Midsize car; Built in USA
  • 4-door hatchback
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $3,800 – $9,200*

2004 Chevrolet Malibu

2005 Chevrolet Malibu

2005 Chevrolet Malibu

  • Instruments/controls
  • Rear-seat room (Maxx)
  • Rear-seat entry/exit (Maxx)
  • Engine noise (four-cylinder)

Chevrolet aims the Malibu at Honda Accord and Toyota Camry buyers. While the sedan is a bit smaller than those rivals, the versatile Maxx offers more rear-seat room than either. The four-cylinder engine disappoints, but in V6 form, Malibu combines good pep with competent road manners, and an impressive list of standard or available features. New-car prices were reasonable, and Malibus tend to be moderately priced secondhand as well.


Chevrolet’s midsize Malibu was redesigned for 2004, returning as a four-door sedan and adding a companion hatchback body style. New features included available remote-control starting and, in the hatchback, a rear seat that slid fore/aft 7 inches. The restyled Malibu shared its new front-drive platform with the near-luxury 9-3 sedan from GM’s Saab brand, as well as the new Pontiac G6. Malibu rivals included the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Toyota Camry.

Base Malibu sedans held a 145-horsepower four-cylinder engine. LS and LT sedans got a 200-horsepower V6.

Named Malibu Maxx, the hatchback had a 6-inch-longer wheelbase than the sedan, but a slightly shorter body. Maxx LS and LT trim levels were offered; both came only with the V6. A four-speed automatic was each Malibu’s sole transmission.

Antilock braking in tandem with traction control was optional on the base sedan, standard on other Malibus; the Maxx added all-disc brakes. Head-protecting curtain side airbags were standard on the LT sedan and LT Maxx, and optional on others.

All models came with a power driver-seat height adjuster, tilt/telescoping steering column, and power windows/locks/mirrors. Power-adjustable brake and accelerator pedals, OnStar assistance, satellite radio, and heated front seats were available. The remote starter worked via the keyfob from up to 200 feet away.

Both body styles had a fold-flat front passenger seat and split folding rear seatbacks. The Maxx’s rear seat had reclining seatbacks and could slide to favor either cargo space or rear leg room. Its rigid cargo cover doubled as a tailgate table. Maxx also had a glass skylight over the rear seat and was available with DVD entertainment.

Yearly Updates

2005 Malibu
Curtain side airbags now included front side torso airbags. The Maxx LT added a rear wiper this year.
2006 Malibu
Additional models and revised styling marked the 2006 season. Both body styles now came in uplevel LTZ and sporty SS trim. LTZ models had leather upholstery, while SS versions got cloth/leather. Most LT sedans and the LS used a 144-horsepower four-cylinder engine. The LTZ and other LT models held a 201-hp 3.5-liter V6. SS models got a 240-horsepower 3.9-liter V6 and an automatic transmission with a manual shift gate. A sport suspension, 18-inch tires and sport seats went on SS editions, while the LTZ rode on 17-inch rubber. Front torso airbags and curtain airbags were standard in LTZ and SS models.
2007 Malibu
The smaller of Chevrolet’s two midsize sedans is largely unchanged for 2007, pending a 2008 redesign due in calendar ’07. Previously optional curtain side airbags are now standard on all models.


transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Two powertrains are available in 2004-05 Malibus: a 145-horsepower 2.2-liter four-cylinder or a 200-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine, each mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. An SS model joined for 2006 with a 240-horsepower 3.9-liter V6.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/134
Engine HP 144
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 155
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic


ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/213
Engine HP 200
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 220
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.9/238
Engine HP 240
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 240
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



Road Test

Acceleration with the four-cylinder is adequate around town, but it feels weak in highway passing.

The 3.5-liter V6 is more robust. However, neither engine is as powerful or refined as those of most Japanese-brand rivals. Chevrolet’s strong 3.9-liter V6 has more than ample power, but makes SS versions prone to torque steer–pulling to the side during full-throttle takeoffs. Automatic transmissions are smooth, but must shift frequently to keep the four-cylinder in its optimum power band.

Test V6 sedans averaged 20.9 to 23.7 mpg, depending on driving conditions. A Maxx LT averaged 21.2 mp in mixed city/highway driving, while a 3.5-liter Maxx got 21.2 to 25.2 mpg in similar duty. A Maxx SS averaged 19 to 21.4 mpg in a mix of city and highway travel. Chevrolet recommends regular fuel for all engines.

Well isolated from bumps, Malibus suffer little wallow or float on wavy roads–but more than an Accord or Camry. Rear tires occasionally thump over expansion joints. Despite its sport suspension, an SS Maxx gives up little in comfort.

Rigid body construction and a taut suspension help Malibus corner with agility and confidence. Larger wheels on the Maxx and LT sedan provide impressive grip in tight corners, where the base and LS sedan’s smaller tires complain loudly. SS models are best overall on their 18-inch tires. Electrically-assisted steering delivers good road feel. SS models use conventional hydraulic assist. Brakes are adequate, but ABS should be standard on all models.

