2020 Ford Fusion vs 2020 Chevy Malibu – Cincinnati, OH

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  • 2020 Ford Fusion

    A black 2020 Ford Fusion is facing left.

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    2020 Chevy Malibu

    A black 2020 Chevy Malibu is facing right.

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    175Standard Horsepower (HP)160
    3Engine Options2
    16Trunk Space (cu.ft)15.7

    While it’s clear that this is an SUV-dominated society, there are still many who enjoy driving a midsize sedan. They are lower to the ground and generally smaller and easy to maneuver. Many offer fantastic fuel economy, as well, which is very important for a budget-conscious household. Regardless of the reason, this is a diverse nation, in which the daily driving preferences of each individual are represented in the robust auto manufacturing market. But even within the midsize sedan category itself, there are so many options to sift through when shopping for a new vehicle. So we are going to help make some decisions today with a comparison: 2020 Ford Fusion vs 2020 Chevy Malibu.

    The Ford Fusion has been on the market since 2006, in both gasoline and hybrid forms. Only in its second generation, Ford is continuously raising the bar on this sedan, tweaking the formula to create the ultimate in fuel-conscious cruising. The Chevy Malibu, on the other hand, has been an American mainstay since its introduction in 1964. While the Malibu Hybrid was discontinued this model year, Chevy’s eternal sedan enters the fourth year of its ninth generation. So, with that, what advantages does one midsize sedan have over another? What are the main differences between the 2020 Ford Fusion and the 2020 Chevy Malibu? To compare proverbial “apples to apples,” let’s take a look at the power, the features, and the options that make each car stand out from the crowd.

  • Performance

    A white 2020 Ford Fusion is driving on a Cincinnati, OH, street after winning the 2020 Ford Fusion vs 2020 Chevy Malibu comparison.

    Ford Fusion Performance

    The Ford Fusion is offered in four trims, with three engine options. The base S model is equipped with a 2.5-liter inline-4 that provides a capable 175 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. This engine gets an average of 21 miles per gallon city and 31 miles per gallon highway. The SE and SEL models receive an upgraded 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-4 engine that amps up the power to 181 hp with 185 lb-ft of torque. Also increased is the overall fuel economy, which steps up to 23 miles per gallon city and 34 miles per gallon on the highway. 

    Something unique about the Fusion is that the SE and Titanium trims are offered as all-wheel drive vehicles. So while the Titanium trim comes standard with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 engine, this powerhouse is also added to the SE trim when AWD is selected. The result of this addition is 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. For front-wheel drive Titanium models, the fuel economy comes in at 21 miles per gallon city and 31 miles per gallon highway, while all-wheel drive models get an only slightly decreased 20 miles per gallon city and 29 miles per gallon highway. 

    All engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission; however, the Titanium includes steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters with SelectShift. This option is available for SE models. For 2020, Ford also offers a hybrid Fusion, and a plug-in hybrid, known as the Fusion Energi.

    The Malibu's Engines

    The Chevy Malibu has a standard engine for the L, LS, RS, and LT engines, while the top-end Premier trim gets its own powerful system. The first engine is a 1.5L turbocharged inline-4, which provides 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. It also boasts a modest fuel economy of 29 miles per gallon city and 36 miles per gallon highway. This standard horsepower is lacking in comparison to the Fusion, while the Fusion's torque is slightly less than the Malibu's. So, if one of those is important to you, your decision may be swayed by that.

    Those looking for more power will need to step to the highest trim, as the 2.0L turbocharged inline-4 engine is only available on the Premier Malibu. This could be considered a downfall, as with the Fusion, two of the trims offer the better engine. The engine offers 250 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, a flip-flop from the standard engine, as this time, the better horsepower comes from the Malibu, and better torque from the Fusion. The fuel economy takes a slight hit from this power drive, with EPA estimates coming in at 22 miles per gallon city and 32 miles per gallon highway.

