Midsize Mash-Up: 2016 Chevrolet Malibu vs. 2016 Toyota Camry

 

 

Picking the right sedan is hard, but that 2016 Chevy Malibu for sale on that dealership lot looks appealing. As it should, because it’s one of the better looking designs on the market. Apart from that, it has all of the innovative safety features you’ve come to know and love from Chevy, as well as the reliable and efficient performance that goes along with it. It’s obvious that the 2016 Malibu is fulfilling all of the important parts expected from a sedan, but how is it doing against the competition? 

Up against a long-time recognizable vehicle like the 2016 Toyota Camry, from a company that has multiple famous sedans, the Malibu might lose a popularity contest. But, what about when it boils down to the three most important aspects of a sedan: design, safety, and performance/efficiency? Which of these two sedans is ultimately better? Let’s find out!

 

Design

 

 

Whether you are looking at a sedan for your family, or are shopping around for a vehicle for yourself or you and your significant other, it’s still important to drive around in style. After all, you only get one chance to make a good first impression, so which of these two vehicles gives you a better one?

 

Malibu 

Chevy designed the 2016 Malibu to catch the eyes of on-lookers and keep them captivated, which is why it brings an unexpected sense of drama to even your most mundane of commutes. Contributing to this dramatic new look are windswept body lines with a sleek and aerodynamic design. Everything about this car is meant to cut through the air like a knife. 

At the forefront of the design are the available LED headlights and daytime running lights that immediately draw your attention. Then, your eyes shift over to the elegant split-grille that Chevy is so famous for. The hood is both aerodynamically sculpted and simple, with slight ridges that add just a touch of definition. 

The rest of the vehicle is designed to match the front end, and is sculpted for efficiency and style. Rather than going with the typical mid-size sedan design, Chevy made sure to throw in a few unique traits. Like the definition lines that run down the side of the vehicle, which no doubt help with the aerodynamics, as well as add a sense of flair. Or, the available LED tail lights, along with the addition of a dual-port exhaust system to make it pop. Whatever detail has been added, Chevy made sure it was both practical and stylish, ultimately creating a sporty, sophisticated, and efficient mid-size sedan.

 

Camry 

While the 2016 Chevy Malibu is everything but ordinary, the Camry is not. Comparatively, this is a much more bland looking sedan. I’m not saying it’s bad looking, not at all. It does have a sense of elegance at first glance. But, that’s it; it’s handsome in a boring, totally expected way. 

The front-grille looks completely out of place, like something off of a space ship, and the daytime running lights and headlights are cut at awkward angles. The hood appears to be completely flat until the slight angular cut that runs around the edge is noticed, and overall the entire design just looks bulky and clunky. In a way, it’s reminiscent in shape and design of the first Toyota Prius. 

Looks like Toyota's cookie-cutter design didn’t save them this time: Chevy 1, Toyota 0.

 

Safety

 

 

In 2016, sedans all typically experience the same type of safety features. Most have 10 airbags, lane departure warning, a safety response system, etc. So as a whole, vehicles from the sedan segment are pretty safe. However, there are a couple of differences between the Malibu and the Camry.

 

Malibu 

First up on the list for the Malibu is the available Teen Driver technology. This function works through Chevrolet’s MyLink display after inputting a PIN code set by a parent or guardian. When this system is activated, it is able to encourage safe driving habits for a teenager that might be driving it. How? By keeping a record so that parents can look up how the car was driven after it's returned. This system can also do things like mute the auto when front seat occupants aren’t wearing safety belts, provide audible and visual warnings when the vehicle goes over a predetermined speed, and even alert you if safety features like forward collision alert or front automatic braking were activated. 

Interestingly enough, the Malibu is the first vehicle in the industry to offer a built-in system like this. Along with Chevy’s Teen Driving technology, the Malibu also has lane keep assist, front automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, low speed front automatic braking, and front parking assist.

 

Camry 

How does the Camry match up to innovative safety features like the Teen Driver technology? Not well. Blind spot monitoring, lane departure alert, radar-powered cruise control, and their pre-collision system are among the more impressive ones in the Camry’s arsenal. But, the Malibu has those as well. 

There are a few safety features that are unique to the Camry in this comparison, such as the whiplash-injury-lessening front seats and direct TPMS (which monitors tire pressure gauge and displays it on the screen for you). Other than that, it has nothing nearly as impressive as the Malibu, once again.

 

Scorecard: Malibu 2, Camry 0

 

Performance and Efficiency

 

 

Hopping onto the performance and efficiency side of things, both vehicles offer three engines, and both have a hybrid model incorporating one of those engines. Let’s let the numbers speak for themselves, shall we?

 

Malibu

The engine options for the Malibu are:

  • 1.5-liter four-cylinder DOHC engine
    • 163 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque
    • 27 mpg city and 37 mpg highway
     
  • A 2.0-liter four-cylinder DOHC engine
    • 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque
    • 22 mpg city and 33 mpg highway
     
  • A 1.8-liter four-cylinder hybrid engine
    • 124 horsepower (94 kW) and 129 lb-ft (175 N-m) of torque
    • 47 mpg city.

 

Camry 

The engine options for the Camry are:

  • A 2.5-liter four cylinder
    • 178 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque
    • 25 mpg city and 35 mpg highway
     
  • A 3.5-liter V6 engine
    • 268 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque
    • 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway
     
  • A 2.5-liter four-cylinder hybrid
    • 200 horsepower
    • 41 mpg combined. 

 

As you can see, with the exception of the middle engine, the Malibu is able to beat the Camry in both power and fuel-efficiency. The inclusion of the V6 means that the Camry will most likely move faster than the Malibu, but that’s okay; it won’t be by much. Besides, these are sedans, not race cars. 

In conclusion, if you are looking for a good balance of efficiency and power, the Malibu is the way to go. But, if you value power over efficiency, grab the Camry.

 

Let’s call this metric a tie: Malibu 3, Camry 1.

 

Price

 

 

Even though the 2016 Chevy Malibu is clearly the superior sedan, the Camry still has a higher starting MSRP of $23,070. Compared to the Malbu’s $21,625 starting MSRP, it’s hard to justify spending almost $2,000 more on a vehicle that doesn’t have the same type of style, blend of efficiency and power, or innovative safety. 

It’s clear the popularity factor is no longer a total guarantee for sales of Toyota’s sedans, which should make 2016 an interesting year on the automotive market.