First drive: 2017 Chevrolet Malibu in the UAE

First drive: 2017 Chevrolet Malibu in the UAE

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The Chevrolet Malibu burst onto the local midsize sedan scene back in 2010 after being absent for almost a decade. I still remember it because we trundled around in one for a month and actually enjoyed it, as it drove like a car that was aiming higher than it needed to, with excellent handling, two-tone interiors, a huge wheelbase and luxury-grade ride quality. Unfortunately its lifespan was cut short as it was replaced by an inferior product with a shorter-wheelbase Opel chassis, longer overhangs and much less character, although we never actually drove it. Now the new generation is here, and just looking at the car, it’s clear they’ve upped their game again.

The 2017 Chevrolet Malibu gains its size back, growing a bit but also gaining a solid 93mm in the wheelbase while claiming to also be 130 kg lighter than before. It’s a great-looking car, although it’d look even better with even bigger wheels than the 17-inchers on our LT test car at the GCC launch event in Dubai.

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The base LS model has a starting price matching that of the basic Honda Civic, while offering proper midsize sedan levels of cabin room, both front, back and in the massive boot.

The LT and LTZ benefit from stitched-leatherette inserts placed strategically everywhere you might touch, on the front parts of the dash, on the doors and parts of the window sills, and even along the centre-console near your knees. Unfortunately the rest of it is hard plastic, although it’s something only keen-eyed touchy people like us may notice. We did like the metallic-look trim along the dash as well, although the print-patterned plastic trim around the shifter may be a bit much. Otherwise, it’s a well-designed, ultra-modern cabin design, crowned with a colourful capacitive touchscreen that includes Apple Carplay and Bluetooth. The a/c is very good and includes rear vents, although the front driver-side vents are partially obscured by the steering wheel.

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Available safety features include up to 6 airbags, Forward Collision Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Automatic Parking Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Front Automatic Braking, Side Blind Zone Alerts, and Front Pedestrian Alert with last-second braking, many of which were in our LT tester, with the rest coming standard for the top-spec LTZ. Our LT had parking sensors, but not a rear camera, although we’re told the showroom models will have it.

The GCC-spec Malibu comes with a 186 hp 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder mated to a 6-speed automatic. It offers decent power around town, and never felt lacking compared to its midsize rivals. A 250 hp turbo 2.0-litre is coming in January next year for those who want more power.

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The gearbox is a bit slushy in its shifts, clearly tuned for economy and smoothness, but manages to pick the right gears in most cases. There are some thumb buttons on top of the shift-knob to select gears manually rather than paddle-shifters. Pressing on the buttons behind the steering wheel will result in changing radio stations and volume.

The steering is pretty light and offers no real feedback, but it makes the car easy to drive casually around town. The brakes are very good too, as are the ride quality and cabin quietness, easily among the best in the segment. Even the handling is good in moderate-speed driving, with limited body roll and no floatiness.

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The Chevrolet Malibu is a great effort in its segment. You get exactly what you pay for, without skimping on safety features like the Korean and Japanese brands do. GM claims to offer the lowest servicing costs in the segment as well.

For UAE prices and GCC specs, visit the Chevrolet buyer guide.

Photos by Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury and General Motors Middle East.

What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the article i think it looks better than older models, can you please update the page with the 2017 model and price

    https://www.drivearabia.com/carprices/uae/chevrolet/chevrolet-malibu/

  2. Am I the only one who noticed that the front end of this car looks similar to a Honda Civic?

  3. That front end just killed everything !

    Some day in the future people will say “uglier than a Chevy Malibu”

  4. Not even close to a Kia Optima.

  5. the front looks like a shark whale face – wide, flat and low”

  6. Side and rear….mini impala
    Front…chevy engineers got tired and just finished up with closed eyes and without any attention to make it catchy or good looking

  7. Hi Hussein

    I had drove the car yesterday but the ltz from al ghandi auto, i had booked the lt model but it was with out leather seats, leather steering and with out auto adjustable driver seat but has rear camera. so i would like to ask is this lt or ltz ? and from which agency you took the car because i wanted it with leather steering and adjustable seat i mean automatic.

    • Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury Author

      Apparently there are 2 levels of LT, and this is the higher one with more options. It is up to individual dealers if they want to offer it.

    • indeed, there are 2 levels. same as for the tahoe.

      al hammodah also added trim levels after the first year of launching the tahoe (2 trim levels for the ltz), so i am fairly sure they do something similar for the malibu in a couple of months.

  8. On your site it’s given AWD but isn’t it actually a front wheel drive car

  9. Doesn’t the model seem a bit of everything in the market? Mazda 6, Avalon, Mercedes, Skoda…..it feels like a Chinese brand which is getting better at copying and marking as their own. It does not look any unique. Like the automated parking thingy though.

  10. I have malibu 2016 and to be honest the new design of the car especially the exterior is extremely boring, the front looks ugly not like previous design that i have, the side of new malibu is beautiful, the rear design similar to impala. The interior of the car mmmmm i like it but the steering is so ugly the rear sit improved which is great, to be fair not because i have malibu 2016 but seriously the old design much better then the new one.

  11. In the front, the car needs a bigger grill, especially for bright colors. Dark color looks okay. Meanwhile, for the rear end, the car is too much Impala but overall its a really nice car for its price compared to the market.

  12. the problem is the last model 2016 was front seat not comfort at all, even driving seat when you drive like 100 km your back will start paining, because of no space, check this first if you are planning to buy, your comfort is matter..?

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