2010 Chevrolet Malibu Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
November 5, 2009

The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu remains one of the strongest players in the mid-size sedan segments, though its rivals are certainly worth a look.

TheCarConnection.com has searched the Internet to find some of the most useful input from other reviews, then compiled a review that covers all the bases. And to assemble our own impressions and recommendations on the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu, TheCarConnection.com's editors spent a lot of time with several of the variants, from basic to luxurious.

After neglecting its passenger car lineup for most of the past two decades, GM showed that it could still design an affordable mid-size sedan capable of keeping up with the segment leaders, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, when it launched the completely redesigned Chevrolet Malibu in 2008. The car featured attractive styling, build quality comparable with that of much more expensive rivals, and powerful, yet fuel-efficient, engines.

The potent 252-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 remains an option, providing a lot of kick and refinement for more demanding drivers. It's better suited for full loads or mountain passes, but it doesn't feel overtly sporty. The four-cylinder mill, however, remains the most popular option, developing a healthy 169 horsepower while returning a fuel economy of 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

Performance from both engines is very smooth, while handling is well-controlled at most speeds, though push it a little and things can start to get awry. If equipped with the four-cylinder engine, the Malibu has a fuel-saving electric power steering system, but V-6 versions come with a hydraulic power steering that provides much better feedback.

Review continues below

Just as the exterior is attractive, so is the cabin, which is very well designed and features materials with a quality feel to them. The front seats are among the most comfortable in the mid-size sedan class, while the back offers more legroom than most rivals.

Safety is another of the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu’s strong suits. The list of standard features include anti-lock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags. OnStar emergency telematics is also included. With such an extensive list of safety features, the Malibu naturally earns top marks in independent crash safety testing, earning the top five-star rating in all of the federal government's crash tests, along with top "good" ratings from the insurance industry in frontal offset and side tests.

The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu lineup consists of three models: the base LS, midrange LT, and luxury-packed LTZ. The LS comes with enough goodies to suit most drivers, including power accessories, keyless entry, and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls all fitted as standard. Move up to the LT and buyers opting for the 1LT model now get a standard six-speed automatic transmission, while the 2LT four-cylinder model also gets 17-inch chrome-finished wheels. Splurge a little extra for the range-topping LTZ and you get a whole assortment of extra features such as remote start, automatic climate control, a universal remote, and power-adjustable pedals, plus a number of appearance extras like LED tail lamps and interior ambient lighting.


2010 Chevrolet Malibu


The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu features a bold and attractive exterior that’s matched by a stylish cabin.

The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu is one of the best-looking cars in its segment and doesn’t seem out of place sitting next to some much more expensive models.

Cars.com thinks that "Chevrolet finally has done its job on styling." Edmunds notes that the 2008 styling upgrades (which remain in place for the 2010 model) ensure that "the car is smoothly handsome and free of styling gimmicks, which bodes well for its long-term appeal. And it has none of the self-conscious oddness of recent Honda and Toyota designs." The Los Angeles Times proposes that its "average" styling may in fact be a good thing. The Washington Post applauds Chevrolet; 2010's Malibu looks good, they opine, "without trying to be something that it isn't."

Inside, Edmunds observes that "two-tone interior treatments help lift ... cabin into the premium class," and believes that "only the [Honda] Accord's interior really stands clearly above the Malibu's effort." Cars.com notes that "interior styling is much better than anything other than the Saturn Aura in General Motors' family sedan lineup." They also feel that the "two-tone gray interior...looks modern while reflecting some dash designs from the late 1950s and early '60s." The interior of the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu may not be able to match the gold standard of the Honda Accord, but two-tone is a nice touch that adds a certain uniqueness to the car.


2010 Chevrolet Malibu


The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu benefits from confident handling, a quiet ride, and an overall level of refinement that’s hard to beat in this class, though sporty drivers may be left wanting more.

Anyone looking for a comfy and fuel-efficient sedan that’s also to fun drive would be smart to test drive the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu.

The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu is once again offered with either a 169-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, which is rated at an economical 22 mpg city and 30 highway, or a gutsy 3.6-liter V-6, which is very responsive and better suited to sporty driving. In these fuel-price-conscious times, the four-cylinder mill is easily the most popular option, but if you plan to haul full loads or take on mountain passes, the V-6 is the preferred choice.

Reviews for the Malibu's performance are mixed. ConsumerGuide notes there might as well be "caffeine under the hood" of the 2010 Malibu, as it offers energetic performance. Edmunds, on the other hand, finds the four-cylinder model “on the slow side for this class.”

The New York Times compares the "eagerness" of both the four-cylinder and the V-6 favorably with the Honda Accord and the Nissan Altima. Cars.com notes that the V-6 is "sturdy" and produces "plenty of power," but is disappointed that the power is not in line with its "numbers." Road & Track credits the redesigned intake manifold with the four-cylinder Chevrolet Malibu's "loss of thrashiness" and better noise control. Edmunds gripes about lower fuel-economy numbers, too: "Possibly this is due in part to the Malibu's heft. At 3,649 pounds, the Malibu V-6 is the fat kid of the group."

