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2021 Chevrolet Malibu vs. 2021 Toyota Camry: Which Is Better?

There are no more mainstream family sedans than when it comes to the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu and the 2021 Toyota Camry. Let’s see which is better.

Quick Facts

  • The Malibu has paired back its powertrains, dropping the hybrid.
  • Toyota continues to add options like the availability of all-wheel drive.

2021 Chevrolet Malibu

2021 Chevrolet Malibu

Base Price: $23,065 / Read our 2021 Chevrolet Malibu Review

What we like: Handsome exterior styling, wireless Apply CarPlay/Android Auto, large infotainment screen, comfortable ride

What we would change: Retain the hybrid option, offer AWD

Overview: With the demise of the full-size Impala, the Malibu is the largest 4-door sedan Chevrolet offers. It’s good looking, comes with a choice of an economical 1.5-liter 4-cylinder that delivers 32 mpg through a CVT or a more powerful 2.0-liter turbo I4 backed by a smooth-shifting 9-speed automatic transmission. Chevrolet has dropped a hybrid option and doesn’t offer AWD like the Toyota, but there’s still plenty of trim levels to choose from, especially at the higher end when it comes to wanting a more sporty RS, Sport or Redline package or the luxury-oriented Premier.

What’s new for 2021: Wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and Buckle to Drive that requires the driver’s seatbelt to be buckled to shift the vehicle out of park.

Features and technology: Chevy’s Malibu comes in five trim levels, L, LS, RS, LT, and Premier. Standard fare includes cruise control, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, an 8-in touchscreen, keyless ignition, air conditioning, keyless ignition, and Chevrolet’s user-friendly Infotainment 3 interface.

Higher trim models feature 18-inch wheels on the RS, which sports a blacked-out grille and other trim features, and 19-inch wheels on the range-topping Premier which also comes with leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, and wireless device charging.

What does the future hold: Given the soft market for traditional sedans, the Malibu’s future is uncertain. While Chevrolet has dropped the Impala, it might just stick with Malibu as the number of vehicles in the segment shrinks. See 2021 Chevrolet Malibu models for sale near you

2021 Toyota Camry

2021 Toyota Camry

Base Price: $25,000 (est.) / Read our 2021 Toyota Camry Review

What we like: Choice of powertrains including V6 and hybrid, available AWD, sporty TRD trim, Toyota reliability, and resale

What we would change: Make the styling less fussy, add a PHEV variant

Overview: Toyota is one of the benchmarks in the segment for reliability and resale. It’s not content to rest on those laurels by upping its game considerably with the Camry. While its styling may be a bit edgy, the chassis delivers solid handling and Toyota remains the only competitor to offer V6 power in the category. It also offers a fuel-efficient hybrid option and added AWD to the portfolio. However, if you opt for the latter, you have to make do with the less powerful base 4-cylinder engine. We also like the fact that Camry has room in the lineup for a sporty TRD variant.

What’s new for 2021: Updated  7- and 9-inch infotainment touchscreens. Toyota also adds its Safety Sense 2.5+ system, the latest version of its standard active and driver-assistance suite. The Camry also gets a slightly restyled front end.

Features and technology: There are no fewer than nine trim levels of the Camry and that’s after dropping the base L trim. Buyers can choose from LE, SE, XLE and XSE models in both standard and hybrid variants. Toyota also offers blacked-out Nightshade trim and the performance-oriented TRD model with a tauter suspension. LE and XLE are equipped for comfort, SE and XSE more sporty in execution.

The base LE includes an 8-way power driver’s seat, 60/40-split/folding rear seats, an alarm system, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The newly updated standard infotainment system includes a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa integration. SE models add sport seats, 18-in wheels, single-zone automatic climate control, and SofTex vinyl upholstery.

What does the future hold: With the addition last year of AWD and the TRD trim, we expect Toyota to stand pat on the current Camry lineup for the foreseeable future.  See 2021 Toyota Camry models for sale near you

Malibu vs. Camry: Strengths comparison

Chevrolet Malibu Benefits: Lower pricing, sleeker styling, comfortable ride

Toyota Camry Benefits: More drivetrain choices including AWD, reliability, and strong resale value

Malibu vs. Camry: Which is better?

The Chevrolet Malibu offers plenty of value in its lower entry-level price and efficient base engine. However, if you want more choices including optional V6 power, AWD, or a hybrid alternative, the Toyota Camry has got you covered. Add in Toyota’s quality reputation and the Camry comes out better.

Find a Chevrolet Malibu for sale or Find a Toyota Camry for sale

2021 Chevrolet Malibu 2021 Toyota Camry
Popular Powertrains
Engine 1.5-liter turbo I4 2.5-liter I4
Horsepower 163 hp @ 5,700 rpm 203 hp @ 6,600 rpm
Torque 184 @ 2,500-3,000 rpm 182 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission CVT 8-speed automatic
Fuel Economy 32 mpg (29 city/36 hwy) 32 mpg (28 city/39 hwy)
Also Available 2.0-liter turbo I4; 9-spd automatic 3.5-liter V6; I4 Hybrid; AWD
Warranty 3 years /36,000 miles 3 years/ 36,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 4 stars 5 star
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 111.4 inches 111.2 inches
Overall Length 194.2 inches 192.1 inches
Width 73.0 inches 72.4 inches
Height 57.3 inches 56.9 inches
Turning Diameter 37.0 feet 37.4 feet
Headroom, Front 39.1 inches 38.3 inches
Headroom, Rear 37.5 inches 38.0 inches
Legroom, Front 41.5 inches 42.1 inches
Legroom, Rear 38.1 inches 38.0 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 58.5 inches 57.7 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 57.1 inches 55.7 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 102.9 cu. Ft. 100.4 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 15.7 cu. ft. 15.1 cu. ft.

Matt DeLorenzo
Matt DeLorenzo
Matt DeLorenzo is an author who specializes in writing news, advice, and car reviews. A member of the North American Car of the Year jury, he has spent more than four decades covering the auto industry and has held key posts at industry and consumer publications including Automotive News, AutoWeek, and Road & Track. He is also an author of automotive books including Modern Chrysler Concept... Read More about Matt DeLorenzo

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