2023 Chevy Malibu Vs Subaru Legacy: A Comparison

Chevy Malibu Vs Subaru Legacy

Table of Contents

The automotive landscape is vast, and among the myriad of options, two midsize sedans have consistently garnered the attention of drivers: the Chevy Malibu and the Subaru Legacy. As mainstays in their segment, these vehicles offer a combination of style, performance, and practicality that appeals to a wide range of buyers. In this comprehensive comparison, we will delve into the characteristics that make each of these sedans unique, as well as the areas where they overlap. 

By the end of this article, you’ll have a clearer understanding of what sets the Malibu and Legacy apart, allowing you to make an informed decision based on your personal preferences and requirements.

Exterior Design

The Chevy Malibu and Subaru Legacy both feature sleek, modern designs that turn heads. The Malibu sports a prominent front grille with aggressive, angular lines, giving it a bold presence. Its LED headlights and daytime running lights add to its contemporary look, while the streamlined rear fascia highlights its aerodynamic efficiency.

On the other hand, the Subaru Legacy boasts a more subtle and refined design, with a wide grille and slim LED headlights. Its sculpted body lines and elegantly curved fenders convey a sense of sophistication. The Legacy also features standard all-wheel drive, making it well-suited for all types of weather and road conditions.

Interior Design

When it comes to interior design, both the Malibu and Legacy offer spacious and comfortable cabins. The Chevy Malibu features a clean, minimalist design with an intuitive layout, making it easy for drivers to access important controls. Soft-touch materials and available leather upholstery add to the cabin’s upscale feel.

The Subaru Legacy’s interior design is more focused on functionality, with a user-friendly layout and ample storage space. The standard Starlink infotainment system features a high-resolution touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto compatibility. The cabin is well-insulated, making for a quiet and serene driving experience.


Both the Chevy Malibu and Subaru Legacy offer comfortable seating for up to five passengers. The Malibu’s front seats provide ample support and adjustability, with optional heated and ventilated seats available. Rear passengers will find adequate legroom and headroom, although taller occupants may wish for more space.

The Subaru Legacy, on the other hand, is known for its roomy cabin, offering generous rear legroom and headroom. Its seats are plush and supportive, with available heating for both front and rear passengers. The Legacy’s wide doors make ingress and egress easy, even for taller passengers.


In terms of storage, the Malibu and Legacy offer ample trunk space for daily needs. The Chevy Malibu boasts a trunk capacity of 15.7 cubic feet, while the Subaru Legacy offers a slightly larger 15.8 cubic feet. Both sedans have 60/40 split-folding rear seats, allowing for additional cargo space when needed. Throughout the cabins, both models provide various storage compartments, such as door pockets, center console storage, and cup holders.


The Chevy Malibu and Subaru Legacy both offer a smooth and engaging driving experience. The Malibu is powered by a standard 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, producing 160 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. An optional 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is available, boosting output to 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque.

The Subaru Legacy, on the other hand, comes standard with a 2.5-liter boxer engine, generating 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. For those seeking more power, a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine is available, producing 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. The Legacy’s standard all-wheel-drive system provides excellent traction and stability in various driving

Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency is an important factor for many car buyers, and both the Malibu and Legacy deliver competitive numbers. The Chevy Malibu’s standard 1.5-liter engine offers an EPA-estimated 29 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The more powerful 2.0-liter engine drops those figures slightly to 22 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.

The Subaru Legacy, with its standard 2.5-liter engine and all-wheel drive, achieves an EPA-estimated 27 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The turbocharged 2.4-liter engine delivers a slightly lower 24 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. Overall, both sedans offer respectable fuel efficiency considering their performance and capabilities.


Both the Chevy Malibu and Subaru Legacy prioritize safety, offering a suite of advanced safety features. The Malibu comes standard with a rearview camera, and available safety features include forward collision alert, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, and adaptive cruise control.

The Subaru Legacy includes the EyeSight suite of safety features as standard equipment, which includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, and lane-keep assist. Additionally, the Legacy offers available features like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and reverse automatic braking. Both sedans have received high safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Trim Levels

The Chevy Malibu is available in four trim levels: L, LS, RS, and Premier. The base L trim includes keyless entry, a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Higher trims offer features like a larger 8-inch touchscreen, a Bose premium audio system, leather upholstery, and advanced safety features.

The Subaru Legacy comes in six trim levels: Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, Limited XT, and Touring XT. The base trim includes the Starlink infotainment system, cloth upholstery, and the EyeSight safety suite. Moving up the trim ladder adds features such as a larger touchscreen, leather-trimmed seats, heated front and rear seats, and additional safety features.


