2020 Chevrolet Malibu

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2020 Chevrolet Malibu Review: Middle Of The Road

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.

πŸš™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

Best Deals on 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

Chevrolet Malibu Exterior

If the insurgence of crossover SUVs in the U.S. did anything good for the sedan class, it pertains to overall visual appearance, with manufacturers making a concentrated effort to make their sedans as attractive as possible. The Chevrolet Malibu is certainly a testament to that; it carries a sleek, sophisticated demeanor, augmented by its attenuated halogen headlights, which feature auto on/off functionality, and its large chrome front grille, which is exclusively blacked out on the RS trim. LED DRLs and taillamps are standard as of the LT trim. The Premier trim comes fitted with all-LED exterior lighting and features a dual-pane power sunroof, while a body-color rear spoiler discerns the sporty RS trim. 16-inch alloy wheels prop up the L and LS trims, and while the RS upgrades to 18-inch alloys, the LT gets 17-inch alloys, 19-inch alloys fill the wheel arches of the Premier.

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


The Malibu's dimensions place it precisely within the midsize sedan class, at 194.2 inches in overall length, it's a little longer than the average midsize sedan, however, with both the Mazda 6 and Honda Accord spanning around 192 inches. Its 111.4-inch wheelbase is otherwise on par with those core competitors along with its height of 57.9 inches and width of 73 inches. The Malibu is a car that resides on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of class curb weights though, with the lineup weighing in from 3,126 pounds to 3,223 lbs; the lightest Mazda 6 has a curb weight of 3,443 lbs and the lightest Honda Accord at 3,131 lbs.

  • 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

Exterior Colors

A total of eight exterior color options are available for the Malibu lineup, with availability dependent on the trim. The L trim is available in either Summit White or Silver Ice Metallic; from there, availability expands with every trim level; Mosaic Blue, Shadow Gray, and Black Cherry Metallic are all available from the LS trim upward, and for $395, all trims as of the RS can be hued in Cajun Red Tintcoat. The LT and Premier also have the exclusive option to either Northsky Blue Metallic or Stone Gray Metallic. The Malibu looks great in almost any of the hues, but if we had to recommend one it would most certainly be the Cajun Red Metallic, which is especially fitting on the RS trim.

Chevrolet Malibu Performance

All Malibu trims but the top-of-the-line Premier are run by a mediocre 1.5-liter turbo-four that's coupled to a CVT automatic transmission to drive outputs to the Malibu's front wheels. With outputs of 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, this powertrain scoots the Malibu from 0 to 60 mph in upwards of eight seconds in independent tests, although acceleration is at a comfortable and smooth pace. That's on par with the standard Mazda 6 sedan, although the Ford Fusion takes almost nine seconds to get to the finish line. Vehicles in the midsize sedan class are expected to have some degree of athleticism though, which is where the Premier trim comes in. A sprightly 2.0-liter turbo-four that's mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox for peak outputs of 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque powers the Premier. With outputs also sent to the front wheels, the Premier is capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph in a more respectable time of around 5.8 seconds, a decent looking figure next to the Honda Accord's 5.5 second 0-60 mph run. The Fusion and Mazda 6 lineups also get more juiced powertrain options, but their performance benefits aren't as significant with both returning a time of around 6.5 seconds. You'll definitely get to top speed with more excitement in the Premier.

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

Engine and Transmission

While the 1.5-liter turbo four-pot, and the CVT automatic it comes paired with, treats the Malibu well for its purpose as a run-of-the-mill daily commuter, it is rather lackluster and dull. It exhibits a noticeable lag in acceleration and the CVT feels poorly calibrated in general. The outputs of 160 hp and 184 lb-ft are otherwise just fine for getting the Malibu on the move and scooting it around town, though merging onto highways and initiating high speed overtakes, is really gradual. The 2.0-liter turbo-four performs significantly better than the base engine, but it's unfortunate that it's been relegated to only the top-of-the-line Premier trim. With outputs of 250 hp and 260 lb-ft, acceleration from the engine is always strapping, from pulling away from a standstill to overtaking other vehicles at speed. The nine-speed automatic gearbox is the preferred unit as well, always staying within the engine's powerband and delivering intuitive and quick shifts for smooth responses.

  • 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.

