Malibu. A sunny, beachside California town. Fusion. Melting with intense heat in the center of a star. Each car's name sums up how well it does. While the Chevy Malibu is a decent car, there's not much to make this one particularly stand out. Meanwhile, the Ford Fusion is a much brighter star, selling more and being the all around better vehicle. In this comparison guide, we aim to show you what we mean.
Interior: 2019 Ford Fusion
Let's start by taking a seat inside the cabin. Sitting in the Ford Fusion, you might think you're behind the wheel of a luxury car. Ford has taken lots of different surfaces and materials and blended them into a seamless whole. The Fusion offers five comfortable seats with standard cloth upholstery on two rows. Up front, there's plenty of head and leg room, 39.2 and 44.3 inches respectively. And if you start stepping up the trim levels, you'll find the luxury amps up considerably. By time you get to the Titanium trim, you're looking at a moonroof, front sport seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, 12-speaker Sony audio system, HD Radio, remote start, Wifi hotspot, 8-inch touch screen, and voice-activated navigation.
By comparison, the Malibu's cabin is marred by hard plastics and appears a little dated, even with the 2019 remodel refresh. And while the seats feel comfortable at first, they turn out to be too mushy to provide the comfort you need for long drives. Step up the trim levels and you'll find tech that's comparable to what the Fusion offers, but that feels like small consolation in a cabin that looks over a decade old.
Now let's take a walk around each car and see which catches our eye. The Ford Fusion has updated its exterior for the 2019 model, hot on the heels of its 2017 overhaul and probably a direct answer to its competitors' 2018 overhauls. Ford tweaked the 2019 Fusion's front and rear fascias. The front fascia comes off slightly leaner while the grille has a new look, new LED taillights grace the rear, and there's a new trunk lid panel. Then the rear fascia has been trimmed, and the wide chrome bar has been replaced with chrome trim to accent the lamps.
The Chevy Malibu is also getting a mid-generation facelift for 2019. Most noticeably, the Malibu sports the larger, more prominent grille that seems to be en vogue these days. The Chevy car is wider and longer than its Ford competitor but not quite as tall. We especially liked the sporty RT trim, which has a look all its own. We have to hand it to Chevy, they make a good-looking car, even if the cabin still looks pretty drab.
Under the Hood: 2019 Ford Fusion
If we pop the hood of a Ford Fusion, we'll see one of four engines there. The base engine is a 175-horsepower that we recommend passing up. There are two much more preferable turbo-four EcoBoost engines that generate 181 or 245 horsepower. But the leader of the pack is the twin-turbo V6 EcoBoost, putting out 325 horsepower, making it one of powerful engines in a sedan.
Meanwhile, the big news for the Malibu is its continuously variable transmission (CVT), paired to a 163-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Only the Premier trim level does better, with a range-topping Premier trim features a 250-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder that's mated to a nine-speed automatic. This category goes to the Fusion for double the engine options and more powerful base and top-of-the-line engine. So unless the outward appearance is all that matters to you, the 2019 Ford Fusion is the overall winner.