EXPERT REVIEW

Mother Proof's view

The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu is a rock-solid sedan, offering plenty of style and comfort. It’s so comfortable that it would be great to drive on long trips or tedious daily commutes. I wouldn’t have minded my old 150-mile roundtrip drive to and from work each day had I been in this car.

On city streets, the Malibu seemed a bit ordinary, but on the highway it really impressed me. It has smooth acceleration, even at higher speeds, a fairly quiet cabin and steering that seemed to predict each corner. The Malibu starts at $21,825; the loaded midlevel model I tested cost $27,070.

As pleasurable as the drive was, I did run into a problem with the gas pedal a few times. When switching from the brake pedal to the gas pedal, my foot couldn’t find it. This is odd, I know. No, I do not have extraordinarily small feet, quite the opposite actually. If it’d happened once I wouldn’t mention it, but I couldn’t help but wonder why my foot kept pawing at the air in search of the gas pedal.

Luckily, I didn’t have this problem with the brake pedal, and I found the Malibu’s brakes to have a good brake feel. I’ve had a beef with GM products in the past over their brakes feeling spongy and not engaging hard enough or soon enough. However, I didn’t notice any of these problems in the 2010 Malibu.

EXTERIOR
With its Chevy bowtie sitting front and center on the split grille, the Malibu looks like a metrosexual. It has a clean, buttoned-up style that features touches of chrome to keep it interesting. Behind that bowtie is a 169-horsepower, 2.4-liter inline-four-cylinder engine that gets an EPA-estimated 22/33 mpg city/highway on regular gas.

2010 Chevrolet Malibu

My kids had no problems getting in and out of this sedan; however, they did have problems with the heavy doors. My kids could open the doors, but would wrestle to keep them open long enough to get in or out. Even I had problems with the doors closing before I was ready and hitting my shins.

I took the Malibu to Costco for a true test of its cargo capabilities. I didn’t go easy on it; this was a full-blown trip complete with the giant package of paper towels and everything. Everything fit in the trunk except the paper towels, which had to go in the backseat.

2010 Chevrolet Malibu

SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Good Times

INTERIOR
The Malibu’s interior feels solid and sturdy, as though it could stand up to anything my kids threw at it without showing any war wounds. The door panels and dash felt dense, not hollow or flimsy. When I looked at the finishes on the center stack the first thing that came to my mind was it’d be easy to wipe down. It’s not overly loaded with cracks and crevices that would normally collect crumbs.

2010 Chevrolet Malibu

An extra cubby atop the dash was the perfect place for my sunglasses, mini-pack of tissues, lip balm and other little necessities. I loved it. Door pockets offered extra places to stash other necessities. The Malibu has four cupholders, with two in the front and two in the back of the center console. This placement can be problematic for kids who are strapped into convertible child-safety seats. There are also two bottleholders.

My boys had plenty of legroom in the backseat. There are also two seatback pockets that are great for stashing books and other large items for the kids.

My husband, who doesn’t say much, enjoyed the standard satellite radio as we listened to a few comedy channels on the way to pick up our boys, getting in our last laughs after a date night.

IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

SAFETY
Despite my initial fear that our booster seats would be too wide for easy buckling, the Malibu proved me wrong. The boosters fit well and didn’t cover the seat belt receptors. My kids were able to buckle in by themselves without whining. Likewise, the three sets of Latch connectors were easy to see as soon as we opened the rear doors. A rear-facing infant-safety seat and a convertible seat easily fit in the second row, too.

The Malibu can seat five people, but three booster seats won’t quite fit across the backseat, which means one child has to sit in the front passenger seat. I hate putting kids in the front seat. I’m also starting to see the value of minivans.

The OnStar system with automatic crash notification and Turn-by-Turn Navigation comes standard on the Malibu. It also has standard four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, stability control with brake assist, traction control and six airbags, including front- and side-impact airbags for the front row and side curtain airbags for both rows. It comes with a front passenger airbag sensor, too (we love this for those moments when we have to put a child in the front seat).

The 2010 Chevy Malibu (built after October 2009) has been named a Top Safety Pick for 2010 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Malibu received the top score of Good in front, side-impact, rear and roof-strength crash tests, and it has standard stability control, a must-have feature to earn the safety honor.

Get more safety information about the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu here.

2010 Chevrolet Malibu

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