A black 2021 Chevy Malibu is parked in front of a modern building with the headlights on.

The 2021 Chevy Malibu: Comfortable and Affordable Midsize Sedan

2021 brings with it the continuation of the beloved Chevy Malibu. This comfortable and affordable midsize sedan has been a family favorite for years, and Chevy continues to impress with the 2021 Chevy Malibu. Keep the basic design for comfort and style, or upgrade to a higher trim for a little more luxury and convenience: the choice is yours. The Malibu is a sophisticated design that makes you feel like you are spoiling yourself every time you drive it, but its style doesn’t mean you have to break the bank.

A Sophisticated Exterior

Grille styles are changing, and the 2021 Malibu’s front end reflects the newer shape. Where the grille used to have a more rectangular or trapezoidal shape above the front fender, it now has a more modern rounded grill with a stylish bar across the upper portion, giving it a cool split appearance. The upper grill portion seems to wrap into the slim headlights, giving the whole vehicle an aerodynamic feel.

Other differences in the exterior show up in the general body shape, with the Malibu taking on even more rounded edges to create a sweeping line from front to back. Gone are the blocky and chunky pillars and lines. Instead, the 2021 Malibu seems to lay back into its driving direction with a somewhat higher beltline for a more sporty feel.

General exterior features that will come standard with the base trim are 16-inch wheels, an acoustic laminate windshield, halogen headlights, and powered wing mirrors. Options or features that will come standard with upper trims are available heated wing mirrors with integrated turn signals, a dual-pane sunroof, Intellibeam automatic headlights, and LED lights. Splash guards, a rear spoiler, and wheel locks complete the outer package. You will also be treated to keyless entry, and remote start features to make your day just a little bit easier.

A Redline Edition, Midnight Edition, and Sport Edition are optional packages available for the LT trim to enhance the exterior appearance. The Redline Edition comes with 19-inch wheels, front and rear bowtie emblems in black, black exterior accents outlined in red, black interior, and the option for metallic, white, or black metallic exterior colors. The Sport and Midnight Editions also come with 19-inch wheels and blacked-out grilles with black accents on the exterior. The main difference between the two is that the Midnight Edition comes as a black metallic to support that nighttime vibe, while the Sport Edition can come in any available paint color.

A view from the back seat of a man opening the sunroof in a 2021 Chevy Malibu.

Engine Options and Performance

The 2021 Malibu comes with two engine choices: a 1.5-liter four-cylinder and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, both turbocharged. The 2.0-liter is standard, and only available, on the Premier trim and is paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission. The 1.5L is standard on all other trim options and comes paired with a continuously variable transmission option. No matter what trim or engine you choose, you will have front-wheel drive as no other drive type is currently available for this model.

While the performance numbers for these engines are nothing groundbreaking, they don’t need to be in a car like this. The base 1.5-liter engine gives drivers a respectable 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, which is plenty of power for your everyday commute. For those looking for a little more fun, the 2.0-liter engine does offer a more energetic feel when zipping through traffic or taking tight corners. You will get a surprising 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque if you opt for this engine.

When driving with the larger wheels, it is still surprisingly smooth inside the cabin, and the suspension overall does a good job of handling the rough spots in the road to isolate the passengers from jostling. Fuel efficiency for the 1.5-liter engine is rated at 29 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway. The 2.0-liter manages 22 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway.

Technology and Convenience

Midsize sedans are made for comfort as much as convenience, and the 2021 Malibu is no exception. Slipping into the driver’s seat, the Malibu offers plenty of legroom and supportive cushioning for long drives. Soft-touch materials throughout the modern cabin complement the shapely, sweeping lines of the dash and doors. The instrument cluster is easy to read, and the power controls for windows and doors are conveniently tilted for better access in the driver’s door armrest. The eight-inch infotainment screen is placed at an angle to allow a good view for both driver and passenger.

Controls for the audio system, phone connectivity, and cruise control are located on the steering wheel, while the infotainment screen accesses the climate control and other in-vehicle apps. Conveniences like the large 15.7 cubic feet give you plenty of storage for your stuff, or the trunk area can be extended into the back when the 60/40 split back seat is folded down. A 12-volt plug in the front allows for cell-phone charging, and cup and bottle holders are located in the console for the front passengers and in the doors for the back. Generous legroom for back seat passengers will allow adults to ride in the rear with space to spare.

Standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a six-speaker audio system, and Chevy Connected access are included in the base trim level. The Chevy Infotainment 3 system also comes standard, which includes Bluetooth audio streaming for two devices and hands-free voice command controls for the audio system.

Features for upper trims include a Bose premium audio system with nine speakers, wireless charging, the Infotainment 3 system with HD touchscreen and navigation, and a Sirius XM trial subscription. The driver feels upgraded comfort with driver seat memory, heated seats, a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, ventilated front seats, and powered front seats with driver’s seat lumbar control. The upper trims round things out with dual-zone climate control to ensure that everyone can stay comfortable and an auto-dimming rearview mirror to help with light glare at night.

A close up view of the rear badging on a red 2021 Chevy Malibu.

A Step Up for Safety

This year, Chevy is incorporating its Teen Driver technology into all of their vehicles. This system encourages new drivers to build good habits through features like “Buckle-to-Drive.” This feature requires the driver’s seat belt is buckled before the vehicle can shift out of park. If you try to shift out of park without your seatbelt on, the system will shut off the ability to shift for 20 seconds and provide audio and visual alerts.

Standard features for the base trim include a rear-seat reminder, rear child door locks, and the LATCH system for tethering child safety seats to encourage the safety of your backseat riders. OnStar access with Chevy Connected, a rearview camera, an interior safety release for the trunk latch, a theft-deterrent alarm, and a remote panic alarm are also standard. Available safety features on upper trims include adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, and rear cross traffic alert. You can also opt for automatic parking assist, a following distance indicator, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, an HD rearview camera, and rear parking assist.

Two packages are available for more comprehensive safety equipment. The Driver Confidence Package is available for all but the base trim and includes most of the alert and assist features offered above. An Enhanced Driver Confidence Package is available only for the Premier trim level. It adds all of the optional features listed above, an electronic parking brake, adaptive cruise control, and enhanced auto emergency braking.

Trim Levels and Pricing

There are five available trim levels, including the base L, LS, RS, LT, and Premier. The pricing begins at $22,140 for the L. Moving up, the LS begins at $23,270, the RS starts at $24,270, the LT pricing is $26,670, and the Premier tops the list starting at $33,370. Each trim level will grant you its own unique features and packages to choose from, so your Malibu can be as customized as you want. While the base trim is the most sparse, it does have a fairly comprehensive list of equipment to make your journey rewarding. If you seek a more luxurious sedan, look for the features available exclusively for the Premier.

Any buyers who are die-hard sedan drivers will undoubtedly be satisfied with the space, comfort, capability, and pricing of the 2021 Chevy Malibu. This is a vehicle made for comfort with a small side of sporty appeal without getting too outrageous. If you need a calm, cool, and collected sedan, the 2021 Malibu is worth a look.