2010 Chevrolet Malibu | road test

Posted on Apr 4, 2010 by
2010 Chevrolet Malibu

2010 Malibu on the road in Dubai

AT A GLANCE

FOR

  • Decent, powerful engine
  • Quiet, refined ride
  • Practical

AGAINST

  • Jerky gearbox
  • Poor interior build quality
  • Wallowy handling

SUMMARY

The Malibu is a family sedan with a strong engine and plenty of space for passengers and luggage. It’s comfortable and, from the front at least, fairly good looking. But wallowy handling, a substandard gearbox and poor build quality take the shine off what, with a bit more care, could have been an attractive proposition.

We're not completely convinced by the looks at the back.

We're not completely convinced by the looks at the back, which are Corvette-inspired but don't quite look right.

PERFORMANCE

The 3.6-litre V6 engine is not bad at all, with quite a lot of power – 252bhp – delivered in a smooth, consistent manner, giving the Malibu good acceleration. The gearbox is average by comparison, however. The change is quite jerky, especially on drop down and for comfort reasons could really do with being smoother.

There are steering wheel-mounted paddles for changing gear, although we can’t imagine anyone actually using them in a car like the Malibu. Chevrolet has chosen a system similar to Porsche and BMW, where each paddle can shift both up and down depending on whether you push or pull it. We prefer the traditional left-down, right-up system – if this is what you’re used to, you might find it confusing.

HANDLING AND RIDE

The steering feel is somewhat artificial and rubbery. The steering wheel is huge – the biggest on any car on sale today that we can think of. Bearing in mind that the Malibu is not a sports car and doesn’t require a wheel that can be flicked about all over the place, it shouldn’t prove too much of a problem, but it did feel weird to us during our time with the car.

Despite the poor steering feel, the chassis is capable. The ride is comfortable although there’s more body roll around corners and roundabouts than we’d like. General refinement on motorways is good, with minimal wind noise inside the cabin.

The interior looks good, but the build quality is disappointing. And the steering wheel is unnecessarily massive.

The interior looks good, but the build quality is disappointing. And the steering wheel is unnecessarily massive.

COMFORT

Although the design of the interior is attractive, build quality is not great and there are too many hard scratchy plastics around the cabin, especially lower down. The storage compartment lid atop the dash has a horribly cheap feel to it and the gear surround panel actually came loose in our hands during our test drive. The shut lines between the different panels aren’t terribly consistent and the whole thing doesn’t feel as premium as Chevrolet would have us believe.

Another feature we noted is that there’s no shut off switch for the air vents – if you want to stop the flow of air towards you, tough. You can point the vent in a different direction, but you can’t stop it.

All that said, the seats are soft and comfortable with decent support – we’d have no issue with covering long distances in them. There’s also plenty of rear legroom for passengers, although the headspace might get a bit tight for taller adults.

Practicality is the Malibu's strong point. The boot is very spacious.

Practicality is the Malibu's strong point. The boot is very spacious.

PRACTICALITY

There are lots of storage spaces around the car. As well as a useful compartment on top of the dashboard, there are door pockets in the front capable of holding a drinks bottle, two cup holders in the centre console and two storage compartments under the arm rest, with a removable partition to give extra space. There are also pockets in the rear doors, but they’re really small. Nets in the seat backs, rear cupholders and a power outlet cater for those in the back.

The boot is one of the Malibu’s best features – it’s massive and once we folded down the rear seats it quite happily accommodated a snowboard and all the accompanying equipment. No fold down arm rest for rear seat passengers though, and the middle three-point seat belt doesn’t fold away, which might get in the way if you have large loads to transport.

FEATURES

All Malibus are fitted with electric mirrors, 18-inch alloy wheels and a radio/CD player with auxiliary socket for MP3 players, as well as cruise control

The top-of-the-range LTZ model we drove comes as standard with slightly more fancy 10-spoke alloys and USB/iPod connectivity for the rather good eight-speaker sound system. It also gets front fog lamps, dual chrome exhausts and remote vehicle start, which lets you fire up the engine (and therefore the air conditioning) before you get in the car and is very useful in the Arabian summers. A sunroof is available as an option on all models.

SAFETY

The Malibu scored the maximum five stars in front and side crash tests under the US NHTSA programme. It comes with LATCH/ISOFIX child seat attachments on all three back seats, and six airbags are fitted as standard on all models. StabiliTrak (Chevrolet’s electronic stability control system) is also standard, as is traction control.

2010-chevrolet-malibu-r-a

2010 Chevrolet Malibu

COSTS

With the top-spec LTZ model costing 99,000AED, the Malibu represents reasonable value for money on paper, as it contains a decent level of equipment and a powerful engine.

Chevrolet estimates a combined fuel economy of 9.0l/100km from the Malibu’s 3.6-litre engine, which should give it a range of around 665km from its 60-litre fuel tank.

The Malibu’s major services are at 40,000, 60,000 and 80,000kms and should cost around 2,000AED. GM offers its standard three years/60,000km warranty on the car.

2010 Chevrolet Malibu

Trim levels available*: 1LT, 2LT, LTZ
Engine size*: 2.4-litre, four cylinder//3.6-litre V6
Max power (bhp/rpm): 169/6,500//252/6,300
Max torque (Nm/rpm): 214/4,500//340/3,200
Driven wheels: Front wheel drive
Kerb weight (Kg): 1,550
Price (AED): 89,900 – 99,000
*Italic = model tested

3 Responses to 2010 Chevrolet Malibu | road test

  1. Phill Tromans Reply

    September 19, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Hmm, well, I’m prepared to admit I missed that if it’s true, but I spent a fair while trying to shut it off to no avail. It certainly wasn’t obvious how to do it.

    Regardless, thanks for the info. Also, you win an award for the most interesting spelling of my name.

  2. Doms Reply

    September 16, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    “Another feature we noted is that there’s no shut off switch for the air vents – if you want to stop the flow of air towards you, tough. You can point the vent in a different direction, but you can’t stop it.”
    THIS IS NOT TRUE, YOU CAN CLOSE THE AIR VENTS BY MOVING THE HANDLE TO THE MOST LEFT OR RIGHT. THE AIRVENT IS UNIQUE COMPARED TO USUAL, MAYBE PHIL THORMAS MISSED TO EXPLORE THIS ONE.

  3. George Reply

    April 15, 2010 at 3:06 am

    The 3 spoke steering wheel may be over sized, but its shaped like the one found on the corvette and i would say yes to that any day.
    With the working man’s champion, Toyota and even the hallowed Lexus having recalls these days, the playing field is sort of evened out in terms of quality. This car has a big boot, is spacious and has 252 tyre smoking horses. Why wouldn’t anyone want to sign off 48 month installments with a smile on their face, a long 4 year smile, might I add.
    Toyota on the other hand is having to paint their sheets is shades such as “Tabasco metallic” and “Tungsten metallic” on the Camry to keep their brand loyal customers faithful. Mind you, these are beautiful colours….when I’m driving a 670bhp Murc SV.
     
     

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