If you're looking for a stylish, reliable and economical used family sedan, the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu should definitely be on your top-10 list. The Malibu's sleek lines and European-inspired chassis make it a viable alternative to the more commonplace Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion. Overall, the Malibu stacks up well when compared with other family sedans and outshines the competition in many ways. Strong styling, a roomy back seat and a number of engine choices (such as a 4-cylinder hybrid and a potent V6) give the Malibu broad appeal, while its ride and handling attributes receive universal high praise. Solid and stable, the Malibu instills a sense of luxury to a class of car often associated with airport rentals.

For 2010, Chevrolet made the Malibu even more enticing, adding E85 ethanol-fuel-blend capability to the 4-cylinder model and standard power lumbar support. From its quiet cabin to its stylish interior, the Malibu looks and feels like a more expensive import. Good resale and reliability ratings -- though not as strong as the Honda Accord's or Toyota Camry's -- should also make the purchase of a previously owned 2010 Chevrolet Malibu an easy pick.

What We Like

Bold styling; smooth ride; quiet interior; superb handling; comfortable and roomy rear seat

What We Don't

Problematic 4-speed transmission; lower trims have too much gray plastic inside; small trunk opening; no navigation-radio option

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2010 Chevy Malibu offers three engine choices. First up is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder teamed to either a 4-speed or optional 6-speed automatic. This engine makes 169 horsepower and 160 lb-ft of torque, earning an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-estimated 22 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway with the 4-speed and 22 mpg city/32 mpg hwy with the 6-speed automatic. E85 estimates drop fuel economy considerably, earning 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with the 4-speed transmission and 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with the 6-speed. The 3.6-liter V6 bumps output to 252 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque, with fuel economy ratings of 17 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with the 4-speed automatic and 18 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with the 6-speed. Lastly, the Malibu Hybrid uses the same 4-cylinder engine as the gasoline car, along with a small electric motor wedged between the engine and transmission. This setup allows for better acceleration and slightly better fuel economy, earning an EPA-estimated 26 mpg city/34 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

For 2010, the Malibu can be purchased in five trims: LS, 1LT, 2LT, LTZ and Hybrid.

The Malibu LS includes 16-inch painted steel wheels, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, air conditioning, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with satellite radio and an auxiliary input jack, keyless entry, OnStar, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, automatic headlights, an outside temperature gauge, a tire-pressure monitor, a trip computer, electronic traction and stability control, and six airbags, including full-length side-curtain airbags.

The Malibu 1LT adds 17-in alloy wheels, a 6-speed transmission and steering-wheel audio controls.

The Malibu 2LT goes further with heated front seats, a power adjustable driver's seat, remote starting, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power adjustable pedals, and more interior color and trim choices.

The Malibu LTZ adds leather seating, dual exhaust, heated side mirrors, an 8-speaker audio system, 18-in alloy wheels, fog lights, automatic climate control, silver exterior accents, a 6-disc CD changer and a power passenger seat.

The Malibu Hybrid is similarly equipped as the 1LT but adds 16-in alloy wheels, a 2-way power driver's seat, automatic climate control and low-rolling resistance tires.

Options for the Malibu are bundled by trim, with many of the 2LT and LTZ's features available on the lower trims. Other options include 2-tone interiors, a manual rear sunshade and a 110-volt outlet. Sadly, there is no navigation system available, although the OnStar system can provide turn-by-turn navigation guidance and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity.

Pricing

The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu holds slightly above-average resale values, making it easier to get more car for the same money that you might spend on a 2010 Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. To get a good idea of the Malibu's price range, we suggest using the Kelley Blue Book used-car values at KBB.com. You can also search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see what models are currently for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recalls for the Chevrolet Malibu:

A recall was issued for a possible defect in the body control module that may affect the brake sensor and cause numerous problems, including failure of brake lights, difficulty using the brake pedal to disengage cruise control, and disablement of crash-avoidance features such as traction and stability control.

A recall was issued for a problem with the transmission shifter. The problem occurs when the vehicle appears to be placed in the park position but may not always actually be in park.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

As for safety, NHTSA gives the Malibu excellent scores, netting five out of five stars for the driver and passenger in both the front- and side-impact crash tests. The Malibu earns four out of five stars in the rollover crash test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also gives the 2010 Chevy Malibu high marks, with its highest rating of Good achieved in the offset front-end crash test, the side-impact crash test and the roof-strength crash test.

The Malibu left the factory carrying a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/100,000-mile drivetrain warranty. GM also offers additional coverage on its certified pre-owned (CPO) Malibu models, extending the factory coverage to as much as seven years/84,000 miles. All GM CPO vehicles are less than 5 years old and have less than 75,000 miles on them. They also come with a 3-day/150-mile money-back or exchange guarantee (varies by state).

Other Cars to Consider

Honda Accord -- The Accord is still the benchmark in this class, offering superior resale and reliability ratings. The Accord isn't as stylish as the Malibu, nor does it have as nice of an interior layout.

Toyota Camry -- Like the Accord, the Camry holds superior resale and repair ratings, but it's rather bland, not much fun to drive, and has less front-seat legroom than the Malibu. The Camry Hybrid, on the other hand, gets much better gas mileage than the Malibu Hybrid.

Ford Fusion -- The Fusion feels sportier than the Malibu, and while its resale values are on par with the Chevy, the Ford has a much better recall and repair history. The Fusion offers a manual transmission and a hybrid option as well as available all-wheel drive. It also features a larger trunk.

AutoTrader's Advice

The best choice is the Malibu LT trim because it offers the best range of features and options without causing you to break the bank. We think that the 4-cylinder cars should perform on par with their Japanese counterparts and be satisfactory for most people's driving needs.

Find a Chevrolet Malibu for sale

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Joe Tralongo started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2000 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He's well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to communicate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations.

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