|29||Fuel Economy (city mpg)||28|
|15.7||Cargo Space (cu.ft.)||15.4|
In a society known for supersizing everything, midsize sedans like the Chevy Malibu and Nissan Altima prove that not every driver wants or needs a gas-guzzling crossover or SUV. Comparing the 2022 Chevy Malibu vs 2022 Nissan Altima showcases how each automaker approaches this reality and meets the demand of drivers looking for well-equipped and efficient sedans that can satisfy the driving needs of their everyday lives. So, which sedan is better, and which automaker is more aware of what its drivers want and need? The answer might surprise you.
The 2022 Malibu and 2022 Altima are comparably priced, with the Malibu starting at $23,400 and the Altima at $24,900.[a] The Malibu’s lower MSRP gives it an immediate advantage, but the real question lies in its overall value. What are you getting for $23,400 that makes the Malibu such a great find?[a] Where the Malibu is designed to prove budget-savvy shoppers don’t have to settle for less, the Altima isn’t and requires spending more money on a less-equipped model. One of the most prominent examples of this is the center touchscreen display, which is a standard eight-inches on the Malibu versus a smaller seven-inch display on the Altima that you can upgrade at an additional cost.
How else do the models differ? How does the Malibu steal the spotlight from the Altima in a way that proves Chevrolet is more keenly attuned to its drivers and their needs? We’re here to answer those questions by looking closer at the 2022 Malibu and 2022 Altima in terms of performance, features, and design.
The 2022 Altima and 2022 Malibu both offer multi-engine lineups that are efficient and capable. Maybe you’re drawn to the Altima because of its available all-wheel drive system, which the Malibu doesn’t offer. However, enjoying the benefits of all-wheel-drive means sacrificing performance and capability. That’s a sacrifice Chevrolet doesn’t require you to make.
The Altima’s dual-engine lineup starts with a standard 2.5L four-cylinder engine that delivers up to 188 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. The beefier 2.0L variable compression turbocharged four-cylinder engine is far more powerful, producing 248 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. However, the turbocharged powerplant isn’t available with all-wheel drive. This oversight and the Altima’s continuously variable transmission give the sedan a clear disadvantage.
In contrast, the 2022 Malibu comes standard with a 1.5L turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Its higher torque rating promises more low-end power than the Altima, enhancing the Malibu’s off-the-line performance and responsiveness at any speed. The Malibu’s bigger, 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder is even more impressive and is mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission to produce 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque.
Nissan and Chevrolet both rely on a continuously variable transmission, but Chevrolet recognizes the need for a traditional automatic and gives drivers a nine-speed automatic transmission with the 2.0L engine. Why is this important? Continuously variable transmissions are renowned for balancing performance and efficiency, but this balance comes at a cost. Because continuously variable transmissions don’t upshift or downshift like an automatic transmission, the driving experience is less engaging. Additionally, continuously variable transmissions are louder when accelerating, are more prone to overheating and slipping, and are more costly to repair. These factors give the Malibu and its automatic transmission a significant advantage over the Altima.
The 2022 Malibu and 2022 Altima are sophisticated sedans with modern design elements that add to their overall aesthetics and values. For Chevrolet, the Malibu embodies the mantra to “elevate the everyday” with its sleek four-door design enhanced by its broad front grille and LED lighting. The Malibu’s interior is sophisticated and elegant, offering an array of amenities and high-quality materials that deliver optimal comfort. For example, you’ll find a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated outboard seats on top-tier trims like the Premier.
Nissan takes a similar approach and distinguishes the Altima with its smooth body lines and sloping hood. Its interior is also impressive, mimicking that of the Malibu and showcasing Nissan’s keen attention to detail. However, the Altima falls short in many areas, especially in terms of its capacities and the impact its design has on passenger and cargo volume.
The Malibu sits on a 111.4-inch wheelbase, which is comparable to the Altima’s 111.2-inch wheelbase. However, Chevrolet makes the most out of the platform by stretching the Malibu to a 194.2-inch length, 73-inch width, and 57.3-in height. Although the Altima also stands at 57.3 inches tall, the sedan is noticeably smaller in the other dimensions, measuring only 192.9 inches long. This dramatically impacts the Altima’s interior, so much so that the Altima has a passenger volume of 98.8 cubic feet that pales compared to the Malibu at 102.9 cubic feet.
This vast difference in capacity means the Malibu offers more room for passengers and cargo. Chevrolet positions the Malibu’s front row to create an expansive cockpit that provides 39.1 inches of headroom compared to the Altima at 38 inches. This positioning also impacts the second row, giving Malibu passengers 37.5 inches of headroom and 38.1 inches of legroom as opposed to the smaller Altima at 36.7 inches and 35.2 inches, respectively. Trunk space is also affected, with the Malibu offering slightly more cargo room at 15.7 cubic feet compared to the Altima at 15.4 cubic feet, which equates to how easily you can fit that last bag of groceries or piece of luggage.
Chevrolet and Nissan do exceptional jobs keeping drivers connected, informed, safe, and aware in the driver’s seat. The 2022 Malibu and 2022 Altima are outfitted with cutting-edge technology that ranges from smartphone integration and wireless smartphone charging to navigation and advanced driver-assist features. While the sedans share much of this technology, there are a few key differences that give the Malibu another advantage over its Nissan rival.
Chevrolet doesn’t skimp on technology, outfitting the Malibu with a standard eight-inch center touchscreen display that features the Chevrolet infotainment system. In addition, the display is home to Alexa Built-In, Chevrolet's navigation system, a WiFi hotspot, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Depending on trim, the display also features a standard rear vision or high-definition camera that provides a comprehensive view behind and around the sedan.
Nissan forces drivers to spend more on technology, equipping the Altima with a smaller seven-inch display and only offering an eight-inch display on top-tier trims. You won’t find any wireless smartphone capability or wireless smartphone charging. Nissan also requires drivers to subscribe to its NissanConnect Services to enjoy the benefits of Amazon Alexa Skill and Google Assistant Action.
Moving beyond connectivity features, the Malibu gains another notable advantage over the Altima regarding its safety and driver-assist features. The Malibu’s exclusive Teen Driver Technology is ideal for parents with young drivers at home, allowing parents to set parameters for their teen driver and access in-vehicle report cards that provide coachable moments to create safer driving habits. Again, you won’t find anything comparable on the Altima.
Even with this critical difference, the Malibu and Altima offer many similar safety features that engineer confidence and peace of mind. The Malibu’s safety features run the gamut from IntelliBeam High Beam Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking, and Adaptive Cruise Control to Forward Collision Alert, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Automatic Parking Assist. The Altima’s suite is similar and, like the Malibu, requires upgrading to mid-to-top-tier trims to enjoy the full spectrum of features, which includes Rear Cross Traffic Alert, High Beam Assist, Rear Automatic Braking, and Lane Departure Warning.