2020 Chevrolet Malibu vs. 2020 Toyota Corolla

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 Corolla doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

To help make backing safer, the Malibu LT/Premier’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The Corolla doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the Malibu and the Corolla 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 and rear parking sensors.

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 Corolla has not been tested, yet.


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

There are over 2 times as many Chevrolet dealers as there are Toyota 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 Corolla was rated second 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 Toyota vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Chevrolet 6th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles, Toyota is ranked 8th.


The Malibu’s standard 1.5 turbo 4 cyl. produces 21 more horsepower (160 vs. 139) and 58 lbs.-ft. more torque (184 vs. 126) than the Corolla’s standard 1.8 DOHC 4 cyl. The Malibu’s 1.5 turbo 4 cyl. produces 33 lbs.-ft. more torque (184 vs. 151) than the Corolla SE/XSE’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. The Malibu Premier’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 81 more horsepower (250 vs. 169) and 109 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 151) than the Corolla SE/XSE’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Malibu Premier 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the Corolla SE/XSE 2.0 4 cyl.:



Zero to 60 MPH

6.1 sec

8 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

15.4 sec

22.1 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.7 sec

8.5 sec

Quarter Mile

14.7 sec

16.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

97 MPH

87 MPH

Top Speed

156 MPH

118 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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 Corolla doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The Malibu has 2.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Corolla (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 Corolla 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 Corolla:



Front Rotors

11.8 inches

10.8 inches

Rear Rotors

11.3 inches

10.2 inches

The Malibu stops shorter than the Corolla:



70 to 0 MPH

167 feet

174 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Malibu has larger standard tires than the Corolla (205/60R16 vs. 195/65R15). The Malibu RS/Premier’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Corolla (245/45R18 vs. 225/40R18).

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 Corolla L’s standard 65 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Malibu L/LS has standard 16-inch wheels. Smaller 15-inch wheels are standard on the Corolla L. The Malibu’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Corolla SE/XSE.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Malibu’s wheelbase is 5.1 inches longer than on the Corolla (111.4 inches vs. 106.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Malibu is 2.3 inches wider in the front and 1.7 inches wider in the rear than on the Corolla.

The Malibu Premier handles at .87 G’s, while the Corolla XSE pulls only .82 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 Corolla 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 Corolla is rated a Compact.

The Malibu has 14.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Corolla (102.9 vs. 88.6).

The Malibu has .8 inches more front headroom, 1.1 inches more front hip room, 3.7 inches more front shoulder room, .4 inches more rear headroom, 3.3 inches more rear legroom, 9.5 inches more rear hip room and 2.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the Corolla.

Cargo Capacity

The Malibu has a much larger trunk than the Corolla (15.7 vs. 13.1 cubic feet).


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


When two different drivers share the Malibu Premier, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The Corolla doesn’t offer a memory system.

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 Corolla 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 Corolla does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The Malibu’s variable intermittent wipers have an adjustable delay to allow the driver to choose a setting that best clears the windshield during light rain or mist. The Corolla L’s standard fixed intermittent wipers only have one fixed delay setting, so the driver will have to manually switch them between slow and intermittent.

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 Corolla’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The Malibu’s optional rear view mirror has an automatic dimming feature. This mirror can be set to automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on it, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Corolla doesn’t offer the luxury of an automatic dimming rear view mirror.

Both the Malibu and the Corolla 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 Corolla.

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 Corolla 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 Corolla doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The Malibu LT/Premier’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Corolla doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Both the Malibu and the Corolla 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 Corolla doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

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 Corolla 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 Corolla 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 Corolla because typical repairs cost much less on the Malibu than the Corolla, including $55 less for a starter, $44 less for a fuel pump, $586 less for a timing belt/chain and $158 less for a power steering pump.

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

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