2021 Chevrolet Malibu Review: Expected Prices, Release Date, MPG, And Performance

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John Bedrow 

Automotive Journalist

July 30, 2020  at 1:02 PM

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu is going to be a carry-forward model and this model won’t be witnessing any notable changes. Chevy has been struggling with the sales of the Malibu and lately, they have been focusing on SUVs. Reports had also suggested that Chevy was going to pull the plug on the Malibu but Chevy continues to show faith in this midsize sedan and should keep it going for at least a couple of years.

Every second auto manufacturer has slowly abandoned the sedan segment as utility vehicles and trucks have now become the mainstream. Nevertheless, GM tries to keep its sedan segment fresh, at least for now, with the new 2021 Chevrolet Malibu. The 2021 Malibu will most probably be a carryover model but will bring many standard features and a new Sport Edition trim.

The Chevy Malibu received a major overhaul for the year 2016 and a mid-cycle refresh in the year 2019. For 2020, two new colors had been added while the RS trim got restyled rims and a new white grille. The Malibu gets two turbocharged engines that will be carried over for the 2021 model. 

These include a 1.5 L turbo Inline-4 and a 2.0 L turbo Inline-4 which make 160hp and 250hp respectively. The latter is available in the range-topping Premier trim only. The 1.5 L engine is mated to a smooth CVT while the 2.0 L engine is paired to a slick 9-speed automatic shifter. Along, with these potent engines, the Chevy Malibu has lots of tech and safety features to offer. So, let us just dive into the details and also see how the 2021 Malibu will look like.

What’s new with the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu?

  • New Sport Edition trim
  • New exterior colors
  • Minor trim level changes
  • New Equipment Packages
  • Wireless compatibility for Android Auto/ Apple CarPlay

Expected price and release date of the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu will be priced around $24,000 and is expected to release around the third quarter of 2020.

Will there be any changes in the engine department of the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu?

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu is likely to carry over the same engines as the previous year’s model. That means, it will sport the same 1.5 Liter Turbocharged Inline-4 engine under the hood of the base model. This will be mated to a smooth Continuously Variable Transmission like in the previous model. For the 2020 Malibu, this same set of engines put out 163 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque which is quite decent for the class. So, for the 2021 model, we expect these numbers to rise a bit higher due to minor engine refinements.

A 2.0 liter Turbocharged 4 cylinder engine will also be available with the top trims and will be mated to a slick nine-speed automatic shifter. This engine manages to put out a respectable 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque as per the 2020 ratings and can go a bit further if Chevrolet concentrates more on the engine. Both of these available engine choices will suit almost every type of driver. The base engine itself is capable enough for daily commuting or long weekend trips.

Models

2021 Chevrolet Malibu (Expected)

2020 Honda Accord

2020 Ford Fusion

2020 Kia Optima

Base MSRP

$23,500 - $24,500

$23,870.00

$23,170.00

$24,890.00

Engine

1.5-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder

1.5-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder

2.5-liter NA inline four-cylinder

2.4-liter NA inline four-cylinder

Transmission

CVT

CVT

6-speed automatic

6-speed automatic

Power

163 hp @ 5,700 RPM

192 hp @ 5,500 RPM

173 hp @ 6,000 RPM

185 hp @ 6,000 RPM

Torque

184 lb-ft @ 2,500 RPM

192 lb-ft @ 1,600 RPM

174 lb-ft @ 4,500 RPM

178 lb-ft @ 4,000 RPM

0-60 (seconds)

8.5

7.6

8.9

7.8

Quarter-Mile (seconds)

16

15.9

15.2

16.2

*2020 Data used for reference

The 2020 Chevrolet Malibu gave a fairly decent competition to the rivals in terms of performance. Yet, the 2020 Kia Optima outperformed most competitors with its base model only. The 2020 Malibu took 8.5 seconds to hit the 60 mph mark which is a decent figure. But rivals such as the 2020 Honda Accord and the 2020 Kia Optima outgunned the Malibu to a great extent. Nevertheless, we can expect these figures to improve and if everything goes well, the 2021 Malibu might hit 60 mph in under 8 seconds.

How well does the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu handle?

The 2020 Chevrolet Malibu was a treat to drive. It offered one of the best handling performances for the class and provided superb ride quality. The 2021 Malibu is going to get the same suspensions and is more likely to improve the ride quality to one step above. The suspensions will be well-tuned so that your vehicle remains stable at higher speeds. Smaller bumps and tiny road imperfections are easily absorbed by the shocks while bigger bumps might get their way into the cabin.

As far as handling is concerned, the Malibu doesn't seem to impress much. The handling isn't quite adequate and not on par with other rival sedans. While cornering, there is a significant amount of body roll and we expect this issue to be resolved in the 2021 update. Also, the steering response isn't swift and might feel a bit wispy. This leaves enough room for improvement in the next Malibu model.

How many miles to the gallon will the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu return?

The 2020 Chevrolet Malibu provided excellent fuel economy figures, for the base class at least. Hence, we can safely assume that the 2021 Malibu will also have a good fuel economy. The base trim of 2020 Malibu was rated 29/36/32 mpg by the EPA which is a class-leading figure. But problems arise as soon as your thirst for power increases. 

