Chevy Malibu Vs. Ford Fusion: A Midsize Sedan Showdown

By Justin Cupler | December 23rd, 2018

Chevy versus Ford is about as old an automotive rivalry as we can think. Of course, with all the modern-day parts and engineering sharing going on now, this rivalry is nowhere near as heated as it was back in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, these rival brands each have a midsize sedan to throw into the ring. Ford has its 2019 Fusion, and Chevy has its 2019 Malibu.

Which of these midsize sedans is the better buy for our Saginaw, Michigan area buyers? Keep reading to find out.

Exterior

The 2019 Malibu gets a slight refresh, making it look better than ever before, giving it a legit premium appearance as it cruises by. The Fusion, while a much older design, is aging well thanks to its Aston Martin-cribbed grille. Opt for the V6 Sport model, and the 2019 Fusion gets a handful of sporty features, including 19-inch wheels, a high-gloss black mesh upper grille, and a quad-tip dual-exhaust system.

The 2019 Chevy Malibu measures 193.8 inches long, 73 inches wide, and 57.6 inches high. This body sits atop a 111.4-inch wheelbase. The 2019 Ford Fusion is shorter tail to nose by 2 inches, but it is wider and taller by 1.2 and 0.6 inches, respectively. Though its body is shorter, the Fusion’s wheelbase is 0.8 inches longer.

Malibu

193.8 inches long

73 inches wide

57.6 inches high

111.4-inch wheelbase

Fusion

191.8 inches long

75.2 inches wide

58.2 inches high

112.2-inch wheelbase

Advantage: 2019 Chevy Malibu

  • Great new look
  • Plenty of options to dress it up

Advantage: 2019 Ford Fusion

  • Shorter and wider gives it better grip in the corners
  • Legit sports sedan look in V6 Sport model

Interior

The 2019 Chevy Malibu’s interior is 100 percent value-oriented midsize sedan. While it may not be overly inspiring to look at, it’s far from bad and makes up for its simplicity with some great standard features. These include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, an 8-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth audio streaming, and more. The Fusion’s cabin, while dated, has more character, but is more stripped down in its base setup.

In its front seats, the 2019 Malibu has 40.1 inches of headroom, 45.3 inches of legroom, 58.5 inches of shoulder room, and 54.1 inches of hip room. The Fusion’s front seats have 0.9 inches less headroom, 1 inch less legroom, and 0.7 inches less shoulder room. The fusion does, however have an extra 0.9 inches of front hip room.

In its rear seats, the Malibu has 37.5 inches of headroom, 38.1 inches of legroom, 57.1 inches of shoulder room, and 53.4 inches of hip room. The 2019 Ford Fusion’s rear seats come up short in headroom and shoulder room by 0.3 inches and 0.2 inches, respectively, but they have 0.2 inches more legroom and 1 more inch of hip room.

In midsize sedans, luggage room can be a deal breaker, and both sedans excel in this area. The Malibu offers 15.8 cubic feet of luggage space. The Fusion beats it by just 0.2 cubes.

Advantage: 2019 Chevy Malibu

  • Roomier front seats
  • More rear headroom
  • Tons of features, even in the base model
  • Plenty of options to dress this sedan up

Advantage: 2019 Ford Fusion

  • More rear legroom
  • Larger trunk
  • More character in its base level

Performance

The 2019 Chevy Malibu comes standard with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 160 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. This engine pairs with a continuously variable transmission that delivers power to the front wheels. In independent testing, this powertrain lifts the Malibu to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds.

In the Premier trim, buyers get a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that bumps the output to 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This engine pairs with a more traditional nine-speed automatic transmission, but it still delivers power only to the front wheels. In independent testing, this more powerful engine drops the Malibu’s sprint time to just 5.7 seconds.

The 2019 Fusion goes the traditional route with a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 175 horsepower and 175 pound-feet of torque. This engine passes its power through a six-speed automatic transmission and out to the front wheels. According to independent testing, this base engine gets the Fusion to 60 mph in the mid-9-second range.

