When you start shopping for stylish and affordable sedans, two names are likely to pop up time and time again: The Chevrolet Malibu and the Nissan Altima. Both models have risen to the top of the pack thanks to their reliable performance, advanced features and fuel efficiency. At first glance, it might seem like the Malibu and the Altima are evenly matched. However, upon closer inspection, you will find subtle differences that will make it clear which is the better model for you.
Here's a close look at how the 2016 Chevy Malibu and the 2015 Nissan Altima stack up so that you can make the right choice for you.
Your first impressions of either the 2016 Chevy Malibu or the 2015 Nissan Altima will depend a great deal on the design. After all, it's the first thing you see. The Malibu and Altima are very similar in design, but they sport some key differences. The 2016 Chevy Malibu has a slightly more muscular front end than the 2015 Altima. The front fascia has a split grille with a thin opening on top and a larger, geometric opening on the bottom. The bowtie logo sits between the two.
The Altima reverses this design, with a larger winged grille on the top and a smaller opening on the bottom. The Altima logo sits directly on the grille opening, and there is a much larger body-color bar in the split. The Malibu has a more stylish front end with winged head-lights, while the front of the Altima looks more practical. That theme continues throughout the exterior design. The Malibu has sculpted lines along the side paneling while the Altima has flat panels. The rear end matches the front in both cases.
Inside the Malibu, you'll find a handsome cabin with leather-like materials throughout the upholstery and paneling. The dash is streamlined and the center console is made larger to accommodate an advanced infotainment system. Metallic trim and accents creating stylish touches throughout. The Altima interior is designed with soft-touch materials and offers plenty of leg and head room. The bucket front seats are designed for comfort, and the upholstery is bolstered with extra cushioning.
Overall, the interior is both pleasant and comfortable. The "winning" design of either the Malibu or the Altima really depends on your own personal preferences.
However, both offer a stylish look with quality materials and design choices.
Neither the Malibu nor the Altima has been designed with top speeds or powerful hauling in mind, but both offer adept handling and agility.
Under the hood of the 2016 Chevy Malibu, you will find a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 160 horse-power and 184 pounds per feet of torque. The engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, and the combination gets an estimated 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Two additional engine options are available. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine puts out 250 horse power and 258 pounds per feet of torque. The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that has tap-shift functionality.
Also available will be a hybrid power train that includes a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and a 1.4-kwh battery pack. The hybrid option will put out 182 horse power and has fuel-efficiency of 45 mpg.
The 2015 Altima comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 182 horse-power. The engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission and has the same fuel economy numbers as the base model Malibu. A 3.5-liter V6 engine is available that puts out 270 horse power and 258 pounds per feet of torque. No hybrid option is available. The Altima has an independent suspension system with Sachs shocks for a smooth ride.
The 2016 Malibu and the 2015 Altima are loaded with convenience and safety features that enhance the driving experience -- which is one of the many reasons why both models are so popular. The 2016 Malibu comes with features such as a built-in 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot, a 7- or 8-inch touch screen for the infotainment system (depending on the trim level), USB ports for rear passengers, and wireless phone charging.
Most notable among the offerings for the new Malibu is a set of parental controls for teen drivers. Parents can set a top speed, and the car will send audio and visual alerts to teens if they exceed it. Parents can use the system to monitor their teen's driving habits (including speed and distance), to set a maximum level for the radio volume, and more. The system is protected by a PIN, so teens won't be able to mess with the settings or hide their driving data.
Safety features on the 2016 Malibu include a standard rearview camera, 10 air bags, traction and stability control, and adaptive cruise control. Numerous additional features are available with higher trim levels or options packages, including lane keep assist, parking sensors, front pedestrian warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot monitoring.
The 2015 Nissan Altima comes with interior features like adjustable seating, a rear folding seat for more trunk access, keyless entry, push-button start, Bluetooth connectivity, and an optional infotainment system with navigation, streaming audio and more. Safety features for the Altima include anti-lock brakes, engine immobilizer, vehicle tracking, tire pressure monitoring, and air bags.
Optional features include a rearview camera, lane departure warning, and blind-spot warning. We expect many more features to be announced for the 2016 Malibu, but we will have to wait until we are closer to the release date for more information.
The 2016 Malibu will be available at dealerships later this fall, and we'll find out pricing information as that date nears. The current Malibu starts at $23,290, and we don't expect any big price fluctuations for the 2016 model. The 2015 Nissan Altima starts at $22,300. Take a test drive of these two vehicles at your local dealership to determine which is the better fit for you. The Chevy Malibu has several generations under its belt, and it is poised to continue building on that tradition of excellence.