2019 Toyota Prius Prime vs. 2019 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Toyota Prius Prime 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.

The Prius Prime’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 Hybrid doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Prius Prime and the Malibu Hybrid have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver 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, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

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 headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Prius Prime the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 100 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Malibu Hybrid was a “Top Pick” for 2017, but no longer qualifies under the tighter 2018 guidelines.

Warranty

The Prius Prime’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Malibu Hybrid’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

Reliability

The Malibu Hybrid’s redline is at 5000 RPM, which causes more engine wear, and a greater chance of a catastrophic engine failure. The Prius Prime has a 4000 RPM redline.

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 Prius Prime’s reliability 64 points higher than the Malibu Hybrid.

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.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Prius Prime running on electricity gets better fuel mileage than the Malibu Hybrid (145 city/121 hwy MPGe vs. 49 city/43 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the Prius Prime running its gasoline engine gets better fuel mileage than the Malibu Hybrid (55 city/53 hwy vs. 49 city/43 hwy).

The Prius Prime can drive on battery power alone for up to 25 miles. The Malibu Hybrid must run its internal combustion engine to move.

Brakes and Stopping

The Prius Prime stops shorter than the Malibu Hybrid:

 

Prius Prime

Malibu Hybrid

 

60 to 0 MPH

124 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

147 feet

153 feet

Consumer Reports

Suspension and Handling

The Prius Prime 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 Hybrid doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The Prius Prime’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (55.5% to 44.5%) than the Malibu Hybrid’s (58.4% to 41.6%). This gives the Prius Prime more stable handling and braking.

For better maneuverability, the Prius Prime’s turning circle is 3.6 feet tighter than the Malibu Hybrid’s (33.4 feet vs. 37 feet).

Chassis

The Prius Prime is 11.3 inches shorter than the Malibu Hybrid, making the Prius Prime easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Prius Prime Advanced is quieter than the Malibu Hybrid:

 

Prius Prime

Malibu Hybrid

At idle

27 dB

38 dB

Full-Throttle

71 dB

75 dB

70 MPH Cruising

67 dB

71 dB

Passenger Space

The Prius Prime has .3 inches more front headroom and 1.7 inches more front legroom than the Malibu Hybrid.

Cargo Capacity

The Prius Prime has a much larger trunk than the Malibu Hybrid (19.8 vs. 11.6 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Prius Prime easier. The Prius Prime’s trunk lift-over height is 26.5 inches, while the Malibu Hybrid’s liftover is 30.5 inches.

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

Ergonomics

The Prius Prime Advanced has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The Prius Prime’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 Prius Prime 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 Hybrid doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Prius Prime Advanced’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 Prius Prime’s headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the Malibu Hybrid’s headlights are rated “Poor.”

On extremely cold winter days, the Prius Prime Advanced’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 Prius Prime 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 Prius Prime Advanced’s Intelligent Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Malibu Hybrid doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Toyota Prius Prime, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid isn't recommended.

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

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