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2020 Chevrolet Malibu Review

The 2020 Chevrolet Malibu ranks near the bottom of the midsize car class. It has a low-rent cabin and less room than many rivals, and it’s not very fun to drive.

Pros & Cons

  • Low base price for the class
  • Great fuel economy
  • Cheap-feeling cabin materials
  • Dull handling
  • Less passenger and trunk space than rivals

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Chevrolet Malibu's #10 ranking is based on its score within the Midsize Cars category. Currently the Chevrolet Malibu has a score of 7.3 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 33 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 7.1
Performance: 7.0
Interior: 6.6
Safety: 8.9
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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Is the Chevrolet Malibu a Good Car?

The Chevy Malibu is not a very good midsize car. Interior quality leaves much to be desired, with lots of hard plastics and an underwhelming design. Critics also knock the Malibu's seat comfort and infotainment display. Trunk space is just average.

Horsepower from the standard engine is typical for the class, but the Malibu returns great fuel economy for the segment. While the Malibu has a comfortable ride, many rivals are more engaging and athletic to drive.

Chevrolet also offers the Malibu Hybrid, which we review separately.

Should I Buy the Chevrolet Malibu?

The Malibu has one of the lowest base prices in its class (about $22,000), and it comes with cool standard features, including an infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

But since the Malibu ranks so low, you're probably better off shopping for a rival car. The well-rounded Honda Accord has a classy interior and plenty of seating space. It offers two compelling engine choices and balanced handling, and like the Malibu, it delivers great fuel economy. The Ford Fusion is far from a top pick in the class, but it has a stronger base engine, tighter handling, and a nicer cabin than the Malibu.

Compare the Malibu, Accord, and Fusion »

Should I Buy a New or Used Chevrolet Malibu?

The 2020 Chevrolet Malibu is part of a generation that began with a full redesign for 2016. For 2017, the 2LT trim was discontinued, and a new nine-speed automatic transmission became available. There were several changes for 2019. Chevy replaced the base engine's six-speed automatic transmission with a continuously variable automatic, introduced the sporty-styled RS trim, and made heated rear seats available. Also for 2019, the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system replaced the MyLink system.

Since there were no notable changes for the 2020 model year, you may be better off shopping for a very similar used 2019 Malibu. Doing so could save you thousands of dollars compared to the cost of a new Malibu. If you're not interested in the 2019 upgrades, consider an even older model, which will likely be even less expensive.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 Malibu and 2018 Malibu reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Malibu »

We Did the Research for You: 32 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 32 Chevrolet Malibu reviews – along with performance and interior specs, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2020 Malibu is the right new car for you. This 2020 Chevrolet Malibu review incorporates applicable research for all vehicles in this generation, which includes the 2016 through 2020 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain objective, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team manages the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Chevrolet Malibu Cost?

The 2020 Chevrolet Malibu starts at $22,095, which is one of the lowest MSRPs among midsize cars. It comes standard with a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive. The top Premier trim comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that makes 250 horsepower, and it’s mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. It has a price tag of $33,320.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great deals at your local Chevrolet dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Chevrolet deals page.

Chevrolet Malibu Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Chevrolet Malibu or Honda Accord?

The Honda Accord ranks highly in the midsize car class, and it’s an excellent buy. It serves up a large trunk and ample seating room in both rows. Cabin quality is impressive, and the infotainment system is straightforward and easy to use. The Accord received near-perfect crash test results, and it comes with a long list of standard driver assistance features. Performance is good for the class, with two capable engine choices, a comfortable ride, and engaging handling. In just about every way, the Accord is a far better car than the Malibu.

Which Is Better: Chevrolet Malibu or Ford Fusion?

The Ford Fusion and Malibu both rank low in the class, but the Chevy still doesn’t compare well to the Ford. The Fusion has a slightly roomier back seat than the Malibu, as well as a nicer interior, though you have to upgrade to a higher trim to get a touch-screen infotainment system. Unlike the Chevy, the Ford comes standard with plenty of driver assistance features. The Fusion also has a slight edge in handling. Both of these midsize sedans have acceptable, if unimpressive, standard engines, though both cars have more muscular turbocharged variants available.

