In this new vs. used Chevrolet Malibu comparison, we pit a lightly used 2020 model against a brand-new 2023 Malibu to find out which offers the best value.
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In the ever-shrinking sedan segment, the Chevy Malibu stands strong. And alone. That’s because it’s the only gas-powered car left in the Bowtie lineup. So, if you have your heart set on a regular four-door sedan, act fast as they won’t be around much longer.
It lines up a brand-new Malibu against a lightly used model – with less than 70,000 miles – from 2020 to see which offers the best value. Both model years come from the current ninth-generation Malibu that arrived in 2016. A mid-cycle refresh in 2019 brought a cosmetic update and a host of technology improvements that serve to make this matchup a fairly apples-to-apples discussion.
A 2020 Chevy Malibu can be had in two powertrain flavors. Most models come with a 1.5L turbocharged inline-4 rated for 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque that pairs with a CVT. Only the top-spec Premier is fitted with a 2.0L turbo-four that makes a much heartier 250 hp and 260 torques. It works with a traditional 9-speed automatic transmission that, like the base setup, powers the front wheels.
The main update for 2023 is that the 2.0L powertrain has been discontinued, so all Malibus are now powered by the 1.5L setup. Although the powertrain has not been revised, fuel efficiency on the 2023 Malibu – 27/35 mpg in city/highway driving – is lower than it was in 2020 at 29/36 mpg, respectively. The 250-horse mill comes in even lower at 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway.
From behind the wheel, the 2.0L-powered 2020 Malibu offers quite a bit more get-up-and-go. Aside from that, the driving experience will be largely the same regardless of which Malibu you choose. RS models look sporty but add nothing in the way of performance upgrades.
Since the 9th-gen Malibu arrived, it has been riding on a MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear. StabiliTrak stability control is standard and the transmissions offer a modicum of excitement with manual-style shifting buttons atop the shift lever.
That’s not to say the car isn’t planted with confident handling, but there’s nothing in particular that sets either model apart in this new vs. used Chevrolet Malibu comparison. Daily commuting and long-haul trips will be a breeze whether you go the new or used route.
Between the 2020 and 2023 Chevy Malibu, buyers will find cloth upholstery on most models with leather reserved for the top trim lines in both years. The cabin design, a simple clean layout, hasn’t changed from one year to the next and the same is true of the trunk – which can handle 16 cubic feet of cargo – and rear legroom – which measures 38 inches.
In 2020, the Malibu LT came with heated front seats, while the Premier added ventilation up front and heated cushions out back. The same is true in 2023, except the Premier is gone, replaced by the 2LT.
The infotainment and technology roster are largely the same with one key difference – for 2023, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integrate wirelessly. The 2020 Malibu requires a wired connection for these two systems. Across the board – both model years and every trim line – an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard as is Chevy Connected Access and a 6-speaker stereo system.
Also common to both models is the acoustic laminated front glass on LS trim and above, dual-zone automatic climate control on the LT, and a 9-speaker audio system by Bose on the top-spec Malibu.
The trim line hierarchy is largely the same from 2020 to the 2023 Malibu though the very basic L model from 2020 is now gone and the Premier has been changed to the 2LT. A notable difference is that in 2020, there were no driver-aids included on any Malibu model. For 2023, forward collision mitigation, a lane-keeping system, and automatic high beams are lineup-standard. Systems like adaptive cruise control and automated parking are available, new or used, with an add-on package.
In 2020, trim-level highlights include 16-inch alloy wheels and a Wi-Fi hotspot on the LS, a rear spoiler and black accents on the RS, 17 inchers and remote start on the LT, and a sunroof, LED headlights, ambient lighting, and wireless charging on the Premier. We go deeper into what the 2020 Malibu offers with this review.
The 2023 Malibu lineup is almost identical with the exception of wireless smartphone integration and 19-inch rims on the 2LT versus 18s on the 2020 Premier. You can find more details on the 2023 Malibu in this review.
2020 Chevrolet Malibus – media.chevrolet.com | Shop Chevrolet Malibu on Carsforsale.com
From a features perspective, the main differentiators in this new vs. used Chevrolet Malibu comparison are the wireless smartphone mirroring and standard advanced driver aids that come with a 2023 model plus the new vehicle warranty. However, the 2020 Malibu offers a far more potent powertrain, the same handsome good looks, and better fuel efficiency from the base motor. Then there is the matter of money.
Starting prices for the 2023 Malibu run from $26,000 for the base LS to $27,000 for an RS, $29,000 for the LT and about $32,500 for a top-tier 2LT.
Looking over the listings on CarsForSale.com, a 2020 Chevy Malibu with less than 70,000 miles ranges from $16,000 to $27,000 for both the LS and RS trim lines. An LT will run you up to $30,000 and the Premier model will cost you a bit more at $20,00 to $31,000.
Considering the fact that the 1.5L engine is anemic in comparison to the 2.0L variant, the 2020 Malibu already has a leg up. Frankly, the lack of driver aids doesn’t strike me as such a bad thing as the systems that are standard in 2023 were available as a package in 2020. And once you factor in the possibility of saving up to $10,000 on a used Malibu Premier versus a new 2LT, the used model wins this comparison all day long.
Before you make any used car purchase, be sure to consult our tips on negotiating price here and bring this checklist along with you. And for those in the mood for something different, check out our comparison of the Malibu and Nissan Altima for another compelling sedan option.