Chevrolet Malibu vs. Hyundai Sonata

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Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

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, Automotive Editor - March 26, 2015

The 2015 Hyundai Sonata changes the game for family sedans. It proves that a turbocharged four-cylinder engine can provide the power of a V6 while delivering superior fuel economy. It also proves that lower-cost family sedans don't have to look dull and bland anymore. With its elegant styling, the Sonata is a piece of eye candy for the everyman.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Malibu & Sonata >>

The newest Chevrolet Malibu is one of the latest models that attempts to capitalize on this popular formula. So, does the Malibu check all the right boxes for success, or does the Sonata still have the edge?

What the Hyundai Sonata does right

To passers by, the Sonata looks far more expensive than it actually is thanks to its hexagonal grille and sleek sheet metal. The driver and passengers get to enjoy a well-appointed interior that manages to be just as stylish as the exterior and features high-quality materials. Buttons are logically laid out, with a helpful pictogram to show cabin airflow.

Out on the road, the Sonata’s six-speed automatic delivers subdued shifts to ensure a serene driving experience. Base SE and high-trim Limited models are tuned for a smooth, supple ride, while the Sport model firms up the suspension to help control body roll when cornering.

What the Chevrolet Malibu does right

The Malibu used to subscribe to the more "traditional" family sedan template, with an engine range that positioned a four cylinder at the bottom and a V6 at the top. Starting in 2013, though, the powertrain options more closely resembled that of the Sonata's: a 2.5-liter four cylinder as the base engine and a 2-liter turbocharged four as the upgrade option. The payoff is in fuel economy: The 2.5-liter can get 34 mpg on the highway, while the Turbo provides power that is comparable to a V6 and an EPA rating of 30 mpg on the highway.

The 2013 Malibu shows great progress in the handling department compared to the previous model. The steering telegraphs road textures well, and the ride is compliant and composed. The brakes provide good stopping power, and body roll is kept to a minimum.

Has Chevy matched the Sonata?

The Malibu has all the basic parts that make up the Sonata’s winning formula, but they all seem to be 9/10ths of what the Sonata offers. While the Malibu is good looking, both inside and out, it doesn’t stand out or provoke a second look like the Sonata does. Other notes against the Malibu are its notoriously cramped rear seat, and some controls that might not be as ergonomically friendly as in the Sonata.

Our Verdict: Hyundai Sonata

Both cars easily catch our attention, but it’s the Sonata that keeps it with high-end styling and a spacious cabin.

Take a closer look at the Chevrolet Malibu >>

Take a closer look at the Hyundai Sonata >>

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Justin Cupler has specialized as an automotive writer since 2009, and has seen himself published in multiple websites and online magazines. In addition to contributing to CarsDirect, Justin also works as editor in chief for a large performance car online publication. His specialty lays in the high-performance realm, but has a deep love and understanding for all things automotive. Prior to being an automotive writer, he was an automotive technician and manager for six years, but spent the majority of his younger life tinkering with classic muscle cars.

Follow On: Google+ | Website