What's New for 2007
On the 2007 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx, the front airbags incorporate "dual-stage" technology, meaning the force of deployment can vary according to the severity of the crash. In addition, the OnStar system now offers "Turn-by-Turn" navigation and the 3.5-liter V6 offers more power via the adoption of variable camshaft timing.
Something of a cross between a sedan and a station wagon, the 2007 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx offers impressive flexibility in terms of cargo and passenger transport. Space efficiency is impressive considering the Maxx's relatively small footprint, an obvious benefit of its quirky, boxy design. Even without folding the rear seats down, there are nearly 23 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Fold them down and long objects can be carried inside the Malibu Maxx, thanks to a fold-flat front passenger seat.
Although it shares its "Epsilon" platform with the sporty Saab 9-3, the Malibu Maxx (SS excepted) is more of a cruiser than a sport sedan. Most folks will be happy with either an LT or LTZ, which are equipped with the peppy 3.5-liter V6 as well as most luxury and safety features one could want. A smooth ride and respectable handling are part of the appeal. Downsides include over-assisted steering that lacks feel, longer-than-normal braking distances and a rather bland interior design. The recently introduced SS version provides more athletic handling and much better steering feel, along with snappier performance via a 240-horsepower V6.
Practical shoppers will likely want to take a look at the 2007 Malibu Maxx. Chevy's versatile midsize sedan has the bases covered when it comes to providing what most buyers in this segment want -- affordability, a smooth ride, respectable performance, a roomy cabin and excellent crash test scores. The 2007 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx may not be quite as sporty or refined as some of the class leaders, but with its overall competency and attractive pricing, it merits serious consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The midsize Chevy Malibu Maxx features an unusual four-door hatchback/wagon body style. There are three trim levels: LT, LTZ and SS. The LT comes with plenty of features, such as air conditioning; a remote vehicle starter; a six-speaker stereo with a CD player; trip computer; a tilt/telescope steering wheel; height and lumbar adjustment for the driver seat; power windows, mirrors and door locks; a sliding 60/40-split folding rear seat; a fixed rear skylight with retractable shade; and a rear cargo shelf. The LTZ adds automatic climate control, leather seating, power-adjustable pedals, a rear spoiler and OnStar. The performance-oriented SS features sport seats, a sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels. Significant options for the Maxx include an in-dash CD changer, satellite radio, separate rear audio controls and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
Powertrains and Performance
Standard on the LT and LTZ is a newly revised version of the 3.5-liter V6 that now makes 217 horsepower and 217 pound-feet of torque. The SS comes with a 3.9-liter V6 with 240 hp and 241 lb-ft of torque. Routing power to the front wheels of all Malibus is a four-speed automatic transmission; on the SS model it features a manual-shift mode. The 3.5-liter V6 is our recommendation for most buyers, as it offers snappy performance along with impressive fuel economy ratings of 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway.
Safety is a strong point for the Chevrolet Malibu Maxx. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes and traction control are standard. Front-seat side-impact airbags and full-length head-protecting side curtain airbags are optional on the LT and standard on the LTZ and SS. In frontal crash testing conducted by the NHTSA, the Malibu Maxx scored a perfect five stars. Though it has yet to be tested by the IIHS for frontal offset and side-impact crashes, we would expect the Maxx to score as highly as its Malibu sedan sibling, which earned top scores in both categories.
Interior Design and Special Features
There is plenty of passenger space as the Maxx hatchback is 6 inches longer than the Malibu sedan. The 60/40-split rear seat reclines and offers 7 inches of fore/aft travel while a standard fixed sunroof over the rear seats contributes to the cabin's open feel. The hatch area offers 22.8 cubic feet of capacity, and folding down the rear seats and the front-passenger seat opens up more room for bulky items. A parcel shelf allows for two-tier loading. Though not particularly upscale or stylish in feel, the cabin is at least functional, with a straightforward control layout.
In most driving conditions Chevy’s Malibu Maxx is a competent performer. The Maxx's ride quality is smooth and comfortable on the highway. Handling is predictable in the corners, though an oddly calibrated electric steering setup makes the Maxx feel less adept than many of its competitors. The SS fares better with its traditional hydraulic power steering. Braking performance is also a little disappointing, as the Malibu Maxx's stopping distances tend to be longer than those of its competitors in this price range. Although on paper the base V6 might seem down on power for this class, generous low-end torque and a quick-shifting transmission make the Maxx feel more powerful than its numbers suggest. The bigger V6 found in the SS model provides plenty of power, lending a sportier feel to the drive.