The 2021 Chevy Malibu arrives in style. Among a sea of crossover SUVs that are increasing in popularity, the Malibu sedan continues to stand out from the crowd and does so in a definitively elegant way. In a sea of tall and often ungainly crossovers, the 2021 Malibu remains a paragon of the classic sedan that dominated the market for so long, with both superior aerodynamics and impressive practicality. Despite the classic look, the Malibu is full to the brim with modern technology, both under the hood and inside the cabin. Whether it comes to safety technology, engine efficiency, or even interior space, the mid-sized crossovers of the world often don’t stand up to the almost timeless of a sedan like the Chevrolet Malibu.
What motivates the 2021 Malibu are a pair of advanced four-cylinder engines, both of which pack turbochargers that boost power and torque far beyond what naturally aspirated engines of the same size could deliver. All while keeping virtually the same fuel-sipping gas mileage those small-displacement engines would achieve. This is possible because the turbochargers themselves only provide a boost when the driver gets aggressive with the gas pedal, otherwise leaving the Malibu off boost. When the engine is not under significant load, the turbos are effectively off, dramatically reducing the amount of fuel burned by the engine.
The turbo 2.0-liter engine option of the Malibu is the same engine used by the current generation Camaro and the late great Cadillac ATS. It quite dramatically punches above its weight when it comes to both power and torque, generating well over a hundred horsepower per liter. In total, the 2.0-liter turbo engine puts out 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, enough to make the medium-weight Malibu feel genuinely fast to most motorists. Bear in mind that this speed comes from the same engine that can easily deliver up to 33 miles per gallon on the highway and 22 miles per gallon in the city.
The 1.5-liter turbo engine is no slouch either, producing 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. While the 2.0-liter is geared more towards performance, the 1.5-liter is about fuel economy. It is not only cheaper to buy but offers a few more miles per gallon. Specifically, this engine produces 36 miles per gallon in the city and 29 miles per gallon on the highway. Overall, the super modern power plants found in the 2021 Malibu showcase just how far technology has come, allowing a car to be lighter, cleaner, and more efficient than its predecessors and competition. All while actually improving performance.
Compared to the engines available under the hood, the general chassis and construction of the Malibu are rather traditional. Like all modern sedans, it uses unibody architecture that blends frame and body into a single strong and lightweight entity. In terms of suspension, the Malibu uses Macpherson Struts in front with dual-path mountings and a four-link independent suspension system in the rear with a hollow stabilizer bar. Like many other parts of the Malibu, the suspension has been given special attention in the hopes of saving additional weight. The hollow anti-sway bar is one piece of evidence for this strategy.
The Malibu’s braking system is also a solid modern system, with discs at all four corners and four-channel ABS to keep the brakes from locking up during panic stops. Of note is that the brake rotors are made from aluminum instead of steel, which dramatically reduces unsprung mass. Unsprung mass is the weight not supported by the suspension and is doubly impactful in terms of performance, handling, and efficiency. When the brake discs are lighter, not only does the engine no longer have to accelerate the extra weight of steel discs, but the engine no longer has to spin the extra mass of steel brake discs up to speed either. This effectively means that the lighter brake disc material improves acceleration, cornering ability, braking, and even city-bound miles per gallon.
The interior of the 2021 Chevy Malibu is not a bad place to be, to put it mildly. To start with, the list of available features reads like it belongs to a luxury car. Built-in 4G LTE wi-fi capability, an 8-inch color touchscreen and Driver Information Center, an 8-way power driver seat, a premium Bose nine-speaker sound system, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless charging, and much more are all available in this car. In terms of gadgetry and infotainment technology, the Malibu is at least as connected as anything else in its price range, especially since many of those features are standard on higher trim levels. All the power-adjustable seating capabilities, along with heated and ventilated seating, make the Malibu a surpassingly great place to be with the weather is less than cooperative.
The amenities and technology build on the Malibu’s excellent foundation of large amounts of interior space. This affordable Chevy sedan has 39.1 inches of headroom and a full 41.5 inches of legroom in front. Even in the rear seat, there is more than 38 inches of legroom. Cargo space is also significant in the 2021 Malibu, with up to 15.7 cubic feet of available cargo room. Not bad for a vehicle that isn’t as tall as a crossover.
Compared to the Malibu, the standard set of crossovers appears to pale. The Toyota Highlander, for example, not only trends roughly 10,000 dollars higher in cost than the Malibu, but its normal gasoline-power variants are dramatically less efficient than the Chevy’s high-tech turbocharged engines. This is to say nothing of the Highlander’s rather ungainly appearance when compared to the lower, sleeker lines of the Malibu.
Even when compared to other sedans, the 2021 Malibu has noticeable advantages. The Ford Fusion’s interior is clinical in comparison to the warm hues available in the Malibu, while the Chevrolet’s engines dole out both better power and more efficiency. Ford opted to quit competing in the sedan space entirely after giving it their best effort.
They turned to their new 2021 Edge crossover, but with a weight up to a thousand pounds heavier than the 2021 Malibu, it doesn’t really matter what powers it. It’s going to be both slower and far worse on gas than a good old-fashioned sedan. Especially one that was specifically designed to be lighter than practically every other midsize sedan still on the market.
The Malibu is a serious contender no matter what competition it is put up against in the midsize category. Better than the crossovers that currently dominate new passenger car sales and other sedans that are still around, Chevy really built something a cut above everyone else. It goes to show what happens when other automakers are busy phoning in their passenger car efforts, and then Chevy makes a serious effort to one-up them all.
Drive in Style in the 2021 Chevy Malibu
Lighter, sleeker, more powerful, better appointed, and better looking than its opponents, the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu is demonstratively better than its competition. This superior engineering started with the vehicle’s backbone and architecture being made to be much lighter than its predecessor and continued with the selection of lightweight and powerful cutting edge engines that slot under the Malibu’s hood. All this racecar-like light-weighting led the Malibu to drop several hundred pounds compared to its predecessor and even more than many of its rivals, allowing it to be more economical. Not to mention permitting the use of lighter-duty wear parts means the Malibu becomes cheaper to maintain on top of everything else. The 2021 Chevy Malibu truly is a cut above the rest.