Published on May 13th, 2015 | by Subhash Nair0
Chevrolet Malibu LTZ: The American Answer
The Chevrolet Malibu has been a household name in the United States since the mid-1960s, when it called the Chevelle. It was only in the late 1970s when General Motors, who own the Chevrolet brand, decided to call it the Malibu instead. Now in its eight generation, the Chevy Malibu LTZ aims to deliver Malaysian the American interpretation of the D-segment.
For Chevy to penetrate the Japanese dominated Malaysian D-segment with an unfamiliar product, it had to do things better than its competition. First of all, it costs a lot less than some of the other cars in the market. Right now, the Malibu can be bought brand new for just RM153,888. There’s just one engine option and trim level, meaning that you’re getting the full package at that price. Rivals usually have a 2 litre base trim for around that price point. Considering the fact that it’s a full spec with a 2.4 litre engine strapped in producing 165 horsepower and 225Nm of torque, the Malibu delivers quite a lot of bang for your buck.
That power is put to great use. It may be a little heavy, but it’s pretty responsive and has more than enough juice to get it going. It climbed onto highway speeds quickly and the steering-mounted cruise control buttons were especially straightforward. The ride comfort was simply phenomenal thanks to all-around independent suspension and steering feel from the electric power steering unit was firm and sure at speed and reacted quicker at lower speeds.
Just like on some of the other American cars sold here, the Malibu’s 6-speed automatic comes with a manual selector that’s placed on the shifter itself. Personally, I found it quite unnatural to use, but that’s just because my forearms are abnormally long. The armrest does slide back and forth to accommodate bigger folk like myself, but the shifter is still a big miss in my opinion. That being said, when left in full auto mode, the transitions between gear changes was nice and smooth. The whole driving experience of the Malibu felt distinctly quiet despite the potency of the engine. Top marks in that regard.
But it’s not just big on power; the car itself is quite capacious with an ample amount of room for 5 adults. And remember, the Malibu is sold in the US, so that’s 5 American-sized adults that can fit comfortably in it. The boot is also exceptionally large, with enough space for a reasonable number of golfbags or suitcases.
Design-wise, the Malibu has quite a conventional muscular design, which means it won’t get tiring to look at. Sure, without daytime running lights it doesn’t stand out as much as the competition, but not sticking out has its advantages. Projector headlamps, wing mirror-mounted signal lights, the signature Chevy front fascia as well as Camaro inspired tail lamps are the Malibu’s strongest design highlights.
Over on the inside, it’s a different story. Chevrolet took a pretty bold step in moulding the dashboard. Firstly, there’s that divide that’s integrates the air-conditioner vents pattern. The lines run from the front doors all the way across to the centre console, where it’s interrupted by the metal trim on the centre console and the instrument cluster. It’s certainly a nice break from the bog-standard interiors, and it really works at night, when illuminated by the teal coloured interior lights. I wasn’t too sure about the colour of the lighting during the day when only the dials were lit, but the ice blue ambient lighting looked really futuristic against the darker trim.
The media unit on the centre console doubles as the car’s computer terminal, allowing users to configure things like how long the lights stay on after exiting the vehicle as well as how the central locking works. It has got a 7” touchscreen on the media unit doubling as the display for the reverse camera, which does a good job of alerting drivers of obstacles with a yellow hazard icon flashing on the centre of screen when there are obstructions in addition to an audio cue. The unit will work fine for most forms of playback but if you store your favourite tunes on a portable player or phone, a 3.5mm aux jack works better than playback over Bluetooth, which as far as I could tell, was designed solely for hands-free calls and not music.
One thing the Malibu does nail perfectly is practicality and it does this by getting the little things right. Take for instance the locking mechanism. Despite having keyless entry and centralised locking, there’s a unlock button on every door handle, meaning each door can be unlocked individually as long as the key’s outside the vehicle. Having the door lock pulls located back on top makes it a lot easier for passengers to know if a door’s locked at a glance. You’ll also notice that both front seats have electronically adjusted, which you don’t see on many base-level cars in this segment.
The interior has some very interesting storage solutions. The 7” display mentioned earlier is the best example of this. With a press of a button, it flips upwards and reveals a nice, roomy compartment that can be used to house more valuable items away from prying eyes.
It’s a great solution, and it’s really strange that we don’t see ideas like this more often. Besides the standard cup holder arrangement, there are slits on both sides of the centre console that can be used to house smaller items like a Touch ‘N Go card, a few documents or coins.
Instead of full leather, the Malibu comes draped with part fabric, part leather seat covers that are comfortable enough. The fabric bits on the seat come with a nice, quiet pattern that blends it right into the rest of the interior despite the material choice.
The Chevy Malibu ended up being a pleasant, no-nonsense experience, perfect for mid-level executives who are looking for something that has great road presence and is simple and mechanically reliable for stress-free long distance trips. If you’re looking for a few more gizmos to play around with there are other options out there for sure. There are even more fuel efficient D-segment players with less power, but the exceptional and handling make the case for the Malibu. It’s definitely worth a look, especially when you consider the price and the great 5 year/200,000km warranty it comes with. And if you’re still on the fence, why not request a test drive.
Chevrolet Malibu LTZ
Engine Ecotec 4 Cylinder DOHC
Transmission 6-Speed Automatic with manual shifting mode
Max Power 165 hp @ 5800 RPM
Max Torque 225Nm @ 4600 RPM