2010 Malibu New Car Test Drive
The Chevrolet Malibu is a superb midsize sedan. Fitting in the lineup just below the larger Impala, the Malibu competes with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, and Ford Fusion. Malibu blends a smooth ride with responsive handling, a quiet interior, effective crash performance and noteworthy build quality. For GM, it is a distinctly different level of car.
Malibu is a midsize sedan with four-cylinder, V6, and hybrid gas-electric powertrains.
We found the Malibu to be a smooth, comfortable sedan with plenty of power when equipped with the V6. It strikes a nice balance between well-controlled handling and an even ride. Overall, the new Malibu feels smooth and is pleasant to drive.
The cabin is nicely designed, attractive, and everything is easy to operate, though there are some hard plastics that detract from an otherwise first-rate interior. The seats are comfortable, with plenty of front-seat room and generous space in the rear.
Malibu offers value, with a lower purchase price, and fuel economy: EPA City/Highway ratings of 22/33 mpg for the four-cylinder with six-speed automatic, 17/26 mpg for the V6 engine and six-speed automatic, and 26/34 mpg for the Hybrid.
We think it stands up well against the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the gold standards of midsize sedans. Choosing among them largely comes down to nitpicking, splitting hairs and personal preferences. The Camry and Accord may have an edge on resale value, but they're also likely to come with higher price tags. In any case, we don't see the gap between this Chevrolet and the imports that we used to see. Malibu, Camry and Accord are all superb midsize sedans.
For 2010, the changes are relatively few. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is E85-compatible, meaning it can operate on either gasoline or a mixture that includes up to 85 percent ethanol. The six-speed automatic is standard with the 1LT trim level, 17-inch Chrome Tech alloy wheels are standard with the 2LT, and driver's-side power-adjustable lumbar support replaces manual adjustment on all models. Finally, there are some new colors. The Malibu was redesigned for the 2008 model year.
The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu range includes the LS ($21,825), 1LT ($22,715) 2LT ($25,175), and LTZ ($26,605), plus the Hybrid ($25,925).
The Malibu LS comes with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and four-speed automatic transmission. The base model also comes with electric power steering, to save drag on the engine, while the V6-powered models come with hydraulic power steering. Standard features in the LS include air conditioning, cloth upholstery, power height-adjustable driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, cruise control, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, power windows, power mirrors, power locks, remote keyless entry, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, AM/FM/CD stereo with XM satellite radio and auxiliary input jack, outside temperature display, automatic headlights, one year of OnStar assistance with Turn-by-Turn navigation, and P215/55R17 tires on steel wheels.
The Malibu LT model adds steering-wheel audio controls and floor mats, while the 2LT gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel, faux suede upholstery, heated front seats, six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, universal garage-door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth connectivity and alloy wheels.
The Malibu LTZ adds automatic climate control, leather upholstery, eight-way power driver's seat, six-way power passenger's seat, heated power mirrors, auto-dimming driver's-side exterior mirror, iPod adapter, eight-speaker 210-watt stereo system, remote engine starting, fog lights, clear-lens LED taillamps and P225/50R18 tires on alloy wheels.
The Hybrid comes in the 1LT-level of trim with special 16-inch low-rolling-resistance tires, plus automatic climate control and alloy wheels.
Options include a power sunroof ($850), a dual-screen DVD rear entertainment system ($1,740), a power rear sunshade with manual side sunshades ($250), a 110-volt power outlet ($150), some paint upgrades, and additional convenience features.
Safety features are comprehensive, with front, side and side-curtain airbags, tire-pressure monitoring, ABS with brake assist, and StabiliTrak electronic stability control with traction control.
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