Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A blue 2020 Chevy Malibu is parked in front of a brick building with 2 men walking by it.

Continuing to Modernize a Chevy Classic

Nowadays, automakers are expanding their lineups with new faces, crowding the field with models that have short histories. Chevy, on the other hand, is one of the few automakers who continue to update their classics, modernizing vehicles that date all the way back to the 50s and 60s. One of these vehicles is the Chevy Malibu. With a birthdate around 1964, the Chevy Malibu has quite a legacy behind it. And in a market with many a modern mid-sized sedan, the Chevy Malibu has a lot of competition cut out for it. With the unveil and release of the 2020 Chevy Malibu, we’re left to wonder whether or not this fifty-year-old classic still holds up to the competition. That said, the Chevy Malibu has changed a whole lot over the years, transforming from a model that once had a station wagon variant to the classic four-door sedan that exists on the road today. To put Chevy’s design quality to the test, we’ll review the latest iteration of the Chevy Malibu, and see how it compares to other relatively younger sedan models.

The Chevy Malibu Legacy

When the 1964 Chevy Malibu rolled out into showrooms and onto dealership lots everywhere, it was a heavy hitter. Packed with a powerful V8 engine, low ground clearance, and tooled with ‘intuitive at the time’ power steering, the 1964 Chevy Malibu was a smash hit. Although, comparing this over fifty-year-old model against what exists on the road today is night and day.

In some ways, the 2020 Chevy Malibu bears the roots of its founding model. Still low to the ground, and still bearing that wide front grill, there are certainly echoes of this 64’ model ringing true in the latest iteration. That said, the similarities really end there (unless you count the power steering features). The 2020 Chevy Malibu has all-rounded edges, giving it a sleek, modern appearance that blends seamlessly into other mid-sized sedans that roar off of factory floors today.

The 2020 Chevy Malibu exists in five different configurations, each one quite different from the next, giving you the option to choose from the L, LS, RS, LT, and Premier. At a starting price of $22,095 MSRP, the Chevy Malibu is relatively affordable, especially compared to competitor vehicles like the Volkswagen Passat and the Toyota Camry. That said, in previous years, Chevy hasn’t necessarily been the champion of automotive tech, and while the price may be lower, we’ll have to delve further to see if the low cost pays off in value.

A black 2020 Chevy Malibu is parked next to a glass building at night.

Classic Chevy Power in a Modern Chevy Skin

Chevy has earned a reputation over the years and decades for designing vehicles that offer up a considerable amount of power. Way back when in 1964, vehicles like the Chevy Malibu sported much beefier engines, although those were different times. Cars were heavier, gas was cheaper, and fuel conservation was far less of a demand for drivers. The 2020 Chevy Malibu changes that, opting for greater fuel economy, however, at a small sacrifice to total engine power output.

Sit behind the wheel of the base 2020 Chevy Malibu, and you’ll be given full control of a 163 horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. While not necessarily the peak of power in its class, the smaller engine lends to far greater fuel conservation, ending up with an EPA-rating of 29 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. While the CVT (continuously variable transmission) that propels power to the front wheels has earned some controversy over the years for being unreliable and downright wonky, the 2020 Chevy Malibu shows to have little issue with its transmission build. The base model of the 2020 Chevy Malibu makes a great fit for any commuter who has a desire for moderate power but makes fuel economy a far greater priority.

Fortunately, this isn’t the only engine build for the 2020 Chevy Malibu. For those who want more oomph behind each tap of the accelerator, you can find it in the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which shows no issue pumping out 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft worth of torque. Unfortunately, this engine build is exclusively available on the Premier trim, which can be something of a disappointment for some potential buyers. While we’re grateful that Chevy gave us an option of a more capable engine, we would have wished it would have been available on lower-trim options.

An interesting addition to the Chevy Malibu’s model lineup is the option of a hybrid drivetrain. Utilizing a gasoline-powered four-cylinder engine and two electric motors, the hybrid Chevy Malibu gets a combined 182 horsepower. This hybrid option bumps up fuel economy dramatically as well turning the 34 mpg combined to a whopping 44 mpg.

Technology and Comfort that Works

Take to the road in any model of the 2020 Chevy Malibu, and you’ll find a quiet and comfortable driving experience. While it is certainly not the quietest or the smoothest, comparatively, it is near the top of its class. Rear passengers will find plenty of room to stretch out during long rides, and while the hybrid version lacks any substantial cargo storage (thanks to the electric battery), the standard gas-powered model offers plenty of room for luggage in the back. Higher trim options like the LT, offer heated cloth seating in the front, and even the LS model comes with an acoustic laminated windshield.

A birds eye view of the grey leather interior of a 2020 Chevy Malibu with an infotainment system is shown.

To the surprise of many Chevy critics, the 2020 Chevy Malibu delivers some pretty impressive starting technology. Step foot into the base L model, and you’ll find a well-placed infotainment system that is, of course, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. Partnered with this intuitive infotainment system is the fact that every model of the 2020 Chevy Malibu comes with a Wi-Fi hotspot, something you’d have to pay extra for on competitor models.

Where the Chevy Malibu falls a little short in the technology department is the lack of standard safety features. For no extra price, you’ll be able to enjoy a rear vision camera. However, the driver assistance features stop right there. You’ll have to pay a bit extra to enjoy features like Forward Collision Alerts, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Change Alerts, and Rear Park Assist. While we would have liked to see these features offered in base models, we’re certainly not complaining. Sure, you’ll have to pay a bit more upfront to enjoy some of these top-notch safety features, but it’s a breath of fresh air compared to what may be offered by other competitors, especially considering the fact that Chevy still delivers with a great infotainment system and onboard Wi-Fi.

Did the 2020 Chevy Malibu Make the Cut

To be blunt, the 2020 Chevy Malibu is far from perfect. Then again, a lot of cars are. It takes a lot and can tend to cost a lot to check off every box and earn a place as a positively perfect mid-sized sedan. That said, the 2020 Chevy Malibu offers a level of value that is difficult to ignore. From the low starter price, and the entry-level features the 2020 Chevy Malibu certainly delivers plenty of positives worth considering. So, if you’re in the market for a new car, with a legacy of great design behind it, we’d highly suggest test-driving the 2020 Chevy Malibu to see for yourself just what this mid-sized sedan can do.