Rent, Lease, Sell or Keep 2000 Chevy Malibu

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

Do you like vanilla? Sure! We all do! Well come here and observe the most vanilla of offerings during the Clinton era. This Chevy Malibu was GM’s answer to the automotive androgyny that was the Toyota Corolla. A car that could only be driven excitedly if you placed a catapult just so. Most enthusiasts hated the Corolla, but recommended it anyhow for those seeking a reliable appliance. As for the Malibu?

Rent: It was a ‘value’ proposition. The Malibu would offer you more equipment than a Corolla at a ‘good deal’ price. GM made this into a science back then. Offer more options than the competition at a certain price range. Subsidize the lackluster demand by inserting it into every rental fleet from Florida to Alaska. Finally and most importantly market the thing like crazy.

Lease: $159 / month lease deals. $199 / month finance arrangements back when the dollar meant something. Did we mention the features? GM was already trying to parts bin their ABS and traction control systems when the Malibu came out. But there was two choice ingredients that made Malibus irresistible to consumers searching for the deal of the day.

1990’s era ‘Power Packages’ were the 1990’s version of today’s Satellite Nav Systems. Put em’ in and folks will pay the premium du jour over a base model. GM threw this ‘loaded feature’ into most Malibu’s along with the (insert annoying car commercial voice here) ‘3.1 Liter V6 engine’.

A V6 Engine may not mean squat today. But back then it was a big deal and GM’s parts bin was happy to offer it in everything but a Metro or a Cavalier. The Malibu may still drive like a refrigerator. But the sound of ‘having’ a V6, even if it had the aural quality of a faulty compressor, meant you could always boast to your friends about how you have a powerful engine shared by only 12 other GM models.

Sell: Of course the unfortunate side of having an accountant inspired car is that you were nickeled and dimed to death. Intake manifold gaskets. Dexron related cooling issues. Axle and drivetrain issues. Steering problems. Cheap plastics. No, it was not all that much worse than a lot of under-engineered vehicles of the time. But the Malibu was no Corolla.

Keep: If a car could keep going with the occasional mild to moderate issue would you keep it? Of course! But it would have to inspire you. The type of car that you could grab the keys and look forward to driving as the morning commute beckoned.

That car is most definitely not a Malibu. It also probably isn’t a 1990’s Cutlass, Century, Grand Am, Grand Prix, Beretta, Corsica, Ciera, Lumina, Skylark or Achieva. The Malibu is probably a good commuter for the mechanically inclined who have ample spare GM parts and relatively short commutes.

So for those junkyard barons with 5 mile commutes and enough of those V6 engines to make Roger Smith blush, I recommend to you my own 2000 Chevy Malibu w/ 124k. Priced at $2500 it’s a steal. Honest!

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2 of 41 comments
  • MrGreenMan MrGreenMan on Jun 27, 2011

    Sell it, as operating it in any way is a world of hurt. I have a boxy generation and, being a hand-me-down design from the Vectra, it seems better in all ways: - It's an Epsilon car, not a Roger Smith abortion - The 3500 is a lot more reliable than the 3100 lump - The brakes are good -- the N-platform car ate brake pads, whereas the Epsilon one can get about 40k miles out of a good set The only knock on the boxy generation is that the whiz-bang steering (telescope and tilt!) was not done well, and so the steering column has to be replaced, although GM eventually admitted this was a design defect that they fixed by the 2007 model year, and they've agreed to fix the older ones if not fixed already.

  • CompWizrd CompWizrd on Jul 01, 2011

    Give away... anonymously. My wife had a 2001 LS with 253,000 miles on it.. two head gaskets in one year, thanks to the incompetence of the first place that "fixed it", needed a new cat because it got clogged up from the coolant issues.. broke a spring or two because of Detroit roads. Average fuel economy was around 20-21 mpg. To be honest though, the car wasn't that horrible until the last year of ownership though.. tail lights needed to be siliconed shut so water wouldn't get into them. You can figure on replacing the head gasket or intake gasket every couple years though, which if you're paying anyone to do it, gets expensive. Did the usual blower motor repair, which was cheap and easy thanks to rockauto.. new brakes every year or so, new tires every other year. We religiously changed the oil at the 3000 mile mark.. which with her driving was every 5-6 weeks.. I think that was part of how it actually made it to 253,000 miles. Ford gave us $1000 for it under the "retire your ride program" (they scrap them) Got a 2011 Focus SE with sync/heated seats/etc. Averaging about 31-32 mpg with it. 9,200 miles in 4 months of driving on it.

  • SCE to AUX 1000 miles/month still works out to $30/month, similar to my cost in PA.The real effect of this gimmick is to show how cheap it is to operate an EV. But I guess even $30-ish/month for a year ends up saving maybe 1% off the effective price of the car.Other EV mfrs can't even build batteries yet, let alone think of clever ideas like this.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird In 1986 the Yugo was listed as $3990, which was the lowest priced car in America at the time. The base Hyundai Excel was listed at $1k more at $4995. I knew someone at the time who purchased a base Excel hatchback in red with a four speed. I think he added an aftermarket stereo. He was trading in a Renault Alliance that he purchased a few years earlier for about $5k.
  • SCE to AUX Good summary.I still think autonomous driving should be banned until some brave mfr claims Level 5 capability, and other distractions like games and videos should only be available for stationary vehicles.As for the A/C, I just turn a knob in my Hyundai EV.
  • MrIcky My bet is flood.
  • Lou_BC "A Stellantis employee recommended the change after they had a near-miss with an emergency vehicle they couldn’t hear."I was at a traffic light and the car next to me had the stereo cranked. My whole truck was vibrating. A firetruck was approaching lights and sirens. They should have seen it since it was approaching from their side. Light changed and they went. It was almost a full on broad-side. People are stupid. A green light at an intersection does not mean it is safe to go. You still have to look especially at a "fresh" green. Idiots run the light, an emergency vehicle is coming, or it's icy and vehicles can't stop.