2005 Chevy Malibu Classic (Specs And Features)

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The rise of Japanese and South Korean imports forced Chevy to scramble to compete in the growing rental market. Their answer was the Chevy Malibu Classic.

The 2005 Malibu Classic was a fifth-generation N-body four-door sedan produced for rental, taxicab, and fleet services in 2004 - 2005. The Classic is considered a sporty, roomy sedan with many safety features. The car had a standard Ecotec L61 2.2 L I-4 engine that produced 145 hp.

As 2005 rolled around, the Big Three automakers found Americans turning to Japanese imports as their car of choice. Toyota and Honda had captured the buying public’s attention with their Camry and Accord sedans. (Toyota had won the bestselling car for four straight years). Chevy needed serious help combating the trend and decided to attack the rental and fleet markets to generate income. The company offered its fifth generation N-body with an Ecotec L61 engine. Even though this particular Classic was discontinued after the 2005 model year, it proved to be a dependable workhorse that lasted for years on the road. This article will examine some of the features and specs of the 2005 Chevy Classic sedan and why it continues to be a car for a beginning restoration project.

Table of Contents


The Features of the 2005 Chevrolet Malibu Classic

Chevy was trumpeting its sixth-generation Malibu with a new Epsilon platform but continued the N-body for the rental and fleet markets. The Chevy Classic (N-body) was manufactured in 2004 and 2005, but Chevrolet discontinued the model after 2005 when the fleet market softened.

The front-wheel drive fifth-generation Malibu was introduced in 1997 as a direct competitor for the Camry and Accord. Even though it won the ‘97 Motor Trend Car of the Year, GM found that the Malibu did not have the moxy to bring a skeptical public back to the fold. The floodgates had been opened, and the quality, reliability, and fuel economy of Japanese (Honda, Toyota) and South Korean (Hyundai and Kia) quickly pushed US car sedans to the sidelines.


Chevy decided to continue the N-body Malibu of the 2004 - 2005 model years. Knowing the vehicle was designed for heavy-duty fleet usage, Chevy stiffened the suspension with McPherson struts on the front and rear because the vehicle was designed for heavy-duty fleet usage. They added 15-inch steel wheels, equipped the car with ABS disc brakes, and sought to design crumble zones to increase road safety. The car earned a 5-star crash rating from the IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety).

While Chevy was moving to the new Epsilon platform for most of its lineup, they figured that the older fifth-generation Malibus was more likely to withstand the abuse of rental and fleet markets. The N-platform remained intact for only the Classic sedan providing less road rattle as it traversed city streets.

The exterior had simple body lines with a sweeping low hood. The front grille maintained the black centerpiece with small chrome accent lines. The 2005 Classic has a larger single bar stretching across the insert. Wraparound headlights are seamlessly installed with reflectors/parking lights on the front quarter panel sides and a low-impact color-matching bumper with a lower air flow curtain stretched across the lower part of the fascia.

The angled windshield slopes back toward a tapered roofline (designed to improve airflow). Recessed color-coordinated door handles were situated over a straight body line mold strip stretching across the side doors. The squatty rear end, with a matching rear bumper, offered 17.4 cubic feet of truck space. (The Camry had 16.7, and the Accord had even less at 14). Rear tail lights were integrated into the trunk lid and wrapped around the rear, matching the seamless headlights on the front.

At 54 inches, the Malibu sat lower than the Camry or Accord and had a shorter wheelbase than the 2005 Taurus. Chevy decided to save a few inches on the width and height, preferring to lengthen the chassis more than their Japanese counterparts.

Chevy offered six primary colors for the Classic - Summit White, Black, Sport Red Metallic, Light Driftwood Metallic, Medium Gray Metallic, and Galaxy Silver. (Chevy had only offered four choices the year before).


The standard engine for the 2005 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 been using the 2.2  Ecotech for several years (primarily Saturn Ion automobiles. With all aluminum heads and dual-block balance shafts, the engine was made to minimize vibration, particularly during idling (which made it perfect for taxicabs and heavy city traffic).

Chevy knew that to interest any company to buy the Classic, they would need to make a car with decent gas mileage. The Ecotech engine produced 24 miles per gallon in the city and 32 miles per gallon on the highway. With a small 14-gallon tank, the Classic has a city range of over 300 miles.

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 had been noted for its durability (you couldn’t kill it as long as it was maintained with fresh fluids (which made it perfect for fleet and rental uses).

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 2005 Chevy Classic sat five comfortably, with large interior spaces. Wall-to-wall carpeting covered the floors and provided an excellent sound reduction of road noise. The Classic was equipped with power windows and dual front airbags (although side impact bags were not a standard feature). The four-way manual front bucket seats came with a center console. While the cloth seating surfaces might not have been the best choice for taxicabs in major cities, there was spacious legroom and headroom for rear passengers.

There were several standard features that made the driver’s life more convenient. Power windows and locks, AM/FM radio, front cup holders, and an emergency trunk release helped offered amenities. Cruise control was standard, as were power and heated mirrors.

The Specification of the 2005 Chevy Classic

The following table includes many of the specifications of the 2005 Chevy 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
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 2005 Chevy Classic Have?

Most owners felt the 2005 Chevrolet Classic was a reliable vehicle, but there were some issues.

Electric Power Steering Issues

The 2005 Classic was prone to electric power steering issues, sometimes requiring the entire steering column to be replaced. Due to the abuse many of these cars endured during their lifetimes, it is easy to see how this could be frustrating for rental companies who depended on their fleets for transportation.

Electrical Issues

Many owners have experienced some form of electrical issue. For example, the car’s cruise control or anti-theft system would interfere with the motor. Owners were often frustrated with electric gremlins making their cars operate poorly, and technicians often had to trace complete wiring systems to try and find the culprit.

What is a 2005 Chevy Classic Worth Today?

According to Cargurus, the value of a 2005 Chevrolet Classic in good condition ranges between $2,995 to $4,995. While the car is not quite a classic automobile (it is not over twenty-five years old), it will hit that status in 2030, and we expect the car values to shoot up when that year rolls around.  The classic is generally considered a reliable car, but since they were used as fleet vehicles, finding one with lower miles may be easier said than done.

The fact that the Chevrolet Classic was discontinued following the 2005 model year means there is a limited vehicle supply, which should help future values.