2020 Chevrolet Malibu vs. 2019 Mazda 6

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 Mazda 6 doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

Compared to metal, the Malibu’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mazda 6 has a metal gas tank.

Both the Malibu and the Mazda 6 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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 Mazda 6:

Malibu

Mazda 6

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

23%

23%

Passenger

STARS

4 Stars

4 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

38%

53%

Neck Compression

62 lbs.

107 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

173/196 lbs.

335/150 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 Mazda 6:

Malibu

Mazda 6

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

1.1 inches

1.1 inches

Abdominal Force

239 G’s

256 G’s

Hip Force

212 lbs.

437 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

14 inches

HIC

235

271

Spine Acceleration

29 G’s

36 G’s

Hip Force

488 lbs.

671 lbs.

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

Warranty

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

There are over 5 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Mazda 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 Mazda 6 isn’t in the top three.

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 Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet 6th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 9 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 12th, 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 Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet fourth in reliability, above the industry average. With 44 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.

Engine

The Malibu Premier’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 63 more horsepower (250 vs. 187) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 186) than the Mazda 6’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Consumer Reports the Chevrolet Malibu 1.5 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the Mazda 6 4 cyl.:

Malibu

6

Zero to 30 MPH

3.1 sec

3.6 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

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Malibu gets better fuel mileage than the Mazda6:

MPG

Malibu

FWD

1.5 turbo 4-cyl.

29 city/36 hwy

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/32 hwy

Mazda6

FWD

2.5 DOHC 4-cyl.

26 city/35 hwy

2.5 turbo 4-cyl.

23 city/31 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 Mazda 6 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 Mazda 6 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 Mazda 6 (3 to 7). This means the Malibu produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Mazda 6 every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Chevrolet Malibu Premier, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Mazda 6.

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 Mazda 6 doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

The Malibu stops much shorter than the Mazda 6:

Malibu

Mazda 6

70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

184 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Malibu RS/Premier’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Mazda 6 (245/45R18 vs. 225/55R17).

The Malibu’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Mazda 6 Touring/Grand Touring/Signature’s 45 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

The Malibu Premier handles at .87 G’s, while the Mazda 6 Signature pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Malibu Premier executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.2 seconds quicker than the Mazda 6 Touring (26.4 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

Chassis

The Chevrolet Malibu may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 300 to 350 pounds less than the Mazda 6.

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 Mazda 6 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Malibu LT is quieter than the Mazda 6 Grand Touring:

Malibu

6

At idle

42 dB

42 dB

Full-Throttle

71 dB

80 dB

70 MPH Cruising

65 dB

69 dB

Passenger Space

The Malibu has 3.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Mazda 6 (102.9 vs. 99.7).

The Malibu has .7 inches more front headroom, .6 inches more front hip room, 2.6 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom and 2 inches more rear shoulder room than the Mazda 6.

Cargo Capacity

The Malibu has a larger trunk than the Mazda 6 (15.7 vs. 14.7 cubic feet).

Towing

The Malibu has a 1000 lbs. towing capacity. The Mazda 6 has no towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The Malibu has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Mazda 6 doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

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 Mazda 6 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 Mazda 6 does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The power windows standard on both the Malibu and the Mazda 6 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 Mazda 6 prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

Consumer Reports rated the Malibu’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the Mazda 6’s headlights, which were rated “Good.”

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 Mazda 6’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

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 Mazda 6 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 Mazda 6 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Malibu is less expensive to operate than the Mazda 6 because it costs $89 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Malibu than the Mazda 6, including $220 less for fuel injection, $118 less for a fuel pump, $17 less for a timing belt/chain and $207 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The Chevrolet Malibu outsold the Mazda 6 by almost five to one during 2018.

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

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