By on January 12, 2018

Was it really 22 months ago that I first encountered the fleet-customers-only 2016 Chevrolet Malibu? Indeed it was — and although the rental companies were quick to take advantage of what was presumably an absolutely massive discount on the General’s leftovers, they have not been in a hurry to release their inventory of these cars into the auction lanes.

That’s particularly true in the case of our local National Car Rental franchisee, which is actually a Chevrolet dealer in disguise. Which explains why Danger Girl’s final car rental of the year turned out to be a rather well-worn and thoroughly undistinguished example of the fleet-spec ‘Bu LTZ.

Why review this car yet again? Simple. You’d never guess it, but my review of the rental-spec Chevrolet Captiva turned out to be one of the biggest articles in TTAC history. A lot of people who were looking at ex-rental Captivas in the used market ended up reading it and (one hopes) learning something about the vehicle they did or did not buy. Consider this 2016 Malibu LTZ review to be aimed at the used-car customer, particularly the person who is looking for a new-shape 2016 Malibu but comes across one of these instead. They will want to know that the combination of old style body and 2016 VIN means “fleet car” for sure and “rental car” more often than not. They might also be interested in knowing how these cars survived the abuse to which their first “owners” put them.

Saddle up, used-Malibu intenders, and let’s ride out.


Let’s start with the unpleasant bits: this is the worst Malibu to wear the name since 2004 or thereabouts, mostly because it doesn’t even pretend to offer a class-competitive amount of interior space. Of course, the Malibu hasn’t really been a mid-sized sedan since the rear-wheel-drive A/G-body went out of production 34 years ago. The last few generations have all been “tweeners” that split the gap between, say, Corolla and Camry. If you want to be uncharitable about it, you can say that the Malibu offers Corolla room in a Camry-sized car. It wouldn’t be all that far from the truth.

The back seat is ridiculously tight, enough for my 52-inch-tall eight-year-old son to notice it. The front seats are, shall we say, snug compared to a modern Camry or Accord. The difference is probably no more than an inch or two in each dimension, but it’s enough for the driver to notice. If you have a family, you’ll want to spend the extra money and get a real new-for-2016 Malibu. The difference in interior space is genuinely significant and it is all in the later model’s favor.

If you’re reasonably familiar with Chevrolet’s truck-derived trim levels, chances are that you’ll initially peg this Malibu as an LT rather than an LTZ. It’s missing a long list of features that are part and parcel of new-car standard-equipment lists in 2018, including a backup camera. There are no driver-assist features standard. If you buy an LTZ truck you get seats that offer six levels of heating and three levels of cooling; the Malibu offers you three heat choices. The stereo is, shall we say, below par. Modern-style keyless entry and pushbutton start are conspicuous by their absence.

I’m pretty sure that hardcore GM loyalists would be able to muster up some genuine anger at the idea of putting a top-spec badge on this clearly mid-spec car, but I’m old enough to remember the Celebrity Eurosport and therefore nothing Chevrolet could possibly do is capable of surprising me in the least. Spec-wise, this is basically a no-options 2014 LTZ “1LZ” minus remote start. In Honda-land, this would be an LX-L, which is to say a low-equipment vehicle with leather seats.

Alright. So it’s not roomy and it’s not well equipped. It is, however, pleasant enough to drive. The 2.5-liter engine combines with a six-speed automatic to offer more than enough power for any reasonable Malibu mission. Danger Girl particularly appreciated the way the transmission doesn’t upshift early under full throttle, as did I. It’s no Accord V6 or even a Sonata Turbo, but it has the same more-than-adequate power that you would get from a CVT-equipped 2016 Accord LX, minus the slushy shifts. After 37,000 or so miles, the brake pedal was deep but not frighteningly so.

This car has a fair amount of Opel under the skin and, as a result, it offers well-matched control efforts to go with the decent amount of shove. As a general rule, the Malibu feels smaller than the dimensions suggest but not quite as small as the rear seat implies. Wind noise is low, mechanical noise is low with the exception of the droning big-bore inline-four. Ride quality borders on outstanding, particularly over large bumps. You could spend a lot more money on an Accord or Camry and get sloppier body control. It’s remarkable just how well-screwed-together the platform feels, even after a few years of heavy rental abuse. There’s something just a little bit sad about the idea of GM finally learning to make a long-lasting, trouble-free mid-sized car just in time for the entire category to slide into utter irrelevance.

Way back in 2014 I reviewed a high-mileage Cruze rental and was shocked (shocked!) at the way the interior materials had held up and the relative tightness of the body structure. The same applies to this Malibu. A quick check of the various used-car sites shows that you could probably get this car, or one just like it, for between twelve and fourteen thousand dollars. That’s not much cheaper than an Accord or Camry of similar vintage, which suggests that used-market buyers have gotten wise to the impressive build quality and reliability of these cars. Still, I’d be willing to bet that there’s more room to negotiate on the Malibus. At $12k, this makes a very strong argument for itself as a commuter car or (small) family hauler.

