1998 CHEVROLET MALIBU SEDAN The Package: Midsize, four-door, five-passenger, four-cylinder or V-6 powered, front-drive sedan. Highlights: Outstanding value, excellent road handling and performance, impressively built, roomy interior and trunk, nice styling, lots of standard safety features (including antilock brakes). Negatives: No manual transmission available for sport-driving enthusiasts. Major competitors: Chrysler Cirrus/Plymouth Breeze/Dodge Stratus, Ford Taurus, Ford Contour/Mercury Mystique, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Mazda 626, Mitsubishi Galant. EPA fuel economy: 23 miles per gallon city, 32 highway (four-cylinder); 20 city/29 highway (V-6). Base price: $15,670 plus $525 transportation. Price as tested: $18,615, including transportation. Rating: A-plus.