I can’t help how much I like the shape of this generation of Malibu:

It’s utter garbage. It started life as Oldsmobile’s last desperate grasp to maintain a foothold in the marketplace by making something that rental companies would buy in bulk... then rebadged as a Chevy Malibu.

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The interior was plastic fantastic... “fantastic” in the sense that somehow it all held together, by some miracle. Rattles everywhere; bad-fitting and misaligned pieces abound; the ultimate expression of “I just showed up to work today because I have to”.

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Speaking of that interior, even though this classified as a mid-size car by EPA standards, is hardly had any more room inside than a same-year Cavalier/Sunfire. Definitely more trunk space, hindered only by those bullshit J-hook hinges. (Aside: why have we not banned those yet?? Fucking horrible!)

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Up to 2003, they all came with either the 2.4l “Iron Duke”, a holdover piece of scrap steel from a forgotten time, or some variation of the Vortec 3.1l V6, that exclusively used Dexcool coolant (the orange stuff), which would eventually eat away the lower intake manifold gasket, which had not been spec’d for Dexcool. It was an engine born with a fucking auto-immune disorder.

EDIT:

The 2.4 wasn’t an Iron Duke. It was a TwinCam, a lower output version of theQuad 4. Iron block, aluminum head. It put out 150/155, vs the replacement 2.2's 144/155.

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Thank you for the correction, Nibbles!

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Then, in 2004, when it was literally ONLY being built to accommodate previous orders for fleet vehicles, it was given the 2.2l Ecotec L61 as the only option. Far more refined (and lightweight) than the previous 4-banger option, it wasn’t a screamer, but it was an incredibly reliable engine. Mated to the same ol’ 4-speed slushbox, tho.

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It was such a piece of shit.

But fuck me, man; i still absolutely love how it looks.