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A dark blue 2020 Chevy Malibu is driving on a city street.

Compromise Is Not Always Bad: The 2020 Chevy Malibu

The midsize sedan is not the most exciting segment out there. These cars do not have the luxury of a full-size sedan or the low cost of a compact, but when done right, they offer the best of both worlds. And the 2020 Chevy Malibu is a midsize sedan done right. Offering a good mix of comfort and luxury features at an affordable price, and with options for excellent driver assistance technology, the 2020 Chevy Malibu is definitely worth considering for anyone shopping in this segment.

The current model year is a continuation of the 9th generation Malibu that was first introduced in 2016. However, the 9th generation was refreshed for the 2019 model year, so the 2020 Chevy Malibu remains highly competitive. And although the current car does not offer any radical changes over the previous year’s model, this also means that the 2020 Chevy Malibu is a proven vehicle that will not suffer from any first year of production issues. This is particularly true, seeing as last year’s Malibu was the highest-ranked midsize car in J.D. Power’s 2019 Initial Quality Study.

How Comfortable is the Chevy Malibu?

A midsize sedan like the 2020 Chevy Malibu is a good choice for people with long commutes or who often travel, as it offers a good compromise between the space and comfort of a full-size sedan or small SUV and the affordability and good gas mileage of a compact car. Comparing the 2020 Chevy Malibu to its smaller sibling, the Chevy Cruze, you will see that the Malibu offers noticeably more interior volume and trunk space. This is particularly important if you are looking for a car that can comfortably fit passengers in its second row, as the back seats in the 2020 Chevy Malibu actually offer several inches more leg, hip, and shoulder room than those in the Chevy Cruze.

Aside from pure space, the 2020 Chevy Malibu offers a large number of standard and optional interior features for a very good price point. All trims come standard with keyless entry and push-button start, allowing you to access and turn on your car without removing your keyfob from your pocket or purse, as well as steering wheel mounted controls for the infotainment system.

Speaking of the infotainment system, the Malibu offers an 8” touchscreen (the Cruze only has a 7” touchscreen) with the Chevrolet Infotainment3 software. This system is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it has both Bluetooth and USB connectivity. So no matter what operating system you prefer, your phone will be able to work with your car seamlessly.

The step up from the base L trim to the LS trim is rather small and mostly a matter of gaining some minor optional equipment like a garage door opener or a remote starter. The larger improvements are the addition of acoustic glass to reduce road noise and a standard 4G LTE wireless hotspot. However, the RS, LT, and Premier trims are packed with standard and optional equipment.

All three of these higher trims come standard with an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, with the Premier trim adding a power-adjustable passenger’s seat as well. Overall, the LT trim is probably the best balance of features for the price, as it comes with a standard dual-zone automatic climate control and heated front seats, and it has options for a power sunroof and a leather interior. However, the Premier trim makes all of these optional features of the LT trim standard, while also upgrading to a Bose nine-speaker audio system and adding a driver-customizable 8” digital instrument cluster.

A side view of the cream interior in a 2020 Chevy Malibu is shown.

What Modern Conveniences Are in the Malibu?

As befits a modern car, the 2020 Chevy Malibu offers numerous driver aids to make your commute or trip a safer and easier experience. Every trim comes standard with cruise control, a backup camera, and electronic grade braking. This last system automatically prevents the car from accelerating downhill, without needing to keep your foot on the brakes. However, the best technology is found in the three Driver Confidence packages available on the LT and Premier trims.

The basic Driver Confidence I package provides you with blind-spot warnings, both on the road and when backing out of a parking space. It will also warn you if you get too close to obstacles behind you when backing up. When equipped with this package, the 2020 Chevy Malibu received an Advanced vehicle-to-vehicle crash prevention rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Stepping up to the more advanced Driver Confidence II package on the 2020 Chevy Malibu will also provide you with a system that warns you if you are crossing the lines on the road or following a car too closely. If it senses that you are about to hit a car or pedestrian, it will first alert you, and then automatically apply the brakes if necessary. With this package, the 2020 Chevy Malibu received both the IIHS’s Superior rating for vehicle-to-vehicle crash prevention, as well as its Basic rating for vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention.

The top Enhanced Driver Confidence package is exclusive to the Premier trim on the 2020 Chevy Malibu and has the same safety features and ratings as the Driver Confidence II package. However, it adds two additional convenience features that are well worth the high cost if you often find yourself parking in the city or driving long distances on the highway. The first of these is automatic parking assist, which will semi-autonomously (you will still have to control the gas and brakes) park your car in either parallel or perpendicular parking spaces. The second feature is adaptive cruise control, which will automatically adjust your speed to match the traffic in front of you.

What is Beneath the Hood of the Malibu?

A blue 2020 Chevy Malibu is driving past the ocean at sun set.

Comfort and technology alone will not make a midsize sedan stand out from the competition. Ultimately, the purpose of a car is to drive, and driving an underpowered car is never fun. Fortunately, that is not a problem with the 2020 Chevy Malibu, which comes with two different turbocharged engines.

The base engine offered on all trims except the Premier is a 1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Although the horsepower figure is not particularly high, the turbocharger means that the engine not only has lots of torque for quick acceleration, it produces that torque earlier than a non-turbocharged engine. This engine is coupled with a new Continuously Variable Transmission that was introduced in the 2019 model year, giving solid fuel efficiency numbers of 29 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway.

On the Premier trim, a larger 2.0L turbocharged engine is used along with a modern nine-speed automatic transmission. Producing 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, this option actually comes close to rivaling the power of the V6 engine on the Chevy Impala. But unlike that fuel-hungry V6 and its older six-speed transmission, the gas mileage for the 2.0L engine on the Premier Malibu 22 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway) is only slightly worse than the 1.5L on the lower trims. If you are someone who enjoys cars with a bit more power, or who simply needs to keep up with freeway traffic, this engine alone makes the Premier trim worth considering on the 2020 Chevy Malibu.

What Can One Expect For Cost?

As with most other aspects of the 2020 Chevy Malibu, its MSRP sits nicely between those of its compact and full-size siblings. Starting at $22,095 for the base L trim, the Malibu is somewhat more expensive than the base Sonic at $16,720––but it is far less expensive than a base Impala at $28,020. Even a nicely-optioned LT trim Malibu with the Driver Confidence II package, leather interior, and sunroof comes in at about $30,355, still slightly below a base model Impala lacking all of those features. You definitely can’t go wrong with a 2020 Chevy Malibu.