Malibu Gas Mileage

Fuel frugality is another of the Chevy Malibu's impressive qualities. The base models, with the 1.5-liter turbo-four engine, CVT automatic, and FWD system return EPA gas mileage estimates of 29/36/32 mpg city/highway/combined. That's beaten only by the Honda Accord with its base models returning EPA gas mileage estimates of 30/38/33 mpg on those same cycles. The Premier, with its 2.0-liter turbo-four, nine-speed auto, and FWD system returns figures of 22/32/26 mpg, which is right on par with the similarly equipped Honda Accord's estimates. With the Malibu's 15.8-gallon gas tank filled to the brim, the 1.5-liter mill should motor the Malibu on for around 505 miles before running dry.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    15.8 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 29/36 mpg
* 2020 Chevrolet Malibu L

Chevrolet Malibu Interior

The Malibu is a vehicle that doesn't boast the most impressive cabin, the overall build quality is good but a lot of the materials used throughout are hard touch and low-grade and are styled in an unattractive way, particularly the cloth that's featured on the dashboard. The overall impression is a bit dated too, there are many rivals out there with more contemporary and more premium cabins. Ergonomics are otherwise pretty good, the driver is positioned nicely behind the controls and the layout is easy to understand and get used to. Outward visibility is rather bad though, with the Malibu's thick roof pillars hindering sightlines and exaggerating the rear and side blind spots. It doesn't help that the lineup's meaningful driver-assist tech is all only available to the higher tier trims.

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

Seating and Interior Space

The Malibu is geared up to seat a maximum of five passengers, and while five passengers will fit, it's not to say that everyone will fit comfortably. Head and legroom are ample throughout the cabin, even for six-foot-tall occupants, only shoulder room can be in rather short supply with three occupants in the rear seats. While the premium cloth upholstery is passable for comfort on the seats of most trims, it's the Premier's perforated leatherette upholstery that delivers true luxury-comfort and a more premium feel overall. The seats themselves are otherwise all nicely cushioned and offer plenty of support. A tilt-and-telescoping steering column and six-way manually-adjustable front seats are standard, with heating functionalities, eight-way driver seat power-adjustability, and other seating comforts all coming standard in the LT and Premier trims.

  • 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

Interior Colors and Materials

A leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob come standard-fit in only the RS and Premier trims and is optional for the LS and LT. The cabin of the L, LS, and LT is designed with a dual-tone color scheme comprising Dark Atmosphere and Medium Ash Gray, predominantly carried in the dash and door panels. The seats are upholstered in a Medium Ash premium cloth upholstery. The cabin and seats in the LS and LT can optionally be hued in Jet Black, which is the standard scheme in the RS, also with premium cloth seating surfaces. The Premier is accorded perforated leather seating-appointments in either Dark Atmosphere/Light Wheat or Jet Black. These options are available for the LT.

Chevrolet Malibu Trunk and Cargo Space

With a relatively small 15.7 cubic foot trunk, almost every other sedan in the class offers more cargo-hauling capability than the Malibu sedan. Even so, that space is still enough for about a week's worth of grocery shopping for a growing family. If more cargo is required, then the rear seats can be folded down in a 60/40 split. Otherwise, the Honda Accord, with its 16.7 cubic-foot trunk, will be the more practical sedan for hauling cargo on a routine basis.

In-cabin stowage solutions include a sizable glove box, reasonably large door side pockets with bottle holder slots, two center console cupholders, a small-item storage bin, and a center armrest storage cubby. For rear-seat passengers, there are seatback map pockets, two armrest cupholders, and moderately sized bottle holders in the doors.

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

Malibu Infotainment and Features


There's a fitting assortment of features in every Malibu trim. The L trim, at $22k comes standard with keyless entry and ignition, power doors and windows, a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, six-way manually-adjustable front seats, standard manual air conditioning, a rearview camera, and cruise control. Apart from the addition of a few conveniences, including front visor vanity mirrors and an outside temperature display, the LS is also only installed with teen driver settings and is given further eligibility for optional packages. Along with a few sportier constituents, the RS trim also comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat. Upgrading to the LT trim brings in remote start, heated front seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control. For all that Chevrolet has to offer in this range, there's the line-topping Premier trim, which features a heated steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, ambient cabin lighting, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and an HD rearview camera.


Chevrolet's infotainment systems are some of the best in the industry and are known for their intuitive user-interfaces, comprehensive functionalities, and crisp visuals. Standard-fit in every Chevy Malibu is an eight-inch color touchscreen display that's tethered to a stock AM/FM stereo and six-speaker sound system. The Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system comes inclusive of both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, with Bluetooth audio streaming for two active devices, and voice command pass-through to compatible phones. From the LS trim onward, 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability for up to seven devices is standard. The touchscreen in the Premier is upgraded for high-definition graphics and is paired with a nine-speaker Bose sound system, while the infotainment suite itself is installed with a connected navigation system with enhanced voice recognition. It also comes with a wireless charging pad.

