2020 Chevrolet Malibu vs. 2019 Nissan Altima

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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 Altima doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Both the Malibu 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, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The Malibu’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’s warranty.

Reliability

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

Engine

The Malibu Premier’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 62 more horsepower (250 vs. 188) and 80 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 180) than the Altima’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Malibu Premier 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the Nissan Altima 4 cyl.:

Malibu

Altima

Zero to 60 MPH

6.2 sec

7.4 sec

Quarter Mile

14.7 sec

15.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

96.2 MPH

90.2 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

Brakes and Stopping

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

Malibu

Altima

Front Rotors

11.8 inches

11.65 inches

Rear Rotors

11.3 inches

11.02 inches

The Malibu stops shorter than the Altima:

Malibu

Altima

70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

172 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

119 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Malibu RS/Premier’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Altima (245/45R18 vs. 235/40R19).

Suspension and Handling

The Malibu Premier handles at .88 G’s, while the Altima SV AWD pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Malibu Premier executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the Altima SV AWD (26.4 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 27.7 seconds @ .61 average G’s).

Chassis

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

Malibu

Altima

Full-Throttle

71 dB

79 dB

70 MPH Cruising

65 dB

70 dB

Passenger Space

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

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

Cargo Capacity

The Malibu has a larger trunk than the Altima (15.7 vs. 15.4 cubic feet).

Towing

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

Ergonomics

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 Altima does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The power windows standard on both the Malibu and the Altima 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 Altima 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 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’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the Altima’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 Altima’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the Malibu and the Altima 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 Altima.

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 Altima doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

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 Altima 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 Altima 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 $965 less than the Altima over a five-year period.

The Malibu will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the Malibu will retain 40.6% to 42.37% of its original price after five years, while the Altima only retains 35.93% to 40.44%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Malibu is less expensive to operate than the Altima because it costs $246 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Malibu than the Altima, including $118 less for a timing belt/chain and $208 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 $1783 to $4598 less than for the Nissan Altima.

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

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