The 2004 Chevrolet Classic (Specs and Features)

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In 2004, Chevy was getting creamed in the mid-sized market, and they needed to fix it quickly. Their answer? Sell the Classic to rental and fleet companies.

The 2004 Chevrolet Classic was a mid-sized sedan built for the 2004 - 2005 model year. Chevy was ramping up its sixth-generation models, but they sought to bring in some income selling to the rental, taxi-cab, and fleet companies. The Classic was powered by a 2.2L Ecotec engine that got 24/32 mpg.

For several years before 2005, Americans made a Japanese mid-size their favorite car. More Camrys and Accords were littering the highways, and the lack of mid-size sedan sales sent the Big Three scrambling. Chevy knew it couldn’t compete well with the reliability, longevity, and fuel economy of the overseas models. However, Chevy had made good income selling their Chevy sedans to rental and fleet markets, so they attempted to make a mid-sized sedan exclusively for that market. GM reasoned that as more people rented them, they would consider the new sixth-generation for their personal vehicles. Chevrolet introduced a mid-sized sedan in 2004 on the previous N-platform with built-up suspension and started ferrying them out as taxicabs, governmental vehicles, and rentals. In this article, we will examine the 2004 Chevy Classic to see what makes this 20-year-old car worth considering as a restoration project.

Table of Contents


The Features of the 2004 Chevy Classic

Chevy was gearing up its sixth-generation vehicles but knew that the older fifth-generation model would withstand the abuse taxicabs and rental cars endure. They decided to keep the N-body Malibu, offer it in limited colors, and push it hard to city fleets. The car was dependable, with good passenger volume, plenty of safety features, and better-than-average consumer reviews.

Toyota, Honda, and South Korean automakers like Hyundai and Kia avoided placing their cars in rental applications, and Chevy felt their sedan could compete. They put their 2.2L I-4 into the car, paired it with a 4-speed automatic, and set it loose on the streets.


The Classic kept much of the fifth-generation Malibu body style intact instead of using the new Epsilon platform. The N-body was more rigid than the new platform, making it pretty durable. Unfortunately, the Classic didn’t take off as well as Chevy hoped, so it only lasted two years, being discontinued in 2005.

To make the Classic suitable for the heavy-duty use it was likely to have, Chevy used McPherson struts on the front and rear, adding 15-inch steel wheels, and front disc brakes, as they sought to design the car with a suite of standard safety features. The car earned a 5-star crash rating from the IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) as a top safety pick.

The exterior had simple body lines and a sweeping low hood that exhibited a sporty, aggressive appearance. The black centerpiece on the front grille had a single chrome piece bar stretching across, while wraparound headlights were molded to fit the body contour. Chevy inserted a color-coordinated front bumper with an air intake molded into the bumper’s base. The air intake was designed to improve the vehicle’s coefficient of drag while at the same time improving the mileage.

The doors contained a solid body line strip that stretched across the panels, and color-matching recess handles were operated by lifting the handle to disengage the release mechanism. The trunk offered 17.4 cubic feet of truck space, and customers could pull a strap to lower the rear seat back for longer cargo items. Chevy knew that cabbies liked having larger cargo areas, so they made a point of beating the competitors in this area). Chevy added a minor spoiler across the top of the trunk lid to enhance the sporty look.

Chevy offered four primary colors for the Classic (it would increase the selection to six for the 2005 model). The color choices were Summit White, Black, Galaxy Silver, and Medium Gray.


The standard engine for the 2004 Chevrolet Malibu Classic was the Ecotech L61 4-cylinder. The 2.2L four-cyl engine produced 144 hp and 155 ft/lbs of torque. Chevy had used the 2.2  Ecotech for several years. All aluminum heads and dual-block balance shafts were made to minimize vibration, particularly during idling (which made it perfect for taxicabs and heavy city traffic).

Chevy knew they would need to make a car with decent gas mileage. The Ecotech engine produced a combined mpg of 28 (24 city and 32 highway). Although the gas tank was small (the Camry had an 18-gallon, and the Accord had 17.1). The Classic has a range of over 434 miles (highway).

