By on May 18, 2021

In our last edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, we looked at some midsize V6 sedans of Japanese origin from 2007. In the comments most of you decided the Accord was worth a Buy, but complained that you’d rather spend $28,000 on a V6 Altima than the larger and nicer $28,000 V6 Maxima. Go figure.

Anyway, on to the American midsize sedan triumvirate of 2007!

Today’s American V6 sedans in top-tier trim target a lower price point than their Japanese counterparts: $23,000.

Chevrolet Malibu

For 2007 the sixth generation Malibu is finishing out its last days. Riding on the Epsilon platform with the Saab 9-3 and Pontiac G6, Malibu is available in four-door sedan and four-door Maxx hatchback guises. Trims are four this year: LS, LT, SS, and LTZ. The LTZ comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine good for 217 horsepower. Said horses shift through the four-speed automatic, and buyers sit on surfaces of leather and simulated suede. This Malibu continues on for one final year and overlaps its replacement, in the 2008-only Malibu Classic. $23,675.

Chrysler Sebring

The Sebring enters a new third generation for 2007, as the midsize sedan moves onto the Chrysler/Mitsubishi JS platform. Available with four doors as a sedan or two as a convertible, the Sebring is available in Base, Touring, and Limited trims. 2007 is the only year the top trim third-gen Sebring is front-drive, as in 2008 the all-wheel drive Limited takes that position. Today’s front-drive Limited employs a 3.5-liter V6 good for 235 horses, and is paired to Chrysler’s first-ever six-speed automatic with AutoStick. $23,445.

Ford Fusion

The Fusion enters its second model year in 2007, and continues as a much more popular car than Ford’s prior midsize offering, the Contour. On the CD3 platform with the Lincoln MKZ and Mazda 6, the Fusion’s trims span S, SE, and SEL. Fusion is the only competitor here to offer all-wheel drive in 2007, and it’s available on SE and SEL trims. Today’s front-drive SEL is powered by the trusty 3.0-liter Duratec V6 that Aston Martin uses. 221 horsepower travel through the six-speed automatic. $22,170.

Similar in price, power, and mission, which of these American sedans is worth your 2007 pre-Great Recession dollars?

[Images: Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford]

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55 Comments on “Buy/Drive/Burn: V6 Midsize American Sedans of 2007...”


  • avatar
    geo

    Buy: Malibu. Everyone I know who had this generation of Malibu loved it and deemed it to be very reliable.
    Drive: Fusion. I’ve never driven one, but I understand they were pretty fun. Spotty reliability I believe.
    Burn: Sebring. This vehicle is an abomination and I can’t believe anyone could buy a vehicle with an interior like this. Many buyers are oblivious to interior quality I suppose, and couldn’t tell the difference between a nice one and a cheap one.

  • avatar
    ldl20

    IMO, this one is no contest! The Fusion by a landslide for the buy.
    The Malibu to drive, if only because the other choice is also a landslide victory (or fail) to burn the Sebring.

  • avatar
    ajla

    First:
    newcartestdrive.com/reviews/2007-buick-lacrosse/

    Following the rules:
    Buy- Chevy
    Drive- Ford
    Burn- Chrysler

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    This was in peak rental car time for me and I’ve driven all three of them way too many times…

    Buy the Ford. Comfortable, decent fuel economy, and the Sync system in 2007 was as good as it got back then.
    I’m sorry but I can’t play by the rules for the other two…both burns.
    The Chevy – almost every single rental Malibu I drove had some kind of problem, even after just 10,000 miles. There was always something loose like an interior vent cover, an armrest, or a switch. It really felt just thrown together. But the highway mileage was excellent.
    The Chrysler – burn with napalm, reduce to ash, crush the ash, bury in a trench, cover with concrete never to see light again. Horrid feeling interior that consisted of plastic that would be rejected by any other automaker. Average fuel economy. Awkward styling that hasn’t aged well at all. And I don’t know if it was the transmission or it was just heavy, but it always felt underpowered.

    And these are prime examples why the Maxima, Camry, and Accord still sell in 2021 and these three domestics are dumped in the trashcan of history.

  • avatar
    Matt Posky

    The Fusion is an outstanding automobile that I feel never gets enough praise. I’m currently inside a pristine 2010 Fusion Sport and would happily stay here forever if the alternative was a Malibu or Sebring from the same MY. Ditto if it were 2007.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Fight me but a 2010 Malibu was better than a 2010 Fusion in 2010.
      In 2021 though I expect the Ford has held up better.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Posky

        I can see that argument on the base cars and the Malibu always felt like it had more space in the back. It’s a tight race for sure. But I feel like a clear winner emerges the second we start climbing the trim ladder or driving them for fun.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I don’t know about “for fun” but the Malibu LTZ was pretty nice. The Aura XR was arguably even nicer. And I’d say both were a tick nicer than the Ford off the showroom floor.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I just saw an Aura out in PHX, not sure if it could come with blackened wheels or they were just ghettofied but it looked pretty sharp still. I’ve heard they had a few quirks the W-bodies didn’t share and for long term ownership may not have been the best choice.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            As I implied in my first comment, I would have bought a Lacrosse. Back in 2008 I couldn’t quite swing it though. I was looking instead at an Astra or G5 Coupe. Decided not just not buy anything.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The 3500 had good power but it was coarse and loud. The 3.0 Duratec was a much more appealing engine.

