Did you ever have to make up your mind? I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember that this song was by the popular Sixties band The Lovin’ Spoonful, but I’m pretty sure if you heard it, you’d remember hearing it. It’s about the age-old dilemma of having to decide between two equally good options, such as comparing the 2021 Chevy Malibu vs 2021 Honda Accord. Sure, there are times when a decision is fairly clear cut, like when one product is better and less expensive. In this kind of situation, the only reason to opt for the more expensive and inferior product is because your spouse or child owns the company that manufactures the item – but I highly doubt that is the case when you’re in the market for buying your next sedan.
Now, if you’re the proud parent of the Chief Executive Officer of Chevrolet or Honda, then let me be the first to congratulate you. However, I highly doubt that you are reading this if you or your close relative is an executive at either of these two great car companies since it’s a pretty good bet you’ve already made up your mind here. But if that’s not the case, then you have to know how to decide when comparing the 2021 Chevy Malibu vs 2021 Honda Accord. Like John Sebastian sang over 50 years ago, “it’s not often easy and not often kind,” but you will have to make up your mind. Let’s show you why the 2021 Chevy Malibu will be a better buy for your next sedan.
Comparable Model Design
Sometimes cars have a very distinct design that there is no mistaking them for another vehicle. If you may remember, in My Cousin Vinny, automotive expert and biological clock owner Mona Lisa Vito points out that there is no mistaking a Chevy Corvette for a 1964 Buick Skylark. However, if Ms. Vito was asked on the witness stand to compare the model designs of the 2021 Chevy Malibu and the 2021 Honda Accord, she’d probably have to admit that the two are quite similar.
Let’s take a brief look at both sedans. Aside from their similar shape, the 2021 Honda Accord has a 111.4-inch wheelbase, the same as the 2021 Chevy Malibu. I could just see the prosecutor in My Cousin Vinny clapping his hands together and saying, “Identical!”
Both also have a standard sedan configuration of two passengers in the front row and three in the back. Opening the doors, you will see a similar amount of passenger space. Most models of the 2021 Accord offer 105.6 cubic feet of passenger space, while more expensive trims actually offer a little less, just 102.7 cubic feet. All trims of the 2021 Malibu give passengers 102.9 cubic feet of cabin space.
The similarity in design between these two vehicles even carries over to how the cabin space is apportioned between the two rows of seats. For example, both vehicles provide a little over 39 inches of headroom to the driver and front-row passenger and more than 37 inches to the three passengers sitting in the back. Both also have plenty of legroom, shoulder room, and hip room, with the Malibu favoring the shoulders and the Accord the hips. Whichever one you drive, it is doubtful that you or your passengers are going to think this car cramps their style.
Comparable Engine Options
One thing that often sets cars apart is the engine options that manufacturers choose for their sedans. Some automakers go for smaller, more fuel-efficient engines, while others are looking for acceleration and overall performance. There are sedans that may come with a standard powertrain across all trim levels, and there are others where the options are dizzying. With the 2021 Chevy Malibu and 2021 Honda Accord, you get to choose between two engines. That’s not too unusual as many automakers save a bigger engine for the luxury or performance version of their sedan, which is the case with both Chevrolet and Honda. However, what stands out is that the two engines on the 2021 Malibu and 2021 Honda are practically identical. Somebody cue the prosecutor from My Cousin Vinny.
The base engine on the 2021 Chevy Malibu is a 1.5-liter turbocharged EcoTec I-4. This is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that can constantly adjust its gear ratio to meet driving conditions and maximize efficiency. This engine uses its turbocharger to produce 160 horsepower and generate 184 pound-feet of torque. The base engine on the 2021 Honda Accord is also a 1.5-liter turbocharged I-4 with a CVT. While this produces slightly more horsepower and torque, it is not a significant difference. In addition, they get almost the same fuel economy, 29 miles per gallon in the city and 36 miles per gallon on the highway for the Malibu and 30 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway for the Accord.
The 2021 Malibu is also offered with a 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4, which comes standard on the top Premier trim. This engine is paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission and can produce 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. The 2021 Accord also has an optional 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoTec I-4, standard on the top Touring 2.0T trim and available on the Accord Sport model. It uses a 10-speed automatic transmission to produce 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The Malibu with the larger engine will get you 22 miles per gallon in city driving and 33 miles per gallon on the highway, while the Accord provides 22 miles per gallon in the city and 32 miles per gallon on the highway. Oh, and did I mention that both sedans are front-wheel drive? Okay, now we can all clap our hands together and say, “Identical!”
Like most cars today, the 2021 Chevy Malibu and 2021 Honda Accord come equipped with their automakers’ infotainment systems. The Malibu has the standard Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system on an 8-inch color touchscreen. This system offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility along with an AM/FM stereo system and Bluetooth for your smartphone. Available wireless charging and a standard 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot are other features of the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system.
The 2021 Accord has the Honda Display/Audio system, which also an 8-inch color touchscreen. This also features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and Bluetooth to link your smartphone. However, if you want wireless charging as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on a Honda, you will need to spring for a higher trim like the EX-L or Touring 2.0T. Nevertheless, these are fairly comparable infotainment systems from an accessory standpoint.
When you have two very similar products, you would expect them to be offered to the public at a similar price. However, this is not the case when you compare the 2021 Chevy Malibu with the 2021 Honda Accord. The base model Malibu L has an MSRP of $22,140. This is almost $3,000 less than the base 2021 Honda Accord LX, which has an MSRP of $24,970.
This difference in pricing continues throughout the entire trim line for both vehicles. The Malibu LS adds Chevy’s Teen Driver technology and a number of other accessories for an MSRP of $23,270. The Malibu RS has an MSRP of $24,270 and adds 18-inch aluminum wheels, dual exhaust outlets, a power driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a rear spoiler. The Malibu LT includes LED daytime running lights and heated front seats for an MSRP of $26,670. The top Malibu Premier trim adds the larger engine and 19-inch aluminum wheels for an MSRP of $33,370.
In contrast, you will have to pay $36,900 for a top trim 2021 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T. This price difference also applies to the other three trim levels on the Accord, the Sport with an MSRP of $27,430, the Sport Special Edition with an MSRP of $28,920, and the EX-L with an MSRP of $31,290. The Accord simply costs more.
Why Pay More?
Did you ever have to finally decide? Well, when the time comes, to paraphrase John Sebastian, you should pick up on the 2021 Chevy Malibu and give it a ride. You will be getting pretty much the same sedan with a similar engine, comparable infotainment system, and equally exceptional fuel economy for a lot less money. Why pay more for a 2021 Honda Accord when you can get a 2021 Chevy Malibu and keep the change?