The front-wheel-drive Malibu is Chevrolet's No. 2 passenger car in sales behind the Cavalier, and will take on more responsibility as the brand's only midsize entry. The Lumina, a larger midsize sedan, will be in production at least until the end of the calendar year 2000. A V-6 engine becomes standard as Malibu's most notable change this year.
Oldsmobile formerly offered a version of this car as the Cutlass, but it was dropped at the end of the 1999 model year.
A new grille and badging give the front a fresh appearance, and the LS model gains new 15-inch aluminum wheels, but otherwise this is the same middle-of-the-road design that debuted in 1997. Available only in four-door styling, the Malibu is 190 inches bumper to bumper, an inch or so longer than the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, two of its key rivals.
Bucket seats are standard and a front bench is not available. Malibu's spacious rear seat has more legroom than the Lumina. The split rear seatback folds to expand the trunk's already generous 17-cubic-foot capacity, and the trunk has a wide, low opening for easy loading.
Standard features include air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, a stereo radio and a theft-deterrent system.
Under the Hood
A 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine, formerly standard in the base Malibu, is gone. A 3.1-liter V-6 with 170 horsepower and a four-speed automatic transmission are now standard on the base and LS models. Anti-lock brakes, a feature that is optional on several competitors, are standard on both Malibu models.
Short on thrills and frills but long on practicality and value, Malibu offers acceptable performance, ample space and a lot of features for a reasonable amount of money.