Both trailing the Ford Fusion and Honda Accord, the Chevrolet Malibu and Nissan Altima are attempting to gain the competitive advantage over one one more in the midsize sedan segment.
Nobody wishes to be the runner-up. People, organizations, companies – they’re all keeping their eyes on the prize, in it to win it, and going big or going home. Trouble is, most of the time, there can easily be only one winner. And in the midsize sedan segment, that winner is the Honda Accord.
Sorry Toyota. While you actually move a lot more Camrys out the door, the truth is that many them end up in rental, government, and taxi fleets. Honda sells Accords to personal customers, making it America’s clear choice as its favorite family car.
Last year, among Asian brands, the Nissan Altima was the third best-selling midsize car. Among American brands, the Chevrolet Malibu trailed the Ford Fusion, merely squeaking by the faltering Chrysler 200.
The Chevrolet Malibu and Nissan Altima are vying for bigger slices of the family sedan segment pie.
Both Chevrolet and Nissan aspire to better triumph along with consumers and reasonable reliance on exactly what are known as “fleet sales” to preserve the factories running. They don’t want to be runners-up. Chevy redesigned the Malibu for 2016, and it is a clear improvement over the auto it replaces. Nissan has actually refreshed the Altima for 2016, refining a automobile that already delivered compelling value.
To locate out which auto is most compelling as an alternative to the most effective sellers in the segment, I gathered loaded examples of each and compared them side-by-side. Given the Malibu’s finish redesign, you might not locate the result surprising. exactly what is surprising, though, is that the Chevy narrowly took the win despite its stylish design, advanced technologies, and a lot more powerful engine.
SECOND PLACE: 2016 Nissan Altima
For 2016, Nissan has actually tweaked the Altima’s styling, adding a lot more dramatic boomerang lighting elements, a Brand-new grille, and Brand-new aluminum wheel designs
Total Points: 163/200
Overall Rating: 8.15
When requesting the vehicles for this comparison, knowing that the top-of-the-line Malibu Premier has actually a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine making 250 horsepower, I asked Nissan to bring an Altima 3.5 SL, the one along with the wonderful 260-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine. They didn’t have actually one of those. Instead, we settled on the much less expensive 2.5 SL.
For 2016, Nissan has actually tweaked the Altima’s styling, adding a lot more dramatic boomerang lighting elements, a Brand-new grille, and Brand-new aluminum wheel designs. a lot more importantly, the Altima’s underlying structure is stronger for improved crash safety, and Nissan offers Brand-new driver advice and collision avoidance technologies in addition to NissanConnect Services along with automatic collision notification. Revised steering, suspension, and transmission calibrations improve driving dynamics, and a sport-tuned SR model debuts. Unfortunately, the SR is unavailable along with numerous of the upgrades that make the Altima a lot more appealing for 2016.
The Brand-new Altima’s rear styling is tidy, and the larger 18-inch wheels offered on SR and 3.5 SL models tips to add visual spice.
Compared to the Malibu Premier, and especially As quickly as viewed in profile, the Altima 2.5 SL looks pretty drab, which just draws a lot more attention to its inelegant facelift. Mainly, I dislike the method that the headlights lap like a wave in to the fenders and hood. Additionally, the oversized grille is much better suited to an SUV compared to a passenger car. The Brand-new rear styling is tidy, and the larger 18-inch wheels offered on SR and 3.5 SL models tips to add visual spice.
Inside, Altimas along with a beige and black interior give sharp contrast for a a lot more upscale look. From the attractive perforated leather to the leaf-pattern plastic trim, my Altima’s cabin looked and felt like it belonged in a a lot more expensive vehicle, except for windshield pillar covers oddly devoid of any texture whatsoever.
Aside from a set of bland windshield pillar covers, the Altima’s cabin looks and feels like it belongs in a a lot more expensive vehicle.
Comfort is an Altima hallmark, thanks to the roomy cabin and Nissan’s outstanding “Zero Gravity” seat designs. If you’re not driving, you might even prefer to ride in the spine seat, which provides many legroom, excellent thigh support, and a perfect backrest angle. The front passenger’s seat lacks a height adjuster, which is one reason I preferred sitting in the back.
