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For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Toyota Avalon Hybrid 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 Hybrid doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.
Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Avalon Hybrid Limited offers optional Rear Cross-Traffic Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.
The Avalon Hybrid Limited offers an optional Bird’s Eye View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Malibu Hybrid 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 Avalon Hybrid and the Malibu Hybrid 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 and rearview cameras.
For its top level performance in IIHS driver and passenger-side small overlap frontal, moderate overlap frontal, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Avalon Hybrid its highest rating: “Top Pick Plus” for 2019, a rating granted to only 45 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Malibu Hybrid was last qualified as only a standard “Top Pick” in 2017.
The Avalon Hybrid’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Malibu Hybrid’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).
Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Avalon Hybrid for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Chevrolet only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the Malibu Hybrid.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Chevrolet is ranked fourth.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. Chevrolet is ranked 23rd.
The Avalon Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 33 more horsepower (215 vs. 182) than the Malibu Hybrid’s 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid.
In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Toyota Avalon Hybrid higher (7 out of 10) than the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid (5). This means the Avalon Hybrid produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Malibu Hybrid every 15,000 miles.
For better stopping power the Avalon Hybrid’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Malibu Hybrid:
For better traction, the Avalon Hybrid Limited’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Malibu Hybrid (235/40R18 vs. 225/55R17).
The Avalon Hybrid Limited’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Malibu Hybrid’s 55 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Avalon Hybrid Limited has standard 18-inch wheels. The Malibu Hybrid’s largest wheels are only 17-inches.
The Avalon Hybrid has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the Malibu Hybrid; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.
The Avalon Hybrid has 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 Hybrid doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Avalon Hybrid’s wheelbase is 1.6 inches longer than on the Malibu Hybrid (113 inches vs. 111.4 inches).
For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Avalon Hybrid is 0 inches wider in the front and 1.1 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Malibu Hybrid.
The Avalon Hybrid has .6 inches more front legroom, 1.7 inches more front hip room, .4 inches more rear headroom, 2.3 inches more rear legroom and 1.4 inches more rear hip room than the Malibu Hybrid.
The Avalon Hybrid has a much larger trunk than the Malibu Hybrid (16.1 vs. 11.6 cubic feet).
To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the Avalon Hybrid’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Malibu Hybrid’s useful trunk space.
A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the Avalon Hybrid. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.
The Avalon Hybrid uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Malibu Hybrid 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.
When two different drivers share the Avalon Hybrid Limited, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, steering wheel position (with optional power wheel adjuster) and outside mirror angle. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer a memory system.
The Avalon Hybrid Limited’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The Avalon Hybrid’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 Hybrid’s passenger windows don’t close automatically.
The Avalon Hybrid Limited’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Malibu Hybrid’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 Avalon Hybrid’s available headlights were rated “Good” by the IIHS, while the Malibu Hybrid’s headlights are rated “Poor.”
To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Avalon Hybrid Limited has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer cornering lights. The Avalon Hybrid Limited also has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.
When the Avalon Hybrid Limited/Touring is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Malibu Hybrid’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.
The Avalon Hybrid Limited 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 Hybrid offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.
The Avalon Hybrid has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the Malibu Hybrid. The Avalon Hybrid Limited also has standard heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Malibu Hybrid.
Standard air-conditioned seats in the Avalon Hybrid Limited keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.
On extremely cold winter days, the Avalon Hybrid Limited’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.
To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the Avalon Hybrid has a standard Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.
The Avalon Hybrid will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Avalon Hybrid will retain 46.54% to 47.58% of its original price after five years, while the Malibu Hybrid only retains 39.68%.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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