Chevrolet Malibu – 2008 First Drive: Let's be blunt here. The Big Three U.S. automakers have rarely, if ever, offered a worthy competitor to the likes of the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and other Japanese nameplates in the mid-size family sedan category. Those cars have ruled the segment for so long that many buyers simply dismiss the domestics altogether. Still others buy out of brand or loyalty while never admitting to themselves that they bought a largely inferior product.
Those days are over.
Starting now, customers can walk into a Chevrolet showroom, plunk down their hard-earned money on a 2008 Malibu, and drive away knowing that not only are they getting a good deal and helping the domestic industry, but they're also getting one of the best cars in its class.
Sure, you're naysaying, especially if you grew up around the likes of the Chevy Corsica, Lumina, Celebrity, or even the previous two generations of Malibu. But the 2008 Malibu not only matches its competition, it beats them in several key areas, such as style, powertrains, and yes, even the holy grail of refinement that has eluded GM for years. It's not flawless, but like the Accord and Camry, its flaws are overshadowed so greatly by its overall goodness that they're reduced to nitpicky minutiae by contrast.
The modern interpretation of the Malibu goes back to the 1997 model year, when a somewhat dumpy little sedan began populating Chevy showrooms. The 2004 model replaced that car with a slightly larger but equally dumpy version which at least had a decent platform underpinning it. The Malibu Maxx was a clever hatchback variant that ultimately went over like a lead balloon. The newest Malibu makes a clean break with its predecessors with a stylish sedan-only design that's bigger, more comfortable, and a car that you'll want to be seen in.