Mid-size sedans are the perfect family vehicle; offering just enough space for you and a few kids, but not so much that a small family will feel lost in them. This class of vehicles is slightly larger than a compact car, but not large enough to be classified as a full-size vehicle, either. They come from a variety of different manufacturers and are offered in myriad price ranges, but most are reasonably priced.
The Malibu represents GM’s best-executed products in the range, with smooth performance and a spacious cabin as well as a handsome silhouette. The Toyota Camry is one of the more conservative-looking mid-size sedans but it retains the Toyota comfort, value and frugality in this latest offering.
Overall, the Toyota Camry is elegant yet straightforward, with a segment-leading 10 airbags, and Bluetooth connectivity is one of the tech toys included in all models. The Malibu boasts a surprisingly underplayed look with a smooth powertrain. However, the Camry has a few design flaws: the rear seatback doesn’t fold flat, and the front seats do not have a strong side support.
The fuel economy for the Malibu and the Camry are very comparable; with the Camry offering just a few more miles per gallon both in the city and on the interstate. The Camry’s fuel tank is one gallon larger; when combined with the better gas mileage you’ll get quite a ways further down the road before filling up with the Camry than with the Malibu.
When you start looking at safety ratings, that’s when you’re really going to see the Camry shine. There are only a few stars lost overall for the full list of crash test ratings, while the Malibu lost points on the frontal barrier crash rating for the passenger, side barrier and the side barrier rating for the driver. Both vehicles went down a star on the rollover rating. The Camry has an extra airbag, which can help protect passengers in the case of a wreck.
The Malibu has a few features standard that the Camry doesn’t even offer—things like the keyless entry and power seats on the Malibu LT. The Malibu also offers OnStar roadside assistance system, which is not offered on any version of the Camry.
Both mid-size vehicles are solid buys, with the Camry offering slightly higher crash test ratings and the Malibu providing better features.