In addition to redesigning its front-wheel-drive Malibu midsize sedan for 2004, Chevrolet is launching an extended-length version called the Malibu Maxx. Introduced at the New York International Auto Show in April 2003, the Maxx is billed by the company as a five-door extended sedan with a rear liftgate rather than as a four-door sedan. Beneath its hood sits a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that develops 200 horsepower.
Built on a wheelbase that is 6 inches longer than the regular Malibu, the Malibu Maxx is actually a half-inch shorter overall. As a result, the automaker claims that its interior is cavernous for a car of its size.
Chevrolet promises that Malibu Maxx drivers will get the ride and handling qualities of a sedan, coupled with the interior versatility of a sport utility vehicle. LS and LT models will be available. Electric power steering features variable assistance. An optional factory-installed remote starter, which Chevrolet claims is the first in its class, lets the driver start the engine from up to 200 feet away.
Like the regular Malibu, the Maxx is built on GM’s global Epsilon architecture and has similar styling. Because of the angle of the Malibu Maxx’s rear window within the liftgate, Chevrolet says it’s more like a sedan than a wagon. The liftgate is made of lightweight aluminum for easier operation.
Mounted on a 112.3-inch wheelbase, the Malibu Maxx measures 187.8 inches long overall and stands 58.1 inches tall. Aluminum wheels hold 16-inch tires.
Five people fit inside the Maxx. Unlike ordinary midsize sedans, the rear seat slides nearly 7 inches fore and aft. The backseat is split 60/40 in both the seatback and cushion portions. With the seats pushed all the way back, legroom amounts to 41 inches. Power-adjustable brake and accelerator pedals, a power seat height adjuster and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel are standard. Heated front seats and GM’s OnStar communication system are optional. The driver information center provides more than 15 warning messages.
A standard, fixed, rear glass skylight is intended to produce a spacious, open atmosphere for backseat occupants. Both rear passengers have the option of opening or closing a split, retractable shade to control light coming through the skylight.
Cargo capacity totals 22.8 cubic feet. Both rear seats and the front passenger seat fold flat to permit carrying longer items. The rear cargo area includes a cargo panel with four positions for two-tier loading. It can also be positioned as a table for picnics or tailgate parties.
Four levels of radio equipment, including an uplevel version with an in-dash six-CD changer and an XM Satellite Radio system, are available. A rear-seat DVD entertainment system that is mounted into the rear of the center console and includes a 7-inch flip-up screen and two sets of infrared headphones is also available.
Under the Hood
Like upscale models of the regular Malibu, the Malibu Maxx gets a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that produces 200 hp and 220 pounds-feet of torque. A four-speed-automatic transmission is installed.
Antilock brakes with Dynamic Rear Proportioning and traction control are standard. Side curtain-type airbags that are designed to protect both front and rear occupants are optional.
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