2020 Chevrolet Malibu

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2020 Chevrolet Malibu Review: Middle Of The Road

by Aiden Eksteen

The Chevy Malibu aims to deliver a fine balance of performance and ride quality, with contemporary creature comforts set in a spacious cabin. With a relatively fuel-efficient 1.5-liter turbo-four engine with outputs of 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, the Malibu directs outputs to a front-wheel drivetrain via a CVT automatic. The top-of-the-line Premier trim offers its own appeal, coming equipped with a zestier 2.0-liter turbo-four engine with outputs of 250 hp and 260 lb-ft via a nine-speed automatic gearbox. While the Malibu seems to be a brilliant package, its performance is, in the grand scheme of things, middling at best, its cabin is dated, and its safety measures are far behind what's expected. With the Mazda 6, Honda Accord, and the Ford Fusion in the class, a handsome aesthetic and fuel-efficient powertrain may just not be enough for the Malibu to cut it as a top contender in the USA.

Read in this review:

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What’s New For the 2020 Chevy Malibu?

Chevrolet introduced the all new Chevrolet Malibu RS trim for the 2019 model year and applied a moderate redesign to all the pre-existing trims; subsequently, enhancements and alterations for the 2020 model year are reasonably minimal. The RS trim comes sporting a new front grille with black inserts and chrome surrounds and rides on newly designed 18-inch alloy wheels. Two new hues have been added to the Malibu's exterior color palette for 2020 as well, namely Stone Gray Metallic and Black Cherry. Last year's Iridescent Pearl, Pacific Blue, and Sandy Ridge have been removed, however, totaling the number of available hues to eight this year.

Pros and Cons

  • Polished ride quality and handling dynamics
  • Candidly aesthetic exterior design
  • Commodious cabin with ample headroom
  • User-friendly infotainment system
  • Competitively fuel-efficient turbo-four
  • Boring cabin with low-grade materials
  • Roof pillars hinder outward visibility
  • Rear cabin room is relatively cramped
  • Low specification levels in base trims
  • Middling crash test safety ratings

What's the Price of the 2020 Chevrolet Malibu?

Competitive pricing is a Chevrolet specialty and one that comes through well for the Malibu. With an MSRP of $22,095 for the L, the Malibu's base price is around $1,000 cheaper than the cheapest Ford Fusion. The LS is presented with more of an entry-typical price at $23,220, followed by the RS with its price of $24,220, and then the LT with its price of $26,620. The top-of-the-line Premier, with its 2.0-liter turbo-four setup and comprehensive consignment of features, carries a sticker price of $33,320. All prices are excluding the Chevrolet Malibu's cost of $875 for destination and freight as well as any tax, registration, or licensing fees.

Best Deals on 2020 Chevrolet Malibu

2020 Chevrolet Malibu Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
See All 2020 Chevrolet Malibu Trims and Specs

2020 Malibu Exterior

2020 Chevrolet Malibu Front Angle View Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Malibu Rear View Driving Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Malibu Side View Chevrolet
See All 2020 Chevrolet Malibu Exterior Photos


  • Length 194.2 in
  • Wheelbase 111.4 in
  • Height 57.9 in
  • Max Width 73.0 in
  • Front Width 62.6 in
  • Rear Width 62.5 in
  • Curb Weight 3,126.0 lbs

2020 Malibu Performance

2020 Chevrolet Malibu Front Angle View 1 Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Malibu Taillights Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Malibu Wheel Chevrolet

Engine and Transmission

  • Engines
    1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmissions
    9-Speed Automatic, Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrain

Handling and Driving Impressions

Vehicles in the midsize sedan class are predominantly aimed at delivering a pliable driving experience with more of a focus on comfort over long distances than on straight-line performance. Even so, manufacturers do still try to appeal to those who do care for driving pleasure, with many of these sedans coming with at least a moderate level of capability presented through their handling. The Malibu is one of these sedans, with its fun-to-drive characteristics evident in its precise handling responses, and its ride quality uncompromised by it.

It's by no means sporty but remains compliant and composed even when flung around a corner at speed and feels confidently planted to the tarmac throughout. There could be more feedback from the steering, though its light effort does make the sedan easy to place, even at speed, and, for more spirited drivers, perhaps even a little fun. Its braking performance is exceptional too; the brake pedal itself is firm and the braking responses confidence-inspiring. The Malibu even beats its rivals with an emergency braking distance of 113-feet from 60 mph. Chevrolet really did a great job in refining the Malibu's performance dynamics with its ride quality, those looking for comfort won't be disappointed in the Malibu, it remains poised and stable over most typical road undulations and imperfections, and delivers a sophisticated quality overall, but isn't as sporty as a Mazda 6 nor as refined as a Honda Accord.

