This has been a very solid and reliable car--my experience matches the high JD Power and strong CR ratings for this model year. Lots of interior room and luggage capacity. Fule mileage has been good, with over 30 mpg on highways with cruise control. Strong pickup, decent handling. Brake rotors were turned at around 25,000 miles, which seems normal to me for mostly local stop and go driving. Seating could be better for me on long drives (I'm 6'3" with long legs). All in all, I was pleased enough to get a used model for my college son. It's a good deal for those who keep their cars for a while.
Replaced front brakes and rotors at 6900 milles, again at 30,000 and again at 48,000 including replacing wheel bearings and calipers to the tune of $1200. No, I do not ride the brake! I have been told by several people that GM knows they are installing junk and the only way not to be replacing the brakes and rotors all the time is to replace the wheel bearings to correct the problem. GM should step up. Considering the size and price of the vechile, besides the brake issue, it has been dependable transportation. Mine is a basic model so it lacks in the comfort department.
Better quality bearings, rotors, brakes etc. Critical part of the safety of vechicle is knowing when you hit the brake - the vechicle is going to stop. GM should step up and correct this defect. Better gas mileage, thicker steering wheel - hands cramp holding onto the thin wheel on long trips.
I sold my 2004 Malibu and got a 2003 one becasue the other one had too many problems. I don't know what people are talking about with gas mileage but when I drove to Florida, I got 32 m.p.g. at 85-90 mph with 4 people and trunk full of stuff. Try using fuel injector cleaner a few times, it'll help. Mixed driving I, usually get 25 mpg. Drove 30,000 miles in 8 months and the only problem was the horn went bad. Turned out I needed a new fuse but it still doesn't sound the same. Gets the job done though. Can't complain; paid $7200 with 38000 miles when it was still less than 2 years old.
I purchased my 2003 Chevy Malibu early 2005 and it has been the best purchase ever! I love everything the car has to offer from electric start to super fast acceleration. I would definitely buy another one in the future. Oh yeah, And the XM satellite radio factory installed is excellent.
The outside look, CD player, and the radio stays on till I leave the vehicle.
I would improve tire design. I would like something more sporty looking.
Plan on replacing brakes and rotors every 22-24000 miles. Roughly $90, if you do it yourself. Lower intake manifold gasket went at 44,000 miles. I have found this is quite common, and look forward to replacing it at least once more before I can get rid of the car. If you are not a mechanic or know a good friend as one, expect to pay between $700-$1100. This will occur roughly every 40-50,000 miles. If you do not catch it in time, your engine will cease to run. Rear window motor is failing. It will roll down, but fails to travel back up. If you are considering purchasing a 97-2003 Malibu, I highly recommend against it. Perhaps you should buy a Ford Edsel instead.
Quit making expensive junk. Take a few risks on body styles. The new Cobalt, Malibu, Impala, Monte Carlo, Gto, G6 etc. etc. all look similiar. Build more performance versions. Interiors need upgrade from cheep plastics. Rattles and creaks are evident within 2 years of ownership on ANY new GM product