Cars Worth Noting: 2004 Chevrolet Malibu
2004 Chevrolet Malibu
Iím still not a big fan of the design of the new Malibu. Design themes that work so well for Chevroletís trucks like the Equinox and Silverado just donít translate to cars. The Malibu looks boxy and awkward on the road. What impresses me most about this latest Malibu is the build quality. GM has been touting for sometime that its new manufacturing system is building better cars and itís starting to show. It is most evident in the interior and, though the choice of materials that make up the interior are a little suspect, the way the interior is put together certainly isnít.
The interior fit and finish says nothing but quality as do the knobs and switches on the center stack that click with precision as you adjust the radio or HVAC.
The knobs and switches even feel expensive as engineers seem to have spent a lot of time and effort searching for just the right number of ribs and the right tactile feel. The seating is actually comfortable and has adequate side bolstering, something thatís always been missing from GM vehicles. An infinitely-adjustable steering wheel, ample headroom and a backseat designed for adults will put this bread-and-butter sedan at the top of many shopping lists.
While the best view of the Malibu may be from the inside, it doesnít mean that itís a bad car to drive. Malibu is as good as any Japanese or German competitor on the road today. Itís awkward appearnce doesnít affect ride and handling and the 3.5L V-6 is a strong and quiet powerplant, something you expect from the General.
A good dose of Bob Lutz Ďgotta haveí design to Gary Cowgerís quality manufacturing might be the ticket to send the competition back to their respective drawing boards.