            The main problem with the Aura was that it had the early 3.6 that eventually stretched its timing chains.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @dal

            Very unfamiliar with Ford products outside of the 5.0 and 4.6. The only other one I know a bit about is the Vulcan 3.0 which IIRC was a good motor mated to a weak auto trans. If the Fusion’s V6 were a Vulcan OHV descendant but a good transaxle, I’d say it would be a very decent ride.

            Ah that was the issue with them then? That’s what they get for ignoring Our Lord and equipping those models with a wonky OHC which GM in the period could not do well.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            The Duratec isn’t based on the Vulcan, it was first used on the Contour/Mondeo in the early 90s. It went into a lot of F/L/M and Jaguar stuff so you’ve likely experienced at least once. Early versions had some head gasket problems, but after those years it’s a nice engine although I think its internet reputation is a little overstated. However, asking me to skip a GM pushrod V6 is like asking the Noid to skip pizza.

            And yea, the 3.6L was pretty FUBAR until 2012, which is too bad because it’s a good engine until it pukes its guts out.

          • 0 avatar
            Datanerd

            As an 08 Aura XR owner, thank you. It had a few things that I don’t recall the Ford having, like the auto dimming driver side wing mirror.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Concur with ajla. When it’s working, the early 3.6 is a really nice engine. Happily spins to 7k rpm, while having great midrange flexibility, and makes a nice noise doing it. The DI 3.6 is more durable and has the same appealing power delivery but doesn’t sound quite as nice.

    • 0 avatar
      Daniel J

      I had a 2010 Mazda 6 which was based on the fusion at the time. I put 80K trouble free miles on it. The interior was worlds better than the Malibu of that same year.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Agreed,
      I bought a used 2006 Fusion SEL in 2018 for my youngest son. It had 89k miles on it when I purchased it. It is now about 115k miles. I was impressed with the quality of the assembly and the design as well as the driving dynamics. Definitely in the Accord and Camry league without the Honda/ Toyota tax. No mechanical problems, only usual maintenance items (fluids, battery, tires etc) which in my experience is very un Fordy.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Buy: Fusion by a landslide.
    Drive: Sebring. Only because I’ve driven one so I’m curious if they’re that awful.
    Burn: Have driven rental Malibus and Maxxs many times. Always had rattles, unimpressive interior, and seemed kind of noisy. I don’t see this much anymore, which to me says something, whilst Fusion and even Sebring are still commonly seen even in my area where people tend to not prefer domestics.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Always had rattles, unimpressive interior, and seemed kind of noisy.”

      Every FWD GM car from late 80s until the end of the 00s, nothing new here.

      • 0 avatar

        Hey come on that 4.9 Deville did not rattle, and the interior wasn’t THAT bad.

      • 0 avatar
        RHD

        Make that the early ’80’s.

        If these three are the only possibilities, I’d rather ride my bicycle. They’re all lousy in moderate to severe degrees.

        If I had to choose one, then drive the Ford, only because it’s the least awful. Crush the Malibu and the Sebring. I wouldn’t buy any of them, especially with my own money.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      spookiness

      you hit it 100%
      Fusion was Mazda and handled like Mazda. I mean, like Mazda
      Chevy drove like Camry, only worse, rattled like Hyundai (early versions)
      Sebring – I don’t know but I’ve heard bad things about them.

      • 0 avatar

        Sebring = Mitsubishi. So it is Mazda6 vs decontented Opel Vectra with pushrod engine vs Mitsubishi compact platform based pseudo midsize car.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          Sebring coupe was Eclipse. But this guy used co-developed platform. Doesn’t mean it was totally Mitsu. In fact, cars built on this platform had Mitsu, Chrisler, PSA, FIAT and VW engines. It wasn’t mitsu. Ford/Mazda shared more parts. Heck, my 2010 Japanese Mazda3 still has FoMoCo brakes.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I’m only here to point out that a 2008 G8 started at $27,500 or so, and the GT was just a couple grand more.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’ll add if you waited till 2009 you could have bought one at fire sale prices.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        Yep, I was young and dumb and my ’08 GT was the first one the dealer had allotted. I bought it sight unseen before it even arrived and paid sticker for the first and only time in my life. Just in time for $4.49/gal premium too.

