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Chevrolet breaks out with new Malibu Maxx
Practical hatchback a hit with News panel

By Anita Lienert / Special to The Detroit News

A 10-member 2004 Detroit News Automotive Consumer Panel recently tested Chevy's newest offering - the Malibu Maxx, a non-traditional mid-size four-door hatchback spun off of the mainstream Malibu family sedan.

What they liked:

Superior interior. Driver's seat can be customized with adjustable pedals, telescoping steering column. Roomy rear seat with lots of attention to details. Optional rear DVD entertainment. Optional remote start. Smooth ride. Good fuel economy. Good value.

What they disliked:

Boring exterior styling, especially boxy rear end. Unsightly roof antennas for OnStar and satellite radio. Rear pillars impede visibility. Needs overhead compartment for sunglasses. No AC/heating vents for rear passengers.

The five-passenger, front-wheel-drive Malibu Maxx is on sale now at a base price of $22,225, including a $625 destination charge.

Panelists shuttled among five Malibu Maxxes over four days, racking up a cumulative 1,972 miles on the test cars as they determined not only whether the Maxx is a worthwhile vehicle, but how far it will go in changing the image of the utilitarian - if not boring - Chevrolet brand.

As panelists were given keys to the test vehicles, Gene Stefanyshyn, General Motors Corp.'s vehicle line executive for mid-size cars, fretted about their reaction to the new boxy-looking Chevy, which was designed to cross the boundaries between sedans, station wagons and sport utility vehicles.

"It's a bit of a risk," Stefanyshyn said. "It's not a traditional product. Will they understand it? Will they get it?"

Apparently, they did.

At the end of the exercise, 9 out of 10 panelists said they would recommend the Malibu Maxx to their neighbor, even if they were somewhat uncertain how to describe it.

The panelists who say they would recommend the Malibu Maxx gave it passing grades based on its living-room-like interior. Its looks were almost universally criticized.

"Too square," said Katie Chambers, 45, a Grosse Ile mother of three who owns a Wyandotte manufacturing plant. "I would buy the interior, but I wouldn?t buy the exterior."

"Initially when I saw the car, I wasn't that impressed," said Brenda Baker-Mbacke, 41, a social worker who lives in Southfield. "But after learning about all the (interior) features and experiencing them, I changed my mind."

Even though her husband, Scott, said the Malibu Maxx looks like "a fat Ford Focus," Michelle Arrington, 36, a Detroit resident and an administrative secretary at Childre's Hospital of Michigan, said Chevy is on the right track with this product.

"I used to think of Chevy as totally old-fashioned and common," Arrington said. "But the Malibu Maxx doesn't look old-fashioned. It looks like Chevy is really trying to compete with what's out there."

Panelists, who used the vehicles for everything from commuting to shopping trips at Sam's Club, praised the practical features on the Malibu Maxx.

Panelists also raved about the car's roomy and adjustable rear seat, rear skylight and optional $995 DVD entertainment system. They were intrigued by little details such as the "orange catcher," a tiny cargo net strung between the rear seat and the rear cargo area to snag stray groceries.

And they applauded the factory-installed remote start that can start the car from the house with the push of a button on the key fob.

Bob Kazanowski, who drives a Ford Explorer and a Jaguar X-Type, said he was impressed with the ride quality on the Malibu Maxx.

A majority of the panelists interprets the Malibu Maxx as a harbinger of good things to come from GM.

Oliver, 40, a Detroit resident and an hourly worker at Chrysler's Warren Stamping Plant, summed up the feelings of many of the panelists.

"I haven't purchased a GM vehicle in 17 years since I had a bad experience with a 1987 Pontiac Grand Am," Oliver said. "And I've been in an SUV since 1995 when I bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I went into this exercise with a bad impression of GM - in addition to being a person who had not driven a car for years.

"I figured my time in the Malibu Maxx would either confirm my feelings or dispel them. I have to say I enjoyed the Malibu Maxx. I was almost drooling."

