There are a lot of great mid-size cars on the market including the Malibu, Camry, and Altima, but how can you choose between the three? The choice becomes a little easier when you can compare them side by side. This breakdown may help you pick the best vehicle for you.
Paying less money at the pump means more money in your wallet, so picking the car with the best gas mileage may be a determining factor for you. Between the three mid-size cars, the 2017 Nissan Altima gets the best fuel economy with an average of 27 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway with the 2.5L 4-cylinder engine. That drops to 22 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway for the 3.5L 6-cylinder.
Even though Altima has the best mileage, the others don’t score much lower. The Malibu is the second best with 27 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the freeway with it's most fuel-efficient engine. The Toyota Camry has the lowest at 25 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway when looking at comparable models.
Price is a huge reason many people choose one vehicle over another. Out of the three, the Chevy Malibu has the lowest MSRP starting at $21,625. However, if you want to purchase the hybrid version, you can expect to pay up to $27,770.
The Camry and Altima both offer a 2.5L or a 3.5L engine. With the Altima, you can expect to pay a starting MSRP of $22,500 for the 2.5L and $27,390 for the 3.5L. The Toyota Camry is the most expensive option with a starting MSRP of $23,070 for the 2.5L engine and an MSRP of $31,370 for the 3.5L.
All three vehicles have an excellent rating with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the safest of the three is the Chevrolet Malibu. It has a five-star rating with the NHTSA overall with four stars in the passenger frontal barrier crash rating and rollover rating. The risk of rollover is recorded at 10.2%. Finally, it has a “good” Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rating.
The Nissan Altima is the next safest vehicle and also has a five-star rating with the NHTSA. The worst ratings are in the side crash rating with three starts for the front driver seat for males and five for females. The risk of rollover for the Altima is recorded at 10.3% and the IIHS rating for the Nissan is also recorded as “good.”
Finally, the Toyota Camry is the least safe. While it offers the same NHTSA overall score as the others (five-star), it scored lower in the frontal barrier crash test rating at four stars. Additionally, it has a higher risk of rolling over at 11.1%. The IIHS rating for the Camry is recorded as “good.”
All three vehicles offer the same basic warranty for three years or 36,000 miles, and the manufacturers also offer a similar drivetrain warranty for five years or 60,000 miles. In the warranty category, the clear winner is the Chevrolet Malibu. Chevy has free maintenance, roadside, and rust warranties. The free maintenance warranty is two years or 24,000 miles, the roadside is five years or 60,000 miles, and the rust warranty is six years or 100,000 miles.
In addition to the basic and drivetrain warranty, the Toyota Camry offers free maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles, which is a full 1,000 miles longer than Chevy. Alternatively, the Altima offers only basic and drivetrain warranties with additional roadside at three years or 36,000 miles.
Technology makes driving much more enjoyable, so you want a vehicle with a great entertainment system. The Toyota Camry stands out among the rest in this category because it has six total speakers, USB ports, auxiliary audio input, speed sensitive volume control, Bluetooth connectivity, and a rearview camera.
The next best is the Nissan Altima for one reason—it has Bluetooth connectivity standard while the Chevrolet Malibu does not on its base model. However, the Altima is limited to only four speakers whereas the Malibu has six total speakers.