The average retail price of a 1999 Chevrolet Malibu is $9,925-$12,275. The European-style Chevrolet Malibu is a reasonably priced competitive sedan in the large mid-size auto market. The front-drive Malibu is very efficiently designed. For instance, the ignition switch is on the dashboard to the left of the radio--not on the steering column. And the gearshift handle is angled toward the driver.
Such small touches make a car easier to live with. The Malibu has a golden 1960s Chevy name. It generally performs like an efficient foreign sedan, although it's not as refined as the rival Toyota Camry. It has about the same 107.5-inch wheelbase of the older Chevy Lumina sedan, but is larger inside despite being nearly a foot shorter.
The solid, nicely painted Malibu is fun to drive. It has lively acceleration, and steering and handling are sharp. The ride from the supple all-independent suspension is comfortable. Stopping distances are short.
The base Malibu lists for $15,950, while the high-line LS model is $18,910. Even the base four-cylinder model is well-equipped. Standard are a four-speed automatic, air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, sports sedan gauges, AM/FM radio, outside mirrors, remote trunk opener, intermittent wipers and tilt wheel. The LS adds a V-6, remote keyless entry, cruise control, AM/FM/cassette, split folding rear seat and power driver's seat, windows, mirrors and door locks. Major options include a $650-$690 power sunroof and $595 leather upholstery for the LS, which really gives the interior a European look.
The base model's 2.4-liter, dual-overhead-camshaft four-cylinder engine has 150 horsepower and provides good acceleration, although it's noisy under full throttle.The 3.1-liter pushrod V-6 also produces 150 horsepower, but has more torque for quicker throttle response. The V-6 is quieter and smoother than the four-cylinder, but sounds more raspy than multivalve, overhead-camshaft V-6s in comparable imports. It's a $595 option for the base Malibu.
Fuel economy is an estimated 22 mpg in the city and 30 on highways with the four-cylinder and 20 and 29 with the V-6. The automatic shifts crisply and stays in passing gear until nearly 80 mph with the V-6. Four 6-footers easily fit in the functional interior, which has high-grade materials. There are supportive front seats, easily gripped door handles and large controls, which have a plastic feel, but work smoothly. A cupholder pops from the dash to the left of the steering wheel so a front-seat passenger can't accidentally spill a drink from it. There are a good number of storage areas.
The rear seat area is impressively large, but a high rear parcel shelf hinders visibility through the rear window when backing up. The large trunk has a low opening for easy cargo loading and the neat-looking engine compartment has conveniently located fluid filler areas. One of the nicest things about the Malibu is that its functional design doesn't get in the way of driving fun.