If this fleet-spec Malibu has my grudging respect — and it does — it still hasn’t earned my affection. From the oddly front-loaded profile to the micro-machine rear seat to Chevrolet’s insistence on badging a vehicle “Eco” despite its inability to match a common-and-garden Accord EX-L for fuel mileage, the eighth-generation Malibu is a long way from being desirable no matter how you look at it. “Fundamentally flawed” was my verdict in 2016, and it remains my verdict in 2018. At least it’s getting cheaper. Used-car buyers, I don’t think that you would regret purchasing one at the right money. Just don’t expect to fall in love.

[Images: Jack Baruth/The Truth About Cars]

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93 Comments on “2016 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ Rental Review – Your Next Used Car?...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Impalabu.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      By far the worst rental car I ever had the displeasure of being greeted with at the counter. Had to use it for a 4-hour each way business trip and that was enough to never accept a malibu ever again as a rental.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I’ve already started seeing these running around with Carmax, DriversSelect, or DriveTime emblems on the back.

    I see lots of Craptivas on the road, practically all coming from Carmax.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Meh I liked this generation of LTZ better when the came with turbo. Although I wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation to put mudflaps on it with “TURBO” inscribed on them in the most 1980s font I could find.

    This gen seemed like a quiet comfortable commuter vehicle – but not a good family car. This Malibu helped sell Impalas to the GM faithful.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Still have quite a bit of nostalgic, respect for the 5th generation Malibu we had. Yes, not quite in the Accord class, but at a Civic like cost. With a 6 cylinder and all the conveniences that we required at the time. It was inexpensive to run and never once had a mechanical problem.

    The body style seems to have ‘improved with age’. And we notice a great many of them on the road, soldiering on. Quite a few still look cosmetically good, except for the de rigueur rusting just below the the fuel cap.

  • avatar
    deanst

    That interior just makes me sad.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    For cheap, basic transportation you could probably do a lot worse.

    Chrysler 200, for example.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Any real differences?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        It’s not a Chrysler 200, for starters. And I can’t see that zillion speed transmission FCA uses as being anything but trouble on a used car.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “And I can’t see that zillion speed transmission”

          Well…

          “9-speed GM 9T50 (M3E) (2017-)”

          en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Malibu

          I say again, what is the real difference?

          Opel platform vs Fiat platform?

        • 0 avatar
          MoparRocker74

          From what Ive been seeing, the ‘problems’ with that transmission are people just not being used to it. It shifts a little firmer than the soggy slushboxes usually found on appliance grade cars aimed at non enthusiasts…so I can see where it might be unsettling to someone unfamiliar. I had a 200 and a Renegade as loaners, and they shifted just fine. Nowhere near the craziness of the TF-8 in a Challenger R/T I test drove, but different cars with different missions.

    • 0 avatar
      MoparRocker74

      Whats wrong with the 200? Personally I don’t like midize sedans…too vanilla. BUT if I were forced to own one, a 200 with the 3.6L wouldn’t be an absolute embarrassment.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        There’s not much that’s practically wrong with it, other than the badge, and that it feels closer to a compact (shares the Dart platform) than a midsize. Honestly, probably a better used car buy than a Corolla or Sentra. More car for the same money.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The only thing I particularly disliked about a couple rented 200s was the stupid shifter knob. I don’t have anything against that in and of itself, but the positioning and style of it was too close to the other knobs on the dash, so way too easy to confuse it with the others.

        Otherwise, just another boring 4dr, not much different than anything else in the class. I prefer the slightly smaller size, the Accord and Camry are boat like at this point. If someone riding with me doesn’t like the rear accommodations, they can arrange alternate transportation on their own.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    The 2008-2012 Malibu was the highwater mark. Not exciting, but very competent, in a Toyota-ish kind of way.

    While a 2017 Malibu may post better numbers than my old 2011 BASE car, in 2008, when it was introduced, if one wanted good ride and handling and good looks, with a nice interior, this was the mid-size car to get.

    I got one because of the above, and I got a good lease deal. After driving the car too many miles, I bought it.

    In 6 years and 102k miles, I paid for one repair–broken seat springs. That’s it.

    Biggest pet peeve about the car: replacing a headlight bulb was a nightmare, for an item that will go bad (one did at 101k).

    This car had a roomy rear seat.

    It sold well.

    So, what did GM do? They ‘tweaked’ the platform, rather than improving (aka, let’s rest on our laurels and focus on cutting costs $$$).

    The biggest change they made was to shorten the wheelbase, giving the car the LEAST rear legroom in it’s class, and effectively removing it from many buyers’ consideration.

    So, all the progress that GM made in terms of sales and reputation was lost.

    But I’m sure no one was held accountable for trashing a good car, and they probably got promoted!

    And now , in 2016-18, the new Malibu has to re-establish itself in a shrinking market.

