The Honda Accord is a wonderful car, but every once in a while you get tired of seeing it all over the road. Everybody knows somebody who owns a Honda Accord. We know that was a line used by Toyota , but it works in this situation as well.
In our opinion, the name is a big reason why this car won’t sell. When one thinks of the Malibu they think of the bland and stylistically uninteresting previous generation Malibu and no matter how many commercials Howie Long stars in, that opinion isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
On looks alone, the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu LTZ isn’t that bad looking and shows a giant step in the right direction.
The exterior is sleek, handsome, and much fitter and hipper than the old Malibu. Even the Cobalt looks like an unattractive mongrel next to the Malibu. While not as good looking as the Accord, Civic , or Mazda3 , the Malibu isn’t an ugly duckling.
Hit the jump for the rest of the review.
The same can’t be said of the interior, which looks like a cheaper version of the Cadillac CTS . The interior colors of the test car - Ebony with Brick treatment - weren’t all that good, a bit too orange for our taste.
Front seat occupants will find good headroom and legroom and the flowing design hasn’t made things feel cramped, as they do in the Taurus. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes and the pedals slide forward and back.
The backseat on the other hand is tight. You would be better off in theKia Forte if you had kids to haul around. The wheelbase on the 2010 Chevrolet Malibu is 112.3 inches, but, amazingly, there is less legroom than before.
The top level Chevrolet Malibu LTZ comes with the same 252bhp 3.6-liter double-overhead cam V6 that we find in the old Saturn Aura. The LTZ hits 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, finishing the quarter mile in 15.1 seconds at 92.9 mph.
A six-speed automatic is the only option in the LTZ and, while that upsets us a little, what can one expect from a family car. All we’re saying is, what would offering a manual hurt?
For some reason, the transmission struggles with climbing hills and it lacks grade logic to keep speed in check on descents. It seems the car wants to go into its top gear too soon.
The LTZ comes with dual-action shift paddles that move with the steering wheel. While this is great for the price, the paddles don’t allow for manual gear changes in Drive, only when the car is in manual mode. This is a feature that the Malibu needs to have for those overtaking moments on the highway when a quick downshift is needed.
Normal driving netted us around 17-mpg city and 26-highway, a few miles per gallon short of the Honda Accord V6, which we will be testing later in the summer. The Malibu weighs around 3,642 pounds, a little shy of the Accord as well.
The 2010 Chevrolet Malibu is a very nice riding car. The MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension are soft enough to go over bumps without breaking your back, but hard enough to keep things interesting on the back roads.
On the highway there is very little wind noise, as the full-perimeter door seals and double-layer window glass for the front seats do a great job of cutting the noise down.
However, we were truly shocked when the only noise we heard was the power-steering pump. Pump flow noise and vibration are apparent at idle and they get louder with steering inputs.
On the twisty roads, the Malibu is good, but not great. The rack and pinion steering are solid and the steering response builds up well in the corners. Yet, like most cars on this segment, there is very little feedback in the wheel.
In addition to minimal feedback in the wheel, Inside Line has reported that their test Malibu LTZ developed an oil leak during hard cornering that spilled past the valve cover breather and into the intake track.
The Malibu’s price is a little bit higher than the previous model, but the overall quality has improved as well. The LTZ test car was $26,995. The base LS starts at $21,825.
While the price is lower than the V6 Honda Accord we would still rather spend a little more for better fuel economy, interior design, and engine power. Not to mention that GM has yet to prove to us that their reliability is on par with Honda and the other competitors in this segment.
A little more refining in one or two areas and GM might have a hit on their hands.