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2020 Chevrolet Malibu

Starting at $23,065

2020 chevrolet malibu front

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  • Highs Handsome (yes, really!) design, lots of tech, great ride and handling for its class.
  • Lows Poor rear visibility, cheaper models lack features, can't disable auto stop/start.
  • Verdict A modern mid-size sedan that meets the needs of modern families.
By Drew Dorian and Alexander Stoklosa


Think of the 2020 Chevrolet Malibu as The Joneses of the mid-size sedan segment, and not because everyone is trying to keep up. Instead, like the term "The Joneses," Chevy's four-door is fairly generic. Beneath its sleek exterior hides a fairly ho-hum-quality (if attractive) interior and hardware that gets the job done without overachievement. The two turbocharged four-cylinder engine options are overshadowed by the excellently tuned suspension, which delivers a comfortable ride and secure handling. It is a safe, solid choice—but the real Joneses in its class are the Mazda 6 and the Honda Accord.

What's New for 2020?

Almost nothing! The Malibu received a minor visual update for 2019, so the 2020 Malibu carries over to this year with only a few new colors (Stone Gray and Black Cherry) and new wheels for the RS and Premier trims. Three paint colors available in 2019 are no more, so if you had a strong attachment to or lust for Iridescent Pearl, Pacific Blue, or Sandy Ridge, 2020 just isn't your year. The optional hybrid powertrain has been discontinued.

Pricing and Which One to Buy

We continue to recommend buying the mid-level LT trim, which comes with more standard features than the lowly L and LS yet still runs a reasonable $27,495. (The slightly less expensive RS has spicier visuals and nearly the same equipment, so we wouldn't say no to that version, either.) The LT comes standard with the Malibu's 160-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine—the more powerful 2.0-liter engine is reserved for the top-level Premier—as well as 17-inch wheels, LED taillights, an acoustically laminated windshield, remote engine starting, heated front seats, and a power-adjustable driver's seat. The available Driver Confidence I and Driver Confidence II packages practically buy themselves at $545 and $1095. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking sensors are included in both, while the Confidence II kit adds plus automatic high-beams, lane-keep assist, automated emergency braking, and forward-collision warning.


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Engine, Transmission, and Performance

Like many mid-size family sedans, the Malibu offers several powertrains. Most Malibu models are propelled by a dutiful 163-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that drives the front wheels through a CVT. When we tested the car with the new CVT, we recorded a wholly average 7.8-second zero-to-60-mph time. This combination is slower than similar rivals in our acceleration tests, but it delivered a smooth, even pull. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four—which is exclusive to the top-tier Premier trim—makes 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The last Malibu 2.0T we tested—a 2016—ran well enough, but neither its real-world fuel economy nor its performance bested those of its competitors, many of which made do with V-6 engines rather than turbochargers.

2020 chevrolet malibu rear

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

In terms of EPA fuel-mileage estimates, the Malibu's smallest engine underperforms the equivalent base powertrains in the Accord and the Toyota Camry. The Malibu's 2.0-liter turbo engine, however, has thoroughly competitive government ratings compared with the optional powerplants in the Honda and Toyota, but we haven't tested its real-world fuel economy. The 1.5-liter turbocharged engine managed a respectable 34 mpg over the course of our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test route.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

While the Malibu's interior is not the fanciest or the quietest, it is very comfortable and ergonomically friendly. The cabin has competitive passenger space and options, but most alternatives have better outward visibility. The Malibu's symmetrical dashboard and the large opening beneath the center stack make the cockpit feel spacious. The front seats have a wide base and supportive side bolsters, but their back cushions are too narrow for some occupants. The back seat has less legroom than the Honda Accord's back seat, but it still fit our adult frames. The Malibu boasts a big trunk with ample carry-on capacity; it also has plenty of interior storage space even though it doesn't lead the class.

Infotainment and Connectivity

Chevy fits every Malibu with its excellent infotainment system that includes many of today's most desirable options—Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. While the touchscreen interface is easy to interpret, the system is losing ground versus the competition, as it lacks a convenient rotary control knob as a secondary way to interact with the interface.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)

View Crash Test Results

The Malibu earned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's highest crash-test score, but it failed to capture a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Although the Chevy sedan can be had with all the high-tech assists that help protect modern families, these options are unavailable on some models. Key safety features include:

  • Available automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
  • Available lane-keeping assist
  • Available adaptive cruise control

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

The Malibu has competitive limited and powertrain warranties, but its corrosion protection and roadside assistance are longer than most rivals in this matchup. Likewise, the Chevy offers just one complimentary scheduled maintenance visit while the Camry is covered for two years or 25,000 miles.

  • Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Complimentary maintenance is covered for the first visit


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