2019 Nissan Maxima vs. 2019 Chevrolet Malibu

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

Your buying experience includes...

business_centerProfessional Staff
account_balanceSimple Financing
local_gas_stationFull Tank of Gas
local_car_washFree Car Wash

Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Nissan Maxima 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.

Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Maxima (except S/SV/SL) offers optional Rear Automatic Braking which use rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Malibu doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

The Maxima (except S/SV/SL) offers an optional Around 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.

The Maxima’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Malibu doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Maxima 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, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

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

 

Maxima

Malibu

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

106

173

Neck Stress

328 lbs.

937 lbs.

Neck Compression

20 lbs.

29 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

67/94 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 Nissan Maxima is safer than the Chevrolet Malibu:

 

Maxima

Malibu

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.9 inches

1.1 inches

Abdominal Force

188 G’s

239 G’s

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

391

460

Spine Acceleration

57 G’s

57 G’s

Hip Force

591 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 all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Maxima the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 85 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Malibu was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.

Warranty

The Maxima’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 Maxima’s reliability 47 points higher than the Malibu.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Maxima first among large cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Malibu isn’t in the top three in its category.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Nissan vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Nissan 9 places higher in reliability than Chevrolet.

Engine

The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 140 more horsepower (300 vs. 160) and 77 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 184) than the Malibu’s standard 1.5 turbo 4 cyl. The Maxima’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 50 more horsepower (300 vs. 250) and 1 lbs.-ft. more torque (261 vs. 260) than the Malibu Premier’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Nissan Maxima is faster than the Chevrolet Malibu:

 

Maxima

Malibu 1.5

Malibu Premier

Zero to 60 MPH

5.7 sec

8.5 sec

6.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

16.5 sec

14.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100.5 MPH

84.6 MPH

96.2 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

The Maxima has 2.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the Malibu (18 vs. 15.8 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

Maxima

Malibu

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

11.8 inches

Rear Rotors

12.13 inches

11.3 inches

The Maxima’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Malibu are solid, not vented.

The Maxima stops shorter than the Malibu:

 

Maxima

Malibu

 

70 to 0 MPH

168 feet

171 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

125 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

141 feet

149 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Maxima has larger tires than the Malibu (245/45R18 vs. 205/60R16).

The Maxima’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 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 Maxima has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Malibu L/LS.

The Maxima has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Malibu doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

The Maxima offers an optional full size spare tire so a flat doesn’t interrupt your trip. A full size spare isn’t available on the Malibu, it requires you to depend on a temporary spare, which has mileage and speed limitations, or roadside assistance and a tow-truck.

Suspension and Handling

The Maxima 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 Maxima SR handles at .86 G’s, while the Malibu LT pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Maxima SR executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Malibu LT (26.6 seconds @ .69 average G’s vs. 27.4 seconds @ .63 average G’s).

Chassis

The Maxima SL/SR/Platinum 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.

Passenger Space

The Maxima has .3 inches more front headroom, 3.5 inches more front legroom, .1 inches more front hip room and .1 inches more rear hip room than the Malibu.

Cargo Capacity

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Maxima easier. The Maxima’s trunk lift-over height is 28.8 inches, while the Malibu’s liftover is 30.5 inches.

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the Maxima’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. The Malibu’s useful trunk space is reduced by its intrusive beam hinge.

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the Maxima offers cargo security. The Malibu’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the Maxima. The Malibu doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Servicing Ease

The Maxima 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.

Ergonomics

The Maxima’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 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.

If the front windows are left open on the Maxima the driver can close them at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Malibu can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The Maxima 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 Maxima’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Malibu’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted. The Maxima Platinum’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield.

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 Maxima’s available headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Malibu’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

A power rear sunshade is standard in the Maxima Platinum to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Malibu doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The Maxima 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.

The Maxima 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.

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

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Maxima owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Maxima 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 Maxima is less expensive to operate than the Malibu because typical repairs cost less on the Maxima than the Malibu, including $81 less for a water pump, $77 less for front brake pads and $13 less for front struts.

Recommendations

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

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Maxima second among large cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Malibu isn’t in the top three in its category.

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

How much is your car worth?

Get the best value for your car from an Asbury dealership.

Featured Videos