- The Washington Times - Friday, January 16, 2009

When I opened the door of the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu, it became obvious why this car is a winner. The attention to details is found everywhere.

For example, the Malibu was parked in my driveway, which has a slight upward slope. When I opened the door, it stayed opened. In other cars, the door opening has to be pushed wider for it to hold in place.

Another thoughtful feature are small lights that illuminate the door handles, and a box on top of the dash to hold cell phones or other small objects. These subtle little features are why this car has received the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 midsize car Initial Quality Award. It was also named the 2008 North American Car of the Year.

The Malibu has a refined and contemporary exterior that represents the global face of Chevrolet. It sits on 17-inch wheels with chrome trim that has attracted numerous buyers at a time when car sales are experiencing a tough market.

In fact, Chevrolet reports the Malibu is a solid performer due to its high fuel ratings with sales up 43 percent over December 2007. General Motors Corp. says the Malibu is the highest percentage gainer in the top 20 vehicles sold in America with a volume increase compared with 2007.

The Malibu car comes in three trim levels: LS, LT and LTZ. My tester was the 1LT with a base price of $21,645, and with a few options the bottom line was $23,435. It has an EPA mileage rating of 22 city and 33 highway — using regular gasoline.

Malibu is loaded with desirable features such as acoustic laminated glass, chrome surround grille, remote keyless entry and custom cloth front bucket seats. It also has outside power adjustable body-colored mirrors, body-colored rocker moldings with bright inserts, steering wheel-mounted audio controls and front and rear carpeted floor mats.

Naturally, it is equipped with features we expect, such as air conditioning, power door locks, power windows plus an AM/FM stereo radio with a CD player and iPod. It also had XM Satellite radio, which allowed me to listen to the same station I have playing in my home.

The driver’s seat had the option of six-way power adjustment and after I got the steering column adjusted to my preference, I was ready to give it a good winding road workout. Because the wheels are at the far corners this sedan has precise, responsive handling characteristics, aided by its four-wheel independent suspension featuring MacPherson strut front suspension and multilink rear suspension. As a result, when I drove dynamically through the curves, it stuck to each arch like glue.

GM’s StabiliTrak stability control system is standard on all models and it uses sophisticated vehicle sensors that are tied to the anti-lock braking system that helped me maintain control during tight-turn maneuvers. It also has a new panic brake assistance feature that provides full braking power when panic-braking is detected. This reduces the braking distance, and provides more control in helping to avoid a crash.

The steering response is precise and immediate, which is the result the tuned steering system on my tester. The V-6 models employ a hydraulic-assisted steering system.

I’m also told that the suspension systems are mounted of a robust chassis and integrated body structure that feature a safety cage design. That could be the reason it has received the top five-star awards for frontal and side crash.

Put all of these features together and you can understand why the Malibu is a winning sedan that is selling well.


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