Full Article Here

 

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Somehow I don't think the Detroit press is gonna put down any US made car do you? Did anyone tell they the engine's made in Mexico?

I still don't understand what's so amazing about a 5 door hatchback like they've never exsisted before. I'd get a better styled Mazda 6 5-door before buying the ugly duckling Malibu. At least the car AND engine are made in the USofA.
 

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Originally posted by joey@Mar 20 2004, 10:01 AM
At least the car AND engine are made in the USofA.
Shame all the money U would have spent on it is sent back 2 Japan.
 

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What do you mean? Ford owns most of Mazda. Mazda 6 and the duratec 3.0 made in flint rock, mich. Not to mention a slick 220 HP OHC VVT engine. sweet.
 

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I may be off, but I think FoMoCo owns about 30%-40% of Mazda, which means the majority of your money would be going back to Japan. And styling is objective in the first place. Personally, I don't think the Maxx looks too bad.
 

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Originally posted by joey@Mar 20 2004, 02:01 PM
Somehow I don't think the Detroit press is gonna put down any US made car do you? Did anyone tell they the engine's made in Mexico?

I still don't understand what's so amazing about a 5 door hatchback like they've never exsisted before. I'd get a better styled Mazda 6 5-door before buying the ugly duckling Malibu. At least the car AND engine are made in the USofA.
I take it you aren't from around Detroit. Paul and Anita Lienert have no qualms about giving bad reviews to any cars, U.S. made or otherwise. If anything, it seems they have an import slant.

Hatchbacks used to be quite common, but there aren't that many around these days. No doubt the Mazda 6 you speak of is a fine piece, but according to their website, it's not even out yet. So people are reacting to a practical package that they haven't seen for a while.

Plus, the Mazda 6 doesn't have nearly the interior space of the Maxx, in spite of only being an inch shorter. 95.7 cu.ft. passenger space vs. 105 for the Maxx. That's enough of a difference to make a big impression on people who need a decent back seat or haul stuff.

And although the DOHC VVT V6 in the Mazda has 20 more horsepower, it's down 28 lb.ft. of torque, and the peak is 600 RPMs higher, compared to the Malibu's 3.5 OHV V6. On top of that, it's EPA mileage is 19/26 vs. 22/30 for the Maxx's V6. This is the big payoff for expensive DOHC VVT technology?

You bring up an interesting point about where the engines and cars are produced. I have no Mazda dealer within 50 miles, but I've read where previous Flat Rock Mazda's have had 75% domestic content. I'm going to check on a Malibu when I'm out and see what the label says. Why don't you check the domestic content on the Mazda 6 sticker and we'll report back. I honestly don't know which will be higher, but I'm curious.
 

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Originally posted by MelvinJ+Mar 20 2004, 04:55 PM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (MelvinJ @ Mar 20 2004, 04:55 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-joey@Mar 20 2004, 02:01 PM
Somehow I don't think the Detroit press is gonna put down any US made car do you?  Did anyone tell they the engine's made in Mexico?

I still don't understand what's so amazing about a 5 door hatchback like they've never exsisted before.  I'd get a better styled Mazda 6 5-door before buying the ugly duckling Malibu. At least the car AND engine are made in the USofA.
I take it you aren't from around Detroit. Paul and Anita Lienert have no qualms about giving bad reviews to any cars, U.S. made or otherwise. If anything, it seems they have an import slant.

Hatchbacks used to be quite common, but there aren't that many around these days. No doubt the Mazda 6 you speak of is a fine piece, but according to their website, it's not even out yet. So people are reacting to a practical package that they haven't seen for a while.

Plus, the Mazda 6 doesn't have nearly the interior space of the Maxx, in spite of only being an inch shorter. 95.7 cu.ft. passenger space vs. 105 for the Maxx. That's enough of a difference to make a big impression on people who need a decent back seat or haul stuff.