    • 0 avatar
      Der_Kommissar

      This is exactly the example I use when I point out GM’s misunderstanding of product placement. Outside of trucks, when they do make a good product, they clearly do not understand why it was popular, because they rarely iterate in a way that improves the project. Sometimes they get lucky and hit a market segment well, but they’re never able to follow up and demonstrate that they understand why it worked.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack7G

      That generation Malibu had a well styled body and interior, and mostly class competitive features. The body build quality and basic structure were solid, the interior was a letdown in quality. The 4 cylinder engines were utterly gutless. The V6 was good, but fragile and a fuel gulper. The front suspensions are flakier than a fresh croissant. But damn, they are good looking.

      This following generation was much better built, much more satisfying to drive, awkwardly styled, terribly packaged, and destined to pick up where the 2004-07 boxmobile Malibus left off, without the quirky charm of the Maxx wagon/hatch bodystyle.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        What is fragile about the 3.6? The only issues I ever saw on them was a failed timing chain which was remedied with an upgraded unit and tensioners plus a shift to Dexos oil and shorter change intervals.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Malibu generations, ranked best to worst.

    1. 2nd (68-72)
    2. 7th (08-12)
    3. 4th (78-83)
    4. 1st (64-67)
    5. 6th (04-08)
    6. 9th (16-now)
    7. 3rd (73-77)
    8. 8th (13-16)
    9. 5th (97-05)

    • 0 avatar
      Ghosting

      Have not clue what you’re trying to represent w/ all those numbers. lol

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      I will stand up once again for the 6th gen Malibu in Maxx form. My wife, sister-in-law and niece all had one and liked them a lot. It was not an exciting car but a competent one, and it was the last of the mid-size hatchbacks. This was important to women who valued the functionality of a rear hatch but wouldn’t be caught dead in a station wagon or minivan. It was left in the dust by the arrival of the CUV, but it fit a space nicely while it lasted.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Having personal experience with a 4th gen Malibu, I would rank it dead last, or maybe right above the 5th gen. My mom had a ’78 Malibu Classic with the 305 2-barrel and THM200, and it was an awful car. Bought new (~$6600 in December, 1977), the THM200 started acting within the first six months, with jerky 1-2 upshifts and sloppy/lazy 2-3 upshifts. It got a fluid change a one year, and the dealer said “they all do that” (I’m sure they did). She had several repairs done over about a six-year period keep in mind, she rode the bus to work, so the car sat in the garage, except for going to church or the grocery store, running errands, etc., for the first five years.

      After that, her company (small magazine publisher) moved out of downtown Dallas, so she had to drive to work for two year, until she retired. Right after that, her first grandchild was born, so she flew to NorCal to visit my sister. When she came back, I drove the car to the airport to pick her up, and then the tranny bit the big one – it suddenly didn’t want to go into third anymore, unless you let up on the gas. By this time, the car had maybe 35,000 miles on it.

      A teardown by a local indy transmission shop revealed what they suspected – a broken internal case support that caused the internals to fall out of alignment. The permanent fix was to swap in a rebuilt THM350, which required a new driveshaft, new mount, moving the crossmember on the frame (simple, given that the wagons used a THM350), adding a vacuum for the modulator, and swapping the throttle lever on the carb, to support the THM350’s cable-operated kickdown.

      The shop was well-versed at replacing THM200s with 350s, since they’d done a zillion of them, including on Impalas for Richardson PD. The swap finally made the car driveable. There was a Federal class action lawsuit over the transmission (the THM200 was designed for the Chevette, so GM thought it work just fine in Malibus, Monte Carlos, Impalas and Caprices). She got something like $150 when the suit was finally settled, after spending close to a grand for repairs, and the eventual swap.

      Besides the transmission, there was the a/c system with the self-destructing R-4 compressor, the front and rear springs that sagged prematurely, the rear axle shaft recall (improper heat treating of the shafts, that could cause the C-lock buttons on the differential ends to snap off), the garbage turn signal/headlight dimmer switches, etc. After she passed away in 2012, we sold the car for $1000, and it still only had 72,000 miles on it.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Why is it that when someone writes a semi-positive post about a recent GM car we get to see war stories from 40 years ago? The 2016 car in Jack’s post isn’t even remotely related to a 1978 Malibu except for the nameplate on the car. Even the company did a Lazarus and is not the same company as it was in 1978.

        Maybe I should answer every Honda post with my war stories of how my girlfriend’s 1978 Accord rusted away to nothing, how weak the 2 speed auto trans was, how under-powered it was, how useless the A/C was, how the rat’s nest of vacuum lines on the emissions controls were a nightmare to work on or how after 3 years the interior panels were sagging (partially) because she never garaged it?

