Though just entering its sophomore year, the Malibu sees a number of changes far beyond the gingerbread upgrades that are typical early on in a model cycle. Performance and fuel mileage for the four-cylinder models are increased by the six-speed automatic transmission; although this powertrain could be had late in the '08 model year, it's available on all trims this year except the base LS. Stability control becomes standard across the board, and available Bluetooth connectivity allows hands-free cell phone use. Some shuffling of package features, the fitment of 17-inch wheels to the LS and the deletion of the power-adjustable pedals option complete the round of changes.

What haven't changed are the Malibu's many likable qualities, such as a roomy, attractive cabin, nicely balanced ride and handling characteristics and a pair of peppy engines. The latter workhorses consist of an inline-4 making a respectable 169 horsepower and a torquey 252-hp V6. These competent underpinnings are wrapped in a body that looks more "premium sedan" than "rental car." Apart from the somewhat controversial but distinctive nose, the Malibu sports clean, classy lines, with tight panel gaps and just enough chrome trim to impart a high-end appearance.

The downsides to the Malibu are minor and few. Although the interior boasts an upscale design and solid build quality, there are still a few cheap plastic pieces here and there. And though OnStar offers a "Turn-by-Turn" navigation feature, there is no traditional nav system available.

Overall, the well-rounded 2009 Chevrolet Malibu earns our respect. It faces some tough rivals in the midsize family sedan game, such as the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, Mazda 6, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry. But thanks to its useful updates for 2009, the Malibu seems to have avoided that old sophomore jinx, making this handsome sedan a stronger-performing and more entertaining pick than it was last year.

2009 Chevrolet Malibu models

The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu is a midsize sedan that comes in four trim levels: LS, 1LT, 2LT and LTZ. The LS comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, full power accessories, air-conditioning and OnStar. A six-speaker CD audio system with satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack is also standard.

The 1LT adds color-keyed side mirrors and side moldings, a chrome exhaust outlet, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and carpeted floor mats. The 2LT upgrades further with polished wheels, remote engine start, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a power driver seat and heated front seats.

The luxury-laden Malibu LTZ adds silver grille inserts (versus black), foglamps, LED taillights, 18-inch alloy wheels, an upgraded audio system with a CD changer and eight speakers, leather seating and a power passenger seat.

Options are grouped into a handful of packages that allow many of the higher trims' features to be added to the lower trims. There's also a rear power package that includes a 110-volt AC outlet (behind the center console) and a manual rear sunshade. A few key luxury features that are available on many other family sedans, such as a navigation system and dual-zone climate control, can't be had on any Malibu, although OnStar does offer "Turn-by-Turn" audio navigation assistance.

2009 Highlights

The 2009 Chevrolet Malibu undergoes a number of key changes. The six-speed automatic becomes more widely available with the four-cylinder engine, and the four is now standard instead of the V6 on the top-level LTZ trim. Bluetooth connectivity also debuts as an option, while stability control becomes standard across the lineup. Power-adjustable pedals are no longer offered.

Performance & mpg

All Malibu trims come standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 169 hp and 160 pound-feet of torque. With LS and 1LT trims, it's paired with a four-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the front wheels. On the 2LT and LTZ trims, the 2.4 comes with a six-speed automatic with manual shift control. The six-speed is optional on the 1LT.

Those who choose the 2LT or LTZ trims and want more power can opt for the 3.6-liter V6 (252 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque) matched to the six-speed automatic.

Although the Malibu is no lightweight at about 3,500 pounds, the four-cylinder version provides adequate performance, with the 0-60 sprint taking less than 10 seconds. The V6, on the other hand, is downright quick, running to 60 mph in just 6.6 seconds.

EPA fuel economy estimates range from 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined for the six-cylinder Malibu to 22/32/25 for the four-cylinder/six-speed automatic powertrain.

Safety

Antilock disc brakes, stability/traction control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags are standard on all trims.

In government crash testing, the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu earned five stars (the highest rating possible) in both frontal- and side-impact tests. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash test, the Malibu scored a "Good" rating, again the highest possible.

Driving

Striking an excellent balance between handling and ride, the 2009 Chevy Malibu's chassis provides confident cornering along with a smooth ride on broken pavement. The cabin is impressively hushed at highway speeds, and seat comfort and support are superb, making the Malibu ideal for long trips. With a wide range of adjustment, the driver seat provides a good driving position, but some drivers found the pedals awkwardly placed and the steering wheel too large in diameter.

The four- and six-cylinder models feature different steering systems (electric and hydraulic assist, respectively), meaning that the driving experience differs greatly depending on the selected engine. We usually dislike the overly artificial feel of electric power steering systems, but in the Malibu's case, several of our editors actually prefer the four-cylinder car.

In terms of power, the relatively fuel-efficient four-cylinder should prove sufficient for most buyers, especially when matched to the six-speed automatic. The V6 provides considerably more gusto, though getting the six-speed automatic to downshift (as for a quick freeway passing maneuver) requires a deliberate foot to the throttle -- a side effect of the fuel-mileage-minded programming.

Interior

A dual-cowl dash design somewhat reminiscent of a 1960s Corvette highlights the cabin, while much-improved materials and build quality put this Malibu light-years ahead of prior models. The controls for the audio and climate-control systems are simple to use. Contrasting piping on the seats, once the hallmark of ultra-luxury cars, is seen on LTZ models, while all Malibus can be had with tasteful two-tone color schemes. All trims also feature an impressively quiet ride, thanks to extensive sound insulation and acoustic-laminated front windows.