Pricing for the Chevy Malibu starts at around $22,000 for the base L trim, with the top-of-the-line Premier trim reaching up to around $34,000. The Subaru Legacy has a slightly higher starting price of around $23,000 for the base trim, while the range-topping Touring XT trim can reach up to around $36,000. Keep in mind that pricing may vary depending on the options and packages selected.

Key Differences

All-Wheel Drive: 

One of the most significant differences between these two vehicles is the drivetrain. The Subaru Legacy comes standard with all-wheel drive, providing better traction and stability in various driving conditions, while the Chevy Malibu is available only in front-wheel drive.

Engine Options: 

The Malibu offers two turbocharged engine options, a 1.5-liter and a 2.0-liter, while the Legacy features a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter boxer engine and an optional turbocharged 2.4-liter engine.

Interior Space: 

The Subaru Legacy is known for its spacious cabin, offering more rear legroom and headroom compared to the Malibu, making it a more comfortable choice for taller passengers or those with growing families.

Standard Safety Features: 

While both vehicles prioritize safety, the Subaru Legacy includes the comprehensive EyeSight safety suite as standard equipment on all trim levels, while the Chevy Malibu requires upgrading to higher trims or adding packages to access a similar level of safety features.

Final Thoughts:

When it comes to choosing between the Chevy Malibu and Subaru Legacy, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Both sedans offer compelling packages, with the Malibu’s sporty design and turbocharged engine options appealing to drivers seeking a dynamic experience, and the Legacy’s standard all-wheel drive and refined interior catering to those who value safety and comfort. 

Ultimately, the choice between these two midsize sedans comes down to individual priorities and preferences. By test-driving both vehicles and carefully considering their unique features and capabilities, you can determine which model best aligns with your needs and lifestyle, ensuring a satisfying and enjoyable driving experience for years to come.

Features Breakdown

Chevy Malibu:

  • Exterior Design:
    • Bold, aggressive lines and angular front grille
    • LED headlights and daytime running lights
    • Aerodynamically efficient rear fascia
  • Interior Design:
    • Clean, minimalist layout
    • Soft-touch materials and available leather upholstery
    • Intuitive controls placement
  • Seating:
    • Comfortable and supportive front seats
    • Adequate rear legroom and headroom
    • Optional heated and ventilated seats
  • Storage:
    • 15.7 cubic feet trunk capacity
    • 60/40 split-folding rear seats
    • Various cabin storage compartments
  • Performance:
    • Standard 1.5-liter turbocharged engine (160 hp, 184 lb-ft)
    • Optional 2.0-liter turbocharged engine (250 hp, 260 lb-ft)
    • Front-wheel drive
  • Fuel Efficiency:
    • 1.5L: 29 mpg city, 36 mpg highway (EPA-estimated)
    • 2.0L: 22 mpg city, 33 mpg highway (EPA-estimated)
  • Safety:
    • Rearview camera as standard
    • Available advanced safety features (forward collision alert, lane change alert, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control)
    • High safety ratings from IIHS and NHTSA
  • Trim Levels and Pricing:
    • Four trim levels: L, LS, RS, Premier
    • Starting price: around $22,000
    • Top trim price: around $34,000

Subaru Legacy:

  • Exterior Design:
    • Subtle, refined design with wide grille and slim LED headlights
    • Sculpted body lines and curved fenders
    • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Interior Design:
    • Functional, user-friendly layout
    • Ample storage space
    • Standard Starlink infotainment system
  • Seating:
    • Plush, supportive seats with generous rear legroom and headroom
    • Wide doors for easy ingress and egress
    • Available heated front and rear seats
  • Storage:
    • 15.8 cubic feet trunk capacity
    • 60/40 split-folding rear seats
    • Various cabin storage compartments
  • Performance:
    • Standard 2.5-liter boxer engine (182 hp, 176 lb-ft)
    • Optional 2.4-liter turbocharged engine (260 hp, 277 lb-ft)
    • All-wheel drive
  • Fuel Efficiency:
    • 2.5L: 27 mpg city, 35 mpg highway (EPA-estimated)
    • 2.4L: 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway (EPA-estimated)
  • Safety:
    • Standard EyeSight safety suite (adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist)
    • Available additional safety features (blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, reverse automatic braking)
    • High safety ratings from IIHS and NHTSA
  • Trim Levels and Pricing:
    • Six trim levels: Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, Limited XT, Touring XT
    • Starting price: around $23,000
    • Top trim price: around $36,000

About Marcus The Car Guy

I've been in car sales and finance for over 20 years, working at the highest volume dealerships in the nation including Fletcher Jones, DCH and more. Want to pick my brain on finding cars, negotiating cars, and structuring car deals?

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