        No, I’d get unending hell and dozens of responses that those aren’t valid criticisms because the cars are different now. But hey, let’s roll out those tales of woe from 40 years ago anyway…

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Boy someone’s defensive. Looks like Duke was simply responding to ajla’s ranking of the generations of Malibus, and made zero mention or implication in regard to the current gen.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        I used to work for two elderly sisters from the age of 12-16 mowing there lawn and helping out with household tasks. They had a 1978 Malibu Classic sedan in two tone light and dark silver with a maroon interior plus the 305 2BBL V8 and I believe it had a 350 transmission from day one. She had the car up until 1991 when the rear end got smashed and roughly 100K on the clock. The only issue she had was some recall on the brakes right after she purchased it in 1979. Towards the end of my run working with them I drove that car several times to pick up spring water in gallon jugs and always marveled at how nice that car drove. She must have got one of the better ones

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          No love, outside of myself for the 5th generation. Yet that is the generation that still seems most abundant on the roads of the GTA.

          Surely that must say something about its durability?

  • avatar
    ajla

    But how does it compare to the W-body Impala Limited?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      One runs despite abuse, the other *might*.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        W body Impala with 3.6 V6 VVT DI, six-speed auto (which I have driven.)

        Those cars were absolutely a case of the old joke: “GM sells you the engine and transmission and throws in the rest of the car for free.”

        My experience driving one was about 1.5 hours from a remote outpost of the district back into Gallup, included poorly maintained state hwy and interstate. Strong acceleration, quiet soft ride, and loafed at under 2000 rpm with cruise set at 80 mph on I-40.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          This. That last W-body is Classic Old GM – terrific drivetrain, and the rest is complete garbage.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Absolute Garbage.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            The 3.6 in the Wbody is really hamstrung by super tall gearing. Once it gets going you start to feel the potential of the motor, but out of the hole 1st gear kills it. The Epsilon Impalas despite more weight feel quicker from a stop, GM finally saw fit to tweak the gearing.

            Aside from that they’re sort of okay with a smattering of minor issues (HVAC, door locks, that kind of crap), a very old school rickety feeling body structure (and a nice low dash as the silver lining), and they just feel like they age quickly like American cars used to. A 40k mile ex-rental Impala feels like the doors are starting to sag a bit, suspension is extra floppy already, etc. At least the excellent “mouse fur” velour wears like iron. I have no doubt they will soldier on across the rural US and urban neighborhoods for decades to come, as long as the timing chains don’t stretch excessively. I’ve heard the LFX is different than the LLT in the Lambdas and not stretch-prone, but I’ve also heard of W-Impalas getting chain replacements (Zackman here on TTAC)

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            My biggest objection to the W-Impalas is suspension tuning. It feels to me like the cars are underdamped, while the springs are simultaneously too firm at the middle of their travel and too soft near the bump stops. Easy to hit the bump stops over big bumps, busy ride, but at the same time poor body control. It’s hard to believe it’s from the same company that produced the very good suspension of the car in this article.

            My second biggest objection is the awful interior, from both a design and materials standpoint. Get the cloth, because the leather is the worst leather of any car I can remember driving in recent memory.

          • 0 avatar
            Land Ark

            Tread derailed!

            “Absolute Garbage.”

            I’m going to see them in London later this year for an anniversary concert of the entire Version 2.0 album.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonosisdead

            All you true believers just pine for the One True Savior, the 3800 V6. A W body without is a sin. Only a derelict would think a global product is born in the valley of the Chevy in the Hole!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Land Ark
            That was the idea!

            There had better be another show other than Brixton. I’ve already had to go to Las Vegas, Geneva, and Toronto to see these people. I really don’t feel like jumping the pond again, esp to pounds sterling costs.

            The impression I got in Toronto is that there will be US shows but they either have no idea where yet or they just have not attempted to book but have a basic tour schedule worked out. They were mum on specifics when someone in the group asked. I did however learn The Chemicals was slated for SLB and Shirley opposed its release as a single (which was the question I asked). The exact reason for its release as a single was kinda vague from Butch, I took it as kinda BS. Incidentally I’m wearing my 20YQ hoodie today, so that’s serendipitous.

            Additional: When I went to Type Books for the booksigning the next day, Butch and Steve looked almost dead, Duke was half awake, but Shirley was very with it and excited to see people which may have just been caffeine. I’m thinking 20YV2 may be the last grand tour. Hope not, but thinking it.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            Are they not touring much? They were just in DC last year. At $75 per ticket, I missed the show. Small/medium sized venue with bad sight lines is a bad value at that price.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @TMA

            Actually they’ve done three tours in the past three years: 20YQ in 2015, Strange Little Birds in 2016, and Rage and Rapture w/Blondie last summer. Next year is the 20Y Version 2.0 tour but as of now there are no real dates. When I met them in Toronto, they were mum on details for 20YV2. I got the impression it was going to happen but they haven’t even started putting it together.

            “They were just in DC last year. At $75 per ticket, I missed the show.”

