Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Review: 2015 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ

Photos by Ulysses Ang
It’s been a very long time since the executive sedan market saw an American entry. And yet, in recent years, the competition has been getting fiercer with a slew of great models coming from stalwarts and new comers alike. Heck, there are those who’re supposed to be dead in the water, but are now coming back to life. In other words, the Americans aren’t fashionably late to the executive sedan party anymore; they’re ‘the party already ended’ late.

Thankfully, that didn’t excuse Chevrolet from coming out with a weapon that’s capable of serious consideration, especially if you’re tired of the usual Japanese this or Korean that. Enter the Chevrolet Malibu, a car designed and engineered to bring the Bowtie’s torch upmarket. Styled in North America, assembled in Korea, and built on top of the company’s Global Mid-Sized architecture, the Malibu is indeed the product of Chevrolet’s global know-how and one that’s surprisingly good in its own merits.



The merits start with the stylish exterior. Compared to the rest in the sea of executive sedans out there, the Malibu has decisively carved its own way when it comes to its sheet metal. The design manages to incorporate the dual-port grille and center-mounted Bowtie to the heavily contoured projector headlights, aggressively sculpted front fascia, and scalloped hood. From the front and even the three-quarters, there’s a lot of visual drama going on. And on the subject of girth, the Malibu is wide, as in 1,855 millimeters wide which is certainly very SUV-like. Towards the sides and rear though, the Malibu sticks to the tried-and-tested executive sedan formula with the exception of the square taillight treatment which echoes one of the iconic design features of the Camaro. And aside from the muscular styling, it boasts of incredibly tight and uniform panel gaps lending it a sense of high quality.

Stepping inside the Malibu welcomes you to a cabin more expansive than its figures would suggest. It’s not any bigger than the competition on paper, but the clever dual cockpit design serves up an impression of added spaciousness. At the back though, it feels tight because of a smaller than expected knee room. Perhaps Chevrolet designers should have carved out the front seats to shave a few more precious millimeters. The same goes for the trunk which is large, but not as deep.



Kudos goes to Chevrolet designers though for executing a very nice cabin. Quality materials abound with texturized soft-touch and rubberized plastics. The door panels serve up a complex and attractive design with a quality feel on their own. The center stack is also lovely and very easy to use with major functions grouped together. Serving as the nerve center of the Malibu’s infotainment system is the 7-inch color LCD touchscreen with MyLink. Not only does it boast of high-resolution and easy to use graphics, there’s even a hidden storage compartment behind the touchscreen capable of swallowing sizeable knick-knacks. In terms of sound quality, the Malibu’s stock system sounds good, despite not being a co-branded effort. The Malibu also makes creative use of mood lighting as well creating a halo effect on the audio and climate control systems as well as on the center chrome strip on the dashboard.

Under the hood, the Malibu is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine from the Ecotec family. It produces respectable numbers at 167 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 225 Nm of torque at 4,600 rpm. It’s largely smooth and quiet, barely audible from inside the cabin except during full throttle application where it does produce a throaty note. Engine note aside, it’s not an exceptionally fast car. In addition, the murky and ambiguous throttle response all the more emphasizes the fact that this car doesn’t like to be rushed. Once you get acclimatized yourself to that fact though, it’s a perfectly fine engine. Mated to the engine is an equally smooth and civilized 6-speed automatic. It’s suited to the Ecotec engine even though there’s no paddle shifter in sight. Instead, you select up or down via a rocker switch on top of the shift knob. There’s a noticeable delay in the manual override, so do yourself a favor and let the cogs swap themselves. The slightly smaller engine versus the competition and the 6-speed box should theoretically mean good fuel economy figures. Unfortunately, it’s actually more at par with its V6 rivals doing a paltry 5.76 km/L in the city. Filling up the large 73-liter tank does get mighty painful considering its range of just 420 kilometers tops. Highway figures do get better at 12.39 km/L, but they are nowhere near the rest of the competition.



The Malibu is not sporty in any sense of the word, but at least it remains as a confident and refined driver. It’s particularly great in handling noise, vibration, and harshness. The traditional hydraulic power steering is appropriately weighted and responsive enough whether during parking or driving at any speeds. However, this is a particularly wide car so slotting it in and out of traffic takes some getting used to. Visibility is also limited, especially at the back because of the small mirrors and chamfered trunk. Thankfully, rear parking sensors with a reverse camera (standard on the LTZ) help it slot into tight parking spaces.

Pegged at P 1,528,888, the Malibu LTZ is surely one of the most affordable top-spec executive sedans you can buy out there. Sure, it does sacrifice a bit when it comes to straight-line performance and fuel economy, but at least it doesn’t skimp on convenience and tech features. It offers power adjustments on almost everything (including memory seats for the driver), leather seating, a passive entry with push button engine start/stop, and even the aforementioned MyLink infotainment system. It also comes with 6 airbags, anti-lock brakes, and even traction control. Heck, it’s even fitted with ultra-generous and sticky Bridgestone Potenza RE050A 245/45R18 tires as standard equipment. Perhaps the only thing missing is a sunroof, and that’s something you can obviously live without.



