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One of the best midsize sedans of 2023 is the Sonata. But if you want to save money by purchasing a used car, a pre-owned 2018 Hyundai Sonata is worth considering. However, one rival, the 2018 Chevy Malibu, is another solid choice. Let’s compare these two used midsize sedans. 

2018 Hyundai Sonata used prices, reliability ratings, common problems, and more

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata offered three engine options. A 2.4-liter inline-four, making 185 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque, powers the base model, Sport, Limited, and SEL trims as standard equipment. Buyers could opt for a more potent 2.0-liter four-cylinder generating 245 hp and 260 lb-ft for all trims. The third option is a 1.6-liter intercooled turbo-four, producing 178 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque, found only in the Eco model. 

There are also three transmission options and various fuel economy ratings. Which one you get depends on the engine. The 2.4-liter pairs with a six-speed automatic, getting 25 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2.0-liter, mated to an eight-speed automatic, are 23/32 mpg (city/highway). Last, the 1.6-liter engine, which pairs with a seven-speed automatic, achieves 28/37 mpg city/highway. 

J.D. Power says buyers are paying about $14,400 to $21,400 for used 2018 Hyundai Sonata models. As for ratings, the 2018 Sonata gets a “great” 86/100 quality and reliability score and an “average” 80/100 overall from J.D. Power.

The two biggest 2018 Hyundai Sonata problems relate to the sedan’s engine. The first is when the car could suddenly lose power and begin to crawl along in traffic with the check engine light flashing. This issue appears to involve the knock sensor wiring harness. 

The second problem is excessive oil consumption. It can become so severe that some owners must add one to two quarts of oil every couple of weeks. doesn’t mention a definitive cause, but one owner reported the problem didn’t happen until after an ECU software update. 

How does the 2018 Chevy Malibu compare to the 2018 Hyundai Sonata?

2018 Chevy Malibu, used Malibu
2018 Chevy Malibu | Chevrolet

This Malibu model year offered only two engine options. The first is a 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four producing 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. It’s found in the 1LS, 1VL, and 1LT trims and gets an estimated 27/36 mpg city/highway. The highest 2018 Chevy Malibu trim level, the Premier, has a 2.0-liter turbo-four harnessing 250 hp and 260 lb-ft. It’s rated for 22/32 mpg city/highway.

J.D. Power gives the 2018 Malibu “average” scores in reliability (80/100) and overall (79/100). The market research firm also says people are paying about $14,900 to $22,200. So this used Malibu typically costs a few hundred more than the 2018 Sonata but has lower quality and reliability ratings.

As with the 2018 Sonata, engine troubles are the most significant 2018 Chevy Malibu problems. Malibu drivers traveling at high speeds could suddenly lose power, experience a stiffer brake pedal, and stall on the roadway. Two error codes are associated with this issue. says one is P2138, which deals with the throttle/pedal position sensor switch. The other is P2BB3, which concerns the fuel pump’s secondary circuit performance. The 2016 Malibu has a recall on this issue, but 2018 owners find that their 2018 VIN models aren’t included. 

Which used midsize sedan is better?

These midsize sedans have similar used price ranges and reliability scores. The 2018 Hyundai Sonata has six more points from J.D. Power in reliability but a purchase price of a few hundred dollars less than the 2018 Chevy Malibu. And both cars have experienced engine problems. 

Looking beyond those numbers to passenger and cargo capacities, we see the 2018 Sonata offers slightly more space than the 2018 Malibu. However, the Chevy sedan provides more legroom in the back row, which would be better for adults.

The Sonata has 40.4 inches of headroom in the front and 38 inches in the rear. As for legroom, it provides 45.5 inches in the front and 35.6 inches in the back. And its trunk space is 16.3 cubic feet. The Malibu’s headroom measures 39.1 inches in the front and 37.5 inches in the rear. Legroom is 42 inches in the front and 38.1 inches in the back. And the trunk volume is 15.8 cubic feet. 

Overall, the 2018 Hyundai Sonata and the 2018 Chevy Malibu are good used cars. However, the Sonata edges out its rival with a slightly lower price range, a better reliability score, a roomier cabin and trunk, and more engine options.

But regardless of reliability scores, obtain a vehicle history report and have a trusted mechanic perform an inspection to uncover potential problems before purchasing a pre-owned car. Also, prices may vary depending on trim level, mileage, overall condition, and location.