2020 vs 2021: What's the Difference?
Although there are not many updates in 2021, buyers should be excited to see wireless versions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto join the standard feature list. "Buckle-to-Drive" is now standard, and will not allow the vehicle to be shifted out of park unless the driver's seatbelt is fastened. Otherwise, the only significant change involves the Sport Edition package, which is now available for the LT trim. This is an appearance package that includes a black grille, 19-inch black wheels, and black emblems.
What Do the Various Trim Levels Offer?
The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu has five models to choose from, starting with the entry-level L. On top of wireless smartphone integration, this model gets an 8-inch touchscreen, a six-speaker audio system, and alloy wheels. Keyless entry and ignition are also included.
Option two, the LS, does not add much. The Malibu does get a Wi-Fi hotspot here, as well as the Teen Driver program. As for the RS, it makes primarily cosmetic changes. On the outside, buyers will find a rear spoiler and dual exhaust ports. Inside, the Malibu RS has a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Nearing the top of the trim ladder, drivers find the LT. It adds comfort-enhancing features like a power-adjustable driver's seat and dual-zone automatic climate control. The front seats get heated and, rear-seat vents are added. This model also has satellite radio and three appearance packages to consider.
The Premier model is the most luxurious, coming with leather upholstery and a nine-speaker audio system. It also gets 19-inch wheels and LED headlights for a more striking exterior appearance. Inside, drivers find a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and more.
Which Trim is Right for Me?
When it comes to the 2021 Malibu, buyers will want to stick to the top of the trim ladder. The L, LS, and RS all come with underpowered engines and a lack of standard equipment. The LT is a decent choice, giving drivers a bit more comfort and sophistication. Buyers with their hearts set on the Malibu will want to go all the way up to the Premier trim, if possible, to get a well-rounded vehicle that will not disappoint when hitting the gas pedal.
What Kind of Technology Does it Have?
The standard tech features for the 2021 Malibu are above average, with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay being wireless. An 8-inch touchscreen is standard across the board, and an 8-inch digital driver information screen is available on select models. A single USB port is found in the base model. As buyers look at higher trims, they will find two more USB ports and wireless device charging available.
How Does It Perform?
There are two engine options for the 2021 Malibu. The standard for the L, LS, RS, and LT is a turbocharged 1.5L four-cylinder engine that makes 160-horsepower. For the size and weight of the Malibu, this just is not enough power for satisfying acceleration. The engine does pair nicely with a smooth continuously variable transmission.
For more power, drivers need the top-of-the-line Premier model. It has an exclusive turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder that makes 250-horsepower instead. For this engine, Chevrolet goes with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is much more satisfying with this combo underneath the hood.
The Malibu is a front-wheel-drive sedan only. The ride is more than adequate on a variety of surfaces. Steering feedback is minimal, however, which prevents the Malibu from feeling sporty.
Is It Safe and Reliable?
The Malibu is decently safe, at least according to testing conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This sedan received four out of five stars overall. Breaking down the score, the Malibu received five stars in frontal crash testing and four stars in both rollover and side-impact testing.
A rearview camera is the only standard driver aid to be found in the 2021 Malibu. There are many available features, however, mostly grouped into packages. Adding both the Driver Confidence packages will mean getting automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist, pedestrian detection, and much more.
J.D. Power, the experts at predicting vehicle reliability, give the Malibu a score of 3.5 out of five. Seeing as this is slightly above average, it may make up for some of the sedan's other shortcomings in the minds of some buyers.
What's the Interior Like?
Although this is not the roomiest midsize sedan on the market, both rows of seating have enough space for most adults. More supportive seats would be a nice improvement that Chevrolet could make for the Malibu moving forward. Cloth upholstery and manual adjustment are standard, but buyers can find nice upgrades like climate-controlled front seats, a heated steering wheel, and leather upholstery as well.
What are the Alternatives to this Model?
The Malibu has a lot of competitors that are worth considering. Packed with value, the Hyundai Sonata is becoming a family favorite. This sedan has more standard safety features and a much longer warranty. That said, it is not available with an upgraded engine like the Malibu is.
Buyers cannot go wrong with the Honda Accord, which has a spacious cabin and impressive driver aids standard. The Toyota Camry is also better equipped when it comes to safety features, and has a satisfying yet efficient engine underneath the hood. The Malibu has an arguably more user-friendly infotainment system, however. Other options to keep in mind include the Nissan Altima, Subaru Legacy, Kia Optima, and Mazda6.
Note: All Chevrolet Malibu lease prices and dollar figures above are approximate amounts. Prices are subject to change without notice.