Controls are laid out in logical fashion, and the Altima boasts large, legible instrumentation, clearly marked switchgear, and simple knobs and buttons for the most commonly used functions. Storage areas are generously sized, and the 15.4 cu.-ft. trunk supplies a handle on the inner lid to tips the car’s owner to swing it shut free of getting dirty fingertips.
Controls are laid out in logical fashion on the Altima’s infotainment system and it boasts large, legible instrumentation.
Nissan wisely introduces its Brand-new NissanConnect Services subscription strategy for the 2016 Altima. along with a paid plan, it supplies automatic collision notification, easy access to emergency and roadside advice calling, and features aimed at promoting safer driving in teenagers such as speed, curfew, and boundary alerts. Unfortunately, it is restricted to the SL trim level, which is shortsighted.
Similarly, the Altima’s Brand-new predictive forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking units are offered only for the most expensive SL trim. Given that these technologies are proven to reduce accidents, and that you can easily get hold of them on any version of the best-selling Honda Accord, Nissan’s decision to offer it only on the priciest Altima is disappointing.
If a collision does occur, though, structural changes made for 2016 tips the Altima to get hold of top marks from the federal government and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The Altima’s infotainment system, which is available along with a 7-inch touchscreen and NissanConnect, felt dated compared to the Chevrolet MyLink technology in the Malibu.
Nissan has actually some catching up to do in terms of its infotainment technology, too. My test auto had the top version of NissanConnect along with Mobile Apps, featuring a 7-inch touchscreen. While pairing an iPhone to the system proved easy, and though it offers Siri Eyes Free and text-messaging support, it definitely looked and felt dated compared to the a lot more sophisticated Chevrolet MyLink technology in the Malibu.
Thanks to its upgraded steering, suspension, and transmission, the Altima is a lot more delightful to drive for 2016. The 182-horsepower, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is reliable and efficient, paired along with an updated continuously variable transmission that now sounds and feels a lot more like a traditional automatic. While the Altima would certainly no doubt have actually been a lot more enjoyable to drive along with its optional V6 engine and the larger 18-inch wheels that accompany it, it additionally would certainly not have actually returned an impressive 31.9-mpg on my test loop.
The Altima provides a stable, sure-footed and predictable ride however it lacks the dynamism of various other midsize sedan competitors.
While Nissan has actually fine-tuned the Altima’s electric steering, it still isn’t right, and especially As quickly as compared to the Malibu. As quickly as the cars are driven back-to-back, the Altima’s steering feels disconnected and vague on center, making it hard to execute fine-tuned course corrections, and is slower off-center. The leather Nissan uses on the steering wheel is additionally much less pleasurable to grip.
As far as ride and handling are concerned, the Altima proves stable, sure-footed, and predictable at all times. What’s missing here is dynamism, something to make the driver feel that the Altima is a lot more compared to merely a conveyance designed to get hold of from Point A to Point B. While the Brand-new Altima SR models deliver that, they additionally can’t be optioned along with desirable equipment, underscoring the limitations imposed upon consumers along with regard to mixing and matching the most effective of exactly what this auto has actually to offer.
Perhaps a lot more compared to anything, such limitations possess the power to restrict interest in the Altima. Until Nissan provides its customers along with a much better range of choice, the ability to buy a auto that they might actually want, the company will certainly keep on to field a runner-up in the midsize sedan segment.
Comfortable however bland, the 2016 Altima makes for an ideal rental car.
- Pros: Attractive, roomy, and comfortable interior; reliable and efficient 4-cylinder engine; impressive safety ratings
- Cons: Bland design along with overwrought details; dull driving dynamics; yester-tech infotainment system
- Conclusion: If you want to be safe and comfortable on your next business trip or vacation, rent a fuel-efficient Altima.
