Highway test: Chevrolet Malibu 2010 from Dubai to RAK

Highway test: Chevrolet Malibu 2010 from Dubai to RAK

We took our first ever 2010 long-term car on a trip from Dubai to Ras-Al-Khaimah, partly as an excuse to test the highway behaviour of the Chevrolet Malibu LTZ on a long drive, and partly to meet our resident desert-safari-driving friend, who happens to live in that rocky city.

Stepping into a car on a 36-degree afternoon is always a butt-burning experience, if only for a few minutes, but even that can be countered in the Chevy Malibu. That’s because the LTZ is fitted with a remote starter, which allows the car to be started from your living room, as long as the locked car is within range. That also means the a/c starts with it, and cools the car long before you enter it. It is the only car in its class to have this feature.

We didn’t leave it running long enough, so we still sweated a bit in the initial stages, considering our car has no tint. No rear vents either. However, the single-zone automatic a/c is phenomenal, and after about 10 minutes on “auto,” we turned down the fan speed to its slowest setting and raised the temperature setting to 21 degrees Celsius, and we were still freezing. Unbelievable.

We set out from Karama in Dubai at 3 pm with a full tank, on to the Nahda area of Sharjah to pick up an oaf, and then hit Emirates Road for a straight jaunt to RAK, with some uneven city-driving there too. We only encountered mild Saturday traffic, so our speeds were usually 10 kph above the limit, with occasional bursts of acceleration, but largely subdued driving to get a realistic view of fuel consumption.

The ride quality is ever-so-slightly firm, and therefore there was no Toyota-like floatiness over large dips on the road. But it was still superbly smooth, even for rear passengers who sit almost on top of the rear tyres. The steering also had a bit of weight on it, so there was none of that Nissan-like looseness that sends a car off-course at the slightest sneeze.

It was also among the quietest cars we’ve ever driven, with wind and road noise kept well at bay, along with a muffled engine that is silent in sixth gear. All in all, we’d go as far as describing the ride quality to be as good as a new BMW 7-Series.

It helps too that the interior is a pleasant place to be in, with a two-tone orange dash and chrome-ringed gauges to stare at, instead of the usual monotone black, brown or grey treatments seen in Japanese-branded midsizers, most of which aren’t even from Japan any more. The only thing we missed is more padding on the door armrests.

After almost 90 minutes, we reached our destination totally relaxed and sweat-free, with the car totally unstressed and still with an 80% full tank. Cruising at a maximum of 130 kph for about two-thirds of the trip, we managed an average of 10.1 litres/100 km from start to finish, which is pretty damn good for a 3.6-litre V6. We look forward to doing a true economy test later on, to see how low we can push that figure. But for now, we were content to reach there in time to watch a World Cup football match in the company of friends, while still pondering over what colour our golden-greyish-brown car is.

Read more about our GM-provided 2010 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ in the exclusive Long-Term Reports section.

What do you think?



  1. ride quality as good as the 7? you must be kidding rite?

  2. Author

    Try it out. The new 7-Series has hard runflat tyres, so it rides pretty firm, and uses fancy air suspension to compensate. The Malibu does it with good suspension tuning and regular tyres.

  3. Once you are almost reaching the roundabout to turn to RAK there is a two lane road, where there is no radars. You should have tried the limits of the cars. TOP SPEED.

  4. Author

    I never try top speed. But ironically, I pounded on the Malibu V6 on last year’s first drive on the Bypass road. It cut off fuel at 200 kph.

  5. What is the range on the remote starter?

  6. Author

    Depends on various factors but seems to be 60 metres, from what I read. I’ve done it from 30-40 metres.

  7. I find it funny how you’re mesmerized by the remote starter feature.

  8. This is turning out to be nice, specially with a well-equipped car on your hands. The fuel economy is indeed impressive for a V6. Even when compared to the Japanese, the interior, fuel economy and safety features outshine them all. My interest in this vehicle has piqued by your comparison of it’s ride-quality with a BMW 7-Series. Hope I can get myself rental test-drive soon.

    By the way, how late in the afternoon was this? We’re enduring 46 to 50 degrees at lunch time in Riyadh, but, with no humidity.

  9. 60 meters is very little right? The aftermarket one I installed claims to have 1 mile radius, but I have tried from like 500 meters away and it has worked.

  10. Author

    This was 3 pm to 5 pm. Heat not reached its peak here yet. And remote starters are uncommon here. GM was the first one to offer them as standard. I think they limit stock range on purpose for safety reasons.

  11. Ok. So, limited at 200kph. I liked this car in all ways. But I can’t drive automatics. Something in it makes me crazy.

  12. i am impressed with the interior but i think a navigation screen would have completed the look.

  13. gotta 8.9l/100km in a 3.5 v6 toyota..same kinda time last weekend..towards Khorfakkan..averaged arnd 100km/hr..

  14. the sweet spot for any engine i think would be around the 80-100kmph mark..so thats why u probably got good fuel economy numbers..

  15. A proper colour touch screen would’ve been good for the interior.

  16. mash – as regards the ride quality..i think it comes down to suspension tuning more and tyres less..as we have the altima which for example is slightly stiff in ride quality and runs on regular tyres..more or less like the malibu but given stiff setting for its suspension for a more sportier drive

  17. My 3.7 Mazda gives 7.1-7.6 liter average between 100-120.
    My economy as shown in trip computer is 12.5 with 80% of driving in city…
    Just today i went to Hatta from Abu Dhabi and get back with quater of fuel still left , when i left i re-filled the tanks and trip computer said i can hit 670 KM :)..

  18. how come it doesn’t hve smart key? old fashioned…

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