In the handling department, most reviewers feel that the Malibu is strong. Cars.com reports that "while handling is good, there's still more lean in corners than with its competitors." The reviewer does concede that the Malibu "has excellent ride qualities, certainly on a par with the Camry and Accord."

Editors at TheCarConnection.com think the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu has a very smooth, well-controlled ride and handles securely, though without much performance flair. If equipped with the four-cylinder engine, the Malibu has a fuel-saving electric power steering system, but V-6 versions come with hydraulic power steering that provides a bit more road feel. Several editors at Edmunds, however, actually prefer the four-cylinder car.


2010 Chevrolet Malibu

Comfort & Quality

The cabin of the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu has an upmarket feel and loads of space for all passengers.

The interior of the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu is well-designed, and the materials have a good, high-quality feel overall. The front seats are among the most comfortable in the mid-size sedan class, while the back offers more legroom than most rivals.

The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu has decent legroom both for both front and rear seat passengers. Cars.com says "the modestly contoured cloth seats were easy to slide in and out of when entering the car. The materials also seem to be better than previous models." "Front and rear seat passengers will have little to complain about in terms of ride quality," Edmunds reports. The front seats of the Malibu are among the most comfortable in the mid-size sedan class, and the backseat is one of the roomiest.

There are plenty of compliments for the look and feel of the materials used in the cabin of the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu. Road & Track rejoices: "Gone is the hard plastic rental-car look." The interior has plenty of storage, according to some reviews; others claim that storage is merely passable in the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu. Kelley Blue Book points out that the “deep center console's sliding cover opens to accommodate large items, there's a handy storage compartment atop the instrument panel and an available 'rear power center' provides a 110-volt AC power outlet.”

The 2010 Malibu is one of the most refined vehicles in its class. Special engine mounts in the Malibu substantially help prevent excess vibrations from affecting passenger comfort; while ConsumerGuide notices some bumps in the road, their reviewers acknowledge that the different tires used on the various models may have no small effect on the smoothness of ride. Edmunds notes that additional sound-damping measures include specially laminated window glass, acoustic insulation and composite liners for the wheel wells, and a "tighter" firewall to prevent engine noise from being heard in the passenger cabin.


2010 Chevrolet Malibu


The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu scores top marks for safety in all levels of trim.

The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu is hard to beat when it comes to safety. It hits all the right notes with features and crash-test scores.

According to Edmunds, “the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu scored a perfect five stars in all frontal and side crash categories in government crash tests.” It also comes with "good" ratings from the IIHS in frontal offset and side tests. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the chance of a rollover accident is 10 percent; the overall range for all passenger cars is between 7 and 18 percent.

Car and Driver points out that the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu is "loaded-up on safety features." Kelley Blue Book backs this up by stating that the Malibu's comprehensive list of standard safety features includes four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and traction control, StabiliTrak stability control, front seat-belt pretensioners, OnStar 8.0, and six airbags (dual-stage front, front seat-mounted thorax (side) and two-row head-curtain bags). MotherProof confirms that all six airbags work properly. During the test, "the safety cage compartment was not intruded upon."


2010 Chevrolet Malibu


The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu has most of the features mid-size sedan buyers want, but a true nav system is missing.

The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu offers a decent range of features at a good price, but it lacks a few of the options that rival mid-size sedans offer.

The Malibu lineup for 2010 features three models, starting with the base LS, which is followed by the midrange LT, then luxury-packed LTZ. The LS comes with power accessories and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, while LTZ models get important features such as remote start, automatic climate control, a universal remote, and power-adjustable pedals, plus a number of stylistic extras like LED tail lamps and interior ambient lighting. Kelley Blue Book points out that “certain high-end features available on competitors, like DVD navigation, music streaming and keyless start and entry, are not offered on the Malibu.”

For 2010, driver power-adjustable lumbar replaces manual lumbar on all models, and there are three new color options. Four-cylinder LT models also get 17-inch chrome-finished wheels as standard.

Bluetooth is still offered as part of the OnStar system, and an optional premium audio package gives you access to a six-CD changer and an auxiliary MP3 jack.

Speaking of the OnStar system, its navigation offers both positives and negatives. Edmunds believes that GM made a mistake by not offering an actual navigation system. They found that the OnStar feature would not even function at first; eventually, it did, but the drivers were not impressed with the turn-by-turn navigation, which is a poor substitute for the map-based systems on most of today's vehicles.

Malibu owners get a one-year complimentary subscription to OnStar, but after that, there’s a fee for the service.

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May 11, 2016
2010 Chevrolet Malibu 4-Door Sedan LT w/2LT

One of the finest automobiles I've ever purchased new.

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I purchased the 2010 Malibu 2LT brand new August of 2010. Great, great car. I rate it 5 stars in all segments! I am one happy owner!
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