        People with a little more patience/foresight saved a ton.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I take it you have since sold it?

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            Yes, many years ago.

            One of the saddest automotive days of my life was buying a piece of furniture on craigslist about 5 years after I sold the G8 and finding my old car in the seller’s driveway in a severe state of neglect. If I had had any more garage space at the time I would have offered to buy it back on the spot to rescue it from its fate.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That makes me sad as well. Plenty of stuff is disposable and only a small percentage of things are really special, I hate to see those type neglected.

  • avatar
    make_light

    Buy: Fusion. I owned essentially this exact vehicle and it was solid (not to mention a major upgrade to the 1996 Taurus it replaced for me). Supportive seats and a sturdy feel made it very easy to live with, and I’d argue it was actually more refined in that sense than the Japanese cars of that era. The slightly gruff engine was probably it’s only weak spot. My favorite feature? It was absolutely roomy enough inside for my 6’2″ frame, without being enormous on the outside like all “midsize” sedans today.

    Drive: Malibu I guess, because it’s quirky and oddly intriguing, but I’d never want to own one.

    Burn: Sebring. I do think it’s kind of pretty but… junk.

  • avatar
    Mathias

    This one is easy, but I can’t play by the rules.

    Buy and drive the Fusion. I’ve got a 2012 FWD V6, and it’s one of the best cars I’ve owned. I’m about to get rid of it for a special-order Impreza hatch — save the manuals! — but only because it’s the last chance for a non-turbo stick.

    I bought a used-up 07 Mazda6, 5MT a couple years back for $500 to save it from the junkyard and got it to go again with very little work, which made me appreciate the platform and consider Fusions. These are good cars.

    My SEL cost $4,900 with 94k miles a little over a year ago, clean, blue over beige leather, and while I’m not a fan of sedans in general, it’s a fantastic highway cruiser. Quiet and comfortable, handles well, gets close to 30 mpg. In this market, I might get my money back.

    Burn the Chevy. I’ve always wanted to ask a GM manager: Is it REALLY cheaper to build ugly cars? Friends of mine owned a MAXX of this vintage, and they had unreal repair bills for the suspension.

    I know nothing at all about the Chrysler except its reputation. I’ve driven the predecessor and it was terrible.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Buy: Ford.
    Drive: ‘Bu.
    Burn: Sebring.

  • avatar
    eng_alvarado90

    This one’s easy:

    Buy: Fusion. Overall the best engineered, most reliable and easy to live with from the bunch. I somewhat regret not having purchased a 2011 SE with the 6 spd manual. It was a fun and pleasing test drive.

    Drive: Sebring. This was a close call, but I can’t imagine picking a 4 spd midsize econobox (Malibu) as a driving car. Then the Sebring was brand new, you better drive something that at least looked somewhat better and had a modern transmission for the day. I could care less about reliability if it was something to drive rather than own.

    Burn: Malibu. Outdated 4spd, outdated interior, ugly, slowest from the bunch.
    Had it been a 2008, the places would’ve swapped with the Sebring, or who knows… it would’ve become the Buy

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    Buy = Fusion. I drove a red V6 of that vintage on a 800mi round trip to NYC and really liked it enough to have purchased a similar model if I was in the market at the time.

    Drive = The Malibu but only the Maxx. GM had the unfortunate “wisdom” at the time of integrating its vehicle message center into those terrible radio head units which didn’t even include an aux plug, else it would’ve been a buy.

    Burn = Sebring. Daimler’s stereotyping of both American cars and American consumers being of substandard quality came to a head with this life sized die-cast toy of a sedan. It took the Magma-driven major refresh and renaming of the Sebring to the Chrysler 200 to even make this car semi-competitive.

  • avatar
    frank908

    Since the Ford is really Mazda engineered underneath, credit should really go to Mazda for being the buy, and that generation Sebring was a mid-size body jammed onto a sub-compact platform with odd results gets the burn, and the Malibu for getting a standard V6 in that generation is the drive, since I’ve experienced the Malibu Maxx from that gen and it was pretty decent to drive.

  • avatar
    2kriss2kross

    Buy Fusion. Still see plenty of them of this generation in decent condition which in SoCal is hard to say for domestic vehicles in import territory. Fusion also was related to the Mazda 6 so it I’m assuming it’s a tad more fun to drive than the other two.

    Drive and Burn is a toss up. Makes no difference. GM and Chrysler were at their peak cost cutting during this era. The ones I do see running around are almost always in ragged condition and I’m assuming their driving characteristics are just as bad. It would’ve been a bit different had it been the next generation Malibu. That one I did lust for for a while.

