Long-term update: 2010 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ stereo
Being the fully-optioned version of the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu, our long-term LTZ tester also comes with the best stereo available in the range. It is seemingly unbranded and doesn’t look like much, but for the first time ever, we had the time to delve deep into the entertainment system of a test car, and were pleased with the new tech on offer.
The specifications sheet says that the Malibu LTZ comes fitted with an “AM/FM stereo with CD player and MP3 playback, seek-and-scan, digital clock, auto-tone control, Radio Data System (RDS), automatic volume, TheftLock, auxiliary input jack, USB port and 36 cross-band presets.” Additionally, the specs say “premium sound system, amplified, 210 watts, and 8 speakers including 2 subwoofers.” This system is optional on the lower trim levels, which only come standard with 6 speakers and without that all-important USB port.
The CD stereo is a simple double-DIN unit, so it is easily swappable by perennially unsatisfied audiophiles. This one has a monochrome dot-matrix display for text and options. The volume knob is placed dead-centre for ease of use, and the USB port is at the bottom right. As many as 36 stations can be saved, which is probably more than the number of radio stations available in the UAE.
Volume and stations can be controlled via the cluttered steering-wheel buttons. It can even be muted from here, but there is no Bluetooth feature available in GCC-spec cars.
All other available options can be changed via the head unit for treble, bass and other settings.
The first of the eight speakers are the cleanly-fitted tweeters in the A-pillars.
There are two more in the front doors, alongside the sizeable door pockets.
The last four, including two small subs, are likely under the big speaker grilles on the rear deck.
Radio reception is average at best, as some stations are not very clear thanks to the hidden antenna. But we liked the USB feature, whereby we stuck in a flash memory stick and the system identified the MP3 files automatically among all sorts of random files. The song names even show up on the screen and can be shuffled through using the stereo buttons. Sound quality is pretty good, by our standards.
For the first time ever, we actually bothered to test the iPod compatibility of a car stereo. We plugged in our iPod Touch using the USB cable that comes with the portable music player, and the stereo recognised it right away. The song names are displayed on the car’s screen, and songs can be flipped through using the stereo buttons. But the songs cannot be shuffled through using the iPod itself, as the “Music” option on the iPod gets blocked. The iPod urges you to use the car’s buttons. The songs sound great, again by our standards.
The iPod’s other functions are still available however, so if you want to use another app while plugged in, you can.
Having to use the USB port directly on the head unit is a bit untidy though, with that long cable dangling, but our iPod Touch did fit snugly in a compartment next to the cup-holders.
So the simple General Motors stereo in the Malibu won’t set any ears on fire, but the casual listener, including those used to the hollow sound quality of iPod earphones, will enjoy the decent bass and good clarity on their jolly commute.
Original Mileage When Borrowed: 12,131 km
Latest Mileage To Date: 13,335 km
Latest Average Fuel Economy: 13.5 litres/100 km
Cost of Latest Problems: Dhs 0
Cost of Latest Maintenance: Dhs 0
Total Non-Fuel Running Cost Since Borrowed: Dhs 0