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Life with a 2007 Malibu LT V6

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I bought this used 2007 red V6 LT Malibu in January 2008 with 27K miles and have logged over 16K miles which translates to a current odometer reading of 43K miles.

[/size]Driving Impression:

The 2007 Malibu LT is a solid enough driving car with competent handling, a smooth ride and light steering that is easy to maneuver in parking lots. The driving position is perfect for my average frame and the telescoping wheel allows me to move the seat forward a little to preserve rear seat legroom. The drivers seat is comfortable, even after 8 hours of driving. Everything is within easy reach for the most part but I wish you can see both the clock and radio station display at the same time but that really isn't a big deal. I appreciate the extra overhead map lights in addition the one located in the middle which serves back seat passengers. This is not offered on the regular G6 models unless you get the optional moonroof, only the one in the middle lights up the interior. The LT Malibu also gets a std leather wheel with redundant controls which was also lacking on the G6 mid level V6 sedans I looked at! I much prefer it to the base urethane wheels.

Powertrain and performance:

The 3.5 liter or "3500" VVT V6 with 217 HP and 217 torque has turned out to be a surprising performer that has exceeded my expectation in all but one area. When fully warmed it has a slightly rough idle that the dealer of course cannot figure out. There prognosis: some do this and some don't. It isn't really bad but is noticeable at times. That aside performance is robust for a car that cost me only $12,900. Foot to the floor acceleration provides a 6250 RPM redline at shift and does a fairly convincing impression of an OHC V6. It is also smoother and quieter than any previous iteration of this 60 degree OHV engine family including the old 2.8, 3100 and 3400. I also have driven the 2005 3500 non VVT and this engine feels smoother and revs more freely. The 4T45 transmission shifts very well and never feels rough. It is right there responsive. Of course a 5 or 6 speed would really bring this engine alive but in the 3250 lb Malibu it does just fine. I have driven numerous 5 and 6 speed automatic cars and in everyday driving there really isn't a big difference if you have a powerfull enough engine. And for those that think this engine can be outrun by a 4 cylinder mid size like the 2008 Nissan Altima, guess again. I have drag raced 09 Hyundai Sonotas with the 169 2.4, 08 and 09 Nissan Altimas with 2.4 and CVT, 08 Accord with auto and 177 HP 2.4, 07-08 Camry 2.4 auto and a few Cobalts and Civics in the 07-08 years. Not one of these cars was able to beet me from 0-80 MPH! The key seems to be break in miles. Mine had 27K when I bought it. I have also driven a couple of G6's and Saturn Auras with the same 3500/4 speed automatic as my car but with 224 HP and 220 torque. They were brand new cars and didn't feel nearly as lively as my 3500 Malibu with 27K miles. I took out a 2007 Aura with 30K miles and it felt nearly the same as my Bu.

Fuel economy has varied dramatically from when I first bought the car to now. I was averaging 25-26 MPG at 27K and could get no better than 30-31 on solid highway trips going 74 MPH. Now that the car is used to my sometimes heavy right foot and Summer weather, mileage has averaged a steady 27-28 and several pure highway runs have netted 34.5-35.0! Try that in a 2008 new body style Malibu, even with the base 4 cylinder. The switch to synthetic oil seemed to help and replacing the old dirty air filter was another mileage booster.

Reliability and whats gone wrong:

This is one area where my Malibu does not shine too brightly. The brakes have twice needed to be turned due to warpage, once when I bought the car at 27K and again at 40K. The dealer also replaced the front pads which are now squealing everytime I stop. Steering issues! It started off as a little rattle over sharp potholes. The dealer has replaced the Intermediate Steering shaft twice, pulled out the struts and replaced mounts 3 times, checked over the front end and mounts and now I am left with a major popping/rattle everytime a hit a bump at low speeds and I can feel it right in the steering wheel. 3 dealers and none of them can come up with a fix! Some say these are notorious for this, some say the ISS replacement should have fixed the issue, others say that repositioning the shaft sometimes fixes the issue. I would also occasionally loose steering assist when accelerating off an on ramp leaving me with no control! It was a good thing no other cars were around at the time or I could have hit them because I wasn't able to steer! A trip to the dealer thankfully revealed two error codes which turned out to be faulty ground strap and alternator harness cables that needed replacing. It hasn't lost steering assist since so that is a major plus. Another problem left me with no interior lights. The dealer replaced the drivers side lighted visor mirror because it was shorted out. While opening up my passenger fron door, I noticed that the black wafer thin access molding was coming apart on the middle "B" pillar. It is just a thin piece of plastic about a foot long that is glued in place to cover two screw access holes for the side airbags and is very cheap. The dealer had to order a new strip and re-apply it.