  • avatar
    wjtinfwb

    No contest here… the Fusion was a great driving car when launched, was roomy, stylish outside and decent if not plush inside. The Malibu and Sebring were both low water points for FCA and GM, beth cars were staples of the cheap-o rental car fleets then doomed to a resale life at Buy-Here, Pay Here lots. The next gen Malibu was a much better car, Chrysler however never really rose up and replaced the Sebring with the unloved 200, canned just a couple years later.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I have driven both the Malibu and the Fusion from this generation.

    Buy the Malibu but get the Maxx.

    Drive the Fusion but if the Malibu were not available I would buy the Fusion.

    Blow up the Sebring to make sure it no longer exists. Afraid if you try to burn it that it might come back.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You’re thinking of the Christine – those come back if you burn them, but the Sebrings should be buried or chopped up. The gasses that plastic will emit is toxic.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Buy: Fusion. It’s just a class above the other two in refinement. This was a period when Ford was solidly in the lead among domestic automakers.
    Drive: Malibu. I had a lot of these Malibus as rentals, and with the V6 they were a solid choice.
    Burn: Sebring, which was regrettable in every respect except the strong 3.5 engine.

    But all of these are way, way, way back of the Accord that I wanted to Buy from the last BDB. For only $1000 more (okay, probably several thousand at real-world pricing) it was just in another league.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    The Fusion is the only one that shouldn’t be sent to the crusher

  • avatar
    theonlydt

    Buy – some really good walking shoes, because no-one could convince me to spend that much money on any of these new.

    Drive – Ford Fusion, for all the positive reasons listed by people above. Though, again, I’d take the Mazda6 first. The Fusions pre-2010 have had quite a lot of rust issues up here in Canada.

    Burn – A flaming pyre of every single Malibu and Sebring. Let us not forget what happened to GM and Chrysler in 2008-2009 is because they were releasing this utter garbage upon the public.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Drive the Ford, at least it’s kind of a Mazda underneath. Burn the rest. I had a Malibu and it was the cheapest nastiest piece of crap you could imagine – GM couldn’t even put side windows in this thing that weren’t wavy and misshapen.

  • avatar
    Datanerd

    Given that I bought (or inherited) a Saturn Aura XR, which I tell my friends “Look for the fancy Malibu”, I guess I have to go drive Fusion and burn the Sebring. Strangely, I was looking at a convertible Sebring today. I guess that will pass. And the Aura will outrun the Ford all day, and twice on Saturdays. The choice between the fancy Malibu or the Ford: Do you want to go quick, or do you want the plastics to not peel?

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The Malibu Classic was fleet only. My brother in law had one parked in his driveway with blacked-out windows, when he was still a federal agent. So I asked him what the heck was that, and he said it was his undercover surveillance unit.

    I had to inform him it screamed of government issue. It was gold/beige like the one pictured above, but I was there a week later and he had a Ram 1500 issued, blacked out windows.

  • avatar
    rod miranne

    I’m surprised the Mazda V6 is not on your list. It was a strong buy. It also came in a sedan, 5-door and wagon model that year. I owned a 2007 6 5-door for 12 years before trading it in with 168,000 trouble free miles.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Got your next RR, Corey.

    https://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/cto/d/mckeesport-1986-oldsmobile-cutlass/7317644698.html

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    BUY: The Ford/Mercury has a very strong 225 HP V6 which I currently have in my ’12 Escape. Only issue is a minor oil leak. Go figure!!

    DRIVE: What is it with GM?? Every thing feels like it was built to a price point; even the Cadillac divison. The Malibu is great for sending your kid off to college or trade school. Once they get their first regular paycheck, the Malibu is traded in a flash.

    BURN: I’m not sure if the Chrysler is worth anything at all. High school kids would pass on it as a possible hand me down should Grandpa or Aunt Be pass away!! Not work the headache.

  • avatar

    I’d buy a Fusion in 2007. Alan Mulally was getting ready to lead Ford at the start of a global crisis and was the only one of the three to not get bailed out.

    Malibu, I’d drive but not my fave.

    Oh, Stellantis? Oh, sorry, no. Fiat? Oh crap. 2007 model year? So 2006 calendary year. Ah! Gotcha. Oh Daimler Chrysler… I was a Mopar fan in my youth, but I’ve got more refined taste these days.

  • avatar
    Offbeat Oddity

    Wow, this one’s really easy.

    Buy – Ford Fusion: I test drove a 2007 V6 years ago and was quite impressed. Ford was really onto something with this generation Fusion, and for a long time they ranked as very reliable.

    Drive – Chrysler Sebring: I had a very good experience with my 1998 Dodge Neon, and my grandparents had good luck with their Chrysler vehicles, so that’s enough to give this the edge over the Malibu.

    Burn – Chevrolet Malibu: I hated the styling of this generation of Malibu. It’s probably fairly reliable and trustworthy, but it’s just not something I’d want to own or drive. The 2008 was miles better.

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