I bought the 2010 Malibu LS for my daughter. Safety, fuel economy and utility were all high on my list. The car met all of those criteria, and surprisingly is a great driving and looking car. I travel a lot and have driven many rentals for comparison. Put the Malibu on your list - i can honestly say it ranks at the top of mine.
On-star, handling and refinement. This car is quiet and very smooth. Excellent looking car!
Put the more powerful Direct Injected 4-cyl in the Malibu which is currently available in the Equinox. Make the 6spd auto std. on the LS.