And although the DOHC VVT V6 in the Mazda has 20 more horsepower, it's down 28 lb.ft. of torque, and the peak is 600 RPMs higher, compared to the Malibu's 3.5 OHV V6. On top of that, it's EPA mileage is 19/26 vs. 22/30 for the Maxx's V6. This is the big payoff for expensive DOHC VVT technology?

You bring up an interesting point about where the engines and cars are produced. I have no Mazda dealer within 50 miles, but I've read where previous Flat Rock Mazda's have had 75% domestic content. I'm going to check on a Malibu when I'm out and see what the label says. Why don't you check the domestic content on the Mazda 6 sticker and we'll report back. I honestly don't know which will be higher, but I'm curious. [/b][/quote]
I agree with you...except Mazda 6 is indeed out. It's also quite popular. That said, I like the Maxx :)

---EDIT---
Oh, a 5-door Mazda 6....sorry :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
And although the DOHC VVT V6 in the Mazda has 20 more horsepower, it's down 28 lb.ft. of torque, and the peak is 600 RPMs higher, compared to the Malibu's 3.5 OHV V6. On top of that, it's EPA mileage is 19/26 vs. 22/30 for the Maxx's V6. This is the big payoff for expensive DOHC VVT technology?
But my Honda has more HP per liter, so there!

:p

Actually, I like the Mazda 6, and I like Mazda more than Toyota and Honda - at least they are heavily tied in with Ford, and not all of the money goes to Japan and some factory workers meager pay in Hicksville, Nowhere, USA.
The Mazdas look a lot better inside and out than Toyotas, too.
The whole Mexico engine thing to me is less offensive than an entire vehicle engineered at company X headquartered in Japan or Germany. Do we want to be proud of being a country like China - a country of old-economy factories? "oooh, lucky us, Toyota was kind enough to offer us jobs in a factory! Whoopee!" Or the country that engineers the tech and has company headquarters in the US?I prefer the latter. It's all very complicated today, though. For me, its all about where the headquarters are, brand preference, cheapness of replacement parts, and where the bulk of the profits flow.

In the end, though, buy what you "like". Life is too short. ;)
 

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Actually, I like the Mazda 6, and I like Mazda more than Toyota and Honda - at least they are heavily tied in with Ford, and not all of the money goes to Japan and some factory workers meager pay in Hicksville, Nowhere, USA.
The Mazdas look a lot better inside and out than Toyotas, too.
The whole Mexico engine thing to me is less offensive than an entire vehicle engineered at company X headquartered in Japan or Germany. Do we want to be proud of being a country like China - a country of old-economy factories? "oooh, lucky us, Toyota was kind enough to offer us jobs in a factory! Whoopee!" Or the country that engineers the tech and has company headquarters in the US?I prefer the latter. It's all very complicated today, though. For me, its all about where the headquarters are, brand preference, cheapness of replacement parts, and where the bulk of the profits flow.
actually, unlike China, the cars that are built here are sold here, so it makes sense for the companies to put factories here. no overseas shipping costs. on top of that, some cars that are made for our market are specifically for North America. (like our Accord, different than Euro or Japanese Accords) a lot of the cars are actually designed and styled here, as well. Nissan, for example, has a design studio in California, and their North American cars are designed there, and then many of them are built here in the U.S. foreign cars make us money, too. there are a lot of people who wouldn't want those companies to leave our shores, as they would be awfully hungry. don't say that ALL that money goes back to the foreigners. a lot of it goes right into our economy, and that's worth a heck of a lot. you can probably go buy some stock in Toyota, and then you could keep more of the profits here in the U.S. just a thought.

by the way, my Acura has 100hp per liter...... just thought i'd add that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Originally posted by SUPERBADD75@Mar 20 2004, 05:59 PM
don't say that ALL that money goes back to the foreigners. a lot of it goes right into our economy, and that's worth a heck of a lot. you can probably go buy some stock in Toyota, and then you could keep more of the profits here in the U.S. just a thought.
That is true. There is a lot of business involved in selling and designing cars in the US. But I'm not sure how much of that is "created" rather than taken from GM, for instance. People are going to buy cars anyway - its not like having Honda selling cars is somehow drumming up new business. It's hard to measure if Honda were to suddenly disappear whether or not another company would fill in the gap, and whether or not another maker would fill their shoes in the booming Honda aftermarket. Big 3 market share is down, and Honda or Toyota or Nissan take a chunk of it.

