2020 Lincoln MKZ vs. 2020 Chevrolet Malibu

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/01/23

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Lincoln MKZ 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 rear seatbelts optional on the MKZ inflate when a collision is detected, helping to spread crash forces over a much larger area of the body and limiting head and neck movement. This can help prevent spinal and internal injuries. The Malibu doesn’t offer inflatable seatbelts.

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

The MKZ has standard Park Sensing System to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or, for the MKZ Reserve in front of the vehicle. The Malibu doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

The MKZ’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 MKZ 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 seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

The Lincoln MKZ weighs 529 to 1183 pounds more than the Chevrolet Malibu. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

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

MKZ

Malibu

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

125

173

Neck Stress

200 lbs.

937 lbs.

Neck Compression

24 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 Lincoln MKZ is safer than the Chevrolet Malibu:

MKZ

Malibu

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

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

Warranty

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The MKZ comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Malibu’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Lincoln’s powertrain warranty covers the MKZ 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Chevrolet covers the Malibu. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Malibu ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

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

Reliability

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The MKZ has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Malibu doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the car’s engine.

The battery on the MKZ is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the MKZ’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Malibu’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

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 MKZ’s reliability 56 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 Lincoln vehicles are better in initial quality than Chevrolet vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lincoln fifth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 1 more problems per 100 vehicles, Chevrolet is ranked 6th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Lincoln vehicles are more reliable than Chevrolet vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lincoln 10 places higher in reliability than Chevrolet.

Engine

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The MKZ has more powerful engines than the Malibu:

Horsepower

Torque

MKZ Hybrid 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder

188 HP

n/a

MKZ 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

245 HP

275 lbs.-ft.

MKZ 3.0 turbo V6

350 HP

400 lbs.-ft.

MKZ AWD 3.0 turbo V6

400 HP

400 lbs.-ft.

Malibu 1.5 turbo 4-cylinder

160 HP

184 lbs.-ft.

Malibu Premier 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder

250 HP

260 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Motor Trend the Lincoln MKZ 2.0 turbo is faster than the Chevrolet Malibu 1.5 turbo 4-cylinder:

MKZ

Malibu

Zero to 60 MPH

7.2 sec

8.5 sec

Quarter Mile

15.5 sec

16.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

89.4 MPH

84.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/01/23

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

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the MKZ 2.0T/3.0T’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Malibu:

MKZ

Malibu

Front Rotors

12.4 inches

11.8 inches

Rear Rotors

12.4 inches

11.3 inches

The MKZ stops much shorter than the Malibu:

MKZ

Malibu

70 to 0 MPH

168 feet

171 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

115 feet

127 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

133 feet

149 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the MKZ has larger tires than the Malibu (245/45R18 vs. 205/60R16).

The MKZ’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Malibu L/LS’ standard 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the MKZ has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the Malibu L/LS.

Suspension and Handling

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The MKZ has a standard driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Malibu’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The MKZ 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 MKZ’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.

The MKZ Premiere AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the Malibu LT pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Chassis

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The MKZ uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Malibu doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

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The MKZ has 2.8 inches more front legroom, 1 inch more front hip room and .4 inches more rear hip room than the Malibu.

Cargo Capacity

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To allow full utilization of available cargo room, the MKZ’s trunk lid uses concealed beam hinges that don’t intrude into the trunk. Its intrusive beam hinge reduces the Malibu’s useful trunk space.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the MKZ. The Malibu doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the MKZ offers an optional power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button. The Malibu doesn’t offer a power trunk.

Servicing Ease

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The MKZ uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Malibu uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lincoln service is better than Chevrolet. J.D. Power ranks Lincoln 7th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 20% lower rating, Chevrolet is ranked 13th.

Ergonomics

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The MKZ’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 MKZ’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 MKZ 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 MKZ’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 MKZ’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 MKZ’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.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the MKZ has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The Malibu doesn’t offer cornering lights.

A power rear sunshade is standard in the MKZ Reserve to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Malibu doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The MKZ’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Chevrolet only offers heated mirrors on the Malibu LT/Premier.

The MKZ 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.

The MKZ Reserve offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Malibu.

The MKZ has a 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. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Malibu LT/Premier.

Both the MKZ and the Malibu offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the MKZ has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Malibu L/LS/RS doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the MKZ 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 less on the MKZ than the Malibu, including $151 less for a water pump, $58 less for front brake pads and $98 less for a starter.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/01/23

Consumer Reports® recommends the Lincoln MKZ, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Chevrolet Malibu isn't recommended.

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