CC For Sale: 2009 Chevy Malibu LT – Redemption For An Overlooked Sedan?

Well rounded American sedans didn’t really exist en masse until the mid to late 2000s. That’s when Ford and General Motors released two good looking and competent mid-sizers capable of matching the Japanese in most areas. They still had their flaws, but those shortcomings paled in comparison to their predecessors. If gas prices hadn’t crashed in 2015, the 2006 Fusion and 2008 Malibu would have probably been considered the sedans that helped the two automakers gain traction against the Accord, Camry, and Altima. Instead, they merely stemmed the bleeding for about ten years.

To that end, this 2009 Malibu is looking for a new home. If you were in the market, would you make it yours?

When the redesigned Malibu arrived for the 2008 model year, it received a substantial amount of attention. It was a welcome departure from the previous model, which was an extremely cheap and soulless piece of machinery. This was one of the few GM vehicles I could picture myself driving. Car and Driver liked it too. They praised the Malibu’s looks inside and out, and enjoyed the sedan’s ride, which owed its thanks to a 112.3 inch wheelbase. That wheelbase also allowed Chevy to chisel out some extra legroom for rear seat passengers, a move they promptly reversed for the next generation. The reduction in rear seat legroom did not go unnoticed by the press. Were they justified in their criticism? Maybe. But that little dust up highlighted the fact that the 2012 Malibu seemed like a downgrade when compared to the previous generation.

But we’re here to talk about this particular Malibu, right? The owner doesn’t specify whether or not this is a 1LT or 2LT model, but a peek inside reveals a polyurethane steering wheel, which means it’s a 1LT. Either way, both LT trims came standard with GM’s 2.4 liter Ecotec four cylinder. It was rated at 169 horsepower. A perfectly respectable number by modern standards. LT buyers could opt for the standard four speed automatic or upgrade to a newer six speed unit. GM probably should have just made the six speed standard from the start, but tradition dictated they offer a less than ideal powertrain before finally getting it right at the tail end of a product run. In that regard, they delivered.

1LT were pretty well equipped for the era. Stability control, side impact airbags, a six speaker stereo system with auxiliary jack, and 17 inch chrome alloy wheels were some of the notable amenities GM made standard on this model. More importantly, the Malibu finally contained a respectable interior replete with decent quality plastics and aesthetics that wouldn’t cause your eyeballs to spontaneously combust. It was a watershed moment in automotive history.

In a lesser car, GM would have lazily slapped the corporate head unit and HVAC controls into a generic center stack and call it a day. But in this Malibu, they crafted an attractive dual cowl setup that flowed outward as it crept toward the windshield. Make no mistake, the corporate units are still there. But they’re well integrated. The white trim helps too. Also worth noting: the all-weather floor mats. I feel like anyone who purchases all-weather floor mats is someone who probably cares about their car a little bit more than the average person. But that’s just a hunch.

Overall, the car is in decent cosmetic shape. There are clearly some scratches on the front bumper and the alloys have some curb rash, but otherwise the car looks clean. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the rear bumper. Did the owner just rub up against something and not care about repainting it? Or is the missing paint simply something that was baked into the car the day it left the factory? It’s hard to tell. It really looks like the paint just started to peel off. There’s no rust either, which could indicate it’s a recent development.

You know you’ve got a savvy seller when they post a screenshot of the estimated KBB value. The seller keeps it short and sweet in their description:

2009 Chevy Malibu LT 4 cylinder
~161,000 miles, mainly highway driving
Well maintained, black cloth interior, new tires with less than 4k miles on them. Selling due to cross-country move.

“Mainly highway driving” is a clear indicator this car was most likely used as a commuter car to NYC. Contrary to what some commenters feared in previous CC for Sale posts, that is absolutely not a deal breaker. The rough and tumble NYC driving environment is limited to the city limits. Otherwise, traffic north of the city is relatively calm.

This seems like a decent car for a new driver. Reliability is average and repair shops probably see enough of these to know the problem areas. To my knowledge this era Malibu doesn’t have any extreme weak point. I would pick this 160,000 mile sedan over the similarly aged Hyundai Sonata and Nissan Altima I discussed earlier this month. But I wouldn’t pay the seller’s $3250 asking price. That rear bumper is too messed up for that. I think $2800 would do it for me.

Source: Hudson Valley craigslist