            I went to Toronto for Rage and Rapture, the Sony Centre was sold out, and the polite Canadians were jumping out of the seats with excitement. If you love the band I would take every opportunity you have to see them because these people ain’t.

            Personally, I think $75 is nothing, I buy the backstage for much more and to me its worth every penny.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            Thanks, 28. The first two albums will always hold a special place in my heart, but after that I just couldn’t get into it. I did see them in DC 4-5 years ago though.

            Now Morrissey and Shonen Knife, I never miss those two. And Shonen Knife comes through DC or Baltimore every single year.

          • 0 avatar
            Jack Baruth

            CONCRETE DINOSAURS!

          • 0 avatar
            Land Ark

            28, you put my fandom to shame. I’ve never met the band. But I met my wife at a show so they mean a lot to us. I try to get my wife to ping them on social media before concerts to try to scam a way back stage, but she’s too bashful/anti-social.
            We went to the show at Wolf Trap last summer with Blondie, we stayed for 3 Blondie songs and got out of the parking lot really quickly.
            I’ve only seen them 4 times, but each time was meaningful and fantastic.

            TMA: If you liked the first two albums and struggled with BeautifulGarbage, I recommend giving Not Your Kind of People and honest couple listens. Especially with the deluxe edition bonus tracks.

          • 0 avatar
            Sub-600

            I love the video of the band doing “Because The Night” with Screaming Females, with Duke on piano. Marissa can jam with anybody.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            Thanks, Land Ark. I haven’t heard that one yet. Besides Beautiful Garbage, I couldn’t get into Bleed Like Me either.

            I usually listen to Angelfish’s one album when I want to hear Manson these days.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Correction: “ain’t the Stones”. Not sure how that got cut off.

            @TMA

            Beautiful Garbage and Bleed Like Me were definite departures from the previous two, and everyone everywhere (including me) has that complaint (although many years later I have grown fond of both). One of the elements of Strange Little Birds was a return to the “sound” of the Debut. Evidently since about 2015 the band’s mood has been darker, hence SYB, and the singles The Chemicals, and No Horses. I’d recommend checking out the album or at the very least the singles, you may be surprised.

            Additional: Not Your Kind of People is their only album I did not care as much for, but perhaps it will grow on me in time. Bleed Like Me feels like more of a generic rock album with a little Garbage magic thrown in than anything. I heard rumors some of it was written with Gwen Stefani but Duke denied this when I asked.

            “And Shonen Knife comes through DC or Baltimore every single year.”

            I seriously had no idea who that was lol. They have piqued my interest though with this tidbit from Wiki:

            “They have also performed as a Ramones tribute band under the name The Osaka Ramones.”

            @Land Ark

            That’s nice to hear. For at least the past few years the backstage stuff has been managed by a third party company called Adventures in Wonderland. I would not be surprised if there was a contract stipulating everything has to go through them and thus you social media pings will go unanswered.

            I’ve always been a fan but after some unpleasant events in 2014 I kind of rebooted and have been going through this whole cosmic destiny thing which apparently has involved the band. Weird stuff hard to explain. Coincidences which are not coincidences, deju vu, signs, events from my youth repeating or coming to fruition.

            I too didn’t stay long for Blondie. During the intermission I left my row 10 seat but didn’t return. I stood in the back for five or six Blondie songs and once they got into tracks I was totally lost on I said F-it and walked toward Union Station. Blondie for me is a little too much before my time to really appreciate, although I respect the band for continuing to play.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @TMA

            Anyone
            Who’s shaken dust
            Knows that it should fall back
            Harmless
            It’s over now
            Things have changed
            Everything is different
            And rearranged
            We never got the way that we should go
            Tears and heartache, nothing more
            I had to play grown up in our game
            That wasn’t fair, that was the worst thing

            Angelfish live reunion @ SWG3, Glasgow 12-9-15

            youtube.com/watch?v=zKMUZS0Bhas

            Based on what Shirley alluded to on stage in Switzerland, Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie got into serious trouble in Berlin 1990 when they blew their 100,000 pounds sterling record advance on drugs and partying in three days. Evidently Ecstasy during that trip screwed her memory up permanently and she pleaded with the crowd in Crans-près-Céligny “drugs are not to be done”. I can’t remember where I heard or read this next part, but Angelfish was created by that record company after the Berlin incident. They put her in as the front and instructed the band to go in a different direction. Rest is history.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            I listed to Strange Little Birds last night, it’s free on Prime. Much better.

            I’m kind of glad Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie fell apart. Manson was seriously underutilized in that band. And I have one of their albums, don’t care much for it.

            It’s too bad to hear that you guys didn’t enjoy Blondie. Their early stuff is really good. Debbie Harry is over 70 now though, so I’m not sure how much she has left in the tank. She was past 30 by the time the band really took off.