- Test Vehicle: 2016 Nissan Altima 2.5 SL
- Price as Tested: $32,115
- Drivetrain: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine; CVT
- Power Rating: 182 horsepower and 180 lb.-ft. of torque
- Fuel Economy Rating: 31.9 mpg on test loop
- Safety Rating: 5-star rating from NHTSA; “Top Safety Pick” from IIHS
FIRST PLACE: 2016 Chevrolet Malibu
Deceptively seductive in its bodywork and uncommonly cohesive in its detailing, the 2016 Malibu is a lot more handsome in person compared to it appears in photos.
Total Points: 165/200
Overall Rating: 8.25
According to J.D. Power, consumers claim that styling is merely as crucial as reliability As quickly as it comes to choosing a Brand-new car. If that’s true, then the redesigned 2016 Chevrolet Malibu ought to locate many success.
This auto looks much much better in person compared to it does in pictures, the light playing off of its deceptively seductive bodywork and uncommonly cohesive detailing. Attention to detail gives the Malibu a look all its own, one that is appealing from any angle. The auto is a lot more aerodynamic, too, equipped along with a deep front air dam that irritatingly scrapes on merely regarding every dip and driveway apron.
For all its exterior styling, the Malibu’s interior has actually a decidedly cheap aesthetic.
Open the driver’s door, and Chevy’s flair for design remains evident, though the Malibu’s cabin is rendered in obviously inexpensive materials. Plus, my test vehicle’s Dark Atmosphere and Medium Gray interior lacked contrast, further cheapening the Chevy’s appearance.
Sophisticated infotainment screen graphics and understated ambient lighting tips to ameliorate the budget-motel ambience, and then you open the door to exit the auto and your heel catches on the rubber stripping that has actually come unmoored from the Malibu’s edge sills. Clearly, this is no Nissan Altima SL.
While rear seat room is improved compared to the previous Malibu, Chevy has actually shrunk its redesigned family sedan’s trunk, from 16.3 cu.-ft. to 15.8 cu.-ft.
Comfort levels are not as higher as in the Nissan, either, especially for rear seat occupants. Though the Brand-new Malibu is bigger inside compared to before, compared to the Nissan it remains a bit cramped and claustrophobic in back. Front seats are better, equipped along with 8-method power adjustment as well as heating and ventilation. however they’re not nearly as soothing as exactly what Nissan supplies inside the Altima.
While rear seat room is improved compared to the previous Malibu, Chevy has actually shrunk its redesigned family sedan’s trunk, from 16.3 cu.-ft. to 15.8 cu.-ft. Additionally, even on the top-of-the-line Premier model, you should put your hand on the outside of the trunk lid in order to slam it shut, so carry hand sanitizer inside the car.
As we indicated earlier, the 8-inch touchscreen infotainment in the Malibu provides a a lot more user-friendly and responsive experience compared to its counterpart inside the Altima.
Of course, that’s going to take up precious room. Stingy storage space is one more fault along with the Brand-new Malibu, from mug holders apparently designed by Big Gulp-hating Michael Bloomberg to a console storage tray along with a USB port that can’t hold an iPhone 6 flat. Chevrolet provides a wireless smartphone charging slot that tightly grips your device, however if you sit far spine in the seat monitor the forward edge of the focus storage armrest blocks it from view. I kept forgetting my phone, leaving it inside of the car.
By now, you could be wondering how the Malibu won this contest. In addition to styling, its triumph is due largely to its impressive infotainment system, valuable if somewhat unrefined driver advice technologies, and its superior driving dynamics.
With 250 horsepower at 5,300 rpm and 260 lb.-ft. of torque available from 2,000 to 5,000 rpm, the Malibu Premier’s turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder delivers a enjoyable driving experience.
Chevrolet’s latest MyLink infotainment system is graphically pleasing, user-friendly, and responds quickly to inputs. Additionally, the 8-inch capacitive touchscreen successfully resisted fingerprints throughout a week and nearly 600 miles of driving. A tuning knob to complement the existing power and volume knob sure would certainly be nice, however that’s the only complaint to voice regarding the system.
