It’s hard not to see Malibu advertisements. With its keen redesign for 2008, Chevrolet has seemingly put everything it has into the marketing of the car named after the southern California beach city.
The promotion began in earnest during the 2007 World Series and it hasn’t waned. Chevrolet wants the Malibu to compete with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, and that’s a hefty task.
With its hybrid version, new for 2008, the Malibu features GMC’s “mild hybrid system” rather than its dual mode full hybrid system.
The hybrid’s configuration is a 36-volt electric motor coupled with a 2.4 liter Ecotec VVT four-cylinder engine with a four-speed manual transmission. Using an integrated starter-generator, mild hybrid approach the gasoline engine shuts off at stoplights or other stopping situations.
With its well-touted exterior redesign, the new Malibu also features a sharp new interior that features chrome outlines on gauges, center vents and the console shifter. Wood and several two-tone trims are also available.
Beyond cosmetics, the Malibu’s interior leg and body room is spacious, but head room remains only adequate. Its average head clearance can be overlooked considering the vast trunk, expansive access area and the spacious pass-through from the rear-seat to the trunk.
As a hybrid, the Malibu won’t win any acceleration contests. It maneuvers through city traffic and excels adequately in freeway conditions. And like most hybrids, it’s quiet at intersections. But it’s not going to catapult you down the road with particular authority. And likewise, the hybrid’s braking is not at the same level as other vehicles in the same class.
The new Malibu has a good selection of standard features: 16-inch alloy wheels, AM/FM stereo, CD player, XM radio, rear window defogger, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with inset cruise and audio controls, remote keyless entry and navigation system (with one-year of Oonstar directions included), power windows, doors, locks and outside mirrors.
The redesign’s, exterior color options and the coordination with interior is another strong point for the new Malibu. My test car, for instance, combined and Amber Bronze Metallic exterior with a two-tone interior of Cocoa and Cashmere.
It’s a handsome combination and more than one friend and passerby made the comment, “That’s not a bad-looking car.” And then when told it was a hybrid, the follow-up comment was usually: “A hybrid, four-door sedan? Really? A Malibu? Not bad.”
In fact, the new Malibu has received a good share of accolades. And the hybrid option offers an enticing price point in an exciting, attractive new version of a near-classic car that’s been around since 1964.
But whether Chevrolet’s mass marketing pays off and the manufacturer can claim it’s met its goal against the Camry and Accord, remains to be seen.
Safety Features — Dual-front, front side and side curtain airbags.
Fuel Mileage Estimates — 24 mpg (city), 32 mpg (highway).
Warranty — Bumper to Bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/100,000 miles; Corrosion, 6 years/100,000 miles.
Base Price — $22,140.
Price As Driven — $22,790.
Article Last Updated: March 4, 2008.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.