Engine Horsepower Torque
2.2L Ecotech I - 4 144 hp @ 5600 rpm 155 ft/lbs @ 4000 rpm


Chevy offered a 4-speed automatic 4T40E transmission on the Classic, which it had used on the Malibu since the late nineties. The transmission has been noted for its durability and has been used on a variety of Chevy models.

The 4-speed had the following gear ratios.

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Reverse
2.95:1 1.62:1 1.00:1 0.68:1 2.14:1


The 2004 Chevy Classic sat five comfortably, but even though Chevy trumpeted the interior space, it wasn’t as big as the competition. Sound-proofing carpeting covered the floors, providing an excellent barrier to road noise. Chevy added rubber molding around the enlarged windshield and doors to help seal against air leakage.

The Classic has a LATCH system (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children). The system allowed car seats to be attached to an anchor to the car’s frame. The LATCH had been a part of Chevy models from 2002 on, in anticipation of the federal regulations that were issued the following year)the year before). Other safety items included dual front airbags, but surprisingly there were no side curtain airbags (although the Accord had both side-impact and curtain airbags standard. The Camry offered them as available equipment).

Power seats were standard, (although Chevy shifted to manual driver seats the following year). Power windows and locks, cruise control, and a stock AM/FM radio were some of the basic amenities offered.

The Specification of the 2004 Chevrolet Classic

The following table includes many of the specifications of the 2004 Chevrolet Classic.

Drive Type Front Wheel Drive
Fuel Regular Gasoline
Seating Five
Engine 2.2 Ecotech I-4 cyl.
Compression ratio 10:1
Horsepower 144 @ 5400 rpm
Torque 155 @ 4000 rpm
Bore 3.14 inches
Stroke 3.72 inches
Cam Type Double Overhead Cam
Valves 16
Cylinders 4
Block Lost foam aluminum block
EPA city/highway 24/32 mpg
Range 308 miles city - 434 miles highway
Length 190.4 inches
Width 69.4 inches
Height 56.4 inches
wheelbase 107.0 inches
Interior space 115.0 cubic feet
Front Shoulder Room 55.5 inches
Front Leg Room 41.9 inches
Front Head Room 39.4 inches
Front Hip Room 52.0 inches
Cargo capacity (trunk) 17.3 cubic feet
Curb Weight 3,164 lbs
Cruise Control Standard
Bucket Seats Standard
Seating Cloth
Power windows Standard
Power mirror Standard
Heated mirrors Standard
Brakes Front disc brakes
Rear drum brakes
Power seats No. 4-way manual
Lighted Vanity Mirrors Standard
Daytime Running Lights Standard
Headlights Auto Off Standard
Air Conditioning Front zone - standard
Tires P205/65R15
Rims Steel
Spare Tire Standard

What Issues Did the 2004 Chevrolet Classic Have?

Most owners felt the 2004 Chevrolet Classic was reliable, but there were some issues.

Electric Power Steering Issues

The 2004 Classic was prone to electric power steering issues, sometimes requiring replacing the entire steering column. This condition could be frustrating for owners who made their livings with their car, like taxicab drivers or federal workers.

Electrical Issues

Many owners have experienced a passlock failure on their electric ignition systems. Primarily, the anti-theft system in the key cylinder would interfere with the motor. Owners were often frustrated by having to pay extra for the cylinders to be replaced.

What is a 2004 Chevy Classic Worth Today?

According to Cargurus, the value of a 2004 Chevrolet Classic in good condition ranges between $2,595 to $7,795. While the car cannot be considered an antique since it is not 25 years old yet, the car prices should continue to increase in value as 2029 comes closer. Many restorers encourage potential owners to find a used car like the ‘04 Classic with low mileage. (Many high mileage Classics have seen years of use as fleet cars, so it may be possible to save money with one that has higher mileage). While aftermarket replacement parts are readily available, some OEM parts may be challenging.

As far as used cars go, the Classic proved to be a pretty dependable car. The fact that the Chevrolet Classic was discontinued following the 2005 model year means a limited vehicle supply should help future values.