2019 Buick Regal Sportback vs. 2018 Chevrolet Malibu

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Buick Regal Sportback are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Chevrolet Malibu doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Regal Sportback offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Malibu doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Both the Regal Sportback and the Malibu have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, front and rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The Regal Sportback comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Malibu’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Buick’s powertrain warranty covers the Regal Sportback 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Chevrolet covers the Malibu. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Malibu ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The Regal Sportback’s 6 year corrosion warranty has no mileage limitations, but the corrosion warranty on the Malibu runs out after 100,000 miles.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Buick third in reliability, above the industry average. With 8 more problems per 100 vehicles, Chevrolet is ranked 6th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that Buick vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Buick 10 places higher in reliability than Chevrolet.

Engine

The Regal Sportback has more powerful engines than the Malibu:

 

Horsepower

Torque

Regal Sportback FWD 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

250 HP

260 lbs.-ft.

Regal Sportback AWD 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

250 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

Regal Sportback GS 3.6 DOHC V6

310 HP

282 lbs.-ft.

Malibu 1.5 turbo 4 cyl.

160 HP

184 lbs.-ft.

Malibu Premier 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

250 HP

260 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Car and Driver the Buick Regal Sportback 2.0 Turbo is faster than the Chevrolet Malibu:

 

Regal

Malibu 1.5

Malibu Premier

Zero to 30 MPH

2.2 sec

2.7 sec

n/a

Zero to 60 MPH

5.6 sec

8 sec

6.1 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.8 sec

24.7 sec

15.4 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.1 sec

8.9 sec

6.7 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

2.9 sec

4.9 sec

n/a

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4 sec

5.9 sec

n/a

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

16.4 sec

14.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

101 MPH

85 MPH

97 MPH

Top Speed

131 MPH

130 MPH

156 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

Regardless of its engine, the Regal Sportback’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Chevrolet only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the Malibu 1.5 Turbo.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Regal Sportback’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Malibu:

 

Regal

Malibu

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

11.8 inches

The Regal Sportback stops shorter than the Malibu:

 

Regal

Malibu

 

70 to 0 MPH

162 feet

171 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Regal Sportback has larger standard tires than the Malibu (225/55R17 vs. 205/60R16).

The Regal Sportback’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Malibu L/LS’ standard 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Regal Sportback has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Malibu L/LS.

Suspension and Handling

The Regal Sportback offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Malibu’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The Regal Sportback has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Malibu doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The Regal Sportback GS handles at .87 G’s, while the Malibu LT pulls only .86 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The Regal Sportback AWD uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Malibu doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the Regal Sportback Essence is quieter than the Malibu LT (37 vs. 42 dB).

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Regal Sportback a Large car, while the Malibu is rated a Mid-size.

The Regal Sportback has .1 inches more front legroom, 1.1 inches more front hip room and .7 inches more rear hip room than the Malibu.

Cargo Capacity

The Regal Sportback has a much larger trunk with its rear seat up than the Malibu (31.5 vs. 15.8 cubic feet).

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the Regal Sportback’s hatch uses gas strut supported hinges that don’t intrude into the cargo area. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Malibu’s useful trunk space.

Servicing Ease

The Regal Sportback uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Malibu uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Buick service is better than Chevrolet. J.D. Power ranks Buick 9th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 1% lower rating, Chevrolet is ranked 10th.

Ergonomics

Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Malibu Premier, the Regal Sportback offers an optional driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The Regal Sportback GS offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Malibu doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Regal Sportback’s front power windows open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Malibu’s standard power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. The Malibu LT/Premier’s front passenger window doesn’t close automatically.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Regal Sportback offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Malibu doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Regal Sportback’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Chevrolet only offers heated mirrors on the Malibu LT/Premier.

The Regal Sportback offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Malibu offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the Regal Sportback and the Malibu offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Regal Sportback has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Malibu L/LS doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Bluetooth wireless connectivity is standard on the Regal Sportback, connecting the driver and passenger’s cell phones to the vehicle systems. This allows them to use the vehicle’s stereo and hand controls to place calls safely and easily. Chevrolet only offers wireless connectivity on the Malibu LS/LT/Premier.

Model Availability

The Buick Regal comes in four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Chevrolet Malibu isn’t available as a station wagon.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Regal Sportback is less expensive to operate than the Malibu because typical repairs cost less on the Regal Sportback than the Malibu, including $5 less for fuel injection, $15 less for a fuel pump and $118 less for a timing belt/chain.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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