2020 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid vs. 2019 Lexus ES Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Malibu Hybrid are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The ES Series doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

To help make backing safer, the Malibu Hybrid’s cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The ES Series doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Malibu Hybrid and the ES Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems and rearview cameras.

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

Malibu Hybrid

ES Series


5 Stars

4 Stars



5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk



Neck Compression

29 lbs.

30 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

186/153 lbs.

524/628 lbs.



4 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.6 inches

.8 inches

Neck Compression

62 lbs.

62 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

173/196 lbs.

473/518 lbs.

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


There are over 12 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Lexus dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Malibu Hybrid’s warranty.


The Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the ES Series’ engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

The ES Series’ redline is at 6600 RPM, which causes more engine wear, and a greater chance of a catastrophic engine failure. The Malibu Hybrid has a 5000 RPM redline.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are better in initial quality than Lexus vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet 6th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles, Lexus is ranked 8th.


As tested in Motor Trend the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid is faster than the ES 300h:


ES Series

Zero to 60 MPH

7.4 sec

7.8 sec

Quarter Mile

15.8 sec

16 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Malibu Hybrid gets better fuel mileage than the ES 300h (49 city/43 hwy vs. 43 city/45 hwy).

The Malibu Hybrid has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The ES Series doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

The Malibu Hybrid stops much shorter than the ES Series:


ES Series

60 to 0 MPH

127 feet

140 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Malibu Hybrid has larger tires than the ES Series (225/55R17 vs. 215/55R17).

Suspension and Handling

The Malibu Hybrid handles at .83 G’s, while the ES 300h pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Malibu Hybrid executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the ES 300h (27.5 seconds @ .61 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Malibu Hybrid’s turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the ES Series’ (37 feet vs. 38 feet). The Malibu Hybrid’s turning circle is 1.8 feet tighter than the ES Series w/18-19” wheels’ (37 feet vs. 38.8 feet).


The Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 350 pounds less than the Lexus ES Series.

The front grille of the Malibu Hybrid uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The ES Series doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The Malibu Hybrid has 3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the ES Series (102.9 vs. 99.9).

The Malibu Hybrid has 1.6 inches more front headroom, 2.6 inches more front shoulder room and 2.8 inches more rear shoulder room than the ES Series.

Cargo Capacity

The Malibu Hybrid’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The ES Series doesn’t offer folding rear seats.

Servicing Ease

An Oil Life Monitor is standard on the Malibu Hybrid to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes based on actual driving conditions. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Lexus doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the ES Series.


The Malibu Hybrid has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The ES Series doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The Malibu Hybrid’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The ES Series does not have an oil pressure gauge.

Consumer Reports rated the Malibu Hybrid’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the ES Series’ headlights, which were rated “Fair.”

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

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