Compare the Malibu, Accord, and Fusion »

Malibu Interior

How Many People Does the Malibu Seat?          

The Chevrolet Malibu sedan seats five people. There's plenty of space in the front seats, but you may find that they lack support and start to get uncomfortable on longer trips. Six-way manually adjustable front seats are standard, and it can be difficult to find the ideal driving or riding position. You have to jump up two trim levels to get a power-adjustable driver's seat.

Second-row space is mediocre. Some critics say legroom is ample and that adults can ride in comfort with no problem. Other reviewers note that the Malibu has less back-seat space than some rivals do.

Malibu and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors for the Malibu’s rear outboard seats, as well as an upper tether anchor for the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the lower anchors are set deeply in the seat cushions, and it requires a bit of force to attach the car-seat straps to them.

Malibu Interior Quality

Interior quality is a big swing and miss for the Malibu. The cabin design is drab and outdated, and most materials are unimpressive. Many surfaces are covered in hard plastic or low-grade cloth, and the control knobs and steering wheel stalks feel like they were picked out of an aging General Motors parts bin.

Malibu Cargo Space

At 15.8 cubic feet, the Malibu's trunk space is average for the midsize car class. The trunk opening is wide and large, so it's easy to reach in and grab your cargo. You can fold the back seats to haul longer items, but the seats don't lay completely flat.

Malibu Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Malibu comes with Chevrolet's Infotainment 3 interface, which replaces the MyLink system. An 8-inch touch screen sits prominently on the center stack in clear view of the driver. It's generally user-friendly, with quick response times, large virtual buttons, and a well-planned menu structure. A few critics note that the display’s resolution isn't as crisp as some rival displays.

You can integrate your smartphone apps on the infotainment display with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Optional features include a Wi-Fi hot spot, satellite radio, navigation, a nine-speaker Bose premium stereo, two rear USB ports, and wireless device charging.

You can also opt for dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a dual-pane sunroof, an 8-inch digital driver information display, and a household-style power outlet.

Read more about interior »

Malibu Performance

Malibu Engine: A Tale of Two Turbos

The Malibu comes standard with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). This engine puts out 160 horsepower and is sufficient for daily driving. The Malibu gets moving from a stop without much issue, and the CVT smoothly mimics the shifts of a conventional automatic transmission.

Those in search of more muscle or a more authoritative ride will want the Malibu's optional 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. Paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission, this powertrain provides ample energy for quick acceleration and for cruising at highway speeds. However, you can only get it in the top Malibu Premier trim. That model starts at $33,320, which represents a premium of $6,700 compared to the next lowest trim. The Premier is also about $11,000 more than the base model.

Malibu Gas Mileage: Really Good and Not So Good

While the Malibu with the standard engine lacks excitement, it makes up for it with impressive fuel economy. The EPA rates the base four-cylinder Malibu at 29 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. Those figures are excellent for a midsize car. Models with the turbocharged engine are less efficient, coming in at 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

Malibu Ride and Handling: Cool and Collected

The Malibu has a relaxed and plush ride over most surfaces, even over bumps and broken pavement. It handles turns with little body lean but falls short of outright athleticism, and there's little steering feedback from the road. Steering effort is on the lighter side, and that makes the Malibu easy to maneuver in tight spaces.

Read more about performance »

Malibu Reliability

Is the Chevrolet Malibu Reliable?

The 2020 Chevrolet Malibu has a 3.5 out of five predicted reliability rating from J.D. Power, which is slightly above average.

Chevrolet Malibu Warranty

Chevrolet covers the Malibu with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Malibu Safety

Malibu Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2020 Chevrolet Malibu four out of five stars in the rollover test.

At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2020 Malibu, but the nearly identical 2019 model received the highest rating of Good in five crash tests and the second-lowest rating of Marginal in the passenger-side small overlap front test. Models with the Driver Confidence Package II earned the top rating of Superior for front crash protection, while models equipped with the Driver Confidence package received the second-highest rating of Advanced.

