2020 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid vs. 2019 Nissan Altima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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The Malibu Hybrid’s standard pretensioning seatbelts also sense rear collisions and remove slack from the front seatbelts to help protect the occupants from whiplash and other injuries. The Altima doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Both the Malibu Hybrid and the Altima 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, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes and rearview cameras.


The Malibu Hybrid’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Altima’s (6 vs. 5 years).

There are almost 3 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Nissan 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 Altima’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

The Altima’s redline is at 6000 to 6200 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 Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet 6th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 1 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 7th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Chevrolet vehicles are more reliable than Nissan vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet fourth in reliability, above the industry average. With 22 more problems per 100 vehicles, Nissan is ranked 15th.


The Malibu Hybrid’s 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 195 lbs.-ft. more torque (375 vs. 180) than the Altima’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The Malibu Hybrid’s 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid produces 102 lbs.-ft. more torque (375 vs. 273) than the Altima’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Malibu Hybrid gets better fuel mileage than the Altima FWD with its standard engine (49 city/43 hwy vs. 28 city/39 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the Malibu Hybrid’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Altima doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Altima with the 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder engine requires premium for maximum efficiency, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

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 Altima doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

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



Front Rotors

11.8 inches

11.65 inches

Rear Rotors

11.3 inches

11.02 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Malibu Hybrid has larger tires than the Altima (225/55R17 vs. 215/60R16).

The Malibu Hybrid’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Altima S’ standard 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Malibu Hybrid has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Altima S.


As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Malibu Hybrid is quieter than the Altima Platinum:



At idle

38 dB

40 dB


75 dB

79 dB

Passenger Space

The Malibu Hybrid has 2.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Altima (102.9 vs. 100.8).

The Malibu Hybrid has .3 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear headroom and 2.9 inches more rear legroom than the Altima.


The Malibu Hybrid has a 1000 lbs. towing capacity. The Altima has no towing capacity.


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 Altima does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The power windows standard on both the Malibu Hybrid and the Altima have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Malibu Hybrid is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Altima prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The Malibu Hybrid’s front and rear power windows all lower 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 Altima’s standard power windows’ passenger windows don’t open automatically. The Altima SV/SL/Platinum’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to lower them fully.

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

The Malibu Hybrid’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan charges extra for heated mirrors on the Altima.

The Malibu Hybrid 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 Altima SV/SL/Platinum.

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

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Malibu Hybrid owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Malibu Hybrid will cost $270 to $1910 less than the Altima over a five-year period.

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

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