For decades, Honda and Toyota have ruled the midsize sedan class, and it doesn’t look like 2020 is going to be any different. But that hasn’t stopped other manufacturers from entering the market (with mixed amounts of success). Comparisons between the Camry and vehicles like the VW Passat have usually been favorable to the more established vehicle. But there are plenty of other midsize cars that are worth a purchase–where do the VW Passat and the Chevrolet Malibu fit in?
Taking risks in an established market can be a path to name recognition, but it’s proved tough to dethrone the kings of the midsize. VW and Chevrolet took their shots this year with the VW Passat and the Chevrolet Malibu. Unfortunately, it looks like they missed this time. U.S. News ranked 10 of the best midsize options for 2020. 9th and 10th? The VW Passat and the Chevrolet Malibu. Here’s a breakdown of where the VW Passat and the Chevrolet Malibu fall short, at least as far as the 2020 model years go.
The VW Passat breakdown
On the bright side, the Volkswagen Passat does feature a smooth ride and a generous amount of trunk space for its size. Unfortunately, that’s about as far as the positives go. With 23 city/34 highway miles per gallon, it doesn’t have the range to stand out on the fuel economy front. Additionally, the infotainment system feels like an imitation of a higher-end car, and U.S. News reports that the cabin materials also feel cheap.
The Passat tops out at 174 hp and seats five passengers, but it doesn’t do enough to break away from the midsize pack. U.S. News rated the Passat a 7.4 overall, which is certainly not a bad score. But it comes in at the bottom of the list, and it simply doesn’t seem to be worth it with so many other excellent options available in the class. The vehicles at the top of the list simply score better across the board.
Although the Passat has a reputation as one of VW’s more reliable vehicles, it also has a reputation for trouble. Luckily, things have improved since the disastrous 2002 VW Passat model year. But it’s not enough to put the 2020 version in the conversation.
The 2020 Chevrolet Malibu
On the other hand, the 2020 Chevy Malibu scores high marks in fuel economy. Testing at up to 29 city mpg and 36 highway mpg, if fuel efficiency is your sole concern, you may find something to love in this version of the car. But other than that, there isn’t much that stands out about the 2020 Malibu. Much like the VW Passat, its cabin materials don’t fit with the sophisticated feel the car tries for, and the Malibu doesn’t even compare to the Passat’s trunk space.
Overall, U.S. News gave the 2020 Malibu a 7.3, just below the VW Passat. Again, it’s difficult to go too wrong when purchasing a vehicle from a major manufacturer, but the Malibu misses the mark on a lot of features that should be slam dunks. Even the handling is dull, betraying the faux “sporty” feeling the Malibu strives for. Additionally, reports are already coming out about reliability issues with 2020 Chevrolet Malibus on the road.
The future of the midsize class
At the top of the list, U.S. News ranks the 2020 Kia Optima and 2020 Toyota Camry as the top two options, followed closely by the 2020 Honda Accord. The Camry takes home both the “Best Car for the Money” and the “Best Car for Families” awards. The VW Passat and Chevrolet Malibu cost slightly less than the cars that top the list, but it’s not enough to make a difference in purchase value.