            Shonen Knife was definitely inspired by the Ramones, and have released a cover album. Heck, they worship the Ramones. They also toured with the Ramones on their last tour of Japan. But they’ve been touring since basically the early 80’s, and release a new album almost every year. That’s pretty cool for trio of 50+ female Japanese punk rockers from Osaka.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @TMA

            Nice to hear you enjoyed it, its generally been well received from what I have read. I think whats happened is because of long hiatus and years “coming back” they have lost some relevance and were unable to reinvent themselves, hence a return to their roots.

            I saw Green Day last April when they came here, and what a good show but it was nothing like any Green Day show I had seen twenty years or so hence. The center standing room area was all teenagers from today and the show they put on was extremely family friendly (very little swearing or innuendo). In between say every four tracks they stopped and did something to interact with those teenagers. One of them ended up walking off with Billie Joe’s guitar after playing a chord or so in front of the audience. What I read later is the band was falling into irrelevance in the late 90s as Nimrod et all could not match the success of Dookie. Later, American Idiot was a huge success with the then youth and again in 2009 with 21st Century Breakdown (incidentally produced by Butch during the hiatus). So Green Day obviously had their traditional fanbase but expanded in the 2000s to where Gen Z follows them. Garbage sadly did not and I suspect Not Your Kind of People was an attempt to do something different to cater to that audience (not sure it worked). I suspect unless the money is somehow there the band may not do much after 2018 and they will settle into running their record label. Holding out hope for one more album though between now and whenever that happens (or that I am just completely wrong). Perhaps filling medium size venues for huge share of profit vs 90s huge venue but small profit is worth doing for a few more years?

            There’s a video on YT somewhere showing Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie performing about 1988/89 with Shirley up front with big 80s hair on the keyboard. Had they just shown better judgment, that’s where she would have remained till the band’s dissolution. There are no coincidences.

            Shonen Knife… I feel like I’m listening to female Ramones…

          • 0 avatar
            ponchoman49

            Yes absolute garbage. You guys are geniuses to point this out.

            However I must point out that my utter garbage 2013 Crimson red LT with moonroof has been a jem closing in on 82K miles, my mothers silver 2008 LS now with 90K miles still looks and runs like new with only the most minor of issues and my best friend has a 2012 silver LT with roof just like mine with the 3.6 LFX motor and 165K miles that has been bullit proof for them.

            The engines and transmissions are all original with no issues. The cloth seats wear like iron. They are all 3 solid and rattle free and still drive like when we got them and only minor issues have been noted. Mine needed a new wire harness piece for the ABS sensor on the driver’s side to the cost of 35 bucks. My buddies needed a 40 dollar wheel bearing which we installed ourselves and moms has just been normal service items.

            Yeah sounds like a bunch of rubbish to me!

  • avatar
    Ghosting

    I get PTSD just looking at that interior. Never again GM, NEVER again.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    The last Malibu of this generation that I rented had GM’s automated Start/Stop feature which for me is a major “Stop, look at something else”.

  • avatar
    sfrunner

    I rented a ’17 Malibu last week. I didn’t hate it but it possessed none of the “build quality” that this article attributes to the 2016 version. My copy only had 17,000 miles on it and there were several rattles and the carpeting near the front passenger door was coming loose from the plastic trim. The entire top of the dashboard is covered by the cheapest, hardest black plastic I have ever seen or felt. The fuel economy was surprisingly good and it wasn’t slow even with the 1.5. It was also very quiet, other than the rattles, and the stop/start system was almost imperceptible. The visibility, on the other hand, is horrendous. I don’t know why they even bothered with a rear window because I couldn’t see anything behind me.

    • 0 avatar
      kefkafloyd

      I too had a 2017 Malibu rental last week and it was leagues different than this car (which I’ve also had in the past). I actually didn’t hate it. The start/stop was very good, a lot better than some I’ve used. The visibility in the back is bad, and the GM parts bin rear mirror with that pentagonal downward point just emphasizes it even more. The engine felt gutless but when you put your foot down it got where it needed to go (it’s most likely the very quick shifting transmission that’s the culprit). MyLink with CarPlay was adequate in a rental, but I’m not sure if I’d live for it day to day. Honestly, it’s a perfectly cromulent car. But I don’t buy cromulent cars, I buy interesting cars, and the Malibu ain’t it.

      I still think, pound for pound, the Impala is the better mile chewer. It feels powerful and looks stately. The Malibu… eh. It’s more nondescript than the Impala, which has just the right sculpting to give it an excellent road presence. The Impala is a tall private detective in a well tailored suit with a nice (but not ostentatious) watch and can throw a punch if he has to. The Malibu is off-the-rack with a Casio digital who can run a bit but doesn’t lift. Decent enough…

      But I wouldn’t buy one. I’ve had my GM product quota for one life.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I’ve likewise had a new-gen 1.5T LT rental, largely echo your sentiments. Largely competent with a few outstanding issues (very poor rear visibility, poor interior ergonomics on the dash/push-button start, stupid cloth on dash). Mine got okay MPG, mid 30s, which I can’t complain about but no better than a 2.4L Sonata/Optima, and not as good as the 40mpg indicated I saw in a ’16 Passat 1.8TSI that had more power than the Malibu and a much better interior IMO. So not a bad car, but doesn’t give much of a reason to pick it over competitors with better reputations for resale/reliability and fewer small annoyances.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    From a two-day rental:

