One of the best ways to determine something’s value is through comparison. You can compare virtually anything to another similar thing, whether it be something fun like movies or something completely random like door knobs. (Don’t look at me, some people have very strong opinions about door knobs.) We make comparisons every day without ever realizing it. We wouldn’t even have the frame of reference to recognize a good hot dog if we didn’t subconsciously acknowledge every previous hot dog throughout our lives and compare it to them. Once we realize the kind of tool a good comparison can be, we can use it to help us make difficult decisions, like the one we’re faced with today: the 2018 Chevy Malibu vs 2018 VW Passat.
2018 Chevy Malibu
Different people value different things when purchasing a new car, but it’s safe to say that a good portion of prospective buyers don’t pay much attention to performance. While there are certainly people who prioritize power while looking at potential vehicles, the majority of consumers are more often concerned with fuel economy than horsepower or torque. It’s not surprising, after all, it’s the only performance aspect that continues to affect a person’s wallet well after the initial purchase of their vehicle— unless they shoot their car into space for no reason, of course.
There are three possible engines spread across five available trims for the 2018 Malibu. The L, LS, and LT trims all come standard with a turbocharged 1.5-liter ECOTEC engine, providing them with 160 horsepower and 184 lbs per foot of torque, as well as a combined fuel economy of 30 MPG. The Premier trim is outfitted with a 2.0-liter version of that same turbocharged engine, with a 9-speed automatic transmission as opposed to six. With 250 horsepower, 260 lbs per foot of torque, and a combined city/highway rate of 26 MPG, the 2.0-liter option takes a slight hit in fuel economy but makes up for it with a fairly significant power boost. Chevy also offers a hybrid option for the 2018 Malibu, for those of us who care about our wallets long term (or the planet, I guess). Reversing the trade-off made by the 2.0-liter engine, its 1.8L hybrid engine is dealt a reduction in both horsepower and torque in order to make room for a notable increase in fuel economy. Getting more specific, its horsepower and torque both sit at 124 and 129 respectively, but its combined fuel economy is an impressive 46 MPG, so it can take you up to 100 miles on just over two gallons of gas.
When it comes to transportation, safety is paramount. Whether you’re behind the wheel of a car or at the helm of a Federation starship, there should be safety measures in place to help prevent harm to you or your crew. While we haven’t quite reached deflector shield technology yet, we’ve still made some progress in safety over the past few years, and Chevy takes advantage of those advancements.
Every driver assistance feature you could possibly think of is available for the 2018 Malibu, which should please a good number of nervous drivers out there. Anxious about highway driving? The Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning systems should make high speeds much less daunting. Poor reaction time? Multiple automatic braking features will measurably reduce the amount of coffee caked onto your windshield. Hate turning around? With help from a standard rear vision camera and available Park Assist Technology, you can give your neck a rest. While none of these features should be thought of as replacements for solid driving skills, they’re effective safeguards in inevitable cases of human error.
Looking at the Malibu’s entertainment technology, there’s plenty to keep you and your passengers occupied for as long as your drive needs to be. Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility gives you access to apps from your phone, as well as hands-free control over them through the use of voice commands. From playing a specific song to texting your friend Scooter, when you drive a car with smartphone integration you can use your device without even looking at it. You can also charge your device without plugging it in provided it’s compatible with wireless charging, but my friend Kyle is from the future and he told me that technology wasn’t supposed to be invented for another twenty years, so maybe be wary of that option. A wireless hotspot is also available, which is great for both working on the go and entertaining passengers.
2018 Volkswagen Passat
The 2018 Passat comes with one of two available engines. A 2.0-liter turbo engine is the standard option, delivering 174 horsepower, 184 lbs per foot of torque, and a combined gas mileage of 30 MPG. The more powerful alternative is a 3.6-liter V6 engine, that achieves 280 horsepower and 258 lbs per foot of torque when it’s supplied with premium fuel. Unfortunately, the combined fuel efficiency for that engine is about 23 MPG, so paying more for every gallon of gas is going to add up pretty quickly. These engines both surpass the Malibu’s in terms of overall power, but Chevy’s 2.0-liter engine comes close while still keeping its fuel consumption in check, and the 46 MPG offered by the hybrid Malibu is too good to ignore. Apologies to Volkswagen, but this round goes to the Malibu.
All the same assistive features mentioned for the Malibu are present in the 2018 Passat, as well as a few additional conveniences. If you’re like me, and you can’t parallel park if your life depended on it, then you’d probably be interested in the Passat’s park assist system, which operates the steering portion of the maneuver while you retain full control over the accelerator and brake. Beyond that, the 2018 Malibu and Passat are on fairly equal ground when it comes to safety and driver assistance technology.
The infotainment features available for the Passat are virtually identical to those available for the Malibu, with entirely the same functionality from top to bottom. Both have Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility, both have a companion application to help monitor your vehicle, and both have premium audio systems. While functionally identical, the response time for the Passat’s touchscreen is abysmal, taking over a full second on average to react to any input, and subject to occasional freezing. In comparison, the Chevy MyLink system installed in the 2018 Malibu is one of the most responsive infotainment systems on the market, taking less than a third of a second to respond to commands. Plenty of people who own older smartphones tolerate slower touchscreens without any issue, but since these two systems are equal in every other area, it’s our only angle for comparison.
2018 Chevy Malibu vs 2018 VW Passat – In Conclusion
While the 2018 Passat has a lot going for it, the Malibu does enough to stand out by offering a higher quality infotainment system and a hybrid option that I’ve got to give the overall win to Chevy. Whether you agree or disagree, hopefully, you see how helpful a good comparison can be when making a tough choice. Things always seem more clear when you look at them objectively, even when the answer is only a matter of opinion.