2004 Chevrolet Malibu Review

2004 Chevrolet Malibu - Little giant.


Chevrolet pulls off a pleasant surprise for 2004 with its all-new Malibu sedan. We don't expect Malibu to overtake the top-sellers in the mid-size sedan segment, but it will undoubtedly cut into their share. The 2004 Chevrolet Malibu rides on a totally new platform with loads of interior room and many conveniences, making it a must-see for anyone in the sedan market. Malibu's new physique may not grab your attention, and maybe the interior won't either, but start driving and you'll likely be as impressed as my co-tester and I were with how quiet and responsive the car is. Malibu has more of a euro feel and that should be no surprise since it's built off General Motors' Epsilon global architecture, which was developed with GM's Opel subsidiary in Germany. The Malibu and its Malibu Maxx stable-mate are the first North American applications of this architecture, which also provides the foundation for the new Saab 9-3 and Opel Vectra. A fuel-efficient 2.2-liter engine that produces 145 horsepower powers the base Malibu ($19,395). The Malibu LS ($21,395) and LT ($23,895) models feature a 200-horsepower 3.5-liter engine. All Malibus come with a four-speed automatic transmission. A manual transmission is not available. Other standard features include 4-wheel independent suspension, electric power-assisted variable-speed steering, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and a driver information center integrated into the radio display that enables personalization of electrical features and provides more than 15 warning messages including low key-fob battery life, the possibility of ice forming on the road and an oil life monitor. Options include heated front seats and OnStar. Ride and handling is where the new Malibu really soars. Malibu feels very solid and well built, with a smooth and quiet ride. The new Malibu offers much more notable and refined road manners than its predecessor. Acceleration from our Malibu LT's V6 was very good, even when loaded down with four adults. The four-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth shifts. Traction control and anti-lock brakes are there when needed. Malibu provides a very sophisticated ride without a sophisticated price. And then, there's the cavernous interior. Slip behind the wheel, or take a spot in the back seat and you'll be greeted with plenty of head and legroom. Malibu offers over 100 cubic feet of passenger space. Every Malibu sedan features standard and optional equipment allowing drivers to customize their driving experience. A power driver's seat height adjuster, tilt/telescoping steering column, power windows, door locks and mirrors are standard on all Malibus. Power adjustable brake and accelerator pedals and manual lumbar support are standard on the Malibu LS and LT and available on the base Malibu sedan. Many of these features cannot be found in other cars in the Malibu's class. The Malibu sedan is the first car in its class to offer an optional factory-installed remote vehicle starter system, allowing the driver to get a head start on the car's interior heating and cooling from a range of about 200 feet. With a 60/40 split/folding rear seat and a fold-flat front passenger seat, the Malibu can be a cavernous cargo carrier by day and a refined, comfortable people-hauler by night, or the other way around. The fold-flat front passenger seat also provides a nice work surface if desired. The center console is exceptionally large with four cupholders, a power outlet, a tray and small receptacles for cell phones, PDAs and other items. In the sedan segment, Malibu offers excellent value and outstanding ride qualities, making it a must see attraction in this class.

2004 Chevrolet Malibu LT
Engine: 3.5-liter (200 hp) V6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Drive Type: FWD
Fuel Economy: 23 city/32 highway
Base Price: $22,870
As Tested: $25,720 (including $625 destination charge)
Website: www.chevrolet.com