2020 Ford Fusion vs. 2020 Chevrolet Malibu

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Ford Fusion have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Chevrolet Malibu doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Ford Fusion are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The Chevrolet Malibu doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

The Fusion Titanium offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Malibu doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The Fusion’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Malibu doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Fusion and the Malibu have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available rear parking sensors.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Ford Fusion is safer than the Chevrolet Malibu:

Fusion

Malibu

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Stress

234 lbs.

937 lbs.

Neck Compression

26 lbs.

29 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, results indicate that the Ford Fusion is safer than the Chevrolet Malibu:

Fusion

Malibu

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

121

180

Chest Movement

.9 inches

1.1 inches

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

HIC

327

460

Spine Acceleration

56 G’s

57 G’s

Hip Force

805 lbs.

809 lbs.

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

Warranty

The Fusion’s corrosion warranty is unlimited miles longer than the Malibu’s (unlimited vs. 100,000 miles).

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Fusion’s reliability 13 points higher than the Malibu.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Ford vehicles are better in initial quality than Chevrolet vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Ford fourth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Chevrolet is ranked 6th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Ford vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Ford 5 places higher in reliability than Chevrolet.

Engine

The Fusion Titanium’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (275 vs. 260) than the Malibu Premier’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Fusion Titanium 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the Chevrolet Malibu 1.5 turbo 4 cyl.:

Fusion

Malibu

Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

8.5 sec

Quarter Mile

15.1 sec

16.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

91.6 MPH

84.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

Fusion

FWD

1.5 Turbo 4-cyl.

23 city/34 hwy

Malibu

FWD

2.0 Turbo 4-cyl.

22 city/32 hwy

The Fusion AWD’s standard fuel tank has 2.2 gallons more fuel capacity than the Malibu (18 vs. 15.8 gallons).

Brakes and Stopping

The Fusion stops much shorter than the Malibu:

Fusion

Malibu

60 to 0 MPH

117 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

149 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Fusion has larger standard tires than the Malibu (215/60R16 vs. 205/60R16).

Suspension and Handling

The Fusion has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Malibu’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The Fusion has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Malibu doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

The Fusion’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Malibu doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

Passenger Space

The Fusion has .1 inches more front headroom, 2.8 inches more front legroom, .9 inches more front hip room, .3 inches more rear headroom, .2 inches more rear legroom and 1 inch more rear hip room than the Malibu.

Cargo Capacity

The Fusion has a larger trunk than the Malibu (16 vs. 15.7 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the Fusion easier. The Fusion’s trunk lift-over height is 24.4 inches, while the Malibu’s liftover is 30.5 inches.

To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the Fusion’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. The Malibu’s useful trunk space is reduced by its intrusive beam hinge.

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the Fusion. The Malibu doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Towing

Maximum trailer towing in the Chevrolet Malibu is limited to 1000 pounds. The Fusion offers up to a 2000 lbs. towing capacity.

Ergonomics

The Fusion’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The Malibu’s parking brake has to released manually.

The Fusion’s front and rear power windows all open or close 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 Malibu’s standard power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. The Malibu LT/Premier’s passenger windows don’t close automatically.

If the windows are left open on the Fusion the driver can close them all from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can also lower the windows the same way. The driver of the Malibu can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Fusion SE/SEL/Titanium’s exterior PIN entry system. The Malibu doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its OnStar® can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the Fusion SE/SEL/Titanium’s exterior PIN entry system. The Malibu doesn’t offer an exterior PIN entry system, and its OnStar® can’t unlock the doors if the vehicle doesn’t have cell phone reception or the driver can’t contact the service.

The Fusion has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Malibu doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The Fusion’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Malibu’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Fusion SEL/Titanium has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Malibu offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Fusion owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Fusion with a number “1” insurance rate while the Malibu is rated higher at a number “3” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Fusion is less expensive to operate than the Malibu because it costs $27 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Fusion than the Malibu, including $318 less for a water pump, $92 less for a muffler, $116 less for a starter, $26 less for fuel injection, $163 less for a fuel pump and $134 less for front struts.

Recommendations

The Ford Fusion outsold the Chevrolet Malibu by 20% during 2018.

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

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