90% of Honda's profits come from the US market last I checked. If they would do 90% of their engineering and design work here in the US, perhaps it would seem more "fair" than the current situation of mostly "take" --- and "give" just enough to make the business work here in the US.

I have an interesting take on this, because after a decade in Japan, I've seen the way 2 automakers work - and how they spend money like water on insanely expensive nighttime entertainment -- provided by the profits of ignorant Americans buying themselves into a situation where no America-based auto companies are left... I won't lie, it sure was fun to hang out with them, though! :woot2: They do know how to party! (And having trains to take you home when you are wasted is sooo convenient)

Man, I could use some Sapporo beer and baked fish right about now...

 

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Ming, you add an interesting new dimension to this whole argument, and I never thought about them partying with our money. I completely agree with you on the subject of give&take and you described it accurately when you said Honda takes a whole bunch of money from this country but invests maybe 5% of that back into it. It's ridiculous when people make the argument that because these companies build cars in this country that they contribute nearly as much as GM. GM is wholly owned and operated from this country, Toyota is from Japan, hence the bulk of the profits go to executives in Japan who are only going to further invest in Japan. AS for the Mazda 6 hatchback, it's not out yet.
 

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wow- I know this is going way off topic-- but--

Do you suggest, Ming, that America invests in a bunch of party joints in Japan to recoup lost profits? :D
 

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Is it wrong that it makes me smile to think of an unemployed person driving a Toyota or Honda?

They might not have a job, but at least their car is reliable...
 

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Two Things:

MMS

Welcome to the forum, that is if you're not a troll...

Is it wrong that it makes me smile to think of an unemployed person driving a Toyota or Honda?

They might not have a job, but at least their car is reliable...
The reliability factor is old news, and in the Malibu forum, the fact that the Malibu is more reliable than any other domestic or import, Japanese, European, or otherwise, has been old news for a couple of years now.

If you're not a troll, read up on the truth about the Malibu, and heck, go drive one. Not only is the 2004 Malibu more reliable than even its everything-beating (in reliability) predecessor, the '04 Malibu is competitive on all fronts (styling is subjective) and offers far more, dollar for dollar, than any of its competitors.

Okay, getting back to the Malibu MAXX.

I'm still disappointed in the reactions, despite the value and content, of the people quoted in the original article at least. I've know about the Malibu/Malibu MAXX ride and drive events, and how they have -vastly- changed the perceptions of those who participated, but those surveyed are still so afraid of being seen as driving a "station wagon" that they would overlook the apparently little known fact that the MAXX has more appeal to the cutting edge (see below) than any other vehicle available.

The Cutting Edge: People who like vehicles that will be appreciated several years beyond their introduction; i.e. the new "Sports Tourer" genre. In the short time of a couple of years, the "Sports Tourer" has evolved from the "Sport Wagon," in the form of a vehicle that offers everything that the (IMHO) hated unibody SUV does while providing a more practical, more roadworthy package.

Hence the imminent success of the Equinox, a good vehicle in its own right, over the MAXX, a superior vehicle that suffers only from not being a fake SUV.

Ghrankenstein
 

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I was just being sarcastic (or maybe ironic is the right word). I have no doubts that the last Malibu was a reliable car and the new one will prove to be even better.
 

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My car has
104.83870967741935483870967741935
horespower per liter, and it is a GM engine
*flips off import crowd*
plus it's a v6!!!
 

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I was just being sarcastic (or maybe ironic is the right word).
Sokay. I don't have a huge sense of irony.

I once smoked a cigarette while walking in front of a fire station, and I drank a glass of water while taking a leak, and I didn't notice either time.

