So you're looking at buying a Chevy. That's just great. And you're in the market for a sedan, possibly the new Malibu
. Fantastic! If this is where your thought process tends to get jammed up, it's understandable. Both are four-door sedans and both are great buys. But there are a number of important differences between the two that can make for a potentially difficult choice.
Malibu or Impala?
2017 Chevrolet Malibu
2017 Chevrolet Impala
Let's take a close look at both Chevrolet models and try to sort out what's best for your particular requirements.
If Size Matters...
First, let’s get down to the basics. The Chevy Impala is a full-size sedan, able to seat five passengers very comfortably, and has three trim levels
that range from MSRPs of $28,375 to $36,720. Meanwhile, the mid-size Chevy Malibu can also seat five passengers, though perhaps a bit more snugly than the Impala, and it too has three trims levels
- LS, LT, and Premier - starting at $21,680.
Malibu Interior Pics
Impala Interior Pics
Both cars have roughly comparable wheelbases, 111.4 inches for the Malibu to 111.7 for the Impala. The overall length of the vehicles is more noticeable. The Malibu's 193.8-inch length puts it towards the upper end of mid-size sedans, while the Impala's 201.3-inch length places it solidly in the full-size category.
When it comes to trunk space, the Malibu has a respectable 15.8 cubic feet of storage in most trim packages; though selecting the Hybrid version will reduce that to 11.6 cubic feet. The Impala's trunk is downright cavernous at 18.8 cubic feet across all three trim packages.
If Get Up and Go Matters...
There are a number of engines that can go into the 2017 Impala
or the Malibu. Each engine is a precision piece of engineering and construction, and each one will have distinct results when combined with a specific trim package.
For the Malibu, three trim packages come with the same engine, a 1.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder with dual overhead cams, direct injection and variable valve timing to ensure the best possible balance between power and fuel economy. This particular engine puts out 160 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque, a good amount of power for an engine of its size.
The Premier package comes with the biggest block available for the car, a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that delivers 250 horsepower and 260 foot-pounds of torque, a substantial upgrade for a modest increase in size.
The Malibu Hybrid sits between those two blocks in size, at 1.8 liter, and sacrifices the turbocharger for its hybrid drivetrain. Even without the turbo, it still cranks out a very respectable 182 horsepower.
The Impala has two different engines available, though the larger of the two can be made a part of all trim packages with the right options selected.
The LS and LT packages normally come with an ECOTEC 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with dual overhead cams and variable valve timing, along with a unique "start/stop" feature that temporarily shuts off the engine when the vehicle is at a full stop for more than a few seconds. This engine puts out 196 horsepower and 186 foot-pounds of torque.
The Premier package for Impalas goes big with a 3.6-liter V-6 that, while lacking the "start/stop" feature, puts out 305 horsepower and 264 foot-pounds of torque for some serious get up and go off the line.
If Going the Distance Matters...
With gas prices slowly going back up, the fuel economy of the Malibu and Impala are certainly worth looking at and keeping in mind prior to purchase.
2017 Malibu MPG
The Malibu's engine options are considerably more impressive when it comes to stretching a gallon of gas. The stock 1.5L engine found in the L, LS and LT trim packages gets 27 mpg in the city and 36 n the highway.
The 2.0L engine in the Premier package is only slightly lower, with 22 and 33 mpg, yet it has roughly equivalent range to the 1.5L owing to a slightly larger gas tank.
2017 Impala MPG
The Impala, despite having larger engines than the Malibu and having more mass to move down the road, does get decent fuel economy out of its engines. The 2.5L engine gets about 22 miles per gallon on city streets and 30 mpg on the highways, providing a decent range for long trips or lots of city driving.
The 3.6L gets about 19 mpg on the streets and 28 mpg on the highway, a small reduction, but completely understandable given the extra power it provides and the additional weight being propelled.
For the best fuel economy, though, the Hybrid engine leaves them all behind, squeezing out 49 mpg in the city and 43 on the highway.
If Safety and Security Matters...
There are a number of safety features on both the Malibu and the Impala which are standard across all trim packages. Seat belts and air bags, obviously, are two of the major systems as they're required by law. There are other safety features that are standard because they're a good idea, and some that are available as options but still worth the price
The LATCH system
in both models allows for child safety seats to be easily emplaced and secured, while the rear door locks can help keep doors from accidentally being opened while on the road. StabiliTrak
stability control systems on all packages reduce the effects of adverse conditions that might cause the Impala and the Malibu to slide out of control.
For the Malibu, the L package lacks several of the extra sensors and indicators that can inform a driver's awareness, such as a rear view camera (standard across all other packages) and pedestrian detection (an available option in the 1LT, Premier and Hybrid).
As for the Impala, while the Premier has virtually all possible safety features standard, the LS is only missing a few sensors, but they can be chosen as options for the LT package. While the additional sensors are certainly nice, even the base models of these vehicles are among the safest vehicles on the roads today.
Making the Choice
So what car do you choose? It's not easy, particularly since the different trim packages
have different standard features and different available options. But there are a few scenarios which easily come to mind.
Those who are strictly in the market for a hybrid will need to go with a Malibu with the Hybrid trim, since the hybrid drivetrain
isn't an option for the Impala. If you are looking to get the best possible fuel savings and aren't overly worried about creature comforts, the Malibu is probably your best bet for getting the most savings out of your trips to the pump, even with the 2.0L engine in the Premier package.
Beyond that, things become more of a tossup. When it comes to shoulder room for everybody, the Impala definitely has the edge over the Malibu, though it's more of an edge when you have more adults riding with you than small children. In the same vein, the Impala has more room for basic cargo in the trunk compared to the Malibu.
The Malibu's turbocharged engines certainly offer a degree of quickness off the line, but for top-end raw horsepower, the Impala Premier's V-6 engine brings the noise.
In terms of comforts, the Impala has the most to offer when it comes to both standard features
and available options. Just remember that all of those options come with a premium price tag.
Since Arizona is a distinctly different environment than most portions of the country, there are a couple of areas that smart drivers will want to pay attention to. Both the Impala and the Malibu
come with good climate control systems that are certainly are going to see heavy use in the summer.
The Malibu has the advantage over the Impala of being a "daily driver" with the A/C cranked up, owing to the greater fuel economy of its engines. It can take the hit that A/C will impose on gas use over the summer and early fall.
As for other conditions on Arizona roadways
, there are different strengths for both cars.
The Impala's V-6 engine, with its high horsepower and torque
, can easily surmount the steep grades that line the highways between Phoenix and northern Arizona destinations like Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. However, the Malibu's suspension and handling are far more nimble, allowing for highly responsive and energetic drives through twisting roads like those in Oak Creek Canyon.
For those who have the budget for it and can justify (if only to themselves) the extra expense, the Chevy Impala is an excellent buy
for car owners looking to get a good full-size sedan with plenty of little touches to make the trip that much more pleasant.
Those car buyers with more stringent budget considerations will probably be better served going with the Chevy Malibu.
Test Drive a Chevy in Phoenix Today!
If you're still up in the air about which one to go for, find your nearest Valley Chevy dealer
and set up a few test drives to see how each one feels and make the final decision based off that experience.