Buyer's Guide

2021 Chevrolet Malibu
Select a Different Model (5 Available): L Sedan
Fuel Economy $ 29 / 36 mpg
Safety (IIHS) Good
Horsepower 160@5,700
Torque 184@2,500
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2021 Chevrolet Malibu MODEL OVERVIEW


  • Punchy 2.0-liter turbo-four
  • Good ride and handling


  • Cheap interior
  • Underpowered base engine
  • Active safety features optional

One of the longest-running nameplates in the Chevrolet lineup, the Malibu has been a mainstay in the midsize sedan segment for decades. Since its inception, the Malibu has evolved from a rear-drive car that's available in multiple flavors to a front-drive model offered only one body style. Chevrolet even offered a hybrid Malibu for a short time to lure eco-minded consumers to the brand. With only a short time left before it's discontinued, the Malibu lineup has been streamlined. A number of cosmetic packages are also offered.

What's New

  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility have been added
  • Sport Edition package is now available even on the LT grade. This package adds black exterior badges, a black grille, black 19-inch alloy wheels, and black interior upholstery
  • Cherry Red Tintcoat has been added to the Malibu's exterior color palette

What We Think

The Chevrolet Malibu remains a midsize sedan living in the shadow of the competition. That's mainly due to the fact that the car falls short in a number of areas. When pushed hard, the base 1.5-liter turbo-four struggles to move the Malibu around. Credit the CVT for doing all the heavy lifting to eke the most out of the little engine. The 2.0-liter turbo-four offers effortless acceleration thanks to the snappy nine-speed automatic. Good handling makes the Malibu pleasant to drive; no, it's not a sport sedan, but it won't embarrass itself when the road starts twisting and won't rattle your bones over every road imperfection.

Unfortunately, the cheap interior ruins an otherwise acceptable midsize sedan. Between that and the underpowered base engine, it's hard to justify the Malibu. The car's overall value proposition is hurt by the fact that active safety features are optional at price points where the competition offers them standard.

Performance and Fuel Economy

Two turbocharged four-cylinder engines are available on the 2021 Malibu. The L, LS, RS, and LT grades utilize a 1.5-liter unit with 163 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Premier models get a 2.0-liter unit rated at 250 hp and 260 lb-ft. With the standard CVT automatic, the 1.5-liter is EPA-rated at 29/36 mpg city/highway. Premier models, which come exclusively with a nine-speed automatic, are good for 22/33 mpg.


NHTSA: 4 stars (out of a possible five stars)

IIHS: The Malibu received a Good score on all crashworthiness tests except the passenger's side front small overlap impact, where it got a Marginal rating (Good is the highest score). In the front crash prevention test, the Malibu got a Superior rating in the vehicle-to-vehicle test with the Enhanced Driver Confidence package or Advanced with the Drive Confidence package (Superior is the highest rating). In the vehicle-to-pedestrian test, the Malibu only got a Basic rating.

To get any active safety tech, upgrade to the LS trim (or higher) and get the Driver Confidence I and II package, which contains forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, front automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, following distance indicator, and automatic high-beams. The Enhanced Driver Confidence package expands on the Driver Confidence I and II package with adaptive cruise control and an enhanced front automatic emergency braking system.


All 2021 Chevrolet Malibu sedans get an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and a six-speaker audio system. Built-in navigation, wireless charging, a nine-speaker Bose audio system, and an 8/0-inch instrument cluster display are only available on the Premier.

Key Competitors:

Engine Name
Engine: 4-Cyl Turbo 1.5 Liter Ecotec
Transmission Name
Transmission, Hydra-Matic Continuously Variable Automatic
L Sedan
Passenger Car
Standard MPG
Body Style
Fuel Type
Unleaded Regular
Seating Capacity
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IIHS Best Pick
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
IIHS Front Small Overlap
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
IIHS Overall Side Crash
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
IIHS Rear Crash
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
IIHS Roof Strength
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated