The consensus among drivers and critics alike is that the Honda Accord offers best-in-class value, sophistication, and performance. But competition is bound to spring up when making such strong statements of supremacy. Enter the 2017 Chevy Malibu. In one corner of this match-up is the new Honda Accord, a midsize dream and winner of more automotive awards than most sedans in its class. In the other corner is the Malibu, a newly refreshed model now in its eighth generation. Does the Malibu have the stamina to match the heavyweight Accord punch for punch? Let’s find out.
The 2017 Accord comes equipped with a standard 2.4L 4-cylinder i-VTEC engine in five trims (LX, Sport, Sport SE, EX, and EX-L) that produces 185 horsepower. Acceleration is delivered smoothly when paired with Honda’s CVT—by far the best CVT in the class—which makes for one quick sedan. Passing maneuvers are no difficult tasks for the 2017 Accord thanks to the CVT’s G-Design shifting algorithm, meaning you won’t feel the car bounce as the RPMs rise and drop.
Opting for a more robust engine means upgrading to the Touring or EX-L Accord models, but doing so gives you a powerful 278-horsepower 3.5L V6 that reverberates in all the right places and at all the right times. More refined than some turbochargers, this V6 saves fuel by shutting down cylinders in low-load driving conditions and can be paired with either a 6-speed automatic or manual transmission. Cabin noise is also minimized with the V6’s noise-cancellation features, making for a quiet ride from Miami to Hollywood and anywhere in between.
The base Malibu sedan, while offering comparable fuel efficiency to the 2017 Accord, is incomparable in performance. Fitted with a 1.5L 4-cylinder, the 2017 Malibu rambles on a far-from-exciting 163 horsepower. The Malibu features a stop-start system to boost fuel economy; this feature can’t be disabled, leading to the Malibu’s low-gear lurch that, unlike The Addams Family character, cannot be redeemed by virtue of its charm and supporting cast. Impressive EPA-estimated MPG aside, the Malibu is an underwhelming sedan. Even with the optional 2.0L engine and its 250 horsepower on upgraded trims, the Malibu can’t beat the Accord in performance and ride quality.
Superior vs. Inferior Interior
Rewarding buyers has been in Honda’s blood since its origin, and the 2017 Accord is the pudding to prove that claim. As a must-own midsize sedan, the new Accord has interior appeal that should provide a little something for everyone.
For families, the Accord has more passenger volume than the Malibu, and that’s most apparent in the front (front leg room and hip room are more than ample). Trunk space in the Accord mirrors the Malibu’s at 15.8 cubic feet, though the Accord’s cargo floor is flat and lower to the ground, which can’t be said about Chevy Malibu’s cargo area.
The sedan’s interior feels refined from front to back with its plush and comfortable seating, tightly packed infotainment system and dash, and an excellent amount of outward visibility. Wide windows give a sense of airiness to the Accord, and the low instrument panel is cleverly placed, proving that Honda has embraced a distraction-free stance on driving. Standard features including dual-zone climate control, mobile connectivity, and a rearview camera come with the base Accord LX, making it one of the most well-equipped sedans.
Unlike the Accord, storage options and cabin styling in the Malibu are sparse for a midsize at this price range. Case in point is the use of nylon and cloth seats, which feel cheap and itchy. The base Malibu L model skimps on standard features with the only new additions to the lineup being floor mats. Hard plastics and a too-boisterous layout and design make up the rest of the interior. A sloped roofline limits side and blind-spot visibility—a problem only “solved” by opting for the optional blind-spot-monitoring system. Packaging options for the Malibu are puzzling, as automatic climate controls and upgraded infotainment systems are only available when springing for the higher trims or leather seats—meaning more money spent vs. the same features in the Accord.
The Verdict: Accord or Malibu?
You may call us biased, but the 2017 Honda Accord is far and away the winner of this “Accord vs. Malibu” competition. With a roomy high-quality interior, more than a handful of standard features, and impressive engine and transmission options, the 2017 Accord is a spellbinding midsize sedan that is equal parts sensible and luxurious.
A sedan this well-received in an iron-hot segment might be a pipe dream for other auto manufacturers, but Honda pays no attention to such illusory figments. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the 2017 Accord is as real as it gets. If you live in the Miami area, don’t deny yourself the pleasure of driving one of America’s best midsize cars. Instead, come test drive Honda’s acclaimed bread-and-butter sedan at your nearby South Florida Honda Dealers location. Any of the specialists from our Honda dealerships near Ft. Lauderdale or West Palm Beach will gladly show you why the new 2017 Honda Accord is unbeatable.