You know we’re all about interesting cars here on Autofiends. From Willys Wagons to Mercedes-Benz’s hot new SLS AMG Gullwing, we thrive on the unique. Which begs the question, why is there a Chevrolet Malibu at the top of your page? Mid-sized sedans fall into the white-bread category by default. They’re not built for CEO’s or rock stars, but for middle-management dads who have two kids to drop off at school on the way to their cubical. So what’s so special about Chevrolet’s offering? In the past, the Malibu seemed to be built for disposable fleet service. Rental-car quality, a painfully bland and blocky interior and exterior styling that could have served as a treatment for insomnia were all ingredients in the Malibu’s recipe. Then Chevrolet unveiled the newest generation in 2008. From the get-go it was clear GM was no longer content to let the Camry go unchallenged on Chevrolet’s home turf. More than any other car in the General’s stable, the Malibu proves the company knows how to produce cars people should want to buy – and that’s Fiendish. Hop the jump to see what I mean.
Let’s start outside. I’m happy to say the snore-fest styling of the elder Malibu is nowhere to be found on this car. Nowhere. With a low-slung roof, bulging fender arches, a high shoulder and sculpted nose, this car is genuinely attractive. Up front, there’s a wide mesh grille and sharp, downward-leaning headlights that work well together. Stylish 18-inch 10-spoke wheels and splashes of chrome here and there add just enough flash to catch your eye in traffic. What’s more, there are plenty of details like the clever bow-tie rear side markers that seem to say this car is proud to be a Chevrolet. For the first time in a long time, we have to say it should be.
Inside, our top o’ the line LTZ tester came standard with a list of options as long as your arm. While the rockin’ 6-disc CD stereo with SIRIUS, 8-way adjustable heated driver seat and slick green-tinted glass are cool, nothing beats this car’s interior. GM has done an amazing job inside with two-tone, high-quality leather seats, a scalloped dash with slick three-pod gauges and a center-stack that bears no resemblance to the one-size fits all HVAC and stereo units of GM’s past. There’s also an unreal amount of room inside with plenty of leg space for front and rear passengers alike and a chasm of a trunk, complete with center pass-through.
Now here’s the most surprising part – when equipped with GM’s 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine and six-speed transmission, this mid-sized sedan manages to get the same fuel economy as the pint-sized Honda Fit. EPA estimates put the Malibu’s highway mileage at 33 mpg, though we pulled down around 34 during our time with the car. Though the feds put this Chevrolet at 22 mpg city, we saw closer to 24 darting around town. For a car this size with five-star front and side impact ratings, those are truly impressive numbers.