Chevrolet Malibu Problems and Reliability

The 2018 year model of the Chevy Malibu fell subject to four major recalls, with issues ranging from a fuel pump flange weld that was susceptible to fractures, to an ECM that would disable the car's fuel injectors. Fortunately, the Malibu's reliability has improved convincingly over the years with neither the 2019 or the 2020 year models falling victim to any recalls. Independent online authority J.D. Power even recognizes the Malibu's progression, giving it a Great Quality and Reliability rating of 85 out of 100. Every 2020 Malibu also comes standard with Chevrolet's industry-typical three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.


  • 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

Chevrolet Malibu Sedan Safety

With most modern vehicles typically returning top-notch overall safety ratings, the Malibu's four-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA is rather disappointing. The Chevrolet Malibu's review from the IIHS isn't too negative, however, with the Malibu scoring top ratings of Good for five of six of the crash test evaluations, and Advanced/Superior for the optional front crash prevention systems.

US NHTSA crash test result

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

Key Safety Features

It's rather surprising how little the Malibu comes installed with in the way of driver-assists and active safety features, considering what's expected from a family sedan, in particular, these days. The standard consignment of ten advanced airbags, including both driver and front passenger knee airbags, is an impressive contingent though. As for driver-assist tech, there's only a rearview camera and cruise control at the base level, with teen driver settings coming standard in all but the L trim. A following distance indicator, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, frontal pedestrian braking, lane change alert with blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and rear cross-traffic alert are optional for only the LT and Premier trims. The LT can also be optioned on with rear park assist, while automatic parking assist is available for the Premier.

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'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.

2020 Chevrolet Malibu Models

There are five Chevy Malibu models in the 2020 lineup: the L, LS, RS, and LT, all of which are equipped with a 1.5-liter turbo-four engine and CVT automatic transmission. The line-topping Premier comes equipped with a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine and nine-speed automatic gearbox, and all models feature a FWD system as standard.

The L rides atop 16-inch alloy wheels and is fitted with auto on/off halogen headlights, standard features include keyless entry and ignition, power doors and windows, a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, six-way manually-adjustable front seats, manual air conditioning, a rearview camera, and cruise control. For infotainment, there's an eight-inch color touchscreen display tethered to an AM/FM stereo and six-speaker sound system. It comes inclusive of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality as well as all the essential connectivity capabilities.

Along with a couple of added conveniences, including visor vanity mirrors and an outside temperature display, the LS also gets teen driver settings. 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability is also featured as of the LS.

For a sportier package, the RS comes rolling in on 18-inch alloy wheels; on the inside, there's a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat.

Propping up the LT are 17-inch alloy wheels, and here there's remote start functionality, heated front seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Riding on 19-inch alloys is the Premier, coming standard-fit with a heated steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, ambient cabin lighting, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an HD rearview camera, and a wireless charging pad. The infotainment system is upgraded with a nine-speaker Bose audio system and is equipped with a connected navigation system with enhanced voice recognition.

See All 2020 Chevrolet Malibu Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The only optional packages worth mentioning are available to the LT and Premier trims only, for the other trims there are only minor convenience and typical all-weather protection packages.

There are two cosmetic packages available for the LT trim, the first being the Appearance Package, which fits the LT with a dark chrome horizontal leading edge grille, gloss black side-view mirrors, and a sport pedal kit - it costs $715 to opt-in. For $795, the Midnight Edition Package outfits the LT in a Mosaic Black exterior color and a jet black interior, with a blacked-out grille with dark chrome surround, black Malibu badge, and front and rear bowtie emblems, and with 19-inch black-painted alloy wheels.

Also available for the LT is a Leather Package, which for $1,590 equips the LT with a leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and with leather-appointed seating. The available Driver Confidence I & II LT Package costs $1,095 and tops up the LT's driver-assists with IntelliBeam headlights, a following distance indicator, rear park assist, lane change alert with blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, and front pedestrian braking.

A $2,095 enhanced Driver Confidence Package is available for the Premier. This package comprises all the content of the LT's Driver Confidence I & II Package, plus advanced adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assist, enhanced automatic emergency braking, and an electronic parking brake.

πŸš—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$23,400
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.

See Ford Fusion Review

Chevrolet Malibu Popular Comparisons

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