Want a little more power? Opt for the Fusion’s available 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 181 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. This engine also ships power to the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine pulls off the 0-to-60 jaunt in 9.1 seconds, making it nearly a second slower than the base Malibu.

If the 1.5-liter engine isn’t enough for you, the Fusion also has an available 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. This engine comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive, but it is the entry point to optional all-wheel drive. This engine pulls off the 0-to-60 sprint in the low-7-second mark, according to independent testing, making it more than a second slower than the Malibu Premier.

Buyers looking for a legit sports sedan will find it in the Fusion V6 Sport, which comes with a  2.7-liter turbocharged V-6 engine that produces 325 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. This potent engine pairs with a standard six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. This combination results in a screaming-fast 5.3-second 0-to-60 sprint.

In the midsize segment, fuel economy can play a big role in a buying decision. The 1.5-liter-equipped Malibu tops the range with its up to 29 mpg city, 36 highway, and 32 combined. The 2.0-liter engine doesn’t come with a huge penalty for such a big bump in power. It gets up to 22 mpg city, 32 highway, and 26 combined.

The Fusion falls a bit behind the Malibu as its standard 2.5-liter engine gets just 21 mpg city, 31 highway, and 25 combined. Moving into the optional 1.5-liter engine boosts these number to up to 23 mpg city, 34 highway, and 27 combined. The 2.0-liter turbocharged unit drags the fuel-economy numbers back down to 21 mpg city, 31 highway, and 25 combined.

The 2019 Ford Fusion’s range-topping V-6 engine results in a huge fuel-consumption penalty, pulling its ratings to 17 mpg city, 26 highway, and 20 combined.

Advantage: 2019 Chevy Malibu

  • Big fuel economy advantage with the base engine
  • Smaller, lighter base engine
  • Dramatically quicker than all non-V6 Sport Fusions

Advantage: 2019 Ford Fusion

  • More peak power
  • Wild turbocharged V-6 engine
  • Available all-wheel drive

Pricing and Features

The 2019 Chevy Malibu comes in five trim levels: L, LS, RS, LT, and Premier. The starting prices for these trims range from $22,965 to $32,545.

The Ford Fusion also has five trim levels — S, SE, SEL, Titanium, and V6 Sport — and prices range from $22,840 to $40,015.

2019 Chevy Malibu Key Features and Pricing by Trim

L: $22,965

  • 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with auto-stop/start
  • Continuously variable transmission
  • Daytime running lights
  • Automatic-on/off halogen headlights
  • Power mirrors
  • 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
  • Single-zone manual climate control
  • Chevrolet Infotainment System 3
  • 8-inch touchscreen
  • Six-speaker AM/FM audio system with Bluetooth audio streaming
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Cruise control
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • Power door locks
  • Floor mats
  • Keyless open and ignition
  • OnStar
  • 12-volt power outlet
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seat
  • Tilt-and-telescoping steering
  • Rearview camera
  • Rear seat reminder
  • Power windows with one-touch up/down

LS: $23,995

  • All L features, plus
  • Acoustic windshield and front-side glass
  • 16-inch aluminum wheels
  • Compass
  • 4G LTE Wi-Fi
  • Outside temperature display
  • Teen Driver

RS: $24,995

  • All LS features, plus
  • 18-inch black-chrome-finish wheels
  • Black grille
  • Dual exhaust outlet
  • Black bowtie emblems
  • Rear spoiler
  • Eight-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar
  • Leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel

LT: $27,340

  • All LS features, plus
  • 17-inch aluminum wheels
  • Heated mirrors
  • Remote Start
  • Heated driver and front passenger seats
  • LED taillamps
  • LED daytime running lights
  • Eight-way power driver’s seat
  • Body-color antenna
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Power windows with one-touch up/down
  • SiriusXM
  • Rear climate control vent

