Being a senior in high school, I asked my parents for a car. I wanted a car that was cheap (as I knew they would have to pay for college), four dour, V6 (I dislike the sound of the inline 4), decent looking and I have a preference towards GM. Based on all of that my parents bought me the Chevrolet Malibu.
At first glance the car looks pretty boring and unexciting but not dull. My friends have walked past the car many times when I was the driver. With its unexciting looks and with so many of them out there, it's easy for it to get lost.
The inside looks as if it were confused between quality and price cutting. Lots of plastic. I like the fact that the vents are on the A pillars of the car, and that the ignition is beside the steering wheel and not on it. The left side cup holder takes some getting used to, but that isn't a bad idea either. The dash is nice and flat and the controls are within reach while driving and simple to use. That being said, the gear shift lever and the dash board are UGLY! The tach looks tacky and there is no excuse for the gearshift lever. It looks as if someone just jammed a twig and added a button on it. Another plus side however is that the rear is very spacious and my friends can sit back there comfortably.
The car feels solid overall while driving, but has some kinks to be worked out. One of the first questions I asked my parents was "are you SURE this is a V6?" This car is by no means a slouch. Off the line get up and go is rewarding, and almost thrilling. However once you get at highway speed and the power greatly diminishes. The car would benefit from a much better transmission as I feel this is the source of the problem. The car dislikes downshifting, even when it is appropriate. Bottom line: the car has enough power, but you must floor it to get it. The Japanese do it faster, and they do it better. I noticed going up hill during the summer months the car surges slightly. Not been a huge problem but it is somewhat annoying.
Gas mileage isn't awful, but again the Japanese do it better. If it had an increase of 2 mpg city and about 3 mpg highway, this car would be much much better. I average about 18-19 city 21 mixed and about 26-27 highway. It isn't a bad engine overall, however it lacks refinement that the Honda and Toyota's capitalize on.
Overall this car is OK. Nothing wonderful about it, nothing terrible about it. I've never been concerned with reliability. I've faith when I turn the car on it will start. I still have the car and travel a lot with it. I will probably get another Chevrolet Malibu as the new ones look stunning, if the refinement is there.
Overall this is a good first car for teenagers and young adults, but for those who've been driving for awhile, either look at GM's newer line up or buy a different 01 car.