Driver's Log - 2004 Chevrolet Malibu

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Oct 10, 2003.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    By THE EDITORS OF AUTOWEEK
    (08:30 Oct. 13, 2003)

    MANDEL: Quick! Someone tell me where General Motors hid its new small car. If I was blindfolded and put behind the wheel of this new Malibu and then had the blindfold removed, I would marvel. Heck, I did marvel at it. Not only was I impressed with the simple, straightforward interior—hooray! GM’s figured you don’t have to put 35 different surface treatments on plastic to make it look “high-quality”—but while driving I was even more impressed. First, the fit-and-finish: The gaps were even and close. This is a first for GM. There were no squeaks at all. The steering wheel was comfortably placed and comfortably sized—again, not always the case. As for steering, the input necessary to get around corners was as it should be. One of GM’s great faults is to give the power-assisted steering too much power, deadening the feel of driver to the car and the car to the road. Not so here.

    What, you mean the engineers and the interior designers got together and figured something out? Holy Toledo, and hooray!

    Oh, yes, and here’s something that should be trumpeted, too. The new 3.5-liter six is strong from the moment you put your foot on the throttle all the way to redline. There are no dead spots in the acceleration from tip-in and there is no hesitation. Amazing!

    Not that all is rosy. As for that blindfold, it would help me to avoid looking at this Malibu’s over-the-top schoolmarm exterior “style.” This design is anything but high art or even elegant finger painting. From stylized edges that start at the front fender to the crisp lines along the rear quarter-panel, the ’04 Malibu will go down in history as one of the truly forgettable shapes of the early millennium.

    Not everyone is perfect, though the standard-bearers in this segment seem to be, according to their owners’ loyalty. But this is dang close. Let’s heap credit on GM when it’s due. GM said it would build a good, small, competitive sedan, and they did it with the ’04 Chevy Malibu.

    WILSON: A too-thin rim and cheesy steering wheel design? A goofy pattern on the seat cloth? Bland looks? These are the complaints we (and I include me) bring to a mainstream Chevy sedan?

    I don’t think we’re excited enough by this development. Not excited in the enthusiast sense; the mainstream sedan segment holds only relatively small volumes for enthusiast-oriented cars like Passat or even Altima.

    Those steering wheel/seat cloth/bland styling notes are the complaints we make about a new Camry or Accord. A Chevy, in fact any mainstream domestic sedan for the past decade, has usually been the occasion for complaints about horrible fit-and-finishes, squeaks and rattles and flexy chassis, squirmy handling and loose steering, and so on.

    No such complaints this time. Fit-and-finish, over-the-road dynamics, noise, drivetrain, suspension, steering, even design (bland as it is) all measure up on the Camry/Accord scale. The Chevy feels like it has more room, it’s quieter, and the sticker (which probably won’t be the “real” price) is about the same as that on my two-year-old Passat with cloth, four-cylinder turbo (not V6) and manual. I think that’s pretty damned competitive. This thing has remote start, automatic headlights, and a host of other conveniences.

    No, it’s not “exciting” on the road. Nor is it much to look at. Neither is the Toyota, or the Honda, in the V6/automatic configuration that goes to most buyers. I could say Chevy shouldn’t be applauded excessively for finally doing what Detroit should have been doing for 20 (30?) years. Still, at the risk of sounding like some Brit car journalist cheering the home team for mediocrity, I’m pretty excited by this in terms of what it means for GM and Chevy. Name the Ford or Chrysler that measures up this year.

    Let’s see what happens to on-delivery quality and long-term reliability before we go all aquiver. For now, given the choice between this and an Impala in the same store, I drive out in the Malibu. Shopping Taurus or Stratus? Go to the Chevy store before you make your deal. And if we don’t see Focus-like lists of recalls and the thing proves as reliable as, say, a LeSabre? It goes on the shopping list beside Honda and Toyota. That’s a revolution. I don’t think we’re excited enough.

    DATE IN FLEET: Sept. 22-29
    AS-TESTED PRICE: $23,290
    POWERTRAIN: 3.5-liter V6; fwd, four-speed automatic HP: 200 @ 5400 rpm TORQUE: 220 @ 3200 rpm
    CURB WEIGHT: 3297 pounds

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  2. GSRacer2102

    GSRacer2102 Active Member

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  3. Scottwax

    Scottwax Making detailing great again! Moderator

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    I've heard good things about the new Malibu but no matter how nice it drives, it is still butt ugly and still a disgrace to the name 'Malibu' which was a Chevelle trim package anyway.

    I'd much rather have the 1971 Chevelle Malibu I used to have, 4.11s and 9 mpg and all.
     
  4. RenaultFreak

    RenaultFreak OMG

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    interior pics? :dunno:
     
  5. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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  6. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Malibu Maxx AWD wagon coming soon.

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  7. ap

    ap New Member

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    Huge inmprovement. But not impressed.
     
  8. Buck-O

    Buck-O Guest

    :rofl::rofl:
    HAHA! What a perfectly cheap shot at Tiff Needel and Jeremy Clarkson! And probibly a couple of the guys at EVO magazine as well.
     
  9. RenaultFreak

    RenaultFreak OMG

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    The interior looks really really good, I think I'd own that as a daily beater...
     
  10. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    :werd: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
     
  11. JW2

    JW2 New Member

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    GM has the worst styling in the industry right now. It's either buttfucking ugly (Aztec, Avalanche, etc.) or so plain looking that it is unbelievable.
     
  12. topcat

    topcat OT Supporter

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    thumbs up GM!!
     
  13. Scn64

    Scn64 Guest

    I just bought a 2004 Malibu yesterday. :bigthumb:
     
  14. z284pwr

    z284pwr OT Supporter

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    I wouldn't mind having a crate 3500 they have in those to put in one of our older GM cars with the 3.1/5spd that would get up and go pretty good if they start with ~30HP/TQ more than the old 3400s....low 14s no problem :)
     
  15. MAD PUNK inDC

    MAD PUNK inDC Sic Semper Tyrannis

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    Jesus were the hell did they get $23,000 from? :ugh: I saw the Malibu advertised in the Washington Post for only $15,600 fully loaded, brand new. Anyway everything I've seen from them puts them were they should be. I don't know why people knock this car, it's actualy really good, much more solid than the Accord.
     

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