2018 Chevrolet Malibu vs. 2018 Nissan Altima

August 3rd, 2018 by

2018 Chevrolet Malibu

Although SUVs and crossovers have become the go-to choice for young buyers recently, midsize sedans retain the loyalty of small families. The segment continues to be extremely important to automakers as can be seen in the efforts put in to refresh current year models in the form of the Chevrolet Malibu and the Nissan Altima.

The 2018 Chevrolet Malibu is available for sale at Zeck Chevrolet in Purcell, OK.


The Chevrolet Malibu was given a complete overhaul in 2016. Since then, it has been highly competitive in the midsize sedan segment. It stands apart from its rivals for its sharp looks and eye-catching features. It features a spacious interior and is loaded with the latest tech. There’s a range of engine options along with a hybrid choice that makes the Malibu a great pick.

As for the Nissan Altima, it has been a decent car over the years but has somewhat lagged behind in keeping pace with its rivals in the segment. Having said that, the current year model of the Altima does get some of the latest tech such as an updated infotainment system compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Also standard is a forward collision avoidance system with automatic emergency braking (AEB) across all trims.


Chevy redesigned the Malibu in 2016. For the current year, there are four trim levels – L, LS, 1LT, and Premier. There are no major changes in the exterior design except for a Redline appearance package, which is available only on the 1LT trim. This comes with all-black 19-inch wheels and black and red trim pieces instead of the usual chrome used on other trims.

Then there are two more packages available in the Premier trim – the Driver Confidence pack and the Driver Confidence pack II. These come with new tech like an electronic parking brake, adaptive cruise control, parking assist, and an automatic forward collision avoidance system. A dual pane sunroof and 19-inch wheels can also be added.

Like the Malibu, the Nissan Altima has also remained unchanged for the current year model with only performance packages to enhance the exteriors. Nissan offers 16-inch, 17-inch and 18-inch wheels as options with different packages. There’s also a sunroof and LED headlamps offered as options.


Getting inside the Malibu is extremely easy, especially when you consider its width and space. The Malibu is wider, longer and taller than the Nissan Altima, which helps offer more interior roominess. It also adds to the greater headroom and legroom both at the front and back seats. Thus, passengers in Chevy’s Malibu can stretch out more comfortably than those in Nissan’s Altima.

The Malibu also benefits from a contemporary interior design layout. The dashboard is minimalistic with a simple layout of controls. It is extremely pleasing to the eye and user-friendly. The climate control buttons are well placed as to make them easily reachable. The same goes for the MyLink infotainment touchscreen that is placed high to make it easily accessible.

As for the Nissan Altima, its interior trails the Malibu’s overall design. Not only is the infotainment system extremely outdated but the touchscreen is also placed at a lower height. The driver has to stretch out to reach it, increasing the distraction while driving. Add to that, several knobs and controls are awkwardly placed. The interior materials are decent but some surfaces are made from hard plastics and do not look rich, maligning the overall feel of the interiors. The standard rearview camera of the Altima is of poor display quality and does not give a clear view at the back.

Engine & Performance

The Chevy Malibu comes with a 1.5L four-cylinder engine as standard producing 160 horsepower and 184 pounds per foot of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0L four-cylinder available with the Premier trim churns out a massive 250 hp and 260 pounds per foot of torque and it is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission. As for the hybrid, it uses a 1.8L four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor and making a combined 182 horsepower and a remarkable 277 pounds per foot of torque!

All these numbers make the Malibu a bold step forward from its previous year models. The sharp handling and advanced hybrid powertrain available help the Malibu stand out in its class. The hybrid’s acceleration, in particular, is extremely smooth which makes it feel more like an electric vehicle rather than a hybrid. The braking is also powerful as a Malibu running at 60 mph stops in less than 115 feet.

Despite its size, this Chevy’s sedan corners well on sharp turns and maneuvers decently in heavy traffic.

The Nissan Altima is meanwhile powered by a 2.5L 4 cylinder that produces 179 horsepower and 177 pounds per foot of torque. There’s however not much power to the engine as can be seen from the long 8.2 seconds it takes to reach 60 mph. The engine also produces a loud groan if you push the gas pedal completely.

The handling of the Altima is not great either. At parking lot speeds, there’s far too much effort needed to move around the steering wheel; what makes this worse is the slippery leather covering given to it. Add to that, the steering does not return to center on its own smoothly, forcing the driver to manually unwind it. It may transport you to the past, giving you the feel how driving a car without power steering!


While Chevrolet has continued to perform great in the midsize segment, Nissan has somewhat failed with the Altima. When it comes to interior design, modern tech, safety features, engine performance, hybrid tech, or handling, the Chevy Malibu comes out on the top in all of them.

Don’t take our word for it – test drive the 2018 Chevrolet Malibu for yourself in Purcell, Oklahoma at Zeck Chevrolet. We’re ready and waiting to help you choose the Chevrolet Malibu that suits you perfectly.

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