With its long wheelbase, the Malibu offers generous amounts of legroom for rear passengers, though the seat lacks a center armrest and the sloping roof line may impinge on headroom for tall folks.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Malibu of Shame
Brent Evans,07/13/2015
LS 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
I bought a used 2009 Malibu LS for my daughter and have had nothing but trouble. Recall after recall for some odd reason does not apply to my car and I've spent well over $1000 to replace steering column, power steering, stability control, traction control module. The biggest joke on these cars is replacing the front headlights because you have to take off the front end to get to the headlights to replace the bulbs. I was determined to not take it to the dealer so my son and I found a YouTube Video and 1 hr later had one replaced. This is ridicules because on my Honda and Acura it takes me all of 3 minute tops!!! My stereo also quit working so I ordered one for a reasonable price on E-Bay but as you might imagine it's not just a swap. No that would be way too convenient. You have to schedule an appointment with the dealer to have it programmed which is around $45 labor charge. The Malibu is a great looking car and has good styling and features BUT Chevrolet and their engineers should be embarrassed they have produced such a mechanical FAILURE!! Chevrolet should recall every Malibu manufactured from 2009-2012 and admit the created a "LEMON"!
Worst Car I have Ever Owned!
sthrn05stnggrl,03/19/2012
I bought this car new in Dec 2008. After having it just under a year, completely died on me when I was driving in my neighborhood. They had to replace a wiring harness in it. Then a year later the battery died. Another year later the car's transmission started to shift hard. They told me it was normal. I've had the car in & out of the shop since the end of January 2012, It is now almost the end of March and the car still is having issues. They replaced the torque converter, exhaust manafold, and the fuel injector wiring. Guess what? The car is now leaking pink fluid, hard shifting, and now there is a dull rattling sound coming from under the hood passenger side when ever the road is uneven
Good car for getting around
Connor Sweeney ,01/19/2018
LT1 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
I have had this car for almost 6 years now and got it with 72,000 miles on it. I now have around 158k miles on it. Here is a list of Pros and Cons Pros -Interior is good looking -gets around 22-25 mpg (in town) -stock speakers are nice and loud Cons -The turning radius is terrible where it handles worse than a truck -the parts inside the vehicle are all cheaply made so they break quicker -seats are a little uncomfortable for longer rides. The seats fold inward where it creates a divet where the back seat and the butt seat connect (not good for lower back) -no lumbar support. Here’s what I’ve had to fix so far -all new door lock actuators (prices at $350 a piece professionally) -turning signal knob -catalytic converter and exhaust manifold -tire rods multiple times
120,000 long, expensive miles
trophel,09/23/2015
LT1 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
Here's a summary of how this car has done so far, with 120,00 miles on it after being bought brand new (6 miles) in April of 2009 (6 1/2 years ago). Keep in mind I"m a neat freak who washes his car daily, doesn't smoke, and cleans the inside weekly. It's a 4 cyl, 6 speed auto, LT2. The Traction Contol Module / ABS module has been replaced 6 times! Yes, it's been recalled now, but has been replaced twice since then, too. The transmission completely failed (wouldn't shift out of 1st gear) at 94,000 miles. New one installed under warranty occasionally slips, too. Both brake lights have been replaced. This is an easy fix. Both headlights went out the same day. This does require removing the front bumper as indicated elsewhere on here. Cost was $200 per the pair. The radio occasionally stops working. Bluetooth capability hasn't worked since the most recent reprogram by the dealer. The rear door locks must be manually activated on one side (passenger). The key fob failed at 8, 000, 15, 000, 22,000 miles, then the transmitter unit on the car itself failed at 60,000 miles and hasn't worked since. Now the car can only be unlocked manually on the driver door. The leather on the shift handle began wearing off at 100,000 miles. The leather on the driver seat began wrinkling at 90,000 miles and has completely torn since then. The turnsignals won't shut off automatically after making a turn ... sometimes. Sometimes they do, sometimes they dont. The power steering sometimes fails for a few minutes, then begin working again. The engine, however, has worked very well. Original battery, original belts, no oil use. ,

Features & Specs

See all Used 2009 Chevrolet Malibu features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 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
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Marginal
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu

Used 2009 Chevrolet Malibu Overview

The Used 2009 Chevrolet Malibu is offered in the following submodels: Malibu Sedan. Available styles include LTZ 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), LS 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A), LT2 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 6A), LT1 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A), and Fleet 4dr Sedan (2.4L 4cyl 4A).

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Chevrolet Malibu?

Price comparisons for Used 2009 Chevrolet Malibu trim styles:

  • The Used 2009 Chevrolet Malibu LT1 is priced between $6,250 and$8,900 with odometer readings between 51596 and134114 miles.
  • The Used 2009 Chevrolet Malibu LS is priced between $5,800 and$5,800 with odometer readings between 123978 and123978 miles.

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Which used 2009 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) 2009 Chevrolet Malibu for sale near. There are currently 4 used and CPO 2009 Malibus listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,800 and mileage as low as 51596 miles. 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 2009 Chevrolet Malibu.

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Find a used Chevrolet Malibu for sale - 10 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $24,181.

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Should I lease or buy a 2009 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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