2020 Malibu Interior

2020 Chevrolet Malibu Dashboard Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Malibu Armrest Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Malibu Rear Passenger Seats Chevrolet
See All 2020 Chevrolet Malibu Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 41.5 in
  • Front Head Room 39.1 in
  • Rear Leg Room 38.1 in
  • Rear Head Room 37.5 in

2020 Malibu Trunk and Cargo Space

2020 Chevrolet Malibu Trunk Space Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Malibu Rear Bumper Chevrolet
2020 Chevrolet Malibu Rear Angle View Chevrolet
  • Trunk Volume
    15.7 ft³

2020 Malibu Safety and Reliability


  • Warranty Note:
    Preliminary 2020 Warranty Note \ 
  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Rust-Through:
    6 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance Note:
    Qualified Fleet Purchases: 5 Years \ 100,000 Miles
  • Maintenance Note:
    1 Year \ 1 Visit

US NHTSA Crash Test Result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Verdict: Is the new Chevrolet Malibu A Good car?

There are so many options within the midsize sedan class in the US and although the Malibu may be one of the more aesthetically pleasing options, it certainly isn't one of the best in terms of overall value. There are a few highlights, however; while its 1.5-liter turbo-four and CVT auto offer great fuel economy, the 2.0-liter turbo-four and nine-speed auto offer great performance, both are accompanied by decent handling and ride quality. Chevrolet's Infotainment 3 system is also a key quality of any Chevy vehicle, offering a user-friendly interface, crisp images, and comprehensive functionality even at the base level. The Malibu's safety ratings are rather average though, while many competitors come standard-fit with comprehensive selections of active driver-aids and safety specs, the Malibu range has to option on many of these features at additional costs, with availability limited to higher-tier trims. Its cabin feels somewhat cheap too, at least in comparison to the competition, with many low-grade and hard touch materials used almost exclusively. It's a middle of the road alternative to the class-leaders, and while you might never regret buying a Malibu, you'll always know you could've done better.

What 2020 Chevrolet Malibu Model Should I Buy?

It depends on how much you want to spend, but the Malibu RS is a great configuration, coming standard with a sportier exterior, and on the inside, with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat. The LT trim, which follows the RS, loses the leather-wrapped constituents but gets heated front seats and dual-zone climate control; while those are nice, we feel the $2,400 upshot in price isn't worth the switch up. Unfortunately, the meaningful optional packages are only available for the LT and Premier, including the Driver Confidence packages. So, if safety is your main concern then the LT is the one to go for, you'll just have to option in the Driver Confidence I & II Package.

Check out other Chevrolet Malibu Styles

2020 Chevrolet Malibu Comparisons

Chevrolet Impala Chevrolet
Ford Fusion Ford
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Chevrolet Malibu160 hp29/36 mpg$24,700
Chevrolet Impala 305 hp19/28 mpg$31,620
Ford Fusion 175 hp21/31 mpg$23,170

2020 Chevrolet Malibu vs Chevrolet Impala

If you're looking for more cabin and cargo room than what's offered in the Malibu, then the Malibu's bigger brother, the Impala, is certainly the sedan you'll want. It costs just under $10,000 more than the Malibu, but comes equipped with a far more impressive base engine: a 3.6-liter V6 with outputs rated at 305 hp and 264 lb-ft. Still, the Impala isn't much faster than the 2.0-liter-equipped Malibu though, with a 0-60 mph sprint time of 6.5 seconds, and neither is it more fuel-efficient, with gas mileage estimates of 19/28/22 mpg. Its heft and size make it less nimble than the Malibu as well, and it certainly won't handle a corner as well as the smaller brother does. Apart from its heftier price tag, bulkier size, and less economical engine, the Impala is also up for discontinuation, with all that in mind, it would probably be best to stick to the Malibu if your sights are set on the Chevy name.

See Chevrolet Impala Review

2020 Chevrolet Malibu vs Ford Fusion

At only $1,000 more than the Chevrolet Malibu, the Ford Fusion ranks with around the same specification levels and value within the class. There are three engine options within the Fusion lineup, none are as fuel-efficient as either of the Malibu's but do provide robust acceleration and complement the Fusion's slightly better handling prowess when driving enthusiastically. In other words, the Fusion is the more enjoyable driver's car, not that it's especially fun in general though. Moving to the inside sees the Fusion boast a slightly more modern impression, though also mostly comprised of low-grade materials. The Malibu takes the cake for the better infotainment system, where the base Fusion is fitted with only a last-century 4.2-inch LCD display. The Fusion's standard Co-Pilot360 suite of driver-assists otherwise makes the Malibu's restricted selection of safety features just seem foolish. The Fusion is definitely the safer family hauler. Overall, the Fusion tops the Malibu in all but infotainment, making it the better family sedan and better value for money proposition as well.

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