    Pros: very quiet, sufficient power. inoffensive auto-stop/start (ymmv).
    Cons: visibility is awful—if that’s important to you. Brake pedal/travel just felt weird (ymmv).

    if a family member asked, i’d never recommend unless the price was rock bottom.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    How is it possible to ‘fall in love’ with something as bland and anonymous as a midsize sedan? Maybe if your favorite food is white bread …

  • avatar
    geozinger

    It was kind of unfortunate that GM decided to go back to the smaller wheelbase from the 1st Uglibu era, rather than sticking with the 2008-12 longer wheelbase. This car was apparently sold in world markets, so who knows, maybe there was a good reason (tax avoidance) to use the smaller wheelbase. I’m 6’0″, and with my seat set up for me, I can fit behind me with no issues.

    There’s a lot of effort GM put into this car, some of which gets lost in the noise of criticism. Jack is absolutely right, the car has some decent suspension tuning and it is supremely quiet. I also like the fact that all equipment levels, the trunk is lined and has pockets for the hinges to fit into. That little detail was a huge thing on other cars, routinely ignored on this one.

    I’ve spent many hours in my kid’s 2016 LS (true rental version). Generally speaking, the LTZ version is way better equipped. She got in a financial jam and needed cheap wheels and the local Chevy dealer had one of these. If you don’t need lots of fancy stuff in your car (leather, sunroof, etc.) this car is quite well equipped for a “stripper”. We drove the car out to Colorado in November 2016, the car performed flawlessly. We got pretty decent fuel mileage as I recall, other than the fact that we’re both heavy footed, it didn’t seem out of line. I’d do that drive again in that car in a heartbeat.

    Judging by the comments, there’s still a lot of misinformation out there about Uglibu, Part Deux. It’s really the swan song of the Epsilon 1 chassis. But at least they made it the best version of Ep 1. It’s a truly solid car.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      “Judging by the comments, there’s still a lot of misinformation out there about Uglibu, Part Deux.” +1, geozinger. Friends and I met for a vacation in the summer of ’13 or so, and they had one of these as a rental. I’d driven my own car, but any four of the five of us fit fine in the Malibu. (Say that fast several times.) The five of us were: a 6’3″ man, a 5’10” man, a 5’7″ woman, a 5’0″ boy, a five-year-old with attendant car seat. All of us spent time in the back seat except my 6’3″ friend. It’s in the middle ground of “fine” between “tight” and “spacious.” It’s not a cramped vehicle; it’s just not. I guess it’s smaller than its predecessor and not as roomy as some of its contemporaries. But it’s not cramped, no matter how many times that gets repeated on the internet (apparently by people who’ve never actually sat in one). A ’15-’17 Chrysler 200 is cramped; a ’12-’16 Malibu is fine.

      It may be a disappointing follow-up to the 7th-gen, and competitors may be better, but it isn’t a bad vehicle in an absolute sense.

      We were on some good driving roads, and the chassis tuning definitely was a plus. It was smooth and quiet, with a good comfort/handling balance.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      The “good reason” for the smaller wheelbase was likely a deliberate kneecapping to get people test driving the Impala.

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        That’s my guess, too, TMA1. I don’t think the General wanted the 8th-gen (’12-’16) Malibu to tread on the 10th-gen (’14 on) Impala’s toes, size-wize. Had they kept it the same wheelbase as the 7th-gen Malibu, it would have.

        That said, the 8th-gen Malibu does not have a “kneecapper” small back seat. It’s not like a 200 or a Verano. It’s just less spacious than the reviewers wanted it to be. Add in the usual anti-GM bias and, voilà, you have “the Malibu has a tiny back seat” mantra repeated ad infinitum since 2012.

        I’ll add that it’s no looker. There clearly was a directive to include 5th-gen Camaro styling cues, regardless of whether or not that actually was a good idea. It doesn’t look as bad as it did in 2012, though. The whole market has gotten so ugly that it’s at worst average at this point.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I rented a 2016 Malibue LTZ, probably spec’ed just like this one, for a week in the fall of 2016. It already had 24k on the clock then. I liked the car a lot. In fact, I liked it better than the 2017 Malibu that I had for a day just before. In particular, I liked the 2.5 liter engine with six-speed transmission better than the 1.5T/9-speed in the 2017.

    Power was good. In fact, I first thought it was a 2.0T until I found out that it was a rental model with a 2.5 non-turbocharged engine.