Furthermore, MyLink’s associated features are undeniably impressive. They include OnStar subscription services along with automatic collision notification, an available 4G LTE Wi-Fi connection, Tune Select alerts for songs and artists playing on various other stations, and smartphone projection technology in the form of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Optional for Malibu LT and standard for Malibu Premier, Teen Driver technology provides parents the ability to program speed and stereo volume limits and delivers driving reports each time your child borrows the family car.
Like the Altima, the Malibu is available along with a blind spot warning system, and because Chevrolet places the visual warning on the mirror, where the driver is already looking, rather than on the interior trim near the mirror, its solution is superior.
Additionally, Chevrolet makes crucial collision avoidance technology available on a broader array of Malibu models. That’s terrific, however the forward collision warning system’s frighteningly shrill visual and audible alert has actually the power to startle a driver in to overreacting to a potential threat and actually causing an accident. I strongly recommend lowering the system’s sensitivity level.
On second thought, perhaps the collision warning system’s activity reflected the better driver self-confidence that the Malibu Premier instilled in me. along with few exceptions, this Chevrolet impresses in terms of its acceleration, steering, braking, ride, and handling qualities.
The EPA estimates an standard fuel economy of 26 mpg for the 2016 Malibu, however our test loop (in Malibu, California, coincidentally) created a 27.4 mpg average.
Whoosh! along with 250 horsepower at 5,300 rpm and 260 lb.-ft. of torque available from 2,000 to 5,000 rpm, the Malibu Premier’s turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder delivers rapid acceleration. Under light throttle, the 8-speed automatic upshifts quickly to conserve fuel, however As quickly as you should accelerate onto a freeway, pass slower traffic, or power up a mountain grade, the Malibu hustles.
Better yet, As quickly as equipped along with its sizable 19-inch aluminum wheels, the Malibu sticks in corners, the suspension tuned to give a compliant ride combined along with a genuinely tossable nature As quickly as the road starts to twist and turn. On undulating pavement, the pretty short tire sidewalls contribute to an unexpectedly stiff and busy ride quality, however this auto is undeniably delightful to drive.
No doubt, the Malibu’s perfectly tuned electric steering plays a big role in this regard. Quick, accurate, and delivering the on-focus precision crucial to accurately make minor steering corrections, the steering is light and effortless at Reasonable speeds and feels perfectly precise the faster you drive.
The cheap interior still holds the Malibu spine from advancing beyond the second place slot, however its driving dynamics and modern infotainment system are enough to tips it edge the 2016 Altima in this head-to-head suit up.
Though the Malibu Premier encourages enthusiastic driving, it still returns decent fuel economy. The EPA says it ought to get hold of 26 mpg in combined driving, however on my Malibu, California test loop the auto got 27.4 mpg.
Taken together, the Malibu’s driving dynamics, modern infotainment and safety technologies, and appealing design permit it to score slightly ahead of Nissan’s refreshed Altima, which supplies a superior interior design along with much better components and incomparably comfortable seating.
Unfortunately, the Chevy’s stylish however comparatively low-rent interior demonstrates that perhaps General Motors still doesn’t understand how crucial it is to spend money inside of a automobile where owners spend all of their time. This, combined along with the imminent arrival of a refreshed Ford Fusion, could preserve Chevrolet from advancing beyond the 50-yard line on the competitive midsize sedan battlefield.
- Pros: Brings genuine style to the game; impressive technological sophistication; powerful turbocharged engine and delightful driving dynamics
- Cons: Cheap-looking interior materials; standard comfort levels; lacks interior storage space
- Conclusion: Chevy has to upgrade the Malibu’s interior materials, seating, and storage space, however otherwise has actually crafted a stylish, fun-to-drive, and competitive midsize sedan.
- Test Vehicle: 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Premier
- Price as Tested: $34,285
- Powertrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine; 8-speed automatic
- Power Rating: 250 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque
- Fuel Economy Rating: 27.4 mpg on test loop
- Safety Rating: 5-star rating from NHTSA; IIHS testing incomplete