2020 Chevrolet Malibu

Performance


#11 out of 11 in Midsize Cars

MSRP
$22,095
U.S. News Best Price Program

2020 Chevrolet Malibu Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.0

The 2020 Chevrolet Malibu gets great fuel economy with its adequately powered base engine. An optional engine is more muscular and delivers better acceleration. Handling is a little dull, but the ride is good.

  • Its ride, handling, and power delivery are unremarkable – few demerits and certainly no plaudits." -- Autoblog (2019)
  • "Overall, we found the Malibu RS very pleasant and never once thought of rental cars. Ride and handling are good, quiet prevails inside the cabin, the steering is right on the money, and powertrain response is snappy enough to suit us." -- Automobile Magazine (2019)
  • "So while that shiny new RS badge may hint at something more, the … Malibu is still a soft, smooth-riding family car, just like last year. The new CVT fits its character perfectly." -- Car and Driver (2019)

Acceleration and Power

The Chevrolet Malibu comes standard with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. A continuously variable automatic transmission is standard. The optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, and it’s mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Most critics say that the Malibu's base engine is sufficient for everyday driving, though some note that it feels sluggish. The base model gets an EPA-estimated 29 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, which is good for the midsize car class. Models with the optional larger engine deliver better power and acceleration but worse fuel economy: 22 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

For something even more efficient, consider the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid.

  • Like its competitors, the Malibu can be equipped with different powertrains. There are two turbocharged four-cylinder engine options: a base 1.5-liter and a 2.0-liter engine. An additional hybrid option is also available for maximizing efficiency. We like the hybrid as well as the zesty 2.0-liter engine, but the base 1.5-liter engine – the one most commonly found at dealer lots – is sluggish." -- Edmunds
  • As for the 1.5, it's largely inoffensive and mostly quiet in operation, with enough power to get the Malibu up and moving, though certainly not in a hurry. The CVT tends to hang out between 2,500 and 3,500 rpm under normal acceleration, but dig deep into the throttle and the transmission will 'shift' at higher revs, mimicking the action of a conventional automatic." -- CNET (2019)
  • "While the horsepower figure may seem a bit light for a midsize sedan, the torque has enough pull to get the Malibu off the line smartly. The combination of seamless acceleration and the availability of the stepped ratios lessens the traditional drivability issues of CVTs." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)

Handling and Braking

The front-wheel-drive Chevy Malibu has a comfortable ride, and it feels composed over rough pavement. Steering is light and lacks feedback from the road, resulting in less-than-athletic handling.

  • "While the RS has a more performance-oriented look, the car handles and drives like you'd expect from a midsize family hauler. The ride is smooth, well-controlled and supple. The steering is a bit on the light side, but overall, the Malibu RS goes where you point it with little in the way of muss and fuss." -- Kelley Blue Book (2019)
  • "With light steering and solid, progressive braking feel, the Malibu is effortless and pleasant to drive. It's not nearly as engaging as a Honda Accord or Mazda6, but offers a solid behind-the-wheel experience." -- CNET (2019)
  • On the road, we were pleasantly surprised to be reminded that the Malibu is a competent handler. It corners with enough athleticism to challenge most of the midsize field. The steering is very light and a bit numb, which is fine for city duty but somewhat of a disappointment when you get out on a back road and realize the Malibu actually has a little hustle." -- Edmunds (2019)
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2020 Chevrolet Malibu

MSRP: $22,095 - $33,320

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