I had my eye on the new Malibu, but after looking it over in person I was a little disappointed. It was expensive, even used, and it felt unpolished in certain aspects. The Fusion I ended up buying came out to only $14k after taxes and trade-in (my old banged-up '99 Cavalier) and has the Sport Appearance package w/black & red leather seats, Moon & Tune package, Sync, auto-dimming rear mirror, and rear parking sensors...and only 7,000 miles. It's got a 5/5 JD Power reliability rating, so assuming that everything holds up, I'm convinced that the Fusion is one of the best values around. The Sport Appearance Package gives it an aggressive, masculine look that I really like.
Ride is quiet, sporty w/o being too rough, and it's so much fun to drive. Exterior is slick and sophisticated. Interior is roomy and comfortable, love the seats. Stereo sounds great. SYNC rocks and Ford's going to keep releasing stuff for it for free! Parking assist makes things much easier.
More horses in the 4-banger; it's certainly gets the job done but could be stronger. Rear visibility with spoiler is limited, so I recommend getting the rear parking sensors to compensate. Replace low tire pressure alert with tire pressure monitoring system like the Malibu.