Chevrolet may have been late to the executive sedan race, but at least they’ve come up with a worthy entrant in the Malibu. It surely won’t win the hearts and minds of those set on getting the usual and predictable choices, but it does offer a great alternative for those seeking something quite different. It’s not the most obvious choice out there, but the Chevrolet Malibu LTZ may as well be what the General ordered to stir up the competition even if just for a little bit.



2015 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ
Ownership 2015 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ AT (LE9)
Year Introduced 2013
Vehicle Classification Executive
The Basics
Body Type 4-door sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.4
Aspiration Normally Aspired, EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders Inline-4
BHP @ rpm 167 @ 5,800
Nm @ rpm 225 @ 4,600
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 6AT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,865
Width (mm) 1,855
Height (mm) 1,465
Wheelbase (mm) 2,737
Curb Weight (kg) 1,655
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Bridgestone Potenza RE050A 245/45R18W (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear with Camera
Exterior Features
Headlights HID
Fog Lamps Yes, Front
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electronic (f)
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes, Dual
Audio System Stereo
CD/DVD
MP3
Aux
USB
Bluetooth
GPS
No. of Speakers 6
Steering Wheel Controls Yes

16 comments:

  1. What is with that ugly, Mr. Magoo instrument cluster?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Outstanding value executive sedan. Better than base camry on everything except the badge and rear seat room

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really? How about the unusually high fuel consumption and Chevrolet's poor after sales service? There's also no rear aircon vents, an essential equipment for executive sedans. Would you mind explaining where in the world did you get the idea that this car has outstanding value?

      Delete
    2. For P200K more, you can get the Mazda 6, which is way beyond better than this Malibu.

      Delete
    3. Chevrolet did it wrong. Assembled in Korea. Korean cars are simply junks. It is like losing half of your investment in 2 to 3 years. good luck to chevy fanboys.

      Delete
    4. you won't buy an executive sedan for miserly fuel consumption. It offers features I want which can't be found in the class best seller. Not all chevy dealers provide poor after-sales service so you can't generalize if one or two dealers are rotten.


      "Korean cars are junks" really? or sinibak kalang ng korean car in your 90s tora-tora compact shit? Namomoroblema ka sa resale value ng kotse in 3 years time e kotse mo karag karag. Sus make sure may pambile ka bago ka mag inarte.

      Delete
    5. Features not found in class best sellers huh? Ok then, I'll ask you, what features are you talking about which can't be found in say, a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord? Most of its competitors gives better fuel consumption. Hindi naman ito SUV or sports car na dapat malakas sa gasolina.

      Even the compact Sylphy has rear aircon vents yet this "executive" sedan has none.

      Delete
    6. ^LOL if you can afford an executive sedan, you really don't care that much about FC. Oh I forgot...the only way you can even AFFORD a car is because of your parents. LOL

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    7. Rear AC vents a MUST in an Executive sedan? WTF are you thinking?

      Delete
  3. Needs more power for the engine!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. hummingbird heartbeat? Seriously?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Plan Planning to have your own CHEVY Vehicle ? For honest and best deal, please feel free to call or text me. Or you may visit our showroom at

    CHEVROLET GREENHILLS EDSA
    500 EDSA Greenhills San Juan City

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    Rodel P. Garcia
    Sales Consultant
    CHEVROLET GREENHILLS EDSA
    Direct Line : +632 9753839
    Globe : 0917 8078131
    Smart : 0908 8112468
    email : rodel.garcia@chevrolet-greenhills.com.ph
    rodelpgarcia@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Planning to have your own CHEVY Vehicle ? For Honest and Best deal, please feel free to call or text me. Or you may visit our showroom at;

    CHEVROLET GREENHILLS EDSA
    500 EDSA Greenhills San Juan City

    We have on going PROMO for Colorado, Trailblazer, Captiva, Orlando, Spin and Sonic

    CALL NOW!


    RODEL P. GARCIA
    Sales Consultant
    Direct Line : +632 9753839
    Globe : +63917 8078131
    Smart : +63908 8112468
    email : rodel.garcia@chevrolet-greenhills.com.ph
    rodelpgarcia@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Chevrolet should also make the V6 option available. Or better yet, import the Impala from the US!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Malibu Executive Sedan rin car ko. Wala ako naging prob compare sa mazda and toyota car ko. Sorry sa mga walang malibu cars na wala naman alam kundi mamintas sa quality and performance of this car. Wala lang kayong pambili geh bili pa ng 2nd hand na todo maintenance agad pagbili nyo. Hehe. STFU nalang pag wala naman alam para hindi magmukang unutil. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. ang daming - comment peru wala namang pambili.. lol

    ReplyDelete