Premier: $32,545

  • 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine
  • Nine-speed automatic transmission
  • 18-inch aluminum wheels
  • Mirror-integrated turn signals
  • Bright front sill plates
  • Chrome door handles with body-color inserts
  • Dual-outlet exhaust
  • LED headlights
  • 120-volt power outlet
  • Six-way power passenger seat
  • 8-inch driver-information center
  • Bose nine-speaker audio system
  • Carpeted trunk mat
  • USB charging port
  • Chevrolet Infotainment System 3 Plus
  • Navigation
  • HD touchscreen
  • Driver seat memory
  • HD rearview camera
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel
  • Ambient interior lighting
  • Ventilated front seats
  • Wireless charging pad

2019 Ford Fusion Key Features and Pricing by Trim

S: $22,840

  • 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Six-speed automatic transmission
  • 16-inch steel wheels with covers
  • Body-color power mirrors
  • Body-color door handles
  • Five-bar grille with chrome finish
  • Daytime running lights
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • LED taillights
  • Body-color rocker moldings
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seat
  • Manual climate control
  • Four-speaker AM/FM/MP3 audio system
  • SYNC enhanced voice recognition
  • 4.2-inch driver information center
  • Rotary gear-shift dial
  • Front floor mats
  • Power door locks
  • Intermittent wipers
  • Two 12-volt power outlets
  • Tilt-and-telescoping steering
  • Steering-wheel-mounted controls
  • Automatic-on/off headlights
  • Keyless ignition
  • Ford MyKey
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Hill-start assist
  • Blind-spot monitoring

SE: $24,120

  • All S features, plus
  • 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine
  • 17-inch Sparkle Silver wheels
  • Steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters
  • 10-way power driver’s seat
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Six-speaker audio system
  • SiriusXM
  • SYNC 3
  • FordPass Connect
  • Two 4.2-inch instrument panel screens
  • Compass
  • Exterior temperature indicator
  • Rear climate control vents
  • Bright exhaust tip
  • Keyless entry keypad
  • Rear parking sensors

SEL: $28,580

  • All SE features, plus
  • 18-inch premium-painted aluminum wheels
  • 10-way power driver’s seat with two-position memory
  • Heated front seats
  • 11-speaker premium audio system
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Universal garage door opener
  • Puddle lights
  • Body-color door handles with chrome accents
  • LED signature lighting
  • LED headlights

Titanium: $34,340

  • All SEL features, plus
  • 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine
  • 19-inch machine-faced wheels with Magnetic-painted pockets
  • Heated and cooled front seats
  • Leather sport seats
  • 12-speaker premium Sony audio system
  • Voice-activated navigation
  • Ambient lighting
  • Bright front scuff plates
  • Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go
  • Moonroof
  • Intelligent access with keyless ignition
  • Heated steering wheel
  • Chrome mesh grille
  • LED fog lights
  • Rear spoiler
  • Integrated dual exhaust with chrome exits
  • Inflatable rear seat belts

V6 Sport: $40,015

  • 2.7-liter turbocharged V-6 engine
  • Continuously controlled damping
  • All-wheel drive
  • 19-Inch premium Dark Tarnish-painted aluminum wheels
  • Sport seats with Dark Earth Gray Ebony Miko and leather seating surfaces
  • Premium front floor mats with “Sport” logo
  • Rear floor mats
  • Active noise control
  • Aluminum sport pedals
  • Enhance active park assist
  • Unique high-gloss black mesh upper grille
  • Quad-tip dual-exhaust system

Who Should Buy the 2019 Chevy Malibu?

The 2019 Chevy Malibu is perfect for a buyer who’s looking for a great middle-of-the-road midsize sedan. The Malibu is quick, thrifty, has plenty of options, and looks great.

Who Should Buy the 2019 Ford Fusion?

The Fusion is a good option for a buyer who wants a performance sedan that won’t kill their bottom line. In its V6 Sport trim, the Fusion is lightning fast and rivals some luxury sport sedans, despite its lower price tag.

Ready to zip through the streets in the of Saginaw, Michigan in the comfortable and roomy 2019 Chevy Malibu? Head to Garber Chevrolet Saginaw’s new-car showroom serving Freeland and Saginaw to test drive it today. If you are too busy to stop by today, you can also check out our online inventory to see our in-stock 2019 Malibu models before stopping in