The much powerful 2.0 L Turbocharged I-4 engine significantly drops the fuel economy figures to 22/32/26 mpg. Nevertheless, some people have absolutely no problem with this and find the surge in power worth it.

Models

2021 Chevrolet Malibu (Expected)

2020 Honda Accord

2020 Ford Fusion

2020 Kia Optima

MPG (city)

29*

30

21

24

MPG (highway)

36*

38

32

32

MPG (combined)

32*

33

25

27

Fuel tank capacity (gallons)

15.8*

14.8

16.5

18.5

Range (city/highway) (miles)

458/569*

444/562

347/528

444/611

*2020 Figures used for reference

The Malibu topped the fuel economy chart in 2020 with an impressive 29 mpg city rating and along 569 miles highway range. Yet, the Honda Accord and Ford Fusion provide decent fuel economy while the Kia Optima has a bigger fuel tank. The Malibu will need to make some more engine refinements to stay much fuel-efficient like it was in 2020.

What to expect from the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu’s interior?

The 2020 Malibu ticks all checkboxes right as far as the interior is concerned but misses out on luxury. The 2020 Malibu has a roomy interior but there's nothing special and remarkable. Like any mid-size sedans, it provides enough room and spacious seating for the passengers. A six-way manually adjustable Driver's seat is available as standard while an eight-way power chair is also available. The rear seats are also supportive and have much legroom for six-footers. Also, the standard cloth upholstery can be replaced by available leatherette on higher trims.

The 2021 Malibu will pretty much walk on the same path as its predecessor and we will be surprised if it brings something unique and luxurious in the newer version. Yet, as per reports, Chevrolet hasn't tinkered with the 2021 Malibu's interior and hence we might not see any significant changes inside. Nevertheless, you get an all-black interior trim in the RS trim and the top-dog Premiere looks even more luxurious with leather upholstery and a couple of exotic materials.

Models

2021 Chevrolet Malibu (Expected)

2020 Honda Accord

2020 Ford Fusion

2020 Kia Optima

Passenger Capacity

5

5

5

5

Front (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in.)

40.1/58.5/45.3

39.5/58.3/42.3

39.2/57.8/44.3

39.8/58.1/45.5

Second (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in.)

37.5/57.1/38.1

37.3/56.5/40.4

37.8/56.9/38.3

37.8/56.4/35.6

Cargo Capacity (cu.ft.)

15.7

16.7

16

15.9

*2020 Model used for reference

The 2020 Malibu had excellent passenger room and comfy seating. The Honda Accord provides better legroom in the rear.

The 15.7 cubic feet cargo space of the 2020 Malibu seems quite adequate but rivals have more to offer. The Honda Accord provides an excellent 16.7 cubes of cargo storage. The 2021 Malibu will sport similar cargo storage as no refinements are expected to happen in that area.

2021 Chevrolet Malibu: Infotainment and Connectivity

The 2020 Malibu is well-equipped in its base trim itself. The Malibu gets you an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system along with standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility from the base trim onwards. It also gets Bluetooth Connectivity and 4G WiFi with a monthly subscription. The Premiere gives navigation and a premium Bose Audio System.

The 2021 Malibu won't introduce many additions to the tech except for some refinements in the infotainment interface. The Malibu will sport the same 8-inch touchscreen and smartphone integration. The standard six-speaker sound system will remain standard for the base trim.

Will there be any changes to the exterior of the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu?

The Chevy Malibu received a great visual refresh in the year 2019. Hence, the succeeding 2020 Malibu is a handsome, stylish sedan with some really sharp curves. The front fascia is wide and the sporty front end matches seamlessly with the sloping roofline. The sharp curves give the Malibu an aggressive look, while the RS trim adds more sportiness to the vehicle with those big black rims.

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu will mostly be a carryover from the previous model, and the exterior might get some minor refinements. As per the official reports, Chevrolet will most probably slay off the Malibu till 2024. So, it's obvious that Chevy might not want to invest much time and money in refining and redesigning this model. Nevertheless, seeing the current bold avatar of the Malibu, it doesn't actually need a significant visual refresh.

Models

2021 Chevrolet Malibu (Expected)

2020 Honda Accord

2020 Ford Fusion

2020 Kia Optima

Curb Weight (lbs.)

3126*

3131

3472

3298

Length (in.)

192.4*

192.2

191.7

191.1

Width (in.)

73*

73.3

75.6

73.2

Height (in.)

57.6*

57.1

58.1

57.7

Ground Clearance (in.)

6.5*

5.5

6.4

5.3

Wheelbase (in.)

111.4*

111.4

112.1

110.4

Track Width (in.) F/R

62.6/62.5*

63/63.4

62.3/62.4

63.5/63.4

*2020 Figures used for reference

The 2020 Chevrolet Malibu was the longest among rivals and also had the highest stance. While these bigger dimensions didn't much contribute to the city driving but they did give a bold look to the Malibu. 

Will the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu be worth it?

The release dates aren't out yet and you’ll have to wait for a considerable amount of time to get your hands on the new 2021 Malibu. However, we don't actually find it worth waiting as it will mostly be a carryover model. Still, with the addition of more standard features and a new Sport Edition trim, it might impress some customers.

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