When considering mid-size family sedans, the first that might come to mind are the well-known Japanese offerings that have long dominated this market segment. Chevy plans to put an end to this with the Malibu, which is two years removed from a revolutionary redesign that made it a serious contender.
The Malibu is longer, wider, and more sharply styled than its blocky predecessor. The vertically stacked grille openings, angled headlights, well-thought-out sheet metal, and long flowing C-pillar ensure that the Malibu's styling competes with other proven family movers.
The Malibu's sharp styling is complemented by a choice of two engines that offer decent power and good fuel economy. The base engine is a 169 horsepower 2.4-liter inline 4 mated to a 4-speed automatic or available 6-speed auto. The up-rated 3.6-liter V6 generates 252 horsepower and 251 pound feet of torque and is coupled to the 6-speed automatic. Front wheel drive is standard with both engines.
Fuel economy for the Malibu ranges from 22 miles per gallon city up to 33 miles per gallon highway.
If the exterior styling has grabbed your attention, then the interior won't disappoint. The dual pod instrument cluster is sporty but not extreme. Turn on the ignition and the needles go to their max setting then return to their real-time position as if the car is raring to go. An information center in the instrument cluster provides a healthy selection of readouts including current outside temperature and tire pressure.
The trunk of the Malibu offers side cargo nets for added storage solutions and the 60/40 fold down rear seats make carrying larger objects a cinch. At a spacious 15.1 cubic feet, the trunk is larger than that of both the Camry and the Accord.
Standard active and passive safety features include side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers, seat-mounted thorax-protection airbags for front passengers, ABS and traction control. The upmarket LT and LTZ models come with GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control.
Initial base MSRP for the 2010 Chevy Malibu is $21,825. A fully loaded V6-equipped LTZ model will cost around $32,000. The Malibu is backed by a 5-year, 100,000-mile power train warranty.
Its true the family sedan market is as competitive as any automotive segment out there. However, the sporty styling, energetic yet fuel-efficient engines, and the host of standard and optional features found in the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu make it a true competitor, poised to run with the best in the pack.