2019 Mazda 6 vs. 2019 Chevrolet Malibu

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Mazda 6 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 Mazda 6 Signature has a standard 360-degree View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Malibu only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the Mazda 6 and the Malibu have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and daytime running lights.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Mazda 6 is safer than the Chevrolet Malibu:

 

Mazda 6

Malibu

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

130

173

Neck Injury Risk

23%

23%

Neck Stress

266 lbs.

937 lbs.

Neck Compression

24 lbs.

29 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

43/70 lbs.

186/153 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH, results indicate that the Mazda 6 is safer than the Chevrolet Malibu:

 

Mazda 6

Malibu

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

154

180

Chest Movement

1.1 inches

1.1 inches

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

356

460

Hip Force

380 lbs.

809 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in IIHS driver-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, its “Good” rating in the new passenger-side small overlap crash test, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Mazda 6 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2019, a rating granted to only 62 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Malibu was last qualified as a “Top Pick” in 2017.

Warranty

The Mazda 6’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Malibu’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Mazda 6’s reliability 48 points higher than the Malibu.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mazda third in reliability. Chevrolet is ranked 23rd.

Engine

The Mazda 6’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 27 more horsepower (187 vs. 160) and 2 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs. 184) than the Malibu’s standard 1.5 turbo 4 cyl. The Mazda 6 Grand Touring/Signature’s standard 2.5 turbo 4 cyl. produces 50 lbs.-ft. more torque (310 vs. 260) than the Malibu Premier’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Mazda 6 (base engine) is faster than the Chevrolet Malibu 1.5 turbo 4 cyl.:

 

Mazda6

Malibu

Zero to 60 MPH

7.3 sec

8.5 sec

Quarter Mile

15.6 sec

16.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

90.6 MPH

84.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the Mazda 6 (except Turbo)’s fuel efficiency. The Malibu doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Mazda 6 Touring/Signature’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Malibu:

 

Mazda6 Turbo

Malibu

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

11.8 inches

The Mazda 6 stops shorter than the Malibu:

 

Mazda 6

Malibu

 

60 to 0 MPH

121 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

149 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Mazda 6 has larger tires than the Malibu (225/55R17 vs. 205/60R16).

The Mazda 6 Sport’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 Mazda 6 Sport has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Malibu L/LS.

Suspension and Handling

The Mazda 6 has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Malibu’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Mazda 6 has engine 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 Mazda 6’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (58% to 42%) than the Malibu’s (61.6% to 38.4%). This gives the Mazda 6 more stable handling and braking.

The Mazda 6 Touring 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 Mazda 6 (except Sport) offers available 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.

Passenger Space

The Mazda 6 has .7 inches more front legroom, .6 inches more rear legroom and .1 inches more rear hip room than the Malibu.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Mazda 6 easier. The Mazda 6’s trunk lift-over height is 28.5 inches, while the Malibu’s liftover is 30.5 inches.

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the Mazda 6’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Malibu’s useful trunk space.

Ergonomics

The Mazda 6 Grand Touring Reserve and Signature have a standard 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 Mazda 6’s front and rear power windows all 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 passenger windows don’t close automatically.

The Mazda 6 has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Malibu doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Mazda 6’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Malibu’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The Mazda 6’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Malibu’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the Mazda 6 Grand Touring Reserve/Signature has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Malibu doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The Mazda 6 Grand Touring/Signature has standard 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.

The Mazda 6 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Malibu LT/Premier.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Mazda 6 owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Mazda 6 with a number “1” insurance rate while the Malibu is rated higher at a number “3” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Mazda 6 is less expensive to operate than the Malibu because typical repairs cost much less on the Mazda 6 than the Malibu, including $266 less for a water pump, $296 less for a muffler, $66 less for front brake pads, $129 less for a starter, $8 less for front struts and $83 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Mazda 6, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Chevrolet Malibu isn't recommended.

Car and Driver performed a comparison test in its April 2016 issue and the Mazda 6 Touring won out over the Chevrolet Malibu LT.

The Mazda 6 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 2 of the last 6 years. The Malibu has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

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

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