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2011 Chevy Malibu family car (base price $21,975)

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2011 Chevy Malibu family car interior view2011 Chevy Malibu family car front view2011 Chevy Malibu (base price $21,975)

Big cars feel "big" - planted and solid - in part because they have longer wheelbases than stubbier cars. The Malibu has that appealing big car highway car ride esteemed by several generations of Malibu buyers. Its looks, meanwhile, are red state conservative - and very American. It is a squared-off, masculine lug of a car. Many traditional car buyers want exactly that - and the '11 Malibu delivers.

The Malibu has been an American family car favorite for decades, even as the underlying chassis has evolved from rear-wheel-drive ('70s and '80s) to the current front-wheel-drive layout. While some things have changed, much remains familiar - most notably the Malibu's easygoing nature. Even the V-6 version, which is among the quickest cars in this segment (0-60 in the mid 6 second range) has a relaxed, big car feel to it.

One reason for this is the Malibu's relatively long wheelbase (112.3 inches), which is nearly as long as the $50,000 Mercedes E-Class (113.1 inches) and significantly longer than the 107.4 inch wheelbase of the Ford Fusion, the Malibu's main domestic-brand competition.

Tags: #Chevrolet