1997 Chevrolet Malibu Review

1997 Chevrolet Malibu - Malibu dude.


The front-drive Malibu is a fairly large, roomy four-door with a revered Chevy name used from 1964 to 1983. While styling of the reasonably priced sedan is fairly bland, it's at least as good as that of most rivals.

The Malibu essentially replaces Chevy's tired old Corsica and fills the gap between the automaker's subcompact Cavalier and mid-size Lumina.

Actually, the Malibu *also* is a mid-size car, with a wheelbase that nearly matches that of the Lumina. Chevy fears the Malibu will steal sales from the Lumina, although the Lumina can seat six adults and the Malibu's limit is five.

The Malibu comes as a $15,470 base model with a 2.4-liter, 150-horsepower four-cylinder and as an $18,190 LS model with a 3.1-liter, 155-horsepower V-6.

With a larger size and more cylinders, the V-6 naturally is smoother and quieter and generates more torque and slightly better throttle response. But the dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder is more sophisticated and offers plenty of punch for swift merges into fast traffic and for passing on highways.

The four-cylinder is fairly quiet during most driving and delivers an estimated 23 m.p.g. in the city and 32 on highways; the V-6 lags behind at 20 and 29. Don't jump at getting the V-6 until you've tried the four.

Both models have lots of equipment. The base Malibu has a smooth four-speed automatic transmission, anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, power steering, AM/FM, tilt wheel and tachometer. Standard on the LS and optional for the base model are items such as power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, cruise control and split-folding rear seat.

All the equipment in the world means little if the basic car is marginal. Happily, the Malibu is above-average.

Passenger space is very impressive, and the big trunk is designed for easy loading. Seats are supportive, and the nicely designed dashboard contains conveniently placed controls and instrumentation that can be read at a glance. Even door pulls have been shaped for an easy grip, with indents for fingers and thumb--and the ignition switch has been moved from the steering column to the instrument panel so a key fob doesn't hit your knee in turns. Such small touches make a car more endearing.

While Malibu controls have a plasticky feel, the car is commendably quiet and is rigidly built. An all-independent suspension easily soaks up bumps and allows good handling. The rack-and-pinion steering is sharp, and the easily modulated brakes stop the car quickly and surely. Mom and dad can have some fun with this one.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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