2007 Chevrolet Malibu SS
Chevy decided 2004 to 2008, six-generation Malibu was the best looking Malibu since the second-gen model that ran from 1968 to 1972 and was built on GM’s A platform or the G-Body model that was produced at the end of the fourth-gen run from 1982 to 1983. The name was revived for a fifth-gen model in 1997, but that car was cheap, lackluster, and became a mule for car rental companies and buy-here, pay-here car dealerships everywhere. In 2004, GM finally revamped the model again for a sixth-gen model. It still wasn’t great, but it was better than the horrible model it used to revive the name. Furthermore, the sixth generation model spun an SS variant that is at least worthy of talking about.
SS, which means Super Sport, used to stand for a model that stood above the rest. It was fast, it was sporty, but a Malibu SS in the mid-2000s? Don’t get your hopes up to see anything too sporty. On the outside, the SS didn’t bring much improvement in the terms of having a sporty look. There were some minor changes, but nothing spectacular. Inside, the car was still lackluster-like with a lot of cheap plastic inserts and a horrible entertainment system. It did, however, feature SS badging and electronic climate control, so it had that going for it. The most important part about the Malibu SS has to be the 3.9-liter V-6 that gave it a little extra get up over the standard four- and six-cylinder models.
With that said, let’s take a look at the 2006 to 2008 Chevy Malibu SS and what it did bring to the table. If you were going to own a Malibu in the mid-2000s, it was the one to have – even if that didn’t mean too much.
The exterior of the SS was offered in White, Black, Laser Blue Metallic, and Silverstone Metallic. It got new fascia’s in the front and rear but, outside of that, the exterior was identical to non-SS models. The front fascia received corner air inlets with integrated projection fog lights and a larger air dam located below the radiator grille. This air dam was recessed more than on the current model and, like the air inlets, featured a fine wire mesh as backing. The new fascia was also formed to include a “prominent” chin spoiler; prominent meaning it was about an inch long.
The rear fascia took even fewer changes as it looks almost identical in form to the stock unit. The is a new insert that runs along the bottom of it, surrounding the 3.5-inch dual exhaust outlets, but all Chevy really did was cut a large rectangular hole in the stock fascia to create a home for the insert. There is also a small lip… ahem… spoiler on the rear decklid and an SS emblem on the right side that matches the SS emblems on the front doors. The car rides on a set of 18-inch flangeless aluminum wheels that were available with all-season tires or performance tires, both of which were 225/50-series.
GM claimed that the Malibu SS featured an “SS-specific treatment that emphasizes the performance and upscale touches that are woven into all SS models – a heritage of sportiness and comfort that dates back to the first production SS model, the 1961 Impala Super Sport.” Don’t let that quote throw you off, though – this thing in no way compared to the original Super Sport. It did, however, feature an all-ebony interior that included the rear shelf. It came with “sport” seats with enhanced, leather-covered bolsters with contrast stitching. The center of the seats featured “sport” cloth inserts. In all reality, the seats featured about a half-inch of extra padding on the sides and a little bit of leather on each side. The steering wheel was new, with a three-spoke design and a leather-wrapped rim. It looked much nicer than the standard model, sporting the SS logo in the middle, but the center portion felt cheap and plastic-like. Other interior enhancements included an upscale instrument cluster that had “sport” graphics – pretty much different character font – and chrome-ringed gauges with red pointers.
The interior of the SS was nicer than the standard model, but not by much. The rest of the interior remained the same, including the cheap dash and door trim panels that go with the plastic inserts throughout. Furthermore, after several years of driving, the retaining clips for the interior tend to loosen up, leading to random and often unlocatable rattles.
This is where Chevy actually put in a little work to set the Malibu SS apart from the standard model. To start with, the car got a revamped suspension system. This included new springs in the front and rear that were stiffer to go with specially valved struts in the front and shocks in the rear. The front and rear stabilizer bars were also enlarged to cut back on body lean, and the power steering system was upgraded to a variable-ratio unit that provided more precise steering or, as GM called it, an “on rails driving experience.”
The Malibu SS received a 3.9-liter V-6 that was the first production variant of its 60-degree V-6 OHV engine family.
The Malibu SS received a 3.9-liter V-6 that was the first production variant of its 60-degree V-6 OHV engine family. It sounds, fancy, but it was all rather basic for the time. It had a bore and stroke of 99 mm by 84 mm and had a variable air intake, which allowed the computer to fine tune the engine on demand and provide better torque delivery. GM claimed that 90 percent of the car’s peak torque was available starting at 1,800 rpm. The 3.9-liter was, however, the first production cam-in-block engine to use cam phasing. This meant better performance, but the system was also problematic from time to time.
All told, the 3.9-liter delivered 240 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque. Power was channeled through a 4T65-E, four-speed automatic transmission. That was the only transmission options, so those of us who like to row our own gears got stiffed on that one. The car did feature adaptive shift control, which allowed it to cater shift points and harshness to your driving style, and featured a manual shift mode that was… um, Okay, for the most part. It did the job but was slower at shifting than when in automatic mode.
So there you have it… a Malibu SS. I already know what you’re thinking: “That’s not a real SS.” And, on most days, I’ll even agree with you. That said, the 2000s were a troubling time where GM decided to throw SS and Z-badges on anything it could to get a little extra money out of consumers. I say it like it is a dirty tactic, but the fact that a car had an SS badge or a truck had a Z-badge on it, made it that much more popular. In the case of the Malibu SS, at least Chevy stuck to giving it its own engine with a dedicated output higher than that of the best standard model. On the other hand, the car should have featured more aggressive styling on the outside and improved styling on the inside. As was the story with most GM cars in the mid-2000s, Chevy was somewhat lazy in making the SS and tried to spend as little money as possible to secure a larger gain from those that did sell. That said, if you had a sixth-gen Malibu, the SS was the model to have even if it wasn’t much better than the standard model.