A red 2019 Chevy Malibu is shown from the front at an angle.

Sometimes Simple Is Better: A Look at the 2023 Chevy Malibu and 2023 Hyundai Sonata

Many drivers don’t need much to have a pleasant driving experience. They want a car with basic features that can transport a handful of people from point A to point B comfortably and efficiently. They have no interest in an audio system with surround sound, no need for a giant trunk with a built-in storage system, and may never wander far from the AM/FM controls of their dashboard. While this may not represent a large majority of the car-buying public, there are certainly a notable number of drivers who like to keep it simple with their daily transportation.

The Malibu and Sonata both have long legacies of being fantastic midsize sedans. When comparing their most recent 2023 models to one another, both offer a lot of great value to consumers looking for a more basic vehicle. The reality is some drivers want to drive a car without feeling like they’re on the bridge of the starship Enterprise, an uncomplicated layout with less of a focus on tech and more on practicality. Many wonder if automotive technology is getting over the top since you can now put a car on autopilot and order dinner delivery while waiting in traffic. Regardless of your technological preferences and compatibility, there are many reasons why one may want a simple car. For those drivers, the 2023 Chevy Malibu vs 2023 Hyundai Sonata are two cars worth considering. Let’s take a closer look at how these reliable sedans differ from one another.

A red 2022 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is shown from the rear at an angle.

There’s No Such Thing as a “Tech-Less” Car

That’s not to say that the Malibu or the Sonata is spartan and charmless. Drivers will encounter infotainment screens and standard Bluetooth connectivity in both, though Chevy has helped drivers adapt to the new age by retaining key knobs and buttons for the sound system and climate control. Hyundai has opted for a more streamlined dash, including the elimination of a gear shift device. Instead, drivers select buttons for their preferred gear. It’s the kind of thing you either love or avoid.

Chevy also equips the 2023 Malibu with the Chevy Safety Assist package as standard fare. This long-time favorite of drivers includes Automatic Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Alert, Following Distance Indicator, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, and IntelliBeam auto high beam assist. Also standard is Chevy’s own Teen Driver, which allows parents to set speed and audio controls for their newly-licensed teens, and Buckle to Drive, which encourages driver safety by keeping the car in Park until the driver’s safety belt is fastened.

Hyundai offers similar equipment in the 2023 Sonata, along with Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, allowing you to set a preferred speed and following distance and let your car take care of its braking and acceleration. Also offered is the Hyundai Digital Key, which turns an Android or Apple device into a virtual “key,” allowing you to unlock your Sonata.

While neither vehicle is technophobe-friendly, both Chevy and Hyundai have done an admirable job of creating cars that are more intuitive to drivers who are either new to the road or prefer to focus on the driving aspect of their daily commute. However, Hyundai has thrown a few extra features into the mix that may be a little too cutting-edge for those who may be considered novices when it comes to cutting-edge driving technology.

Not Too Much, Not Too Little

Both Chevy and Hyundai are aware that there is a specific sweet spot for many drivers when it comes to the size of their vehicles. They don’t want to drive a giant land yacht, but they also shy away from cars that are considered “compact” or very low to the ground. They appreciate a full view through their windshield and a short-but-not-tiny distance to travel between seat and standing. You may be nodding in agreement right now.

The Malibu is slightly longer than the competition, measuring 194.2 inches to the Sonata’s 192.9 inches. However, the difference in these figures is granted to the Chevy’s rear seat passengers, who enjoy an admirable 38.1 inches of legroom and 57.1 inches of shoulder room. The Sonata’s rear seat is suited to smaller passengers, with just 34.8 inches of legroom and 56.1 inches of shoulder room. Cargo space is similar, with the Malibu offering 15.7 cu.ft. of space to the Sonata’s 16 cu.ft. of room. Both also offer standard 60/40 split folding rear seats to allow drivers to configure their interior as needed, making them equally prepared for weekend trips and the occasional stow-and-go.

Sedan Power Play

Midsize sedans like the 2023 Malibu and 2023 Sonata aren’t frequently associated with words like “power” and “performance” because that’s not what they’re designed to do. Instead, these vehicles are purposefully engineered to provide a stable, safe, and enjoyable ride for up to five passengers. Whether that’s going from home to school, work, or the other side of the country, these vehicles have adequate power and admirable fuel economy. The Chevy Malibu is the more straightforward of the two. Offered in four trims: the LS, RS, LT, and 2LT, all powered by a 1.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Accompanied by a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), the ride is responsive, comfortable, and unsurprising. Fuel economy is a predictable 32 MPG combined.

The power and performance of the Hyundai Sonata depends on the trim you select, as there are three different engines offered across the lineup. The SE and SEL trims are equipped with a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine, while the SEL Plus and Limited trims come with a 1.6L Turbo 4-cylinder, and the N Line includes a 2.5L Turbo engine. These engines range from 27 to 32 MPG combined. If a little extra pep is what you’re looking for, the Hyundai might be more exciting for you. However, bear in mind that the more pep you get, the more you’ll pay at the pump.

A white 2023 Chevy Malibu is shown from the front at an angle 2023 Chevy Malibu vs 2023 Hyundai Sonata.

Both Vehicles Offer the Important Features You’re Looking For, While Still Keeping It Simple

Depending on the trim you select, your Chevy Malibu or Hyundai Sonata may be equipped with any number of bells and whistles aimed toward driver comfort and convenience. Features like larger infotainment touchscreens, head-up displays, and even automatic parking can be found on higher trims of both models. Still, it’s refreshing to have cars that don’t insist on drivers having the world at their fingertips as they face their daily commute. Sure, it’s great to have that kind of access when necessary, and for many drivers, the latest tech is absolutely necessary and appreciated.

But sometimes, a driver just wants to drive. They want to roll down the windows and feel the air as they listen to their favorite tunes. They want the ease of going places without thinking about anything beyond how they’ll get there and staying safe on the road. For these drivers, fear not; there are still sedans on the market with simplicity in mind, and the 2023 Chevy Malibu and 2023 Hyundai Sonata are excellent examples of this. The automotive industry is evolving, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle with the perfect balance of performance and tech, while still keeping the driving experience uncomplicated.