2020 Chevrolet Malibu vs. 2019 Acura ILX

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 are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The ILX doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

Both the Malibu and the ILX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors 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 Chevrolet Malibu is safer than the Acura ILX:




5 Stars

4 Stars



5 Stars

5 Stars




Neck Injury Risk



Neck Compression

29 lbs.

56 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

186/153 lbs.

57/324 lbs.



4 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk



Leg Forces (l/r)

173/196 lbs.

768/623 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 and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Chevrolet Malibu is safer than the Acura ILX:



Front Seat


5 Stars

5 Stars




Hip Force

212 lbs.

487 lbs.

Into Pole


5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

14 inches




Spine Acceleration

29 G’s

56 G’s

Hip Force

488 lbs.

945 lbs.

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


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

There are over 11 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Acura dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Malibu’s warranty.


J.D. Power and Associates rated the Malibu first among midsize cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The ILX isn’t in the top three in its category.

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 Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet 6th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 25 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 24th, below the industry average.

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 Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet fourth in reliability, above the industry average. With 56 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.


The Malibu Premier’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 49 more horsepower (250 vs. 201) and 80 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 180) than the ILX’s 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Malibu Premier 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the Acura ILX:



Zero to 60 MPH

6.1 sec

6.6 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

15.4 sec

17.2 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.7 sec

7 sec

Quarter Mile

14.7 sec

15.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

97 MPH

94 MPH

Top Speed

156 MPH

133 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Malibu with its standard engine gets better fuel mileage than the ILX (29 city/36 hwy vs. 24 city/34 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Malibu 1.5 Turbo’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The ILX doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Malibu has 2.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the ILX (15.8 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

The Malibu 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 ILX doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Chevrolet Malibu higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the Acura ILX (3). This means the Malibu produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the ILX every 15,000 miles.


A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Chevrolet Malibu Premier, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the ILX.

The Malibu has a standard continuously variable transmission (CVT). With no “steps” between gears, it can keep the engine at the most efficient speed for fuel economy, or keep it at its peak horsepower indefinitely for maximum acceleration. The ILX doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

The Malibu stops much shorter than the ILX:



70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

184 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Malibu RS/Premier’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the ILX (245/45R18 vs. 225/40R18).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Malibu offers optional 19-inch wheels. The ILX’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

The Malibu L/LS/LT 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 ILX; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Malibu’s wheelbase is 6.3 inches longer than on the ILX (111.4 inches vs. 105.1 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Malibu is 3.2 inches wider in the front and 2.3 inches wider in the rear than on the ILX.

The Malibu’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (61.6% to 38.4%) than the ILX’s (63% to 37%). This gives the Malibu more stable handling and braking.

The Malibu Premier handles at .87 G’s, while the ILX A-SPEC pulls only .83 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.


The front grille of the Malibu (except 2.0 Turbo) uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The ILX doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the Malibu a Mid-size car, while the ILX is rated a Compact.

The Malibu has 13.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the ILX (102.9 vs. 89.3).

The Malibu has 1.1 inches more front headroom, 3.8 inches more front hip room, 2.9 inches more front shoulder room, 1.6 inches more rear headroom, 4.1 inches more rear legroom, 1.7 inches more rear hip room and 3.5 inches more rear shoulder room than the ILX.

Cargo Capacity

The Malibu has a much larger trunk than the ILX (15.7 vs. 12.4 cubic feet).

The Malibu’s standard folding rear seats are split to accommodate bulky cargo. The ILX’s standard single piece folding rear seat is not as flexible; long cargo and a passenger can’t share the rear seat.


The Malibu has a 1000 lbs. towing capacity. The ILX has no towing capacity.


The Malibu Premier’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 ILX doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Malibu’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 ILX does not have an oil pressure gauge.

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

The Malibu’s standard 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 ILX’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open them fully.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Malibu LT/Premier detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The ILX doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

Both the Malibu and the ILX offer available heated front seats. The Malibu Premier also has standard heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the ILX.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Malibu Premier keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The ILX doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the Malibu’s optional (except L/LS/RS) heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The ILX doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

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

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Chevrolet Malibu Premier has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The ILX doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The Malibu Premier has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The ILX doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.

The Malibu Premier’s optional Automatic Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The ILX doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Malibu owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Malibu will cost $590 less than the ILX over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Malibu is less expensive to operate than the ILX because typical repairs cost much less on the Malibu than the ILX, including $240 less for a starter, $159 less for fuel injection, $123 less for a fuel pump, $102 less for front struts and $438 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Chevrolet Malibu will be $1675 to $4926 less than for the Acura ILX.


The Chevrolet Malibu outsold the Acura ILX by almost 13 to one during 2018.

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

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