Malibu Safety Features

A rearview camera is the only driver assistance feature that comes standard in the Malibu, but there is a long list of optional upgrades. The Teen Driver system, which lets you do things like set speed and audio volume limits for secondary drivers, as well as monitor their driving performance, comes standard in all models except the base trim.

To get most of the available safety features, you'll have to upgrade to the LT trim and then purchase a few packages. These bundles include rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, forward automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlights, and a following distance indicator.

A separate package, optional only with the top Premier trim, includes adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assist, and an electronic parking brake.

Read more about safety »

Malibu Dimensions and Weight

The Chevrolet Malibu is about 16.2 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,126 to 3,223 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Chevrolet Malibu Built?

General Motors builds the 2020 Chevrolet Malibu in Kansas.

Which Chevrolet Malibu Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 Chevrolet Malibu is available in five trims: L, LS, RS, LT, and Premier. All models except for the Premier feature a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable automatic transmission. The Malibu Premier comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard in all models.

The base Malibu is decently equipped with infotainment features, including an 8-inch touch screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. However, you have to jump up several trims to get some common features. For that reason, we recommend the Malibu LT. It comes with heated front seats, satellite radio, and dual-zone automatic climate control. You can purchase optional packages that add driver assistance features and leather upholstery to this trim.

Chevrolet also offers the Malibu Hybrid, which we review separately.

Chevrolet Malibu L

The Chevrolet Malibu starts at $22,095. Standard features include a rearview camera, proximity keyless entry, cloth upholstery, and six-way manually adjustable front seats. The standard Chevrolet 3 Infotainment system includes an 8-inch touch screen, a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay.

Chevrolet Malibu LS

The Chevrolet Malibu LS retails for $23,220 and comes with the Teen Driver system and a Wi-Fi hot spot.

Chevrolet Malibu RS

The Malibu RS has black exterior accents, alloy wheels, and a rear spoiler. Starting at $24,220, it also includes an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

Chevrolet Malibu LT

The Chevrolet Malibu LT has a base price of $26,620 and comes standard with heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote start, heated outside mirrors, power-adjustable outside mirrors, and satellite radio.

This is the first trim that gives you access to additional optional features. The Driver Confidence package adds rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. Another Driver Confidence package includes lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, forward automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlights, and a following distance indicator.

The Leather package comes with leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A dual-pane sunroof is optional.

Chevrolet Malibu Premier

The range-topping Malibu Premier costs $33,320. It features leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a six-way power-adjustable passenger seat, a heated steering wheel, navigation, a nine-speaker Bose premium stereo, an 8-inch digital driver information display, a household-style power outlet, two rear USB ports, and wireless device charging.

Optional features unique to this trim include adaptive cruise control, automatic parking assist, and an electronic parking brake.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Chevrolet dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Chevrolet deals page.

See 2020 Chevrolet Malibu specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Chevrolet Malibu has a low starting price and some attractive standard features, but it fails to stand out in the midsize car class, which features many vehicles with more agile handling and nicer interiors.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "The 2020 Chevrolet Malibu rides well on the highway and has a roomy cabin fitted with an easy-to-use infotainment system. It is, at its core, a fundamentally solid midsize sedan. However, it also happens to be surrounded by a deep class of rival sedans that outdo it in a few areas." -- Edmunds
  • "The Malibu RS doesn't offer enough, with enough pizazz, to offer a serious challenge to similarly-priced and -positioned competitors. Some real talk here: If Chevy wants to keep selling Malibus a few years on, it's going to need more than a revised grille and some exhaust tips – or a shady plot in the graveyard of runner-up sedans, next to the Fusion, awaits." -- Autoblog (2019)
  • "The end result is a Malibu that's as spacious and easy to drive as it's always been. But a number of inherent shortcomings will continue to prevent the Malibu from being more than, at best, a midpack pick." -- CNET (2019)


Expert Advice

Last Updated: July 16, 2020

Dim Demand: Sales of the Chevy Malibu finished in the middle of the midsize car class in 2019, where it still ranks this year. Like many sedans and the auto industry as a whole, Chevrolet dealerships have sold fewer Malibus so far this year compared to the same time frame in 2019; sales have fallen 26.4 percent.

Research more buying advice »
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2020 Chevrolet Malibu

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