2021 Nissan Altima vs 2022 Chevy Malibu

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  • 2021 Nissan Altima

    A grey 2021 Nissan Altima is angled left.

    Starting at


    2022 Chevy Malibu

    2022 Chevy Malibu is angled right.

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    39Fuel Economy (mpg hwy)36
    YesAll-Wheel Drive (Available)No
    188Standard Horsepower (hp)160

    The Nissan Altima and Chevy Malibu are two of the most popular midsize sedans on the market. They have a lot in common, but there are some differences to take into consideration when choosing between them. If you're looking for a reliable car that's easy to drive with plenty of technology features, then both cars may be great options for you! But what are the real differences in a 2021 Nissan Altima vs 2022 Chevy Malibu mashup?

    If you're looking to invest in a new car, you definitely want to make the most intelligent choice possible. After all, your new vehicle should potentially last upwards of five years, or even decades, if you take really good care of it. The Nissan Altima and Chevy Malibu are both popular cars. But which one should you buy? Let's take a look at the differences between these two vehicles to see what would be best for your needs!

  • Efficiency

    A red 2021 Nissan Altima is shown rounding a corner in a city.

    Everybody wants to save money on fuel mileage. Unless you have the money to invest in a gas-guzzling vehicle, fuel efficiency is one of the biggest reasons to consider one vehicle over another, especially when you're in the commuter vehicle classes. While both the 2022 Nissan Altima and the 2022 Chevy Malibu shine in terms of good fuel economy, they are not the same, and depending on your lifestyle, one of these vehicles will serve you better than the other.

    Fuel Economy By the Numbers

    The gas mileage on the 2021 Nissan Altima comes in at 28 MPG in the city and 39 MPG on the highway. This kind of fuel economy can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, over the life of your vehicle when compared to other, more fuel-guzzling models. The 2021 Nissan Altima has a standard 2.5L 4-cylinder engine that can produce 188 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque, making it very efficient on gasoline. The 39 MPG on the highway makes this vehicle especially appealing to those who have to drive into the city for their commute.

    The 2022 Chevy Malibu achieves similar gas mileage, coming in at 29 MPG for the city and 36 MPG on the highway. The Malibu features a standard 1.5L turbocharged engine that provides 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels in order to get this kind of mileage. The 29 MPG city miles may make the Chevy Malibu appear slightly more appealing to urban city dwellers who have only short distances to go and lots of stops and goes to make on the way there.

    Nissan Offers Fuel Savings

    However, the reality is that nobody drives exclusively in the city, especially not enough to make the 1 MPG difference between the Altima and the Malibu worth the loss of 3 MPG highway mileage savings. In the real world, a driver can expect to get better mileage from the 2021 Nissan Altima overall. This will be a big deal as the cost of everything, including gasoline, keeps heading up. From a certain perspective, the more the cost of gas goes up, the more money you will save with the 2021 Nissan Altima over the 2022 Chevy Malibu.

  • Performance

    The black interior of a 2021 Nissan Altima shows the steering wheel and infotainment screen.

    How do the 2021 Nissan Altima and the 2022 Chevy Malibu compare in terms of performance? If you are one of those people who loves to be a pioneer in the world of emerging technologies, then the 2021 Nissan Altima definitely beats out the Malibu in terms of keeping on the forefront. The 2022 Chevy Malibu has two different engines available. One is the 1.5L Turbo, and the other is the 2.0L Turbo. The Malibu also has technologies such as direct injection and engine start-stop that have been integrated to try and balance power and fuel efficiency.

    Nissan's Unique Engine Technology

    Nissan, on the other hand, has introduced in the last few years a new technology to their available 2.0L Turbo engine. This is called the Variable Compression Turbo or the VC-Turbo for short. This engine is the first in the world of its kind, and it has made both power and fuel efficiency possible without having to turn off the engine at every stop. The idea of the VC-Turbo is that when you need power and press on the gas pedal, the engine will make a lower compression ratio, giving you an engine that acts like a higher performance tuned vehicle. If, on the other hand, you are cruising and not using all that acceleration, the engine will change it up to be a higher compression, saving you on fuel as it is tuned more like a very fuel-efficient vehicle would be.

    So rather than simply turning off the engine in part or entirely to try and save fuel and still have a low compression ratio, the Nissan Altima's engine will adapt and change to give you power or efficiency that is based on what you need at that exact moment. This is the first engine of its kind, and it shows just how devoted Nissan is to making the world we live in better while also allowing your pocketbook to stay bigger.

    Nissan's Available All-Wheel Drive

    In terms of performance, the Nissan Altima shines in another area besides just engine innovation. Not all people live in a climate where this will be a deciding factor, but for Indiana drivers who have to deal with slick conditions due to snow, ice, or rain, then the fact that the 2021 Nissan Altima has an optional all-wheel drive system is a big deal. When you get just enough snow on a regular basis to make the roads slippery but not enough to close down the town, having all-wheel drive can be the difference between staying on the road and digging yourself out of a ditch.

    Many people worry about the extra fuel costs of running an all-wheel drive system all the time and only needing it half, or less, of the trips out. This is a very valid point, but the 2021 Nissan Altima is not one of those vehicles you have to worry about with that. Nissan put in an Intelligent All Wheel Drive system that only turns on all-wheel drive when conditions merit all four wheels getting power. Otherwise, the Altima is a standard front-wheel drive vehicle and will get the accompanying fuel consumption benefits.

    The Chevy Comes Up Short

    The 2022 Chevy Malibu does not have an all-wheel drive system available at all, be it intelligent or otherwise. It is exclusively a front-wheel drive vehicle. If you don't have an all-wheel drive system and are in slick conditions, front-wheel drive is better than rear-wheel drive. However, it is nowhere near as useful as an all-wheel drive system, especially when you add ice to the road. So if you live in an area that experiences any kind of weather that goes above and beyond bright and sunny, you'd be smart to go with the Altima over the Malibu.

  • Awards

    A red 2021 Nissan Altima is shown from the side parked in a gallery after winning a 2021 Nissan Altima vs 2022 Chevy Malibu comparison.

    The 2021 Nissan Altima has received many prestigious awards over the years. J.D. Power gave the 2021 Altima #1 in initial Quality among Midsize Cars. Additionally, the Altima has received several awards from IIHS, including the Top Safety Pick recommended new vehicles for teens as well as the Top Safety Pick+. These awards are all due to the fantastic safety features that are included or available with the 2021 Nissan Altima.

    IIHS has been awarding the Altima these highly coveted awards for years, and the model has been a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ every year since 2013. This means the Altima has a trend of safety, not just a fluke of doing well in 2021. On the other hand, the Chevy Malibu has also done well. J.D. Power has ranked the Malibu in second place for the Best Midsize Car in initial quality. While this gives the Malibu some well-deserved bragging rights, it just doesn't compare to the safety awards the Altima has claimed. In fact, the Malibu hasn't been named an IIHS Top Safety Pick since 2017.

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