    The 2.0L engines are paired to a nine-speed automatic transmission, while the standard engine is joined by a Continuously Variable Transmission, which is responsible for the higher fuel economy. No all-wheel drive or Hybrid options are available for the Malibu, which could be a considerable downfall.

    The Better Competitor 

    Overall, the power and fuel economy for the regular trims of these two vehicles are quite close in the competition. However, the Fusion has more offerings in that it provides the better engine on two trims, rather than just one, gives AWD as optional on some trims, and has two hybrid choices - all things the Malibu just does not offer. 

  • Features

    The dashboard of a 2020 Ford Fusion is shown.

    What Comes Standard on the Fusion?

    The base trim for the 2020 Ford Fusion is the S, which comes with exactly everything a driver might need to keep safe and comfortable on the road. That includes push-button start, a programmable MyKey, and a 4.2-inch infotainment center, which pairs with Bluetooth and voice commands through Ford’s SYNC program. A four-speaker sound system with AM/FM radio, MP3 capability, and a USB port all add up to provide entertainment. 

    One spot in which the Ford Fusion shines is in its standard safety technology. All Fusions include the CoPilot360 suite of features, including rain-sensing windshield wipers, the BLIS® Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert, a lane-keeping system, hill start assist, and pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection. Additionally, the Fusion includes a full suite of standard airbags, electronic stability control, and a rearview camera.

    What About the Malibu?

    The 2020 Malibu base model is the L, which comes standard with a variety of basic features. These include a six-speaker audio system and an 8-inch infotainment display screen, which connects to two devices via Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and offers voice command technology. 

    As for safety features, the Malibu cannot compare to the Fusion. This sedan includes ten standard airbags, daytime running lights, a rear vision camera, StabiliTrak electronic stability and traction control, a rear vision camera, and OnStar capability.

    How They Compare

    Deciding which sedan has the better standard features comes down to what is important to each driver. The Fusion has an extensive offering of standard safety features, while the Malibu focuses more on entertainment. So, make your decision on which you value more. However, it is worth pointing out that entertainment does not get you from one destination to another; safety does. 

  • Trims

    A black 2020 Ford Fusion Hybrid is parked on a side street in front of townhouses.

    Ford Fusion: Trim by Trim

    Once you upgrade from the standard trim to the Ford Fusion SE, you get more comfort and convenience features. These include power-adjustable front seats, an upgraded six-speaker audio system with satellite radio compatibility, and the touchscreen has an upgraded 8-inch display with Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto connectivity, along with two USB ports and a standard navigation feature.

    Moving up to the SEL, drivers can enjoy even more luxury, with a premium eleven-speaker sound system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a ten-direction, power-adjustable driver’s seat with two memory settings. The passenger seat is also power-adjustable, and both front seats are heated. The Titanium trim goes all out, with a power moonroof, ambient lighting through the cabin, heated and ventilated leather-trimmed sport seats, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, a 12-speaker Sony sound system with HD and Sirius XM technology, and adaptive cruise control.

    The Malibu's Totem Pole of Trims

    The Malibu’s multiple mid-level trims allow for a slow and steady addition of features. The LS, for example, includes few upgrades to the L package, though it does provide drivers with access to a few optional packages, such as the Weather Protection 1 and 2 Packages. The RS trim takes convenience to the next level, with a power-adjustable driver’s seat, rear spoiler, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and premium cloth upholstery.

    Malibu LT drivers enjoy dual-zone automatic climate control, driver’s seat lumbar support, and heated driver and passenger seats. The Premier trim not only adds the upgraded engine, but also adds navigation, turns up the sound system to a Bose 9 speaker system, premium leather seating, and a power sunroof. A charging-only USB port is added, along with memory functions for the driver’s seat, a high-definition rearview camera, and heated outboard seats for the rear passengers. 

    Which Has the Better Trims?

    Like the standard features, this decision comes down to what is important to each driver. Both vehicles offer lots of upgrades for each trim, so the choice should be based on what you want and the price tag in which you want it. 

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