Avoid the 2021 Chevy Malibu for This ‘Under the Radar’ Nissan

The Chevy Malibu isn’t as popular as it once was. Consumers like its affordable pricing and the Chevrolet name. But other midsize sedans, including the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, offer more attractive features. However, there’s an under-the-radar option you shouldn’t overlook: the 2021 Nissan Altima.

Why you should avoid the 2021 Chevy Malibu

The experts at Consumer Reports recently compiled “Popular Midsized Sedans to Avoid and What to Buy Instead.” This list focuses on a review of the segment’s most popular vehicles, plus two alternatives you might not have considered before: a high-selling, better choice, and a less-popular, better-scoring, “under-the-radar” alternative. Popular or best-selling models aren’t always the best choice in the segment, and even according to Consumer Reports, “often, good cars that perform well in Consumer Reports’ tests don’t sell as well as models with lower overall scores.” The 2021 Chevy Malibu is one such vehicle and the first popular midsize sedan to make it onto the list. 

CR says to avoid the 2021 Chevy Malibu, ranked dead last in the segment at 13th out of 13 with a low overall score of 45 out of 100. It also has a low predicted owner satisfaction rating and an even lower predicted reliability rating. Plus, the Chevy Malibu’s cabin “feels a bit cheap,” has limited passenger access, and offers optional advanced safety features that come standard in rival models. Though CR considers the Malibu a popular midsize sedan, there’s a better alternative: the 2021 Nissan Altima. 

The better alternative: The 2021 Nissan Altima

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Consumer Reports calls the 2021 Toyota Camry a “top-rated conventional sedan.” But it also scores the 2021 Nissan Altima well. The biggest difference between these two well-rated sedans is numbers, with the Camry dominating sales for decades. But that shouldn’t detract from the Altima’s strengths.

In fact, Consumer Reports calls it the best “under-the-radar alternative” to the Malibu. The Altima’s overall score of 80/100 also far exceeds the Malibu’s. CR’s experts say the 2021 Nissan Altima “delivers on room, fuel economy, and user-friendliness,” providing “decent acceleration” and good standard active safety features.

The new Nissan Altima at a glance

According to Consumer Reports, the 2021 Nissan Altima’s “finer points include a quiet cabin, easy controls, a big trunk, [and] a roomy and comfortable rear seat.” Acceleration and fuel-economy ratings are competitive and a step above the Malibu’s. The experts say it “also has one of the better continuously variable transmissions” in the segment and a solid list of standard features.

The 2021 Nissan Altima comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 188 hp, U.S. News reports. It gets great gas mileage, with 28 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway. The Altima also offers an optional engine choice and five trim levels. The base Altima S starts around $24,000. Standard features include a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, and USB ports. However, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto no longer come standard on the base model.

The new Altima also comes standard with numerous advanced safety features. They include automatic high-beams, a drowsiness monitoring system, a rearview camera, forward-collision warnings, forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane-departure warnings. Other driver aids are available, such as a 360-degree parking camera system, adaptive cruise control, and reverse automatic emergency braking.