Engines are nearly silent at cruise, but the four-cylinder sounds strained when passing. That engine and the 3.5-liter V6 drone loudly at full throttle and lack overall refinement. The SS’s 3.9-liter V6 is relatively hushed and sounds more refined while accelerating. Wind and road noises are moderate at highway speeds.

Large, clear instruments greet the driver. Conveniently located and clearly marked audio and climate controls highlight the well-designed interior. Most materials are impressive enough, but the center armrest lid is flimsy. Workmanship is good, but overall, materials are visibly below Honda/Toyota level. The optional remote-start feature works as advertised and is integrated with a standard antitheft system.

Front head and leg room are acceptable for large adults, but not outstanding. Standard power height adjustment and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel afford an excellent driving position, potentially augmented by optional power-adjustable pedals. Outward visibility is good, enhanced by large outside mirrors. Maxx rear pillars partially obscure views to the back corners.

Sedan passengers have adequate leg room in back, but a low seat bottom makes them ride knees-up, and taller adults may want more head room. Maxx offers outstanding leg space that rivals full-size sedans, as well as reclining seatbacks and easy entry/exit through large doors. It’s also among few passenger cars to offer rear-seat entertainment. Back seats are comfortable if a bit soft.

The sedan’s trunk is adequate for its class with low liftover. All Malibus have a split folding rear seat. The Maxx’s back seats slide forward to expand cargo room. Both body styles have a fold-flat front passenger seat, to accommodate long items. Interior storage is unexceptional.


Model Tested: 2005 Chevrolet Malibu LT sedan

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 6
Fuel Economy - 6
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 7


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
Cargo Room - 4


Value - 7

Total: 61


4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
112.3 187.8 69.8 58.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
68.0 16.3 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.4 39.4 41.9 41.0
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
106.3 188.3 69.9 57.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
15.4 16.3 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.6 37.6 41.9 38.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2005 Malibu 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Engine knock
Description: EVAP canister is broken by improperly lifting the vehicle with a hoist unless the pads are positioned on the specific lift points. (2004-06)
Engine noise
Description: The serpentine drive belt on the 3.5L engine may squeal and smell of burning rubber. A revised belt is available for replacement. (2004-05)
Engine noise
Description: A whistling noise from the 3.5L engine during acceleration is corrected by replacing the PCV tube. (2005)
Exhaust system
Description: High oil consumption on the 2.2L engine, plus blue exhaust smoke, may be due to an intake manifold on which the PCV passage is too large and/or the valve cover is defective, requiring replacement of one or both. (2004-05)
Fuel gauge
Description: The engine may not start or may stall because the tank is empty yet the gauge shows fuel remaining, or the fuel gauge will not show full after refilling due to sulfur corrosion of the fuel level sender and if after treating with Fuel System Cleaner PLUS the problem remains, the sender may need to be replaced. (2004-06)
Fuel gauge
Description: The fuel gauge on cars with the 2.2L engine may not move, requiring recalibration of the PCM. (2004)
Oil leak
Description: Oil may leak from the 2.2L engine front crankshaft seal, especially in the winter, as the seal is damaged if ice forms at the mating surface then rips the seal lip when the engine is started, for which there is an improved seal. (2004-05)
Audio system
Description: Radio reception may be poor or have static because the rear window defogger may have invisible cracks in the grid lines. (2004-05)
Steering problems
Description: Power steering assist quits because the steering angle sensor was installed incorrectly, causing wear and a campaign to replace the sensors which expires on Jan. 31, 2006. (2004)
Description: The hood won’t stay shut in cold weather because ice forms inside the hood release cable. (2004-05)
Electrical problem
Description: If the OnStar system quits or won’t come on (no power), but comes back to life if the fuse is removed for five minutes, the vehicle communications interface module must be replaced or else the problem will recur. (2005-06)
Electrical problem
Description: The PCM was being replaced for a defective chip under a voluntary emissions recall because it affected the fuel pump and EGR system. (2005)

Recall History

2004 Malibu
Description: Antilock braking could be activated when not needed, due to an erratic rear-wheel speed sensor signal.
2004 Malibu
Description: Outboard anchorage of driver’s seat belt could disconnect, because of contact between seat trim and connector when seat is adjusted to lowest position.
2005-06 Malibu w/aftermarket leather seats
Description: Testing has indicated that the aftermarket leather seat covers can cause the passenger sensing system to malfunction. If the passenger sensing system malfunctions, the front air bag on the passenger side may be disabled when it should be enabled, or enabled when it should be disabled. GM will purchase these vehicles for the full price paid for it (not exceeding the fair market value at the time it was bought), including taxes and fees, if the vehicle is returned to GM’s possession by January 31, 2007. Through January 31, 2007, GM will also pay for the removal of any aftermarket accessories that may have been installed and return them to the customer.
2006 Malibu
Description: Tire label specifies 15-inch spare for front-disc/rear-drum brake system, but it
should specify 16-inch.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.