Last post on Feb 09, 2013 at 9:37 AM
You are in the Chevrolet Malibu
What is this discussion about?
Chevrolet Malibu, Sedan
#2640 of 4972 Test Drive of 2004 Malibu LS
Oct 17, 2003 (9:46 am)
While having my VW serviced down the street, I saw a 2004 Malibu at the nearby Chevy dealer and after looking it over thought it was worth taking out for a spin.
I have long been considering an Impala - a "minivan" sedan (so much space and a cavernous trunk") but its hard for me to justify a typical $26k price tag for the more desirable LS version.
The Malibu, on the other hand, had a much more inviting $20.5K price tag - stock LS, except $300 for 6 CD changer.
I was afraid this Malibu would be like the 3.4 liter version of the Impala I had tried - too soft on the suspension - but in fact it rode and handled more like the Impala LS with the Sport Suspension. Braking was very good, even though the Malibu has drum rear brakes instead of disc (like on the Impala). The LS isn't the most expensive Malibu - that is reserved for the "LT" version - but still it comes with aluminum wheels, adjustable pedals (which I liked, since I am short). Controls are very Japanese/European - stuff on stalks etc. - and the turn signals were very smooth (a detail commented on Japanese cars). The car "felt" better built than the Impala. On the other hand, it is signifantly smaller in the rear seat, although you don't give up much on the trunk.
Upholstery is cloth, which I personally like - I never liked velour - but in the tan color on the model I drove, comes off as a little "cheap." My VW Golf has cloth seats, but they are black/gray, and look fine. I think it's great GM is considering non-velour seats - VW has them on their "basic" model, Mercedes on their hatchback, and Dodge on the Neon. Of course velour looks "richer" but it rubs off on my jeans, and generally feels uncomfortable to me and reminds me of a bordello (I never liked leather, either).
I guess the nicest thing I can say about the Malibu - and this is not intended to damn by faint praise - is that it is very, very comparable to a current Camry or Accord. It handels well, has great ergonomics, accelerates very well, and seems well built. It is, in fact, better than my friends pre-2003 Accord - the V6 standard in the Malibu is far superior to the old 2.2 liter engines in the Accords (which were the most common engine). Of course, in 2002, Camry updated to a great 2.4 and Honda followed suit in 2003.
But for once the Malibu isn't LAGGING the Japanese, it's in the hunt.
The question that will come down to me, if I transition to a midsize 4 door sedan is:
Which is worse:
1. Japanese dealer snottiness, with "over servicing" and "over pricing" of routine maintenance; or
2. American dealer lackadaisical attitude towards anything that isn't an SUV or truck.
At least the American car dealers aren't as arrogant, in either sales or service, as the Japanese car dealers. I have a Mustang and pay a lot less for service on it than the foreign cars I have owned. I'd like to buy American. GM is trying pretty hard these days.
Oct 17, 2003 (9:59 am)
They finally released the floorplan layout for next month's Miami Auto Show today. While Chevy is normally the first exhibit you see upon entering, Ford nabbed the spot this year (to prance around the new F-150, no doubt). Ford's exhibit is 1/2 the size of Chevy's, which once again is the largest by a large margin. I'll be lost in "la-la land" for sure....
Oct 17, 2003 (10:03 am)
Thanks for the report.
One thing to note, however, is that Chevy made a running change on all Malibus produced after 9/18. Rear discs are now standard on the LS (the LT had 'em all along), and the discs are optional on the base model if you go for ABS.
Oct 17, 2003 (11:44 am)
Great review, thanks.
Definitely wait for an LS with 4 wheel discs. I'm sure they will be hitting dealers in a few weeks. I think ABS is standard also.
Oct 17, 2003 (1:47 pm)
ABS is standard on the LS and LT.
#2645 of 4972 RE: Jerrywimer and Wpbharry
Oct 17, 2003 (4:41 pm)
Jerrywimer: I wasn't at all upset about what you said. It's extremely helpful. I actually like the stock stereo that belongs in the bu a lot better...it's classier looking.
Wpbharry: It's weird to me that you (and a few others) heard a noise under the hood when the alternator went. The only way I knew was from the alternator light on the dash. And what is this I hear you not having ANY squeaks?!? What year do you have? I have the infamous front control arm squeak over slow bumps and my doors don't close with THAT much of a thud. Maybe it's just because I don't have the weight of the power accessories in the doors.
#2646 of 4972 Car & Driver vs. Road & Track
Oct 17, 2003 (8:04 pm)
Today I read the Car & Driver and Road & Track reviews of the 04 Malibu, back to back. It is hard to believe that they were reviewing the same vehicle. R&T had a much more favorable review, especially for the styling and driving dynamics.
C&D was not too impressed with the styling and called the handling "uncoordinated." It also seems that C&D tries to get too cute and precise with their reviews.
Did anyone else read the reviews?
Oct 17, 2003 (9:36 pm)
Could everyone that has a 2003 or older BU try the following test for me. Just so I can make sure I am sane.
Place your BU in park and turn the healights on (beter do this at night in the dark). While in park try pressing the break pedal in and letting go. Do you notice dash and headlights dimmingat all for a second?
Mine does this and I am not sure what the break pedal has to do with the lights dimming. This also happens while I am driving and I apply the break. Please check this for me. Thanks.
Oct 17, 2003 (9:41 pm)
This happens to me; it also happens when I'm turning the wheel, but at a stand still. It is totally normal because to do these things (i.e. braking, steering at low speeds) takes extra power from the battery, which in turns dims the lights a bit. BTW, I have a 97. I'm sure every vehicle does this. I know my mom's 99 Blazer does it, as does my sisters 98 Talon.
Oct 17, 2003 (10:18 pm)
The more I read about the BU, the more I see that people do have break issues. Please go online to NHTSA and file a online complaint if you have issues with the breaks on your Malibu. I have already done so. I have a new BU and feel that the breaks are not very good. Please got to the below link and file a complaint. Thanks.