Vehicle Overview
Chevrolet made thorax side-impact airbags and side curtain-type airbags standard equipment in the top-level Malibu LT for 2005. Both safety features are available in other trims of the midsize, front-wheel-drive Malibu. An Exterior Appearance Package for the base sedan includes body-colored side moldings, 15-inch alloy wheels and a rear spoiler. Heated cloth seats are available.

Malibu buyers get a choice of four-cylinder or 3.5-liter V-6 power. Three trim levels are available: base, LS and LT.

All Malibus have variable-assist electric power steering and a fully independent suspension. Chevrolet offers a factory-installed remote starter that allows the driver to start the engine from up to 200 feet away.

Chevrolet redesigned the Malibu sedan for 2004 and moved it to General Motors' Epsilon global platform, which promises a high degree of structural stiffness. Chevy's goal was to give the new sedan a European flair in ride and handling qualities. In addition to the four-door Malibu, an extended-length five-door Malibu Maxx hatchback is offered; that model is listed separately in the Research section.

Introduced in 1997, the previous Malibu was unabashedly conservative in style and was powered by a 170-horsepower, 3.1-liter V-6 engine. Despite its undramatic nature, Chevrolet's mainstay bread-and-butter Malibu sedan accounted for substantial sales each year.

This Malibu was the first Chevrolet model to display the company's next-generation family look. The automaker calls this "expressive styling," which blends corporate heritage with European influence. The car features a chrome front bar and a gold bowtie emblem. Other badging was eliminated for a cleaner appearance.

Compared with its predecessor, the current version has a slightly wider stance. Mounted on a 106.3-inch wheelbase, the Malibu is 188.3 inches long overall. Those dimensions are comparable to the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry's, two of the Malibu's foremost competitors. Base and LS models ride 15-inch tires, and the LT gets 16-inchers. LS and LT models sport aluminum wheels.

Five occupants fit inside the Malibu, which has a flat-folding front passenger seat and a 60/40-split folding rear seat. The trunk holds 15.4 cubic feet of cargo.

Adjustable brake and accelerator pedals are standard in the LS and LT and optional in the base model. Leather upholstery, heated front seats, a six-way power driver's seat and automatic climate control are installed in the LT sedan.

Four levels of radio equipment, including an XM Satellite Radio system, are available. A driver information center integrated into the radio display permits the personalization of electrical features and provides more than 15 warning messages. GM's OnStar communication system is optional.

Under the Hood
Two engines are available in Malibu models. A 144-hp, 2.2-liter four-cylinder goes into the base model. A 3.5-liter V-6 that develops 200 hp and 220 pounds-feet of torque is standard in the LS and LT. Both engines drive a four-speed-automatic transmission.

Antilock brakes with traction control are standard on the LS and LT and optional on the base model. Side curtain-type airbags that protect front and rear occupants are standard in the LT, as are side-impact airbags.