'08 Malibu breaks with the past
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Forget everything you ever thought you knew about the Chevrolet Malibu.
The 2008 Malibu is so dramatically different that it represents a complete departure from all that has gone before.
To come up with another defining moment, you'd have to go back to 1955, when the company brought out a Chevy with its first V-8 engine.
Chevy really worked the details on this one. You see tasteful accents of chrome usually found on luxury cars. The headlights and taillights look like jewelry, with tiny Chevrolet emblems carved into the bulbs of each.
A character line near the rear of the car looks almost identical to a similar one on the iconic Corvette, and the rear end has an envelope-pushing, cutoff backside like the Vette, too.
Inside, the car sports two-toned materials, a dual cove dashboard that will remind some of Corvettes and Chevys of the '50s and '60s. The doors carry elliptical shapes that lead directly into the dashboard -- another touch reminiscent of Chevies from 1955 through 1957. Contrasting piping around headrests and set bolsters, along with substantial looking leather seats, was beautiful enough to challenge Audi, an undisputed leader in interior design.
If you're a parent, you'll definitely want to take a look at Malibu. The hooks for attaching baby seats are clearly in view, and there are three sets across the seat, too. That means there's no more groping under cushions trying to find these hooks.
Standard equipment includes a five year/100,000 mile warranty, cloth seats, sheer suede and leather interior material choices, gauges with blue LED backlighting, ambient lighting in door pull pockets and the overhead console, four-wheel independent suspension, laminated "quiet glass," and a tire pressure monitoring system. But that's not all.
You also get OnStar with turn-by-turn navigation, ABS brakes, traction control, XM satellite radio and StabiliTrak stability control with panic break assist on LT, LTZ and Hybrid models.
Driving the Malibu is an eye-opening experience. It corners flat, handles beautifully and glides over rough roads. Power comes from four- and six-cylinder engines.
There is a 169-horsepower, 2.4-liter engine rated at 22 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway, and an available 252-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 17/26. The hybrid model, powered by a hybrid version of the 2.4-liter four engine, is rated at 24/32.
The new Malibu's base LS starts at $19,995 with an automatic transmission; the 1LT starts at $20,955; the 2LT, at $22,635; the LTZ, at $26,995; and the Hybrid, at $22,790.
More on the Malibu when I get some of the models for a full test drive later this year.
First Published November 8, 2007 12:00 am