Torque is transferred to the road via a smooth-shifting electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. A five-speed manual gearbox is not offered.
On the road, the new V-6 is smoothly responsive. The robust architecture of the new platform delivers a comfortable, controlled ride. The transmission shifts are seamless. The basic chassis dynamics that carry the Malibu were developed in conjunction with GM's Opel subsidiary in Germany. The result is the best of both worlds: precise, linear steering feel, confident road manners, predictable handling and controlled ride motion coupled to a comfortable, smooth, quiet ride.
The Malibu is the first midsize sedan in North America to feature electric power steering (EPS). With no belt-driven power steering pump, EPS offers improved fuel efficiency, reduction of noise and improved cold-weather performance. An electric control unit determines the amount of steering assist needed for current driving conditions. This electrical assist is especially helpful in low-speed parking maneuvers. On the road, as the speed increases, the assist tapers off.
A compact independent gas-pressurized MacPherson front suspension works with a four-point isolated front cradle with tuned bushings, a four-link rear suspension, and front and rear stabilizer bars designed to enhance ride and handling.
Inside the cabin is where this new Malibu really shines. The interior design is fresh, modern, and uncluttered - quite unlike GM designs in the past. The Malibu is equipped to the gills, and consumers will think it costs thousands more.
The midrange LS model comes equipped with power steering, brakes, mirrors and windows, adjustable pedals, automatic headlamps and power door locks, rear window defroster, cruise control, air conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes and a split rear seat that folds flat with the cargo floor.
If that is not enough, the Malibu features a front passenger seat that folds flat to add to the sedan's cargo-carrying abilities.
Displays and controls are well-laid out and easy to use and operate.
The driver enjoys a commanding view of the road. The driver's seat is equipped with a power height adjustment and manual fore/aft adjustment with adjustable lumbar support. The center console features a comfortable armrest with a large storage bin and power point.
QUICK VEHICLE STATS
Wheelbase: 106.3; overall length: 188.3; width: 69.9; height: 57.5 - measurements in inches
Engine: Ecotec 2.2-liter four-cylinder - 145 hp at 5,600 rpm and 155 lbs-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm; 3500 3.5-liter V-6 - 200 hp at 5,400 rpm and 220 lbs-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm
Transmission: Hydra-Matic 4T45-E four-speed automatic with overdrive
EPA fuel economy: 2.2-liter four-cylinder: 24 city/34 hwy.; 3.5-liter V-6 - 23 city/32 hwy. Both engines use regular unleaded gasoline.
Cargo capacity: 15.4 cubic feet
Dual front air bags, daytime running lamps, power programmable door locks with lockout protection and delayed locking. LS adds power-adjustable pedals, remote keyless entry and four-wheel anti-lock brakes with electronic traction control. LT adds fog lamps, remote vehicle starter system, head curtain side air bags and four-wheel disc brakes.
Basic: 3 year/36,000 mile, bumper-to-bumper
Corrosion: 6 year/100,000 mile
Roadside assistance: 3 year/36,000 mile, 24 hour
The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2004 Chevrolet Malibu sedan starts from $18,370 for Malibu, $20,370 for Malibu LS and $22,870 for Malibu LT. Destination charge adds $625.
2004 Chevrolet Malibu LS sedan
Exterior color: white
Interior color: gray
Base price: $20,370
Destination charge: $ 625
Remote vehicle starter: $150
Floor mats - front & rear: $80
Dealer installed pinstripe: $69
Total as tested: $21,294
Copyright 2003, Motor News Media Corporation