The Chevy Malibu has had a hard time keeping up with its competition in recent years. As Motor Trend points out, popular sedans like the efficient Honda Accord often steal the Malibu’s spotlight. The Mazda6 is more fun to drive, and even the defunct Ford Fusion offers better powertrain and technology options.
However, for 2021, the Chevy Malibu is bringing something new to the table. Each trim will come with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard equipment. How will this make life easier for the Malibu’s potential drivers?
The popularity of smartphone integration
The Chevy Malibu has offered smartphone integration as standard equipment since its redesign in 2016. This handy feature allows drivers to sync their phone’s music library and contacts with the car’s infotainment system. Drivers can also answer calls and texts thanks to its voice recognition software.
Usually, your smartphone has to be connected with a USB cable, but not on the Chevy Malibu. Like Bluetooth, your car will automatically be able to recognize an Apple or Android device in range. Drivers will be able to sync their phones faster without having to worry about keeping a USB cable on board.
What else does the 2021 Chevy Malibu offer?
As far as technology, the Malibu has Bluetooth, keyless entry, and a singular USB port. Some might want to buy higher trims to access a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless charging, navigation, or a Bose speaker system. The center touchscreen is big and easy to use, but the graphics look a tad dated.
Another gripe many drivers have about the Chevy Malibu is its lack of standard safety equipment. Some available features include following distance monitoring, parking sensors, blind-spot monitors, automatic emergency braking, forward-collision warning, and pedestrian detection. However, only the most expensive model can have the Teen Driver software and automatic parallel parking.
Opinions in the Chevy’s Malibu’s interior range from average to negative. Except for some soft-touch fabric on the dash, most of the interior consists of hard plastic. CNET testers say that, while the interior looks neat and tidy, the design looks like it’s from the last decade.
At least there are several eye-catching exterior paint colors and appearance packages for the Chevy Malibu. The Sport Edition package is new for this year, and there’s also a Midnight and Redline package. Each comes with unique badges and grille designs.
Both the standard cloth and available leather seats are comfortable, though there could be more thigh support. The cushions are spacious and there’s enough room for adults in both rows to stretch their legs. The Chevy Malibu also has a lot of storage space in the trunk and throughout the interior.
The base Chevy Malibu offers a 1.5-liter turbo-four that makes 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. It’s fast enough for daily driving, has nice handling, and even returns some good gas mileage. However, engine noise permeates the cabin if you try to push it to higher speeds.
Fortunately, there’s also a 2.0-liter turbo-four on tap capable of 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. This engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic instead of a CVT and is more lively than the base engine. However, it’s only available on the highest trim of the Chevy Malibu.
Will its new features make the 2021 Chevy Malibu more popular?
If you check sites like U.S. News or Consumer Reports, the Chevy Malibu often occupies the bottom spot on rankings. Its unremarkable base engine, subpar reliability, and outdated interior just make the Malibu a poor value. Wireless smartphone integration is a step in the right direction, but the Chevy Malibu still could use some more improvements.