    The interior room was fine for just my wife and me. Luggage space was good. The car was quiet, smooth-riding, handled well, and I got along with the infotainment system. My observed-calculated MPG was almost 36 MPG, with one tank over 37. (Most of this driving was on New Mexico interstate and state highways, and over all sorts of terrain. The 37+ tank included about 100 miles of 55MPH driving when I realized that I REALLY should have topped off at Roswell.)

    I wouldn’t fault anybody who picked this car over a comparably priced used Honda Accord, Toyota Camry or whatever.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    The LED tail-lights immediately give this away as an LTZ. FL, LS and LT models had a different halogen design. Ditto for the chrome door handles.

    Like you, I think the Malibu represents indifferent middle America. It’s thoroughly unexciting, but is well put-together, an excellent highway cruiser, and has great road comfort. But when you’re looking for reliable, trouble-free transportation, those are sought-after attributes. The only real flaw *is* the cramped backseat.

    Some of the same can be said about the Cruze. It’s the reason I replaced the totaled 2014 MKS with a 2016 Cruze, albeit a Premier with the RS package and every option. I need something pretty stress-free and good on fuel, but reasonably new, to get me through this next stage of life.

  • avatar
    cicero1

    rented one, it was ehhhh. But the stupid start stop was so F-ing annoying.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Rental fleets offer good value, thanks to overblown fears of abuse. For every rental car burnout video on Youtube there are probably a hundred thousand abuse-free miles that we never see. There are also regular oil changes.

    As my former rental car approaches its sixth birthday, the ownership experience has been identical to that of a brand-new car. Except for the briefcase full of money in the trunk, for which I say thank-you to the Youtubers.

    Although the Malibu is not my cup of tea, it strikes me as an especially good ex-fleet purchase. Decent design & execution, rapid depreciation, widespread serviceability… perfect for the pragmatist who has better uses for money than sinking it into cars.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    The phrase “drive it like you stole it” or “it’s an Fckn rental-I don’t care” come to mind. Beat to piss cars that spent the first part of their lives with either the gas or the brake pedal to the floor. However, we purchased an ex rental ‘07 Avalon (i’m Third owner) that has rewarded us with great trouble free service for almost 100K miles-its now at 260K. I know most rental fleets get regular oil changes and checks. My theory is that repeated full throttle bursts are good for the motor. Italian tune up and all I guess. The brakes, suspension bits, and transmission take a whipping sure, but maybe we got lucky. YMMV.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I drive rentals about as much as my own cars, maybe more. If anything, I drive them more gently since I am usually in areas I am unfamiliar with. I wouldn’t buy an ex-rental simply because almost nothing that interests me is ever in a rental fleet. Plus just about anything that is in a rental fleet can be bought with epic discounts brand new, so why bother?

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      For what it’s worth, I work in the rental industry, and it seems like most of the PJ O’Rourke acolytes seek out more exciting vehicles (they’re also pretty good at getting them written off). Something like one of these Malibus is pretty safe (maybe just avoid an ex-rental Camaro).

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        For sure – a buddy of mine rented a Camaro specifically to take it to an autocross, and lunched the engine as it turned out to be low on oil. Dumped a couple quarts in, limped it back and dropped it off. He had the damage waiver, nothing was ever said. Engine sounded like a dryer full of rocks when he returned it.

        That said, I have had plenty of very nice rental cars and the only one I ever returned damaged was an MB E350 that got runover by a truck in the hotel parking lot.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I had one of these and it was so awful, so terrible, I stopped at a different Avis and swapped it out. Only the second time in my life I was, “hell no, no more,” mid-rental.

    Just a terrible car.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I too have rented one of these Malibus like just about everyone else who rents often. I will gladly accept one of these over an Altima any day of the week, for whatever reason I loath the Altima.

    I enjoy reading from those that have rented one and disliked it due to whatever reason. I have found rental cars can be hard to like in any form as seemingly they all have odd smells of dubious origin along with every 3rd or 4th one has a steering wheel that when you let go the car tries to take an immediate left (or right) in hopes of killing you. These ‘features’ ruin the entire experience for me but does to mean the specific make is junk.

    As far as the Malibu is concerned in the retail market. My how far GM has come since the 80’s or even the 90’s. These cars are perfect starter cars for the commuting college kid or anyone else that needs a reliable appliance to get them to work and back for years with little fuss for a bargain price that is loaded with safety features. Will I ever buy one? Hard to imagine that occurring. Would I recommend one to someone on a tight budget? You betcha.

  • avatar
    pb35

    That interior looks like it smells like a combination of cigarette smoke, rubber floor mats and Old Spice.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I had an ’04 Malibu Maxx. The wagon body brilliant, the rest, junk. I literally bought it in the dark of January in 2008 (paid $17,000!). By March the light had retuned and it was obvious that not a single panel or piece of glass wasn’t wavy on this thing. The interior trim was of Tupperware grade. In 2010, I traded it for a 2000 Lexus GS. I’ve looked at 2017 GM vehicles and can’t believe how shoddy they still are, even the Buicks and Caddys.

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