2020 Chevrolet Malibu vs. 2019 Hyundai Sonata

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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 Sonata doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Malibu’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 Sonata doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Compared to metal, the Malibu’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Hyundai Sonata has a metal gas tank.

Both the Malibu and the Sonata 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 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 Hyundai Sonata:

Malibu

Sonata

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

173

245

Neck Compression

29 lbs.

49 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

186/153 lbs.

198/433 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 Hyundai Sonata:

Malibu

Sonata

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

212 lbs.

408 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

29 G’s

35 G’s

Hip Force

488 lbs.

773 lbs.

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

Warranty

There are almost 4 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Hyundai dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Malibu’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Malibu first among midsize cars in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Sonata was rated third.

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 Hyundai vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet fourth in reliability, above the industry average. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Hyundai is ranked 8th.

Engine

The Malibu has more powerful engines than the Sonata:

Horsepower

Malibu Premier 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

250 HP

Sonata Eco 1.6 turbo 4 cyl.

178 HP

Sonata 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

185 HP

Sonata Limited 2.0T 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

245 HP

As tested in Consumer Reports the Chevrolet Malibu 1.5 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the Hyundai Sonata 4 cyl.:

Malibu

Sonata

Zero to 30 MPH

3.1 sec

3.7 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

8.4 sec

9.2 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

5.3 sec

5.5 sec

Quarter Mile

16.6 sec

17.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

86 MPH

85.7 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Malibu with its standard engine gets better fuel mileage than the Sonata SE 2.4 4 cyl. (29 city/36 hwy vs. 26 city/35 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 Sonata doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

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

Transmission

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 Sonata.

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 Sonata doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

The Malibu stops much shorter than the Sonata:

Malibu

Sonata

70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

178 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

149 feet

155 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Malibu RS/Premier’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Sonata (245/45R18 vs. 235/45R18).

The Malibu L/LS’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Sonata SE/Eco’s standard 65 series tires. The Malibu’s optional tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Sonata 2.0T’s 45 series tires.

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

Suspension and Handling

The Malibu Premier handles at .88 G’s, while the Sonata Eco pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Malibu Premier executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.7 seconds quicker than the Sonata Eco (26.4 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .58 average G’s).

Chassis

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 Sonata doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The Malibu has .6 inches more front shoulder room, 2.5 inches more rear legroom and .6 inches more rear shoulder room than the Sonata.

Towing

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

Ergonomics

The Malibu (except L) offers a 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 Sonata doesn’t offer a remote starting 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 Sonata does not have an oil pressure gauge.

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 Sonata’s standard power windows’ passenger windows don’t open automatically. The Sonata SEL/Sport/Limited’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to lower them fully.

When the Malibu Premier 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 Sonata’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the Malibu and the Sonata 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 Sonata.

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 Sonata 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 Sonata 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 $725 less than the Sonata over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Malibu is less expensive to operate than the Sonata because it costs $182 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Malibu than the Sonata, including $183 less for a timing belt/chain and $330 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 $373 to $1278 less than for the Hyundai Sonata.

Recommendations

The Chevrolet Malibu outsold the Hyundai Sonata by 38% during 2018.

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

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