What's New for 2007
On the 2007 Chevrolet Malibu, the front airbags now 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.
With the 2007 Malibu, Chevrolet is fielding a competitive entry in the midsize family sedan segment. Though the styling is quirky from some angles, it makes for a space-efficient interior. For instance, the Malibu offers some of the best rear-seat legroom in its class. It's also quite flexible in terms of cargo-carrying capacity -- thanks to a fold-flat front passenger seat and a more common split/folding rear seat, long objects can be carried inside the car.
The Chevy Malibu shares its General Motors "Epsilon" platform with the sporty Saab 9-3, and although not as athletic as the Saab, it's suitable for a wide variety of drivers. Most folks will be happy with the midlevel LT model's peppy yet fuel-efficient 3.5-liter V6, smooth ride quality and respectable handling. The recently introduced Malibu SS provides driving enthusiasts with more athletic handling, better steering feel and snappier performance thanks to the most powerful engine (a 240-horsepower V6) in the lineup.
Overall, Chevy's midsize sedan has the bases covered when it comes to providing what most buyers in this segment want -- affordability, a comfortable ride, respectable performance, a roomy cabin and excellent crash test scores. The 2007 Chevrolet Malibu may not be quite as refined as the class leaders, but with its overall competency and lower purchase price compared to import-brand competitors, it merits serious consideration.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Chevrolet Malibu sedan is available in four trim levels: base LS, midlevel LT, luxury LTZ and sporty SS. The LS comes with air conditioning, a CD player, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power windows and mirrors, keyless entry and a 60/40-split folding rear seat. The LT adds remote vehicle start, fancier upholstery, a cargo net, adjustable lumbar support for the driver and an upgraded audio system. With the LTZ, one gets leather seating, a rear spoiler, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, power-adjustable pedals and OnStar. The SS features 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, more supportive sport seats and unique trim. Major options for the Malibu include an in-dash CD changer, satellite radio and a sunroof.
Powertrains and Performance
The Malibu LS and LT come with a 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine rated at 144 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. Standard on the LTZ and optional on the LT is a newly revised version of the 3.5-liter V6 that now makes 217 hp and 217 lb-ft of torque. The SS comes with a 3.9-liter V6 good for 240 hp and 241 lb-ft of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission is the sole gearbox, and the SS model features a manual-shift mode. The 3.5-liter V6 is the best choice for most folks, as it offers snappy performance along with impressive fuel economy ratings of 22 mpg city/32 mpg highway.
Front seat-mounted side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are optional on the LS and LT, and standard on the LTZ and SS. Chevy equips all V6-powered Malibu sedans with antilock brakes and traction control; otherwise, it's optional. In NHTSA crash testing, the Chevrolet Malibu earned a perfect five stars for front-occupant protection in head-on collisions. In the side-impact test, a Malibu with side airbags received five stars for front-occupant protection and four stars for rear-passenger protection. In frontal offset crash testing conducted by the IIHS, the Malibu earned the top score of "Good," as it did in IIHS side-impact testing, when equipped with side airbags. Without the side airbags, it rated "Poor" in the latter test.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Malibu's space-efficient cabin offers plenty of room all around for four adults and will easily accommodate five if your backseaters are children. The front seats are broad and comfortable, even on long trips, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and power-adjustable pedals ensure an ideal driving position. The design is rather bland, and materials quality is about midpack for the segment. Most controls are intuitive and easy to use. Trunk capacity stands at a respectable 15.4 cubic feet and cargo capacity is optimized via the fold-flat front passenger seat and 60/40-split rear seat.
Power is adequate with the base four-cylinder, but most buyers will want to step up to one of the V6s, both of which offer plenty of torque for merging and passing. A softly tuned but composed suspension gives the Chevy Malibu a smooth ride and predictable handling in the corners. Unfortunately, the car's electric steering ruins the fun by providing too much power assist most of the time. The SS fares much better with its traditional hydraulic power steering and sport-tuned suspension. The front disc/rear drum brakes on the LS and LT perform adequately in traffic, but stopping distances are long for this class. We recommend the four-wheel disc brakes that are optional for the LT and standard on the LTZ and SS.