- Attractive styling, inside and out
- Smooth power delivery
- Good fuel economy in four-cylinder models
- Refined ride and handling
- No DVD-based navigation
- Doesn't feel sporty, even with the V-6
The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu remains one of the strongest players in the mid-size sedan segments, though its rivals are certainly worth a look.
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.
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.