2008 Chevrolet Malibu Takes Top Spot in Mid-Size Sedan Comparison Test

Kbb.com Editors Compare Six New Vehicles in Best-Selling Mid-Size Sedan Segment

The expert editors of Kelley Blue Book’s recently conducted a highly comprehensive mid-size sedan value
comparison test between six of the top new vehicles in the class and
declared the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu winner. In an all-new video recently
posted to the Latest News section of kbb.com and http://www.youtube.com/kbb,
the editors round up the newest versions of the top-selling mid-size
sedans — Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Hyundai
Sonata, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion — and detail their observations
and opinions on each vehicle, ultimately declaring the Malibu the
overall winner in the segment. In the spirit of the times, each of the
vehicles tested in the kbb.com 2008 mid-size sedan value comparison
test were outfitted with standard four-cylinder engines and automatic
transmissions (the way consumers purchase them most often), and five of
the six models return highway fuel economy of at least 30 miles per

Every year since before the turn of the millennium, the mid-size
sedan took top honors as the best-selling car in the country. The
mid-size sedan’s status as the definitive family car, however, has
taken a hit due to the popularity of the SUV for many years. Now that
gas prices and the economy have new-car buyers seeking better fuel
economy and thinking small, the mid-size sedan is ready for a return to
prominence. Combining varying levels of comfort, performance, value,
amenities, roominess, safety and fuel economy, the mid-size sedan is
just the answer many new-car buyers are looking for.

“The mid-size sedan segment is full of so many great options, and we
set out to find the best of the best in overall value, and thus the
best overall choice for consumers to consider, in this stellar group of
popular cars,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and
executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book and kbb.com. “We were
very impressed with all of the cars we tested, but our team found that
the Chevy Malibu simply was the best all-around in its class. The
others just don’t quite measure up to all the Malibu has to offer in
terms of interior and exterior styling, performance, safety and overall

The comprehensive value comparison tests conducted by the entire
kbb.com editorial staff included scoring multiple points of
consideration for each vehicle in each of the following categories:
exterior, interior, driving dynamics, safety (both active and passive
safety), crash ratings, and value (examining both New Car Blue Book®
Values, which are the actual transaction values of what each vehicle is
currently selling for, as well as projected future resale values).

Kbb.com 2008 Mid-Size Sedan Comparison Test Rankings & Editorial Comments

1. 2008 Chevrolet Malibu

The newest Chevy Malibu just seems to do everything well. Not only
does it look great inside and out, it’s also smooth on the highway,
remarkably quiet and still eager around town and in the hills. From its
artistically sculpted exterior design to its lush, upscale interior,
this is a car that recalls the days when General Motors set the style
leadership for the world. Our testers were impressed with what we
regarded as its uncanny balance of ride and handling, and the Malibu
also delivers best-in-class fuel economy. The Malibu simply is the
closest thing there is to a one-size-fits-all mid-size family sedan.

2. 2008 Honda Accord

The Honda Accord brings world-class refinement to the mainstream.
Save for a few polarizing elements such as the design and layout of the
audio and climate controls, the Honda could easily have taken home the
trophy. Several praised its sporty handling, but a few of us felt the
Accord offered a ride that was a little too stiff for the family sedan
class. On the safety front, Accord offers a remarkable level of active
and passive safety equipment. In the ownership-cost area, its high
resale value was accompanied by a high initial price, and its projected
fuel costs were higher than most competitors. By a very close margin,
our testers deemed its exterior design and execution, as well as its
driving dynamics, number one in the class, besting even the Malibu.

3. 2008 Nissan Altima

Though the Nissan Altima’s exterior styling seems a little long in
the tooth to some, its sporty handling and smooth continuously variable
automatic transmission impressed our editors. Testers liked the
excellent rear-seat access, strong technology package offerings and the
very visible, intuitive instrument panel. In safety, the Altima fell
short of its competitors because important active safety items like
traction control and stability control are optional rather than
standard, but its high relative resale value and low fuel costs helped
the Altima to gain high marks on the price-value comparison.

4. 2009 Hyundai Sonata

The refreshed-for-2009 Hyundai Sonata features, by most accounts, a
markedly improved interior with seemingly high-quality materials and a
simple dash with high-mounted audio controls that garnered praise from
our testers. It doesn’t have the same level of to-the-bone refinement
as the others, but by some measurements it’s indeed the best bang for
the buck. Strong safety performance and positive overall value helped
move Sonata into an impressive fourth-place finish.

5. 2008 Toyota Camry

For some buyers, the sales-leading, smooth-riding, straightforward,
reputable Toyota Camry is the best mid-size sedan on the market. Others
might want something less ho-hum. In this comparison, its
run-of-the-mill exterior and interior styling and execution plus
uninspiring driving dynamics pushed it lower on the list than many
would have predicted. However, Camry scored quite well on the safety
front, and its high resale value and straightforward dash won praise
from the kbb.com editors.

6. 2008 Ford Fusion

In this field of strong contenders, all it took for the Ford Fusion
to wind up in last place was to lose a point here and a point there,
particularly with its four-star crash ratings in several areas compared
to the five-star ratings of its competitors. However, we particularly
liked its upscale interior and logical, easy to understand controls.
Some felt the Fusion’s ride and handling balance was the best of the
bunch and ideal for the category, but we were disappointed that it
lacked a shift-it-yourself feature on the automatic transmission, and
we also were distressed by the lack of electronic stability control
even as an option.

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