2004 Malibu Maxx
By crafting one great common architecture instead of three or four mediocre ones for different lines of cars, the car company saves money and consumers get better cars, and the biggest beneficiary of all is the person who buys the least expensive model.
That's the theory, at any rate, and in the case of GM's Epsilon architecture the theory works very well in execution.
The same superstructure that makes fabulous cars of the Saab 9-3 and the Vauxhall/Opel Signum and Vectra does exactly the same thing for the Chevrolet Malibu Maxx, but for a lot less money.
Now, to prevent Saab owners, dealers and company executives from going into meltdown, it must also be noted that the Malibu Maxx is not as good or well-equipped a car as the 9-3. Gene Stefanyshyn, the Canadian who is the vehicle line executive for the Epsilon architecture, made sure that each model would be developed and equipped for its own buyer base.
But that architecture delivers an exceedingly high base line, and that allows for a mid-size vehicle that is much better dynamically than anything in its segment, with the exception of the Honda Accord.
This should appeal greatly to the great army of people who have to buy a sedan in this size and price range ($25,000-$35,000) because they need something sensible for family duty and wonder why the cars have to look and drive as drab as a Toyota Camry.
Strictly speaking, the Maxx isn't really a sedan, since the rear window and tailgate hinges at the roof and that qualifies it for the classic hatchback label, but that's not the right moniker only.
Personally, I would have preferred the squared off rear end of the Signum, but Stefanyshyn showed it to a bunch of Yanks in a clinic and they lacked the vision to see the rightness of its shape. So the rear got a little ledge in its transformation to Maxx, which moved it away from a wagon shape toward a hatchback shape.
Auto journalist & Consumer Ratings
2004 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx Specifications
Similar to 2004 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx