2020 Chevrolet Malibu vs. 2020 Acura TLX

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 TLX doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

Both the Malibu and the TLX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee 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.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Chevrolet Malibu is safer than the TLX:

Malibu

TLX

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Restraints

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

85

250

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Max Chest Compression

22 cm

23 cm

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

.3/.3 kN

1.6/2.1 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Tibia index R/L

.76/.43

1.15/.91

Tibia forces R/L

2.4/.8 kN

4.4/5 kN

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 TLX:

Malibu

TLX

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

180

187

Hip Force

212 lbs.

276 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

14 inches

HIC

235

249

Spine Acceleration

29 G’s

36 G’s

Hip Force

488 lbs.

678 lbs.

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

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Malibu the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 157 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The TLX was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

The Malibu’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the TLX’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.

Reliability

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

Engine

The Malibu Premier’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 44 more horsepower (250 vs. 206) and 78 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 182) than the TLX’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

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

Malibu

TLX

Zero to 60 MPH

6.2 sec

7.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.7 sec

15.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

96.2 MPH

91.1 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

Malibu

FWD

1.5 turbo 4-cyl.

29 city/36 hwy

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/32 hwy

TLX

FWD

2.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

23 city/33 hwy

A-Spec 2.4 DOHC 4-cyl.

23 city/32 hwy

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/31 hwy

A-Spec 3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/30 hwy

AWD

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/29 hwy

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 TLX (3). This means the Malibu produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the TLX every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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 TLX doesn’t offer a CVT.

Brakes and Stopping

The Malibu stops much shorter than the TLX:

Malibu

TLX

70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

179 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Malibu’s wheelbase is 2.1 inches longer than on the TLX (111.4 inches vs. 109.3 inches).

The Malibu Premier handles at .88 G’s, while the TLX V6 SH-AWD pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Malibu Premier executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the TLX (26.4 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 27 seconds @ .74 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Malibu’s turning circle is 1.8 feet tighter than the TLX V6’s (37 feet vs. 38.8 feet). The Malibu’s turning circle is 2.5 feet tighter than the TLX SH-AWD’s (37 feet vs. 39.5 feet).

Chassis

The Chevrolet Malibu may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 400 to 600 pounds less than the Acura TLX.

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 TLX doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

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

Malibu

TLX

At idle

42 dB

42 dB

Full-Throttle

71 dB

74 dB

70 MPH Cruising

65 dB

68 dB

Passenger Space

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

The Malibu has 9.6 cubic feet more passenger volume than the TLX (102.9 vs. 93.3).

The Malibu has 1.9 inches more front headroom, 1 inch more front shoulder room, .8 inches more rear headroom, 3.6 inches more rear legroom and 1.7 inches more rear shoulder room than the TLX.

Cargo Capacity

The Malibu has a much larger trunk than the TLX (15.7 vs. 14.3 cubic feet).

Towing

The Malibu has a 1000 lbs. towing capacity. The TLX 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 TLX does not have an oil pressure gauge.

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

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 TLX 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 TLX 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 $800 less than the TLX over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Malibu is less expensive to operate than the TLX because it costs $227 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Malibu than the TLX, including $55 less for a muffler, $459 less for a starter, $313 less for fuel injection, $76 less for a fuel pump, $88 less for front struts and $973 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 $8043 to $9591 less than for the Acura TLX.

Recommendations

The Chevrolet Malibu outsold the Acura TLX by almost five to one during 2018.

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

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