I'll read your posts from more than one angle from now on. And well done!

Ghrankenstein
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Originally posted by Mr_Pringle@Mar 20 2004, 09:56 PM
wow- I know this is going way off topic-- but--

Do you suggest, Ming, that America invests in a bunch of party joints in Japan to recoup lost profits? :D
You might be on to something! :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
DALLASOBSERVER.COM
2004 Malibu Maxx: Dewar's Profile
By David Boldt
Thursday, March 18, 2004

Few products demand the breadth of perspective required by Chevrolet's new Malibu variant, the Maxx. Sharing GM's Epsilon platform with luminaries such as Saab's 9-3 and Opel's Vectra, the Maxx is five doors of fresh air -- on both Chevrolet showrooms and throughout the domestic industry. It's also a big roll of the dice, a fact (we're sure) not lost on Mr. Dewar.

One look on a showroom or in the driveway, and you know this isn't your father's (to borrow a phrase) Malibu. The five-door profile avoids the wagon-like stereotype, but neither is it a fastback, and there's little benefit to the fifth door other than wider accessibility. The squared-off proportions, in combination with a wheel base six inches longer than its sedan variant and slightly shorter overall length, give the Maxx, to this set of eyes, far better balance than obtained in the sedan. Up front, Chevy's now standard grill means you won't confuse this with anything coming from Sweden or Germany. And that, among Chevy loyalists, is a good thing.

The main thrust of the argument for the fifth door is inside, where prospective customers are greeted by some 106 cubic feet of passenger space. For those frequenting all-you-can-eat buffets, 106 cubes provide plenty of room to supersize both the menu and the waistline. It also provides plenty of room for the weekend errand running. If you're stowing a bike or kayak, throw it in back; if mounted on a roof rack, the Maxx's low overall height actually allows you to reach the roof rack.

A decent dash layout is combined with a quantum leap -- for GM -- in dashboard materials. Plastics have textures appropriate to plastics, while the switchgear has a tactile feels that is, well, tactile. Passengers are coddled -- we use the word advisedly -- in what Malibu Maxx marketing director Ed Schoener describes as "first-class" accommodation. Truly unique is a rear seat with almost seven inches of fore-and-aft movement, allowing you to adjust rear seat room to match passenger or cargo needs. With the seat moved as far back as possible, passengers have 41 inches of leg room, more than enough for your NBA wannabes.

Under the hood, Chevy utilizes 3.5 liters of pushrod V6. While dated in its spec (pushrods?) there's little to apologize for in its functionality. Mated to a four-speed auto, acceleration is more than adequate, and highway cruising very relaxed. We'd argue for the option of a 2.2-liter four connected to a five-speed manual, but Chevy would probably sell no more than three. And that's not the company's game. Suspension is all-independent, and while I think the suspension guy's sleep number is different than mine, we're hoping that an upcoming SS version will firm things up.

With a preferred equipment group, rear DVD/audio system and XM satellite radio, our $22,000 Malibu maxxed out (sorry) at just over $25K. The good news: In about a week, you'll be able to buy it with a credible discount. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is as value-oriented as this global thing gets. Brent, you dew us proud.

http://www.dallasobserver.com/autobuzz_new...AXX/review.html
 

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Originally posted by MelvinJ@Mar 20 2004, 04:55 PM
You bring up an interesting point about where the engines and cars are produced. I have no Mazda dealer within 50 miles, but I've read where previous Flat Rock Mazda's have had 75% domestic content. I'm going to check on a Malibu when I'm out and see what the label says. Why don't you check the domestic content on the Mazda 6 sticker and we'll report back. I honestly don't know which will be higher, but I'm curious.
I did check out the US/Canada content label on a Malibu Maxx. It's 90%, even with the Mexican-made engine. I'm still wondering what percent the Mazda 6 is.

BTW, I was a little shocked when I saw the Equinox has a 55% US/Canada content. There's got to be more than just the engine and transmission coming from outside North America.
 
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