While in the dealer I also mentioned how I hate the terrible cheap feeling seat fabric and how hard it is too clean and keep clean. They said that many have complained of this and that the new malibu would rectify this. I haven't lived with a new style Malibu so cannot confirm this. The other thing I miss is the fold flat passenger seat that was included in all previous year Malibus like mine from 04-06 and also lacking in the new model. A rear seat armrest should also be included as std equipment.

Final thoughts and observations:

The 2007 Malibu is a competent enough smallish mid size sedan that gets the job done well in the comfort and utility department while offering well above average power and mileage. Chevy obviously didn't take any chances with the exterior styling or interior which are serviceable and not offending. It's the details and quality control that still plaque this car line. There is no excuse in the world why GM is STILL having problems with intermediate shafts and steering woes 15 years later from when they first went over to magnasteer in the 90's. There is no excuse why the rotors keep warping. There is no excuse for the poor low quality seat material and electrical gremlins either. I am also wondering if the 60 degree 3500 is going to be trouble free with higher mileage with the dreaded intake issues that plagued the 3100 and 3400 motors. Would I buy another Malibu? With reservation as this is still basically the same Epsion platform and 4 cylinder models use the same EPS system. The new style Malibu also suffers from having a smaller trunk opening than my 07, a slightly more cosy feeling cabin and much lower V6 gas mileage. It sure looks better though.

Edited by ponchoman49
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I remember when that body style first came out it was regularly cited that the Malibu V6 could get better highway mileage than the Camry I4.

Maybe anecdotally, but not according to the EPA. That generation Malibu I4 (2.2) *did* get better highway mileage than the Camry 2.4, though.

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Ironically my best friend also owned a 2007 Malibu LT 2.2 4 cylinder and his mileage mirrored mine in every way expect for pure city of which his did slightly better. Strangely the 04-05 Epsilon Malibu 2.2 was rated for 35 highway but that number dropped down to 32 for 06 and back up to 34 for 07. The 3500 V6 was rated 32 highway from 04-07 in sedans and 30 for the Maxx. I did remember seeing a few late run 2007 Maxx's with the 3500 rated at 32 like the sedans so i'm not sure what they did to change the number. The 3900 SS cars were rated for 26 highway on both body styles due mostly to there 3.69:1 gears.

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  • 3 months later...
Also I'd agree with the part of the review about the non-VVT 3500 versus its newer counterpart. The 3500VVT in the Impala has a MUCH steadier power band, runs five times smoother and revs more freely than ye olde 3500 in our Maxx.

Von, interesting that you would notice this. When renting VVT equipped V6s, such as in the Montes I liked, I didn't know how much difference there really was and was wondering if I could feel the VVT kicking in, or doing its thing, by punching it. I mean, I know it's there, but couldn't really tell. Fortunately, the service departments have said they have NOT seen VVT units come back in for work...and some are in taxi fleets. I guess that's very good.

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Von, interesting that you would notice this. When renting VVT equipped V6s, such as in the Montes I liked, I didn't know how much difference there really was and was wondering if I could feel the VVT kicking in, or doing its thing, by punching it. I mean, I know it's there, but couldn't really tell. Fortunately, the service departments have said they have NOT seen VVT units come back in for work...and some are in taxi fleets. I guess that's very good.

I wouldn't be concerned about the reliability of the 3500VVT, the current gen Impala has become the darling of the Calgary Taxi Fleet, as it replaces older Crown Vics...

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