I have driven Grand Ams and Malibus. I own an '08 G6 GT. The G6, though a decedent of the Grand Am, is nothing like it. G6 is is quieter, smoother, better handling and all around a much better car.
Not sure why some say there isn't any room, the G6 is huge inside. It has a ton of rear leg room. Which is one reason I chose it. The price is right too with the glut of G6s on the market and people's fear to buy Pontiac.
The Malibu is a very nice car. And very similar to the G6 in many ways. They are on the same chassis and basically have the same room inside. So if mileage is what you are after, go for a newer Malibu with the 6 speed auto tranny. If you want 'cool' and fast, the G6 GT is really nice. But no matter what I do, I can't get over 27 average on the highway. And I do 100 highway miles every day. The 4 speed is partly to blame as well as the GT gearing. The old school V6 has a great exhaust note. The GT comes stock with a great Monsoon sound system.
Honda Civic is a completely different animal with not nearly as much room.
My mom had a 2008 Civic SI, that thing was a beast. Not much room in the back seat, but I am not looking for back seat room, I usually only have 1 passenger. Other than that I loved the stick shift, navigation and interior.
I know the G6 is different but its basically the follow up of the grand am. What I mean by that is when the right stuff is done to them (not bone stock without a wing, and steel wheels) they look like a nice sporty car.
Anyways I would love to get a g6/malibu as I think they both look awesome but I have different tastes in colors for the 2 models.
I would love a G6 in white or silver, but I think the only color malibu I like is black (it would get blacked out). Not that color is really going to stop me from buying the "right deal" I just need some reassurance on the g6, I have only ever had 2 customers come into advance for G6 stuff. Which I thought was good, but both of them told me to never buy one.
One couple had to have their whole engine replaced at 53k, and have replaced just about everything on the car. I told them it was probably a bad egg because it was a 2006 and the kinks were still being worked out but they didn't seem to believe it.
Anyways, what I want out of a g6 would be newer/less miles. But mainly I want a 4 door (don't like coupes) with a ram hood and the best gas mileage I can get.
I am more of a 4 cylinder guy because my r6 is my fast vehicle
So what would be my best bet for gas mileage and sharp looking? gxp? gtp? gt? or just grab a g6 v6/4 cyl and throw the hood on it?
All in all like you said, I am just looking to get a smoother/quieter and better handling newer car.