2017 Ford Fusion vs Chevrolet Malibu

We're pretty spoiled for choice in the midsize sedan segment to be honest, so making a decision between them can be challenging. Let's compare two of the very best cars in their class, the 2017 Ford Fusion and the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu, to see which is best. The Fusion and Malibu are regularly mentioned as being among the best mass market midsize cars you can buy, so let's see which one comes out on top in a head-to-head comparison.

2017 Ford Fusion vs Chevrolet Malibu

Exterior Styling

The second-generation Fusion was launched in the 2013 model year, and it's been one of the most stylish and head-turning cars in its class ever since. The Fusion has benefited from just the right amount of tweaks and touches this year to keep it out in front for styling. To be honest, the fastback-like Fusion isn't just the best-looking mass-market midsize sedan; it's got to be one of the best-looking of all midsize sedans.

Imagine the Fusion didn't exist for a moment--then the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu would definitely be a serious contender as the most attractive midsize sedan available. The Malibu has really blossomed in recent years, getting increasingly lighter, longer, sleeker, and more desirable over time. It's probably not quite as attractive as the latest Impala, but there's still a lot to like. Nevertheless, if you have to take the Fusion off the market for the Malibu to win this category, the Fusion clearly takes the lead here.

Interior

Several changes have been made to the Fusion's interior this year, focused primarily on improving function--and they're all good changes. The overall look and feel of the interior is smoother, less angular, and more upscale than the Focus and Fiesta interiors it used to imitate. At higher trim levels, the Fusion can feel like a genuine luxury model. The cabin isn't as futuristic and jaw-dropping as the exterior, but that's a good design choice.

You won't find anything wrong with the interior of the Malibu, but it's also not an interior that will make your heart beat faster either. It's definitely smart, clean, and functional with its styling, but there are some slightly odd themes at times, like fabric-wrapped panels for lower trim levels, a metallic look in others, and an inauthentic synthetic leather on the dash and console of high-specification models. The class and quality gap is probably even bigger than it is with the exterior, so round two clearly goes to the Ford Fusion.

Power and Performance

The standard engine in the Ford is a 2.5-liter inline-four producing 175 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque, and then there's a 2.0-liter EcoBoost that's optional in the Fusion SE and standard in Titanium and Platinum trims. The Fusion also offers something many rivals don't--a V-6. Although it's not an available option for other models, it still means you can have the Fusion with a sensational 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 offering an impressive 325 horsepower and 382 lb.-ft. of torque if you opt for the Fusion V-6 Sport.

The Malibu only offers 163 horsepower from its standard 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbo. You can get a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo for the Malibu, but that means having to go for the top Premier trim and it still doesn't match the Fusion's 2.0-liter. More choice, more power, and a V-6 gives this round firmly to the Ford.

Trims

The 2017 Ford Fusion offers plenty of choice with five regular gas-powered trims of S, SE, Titanium, Platinum, and V-6 Sport, along with four different versions of the hybrid and three plug-in hybrid models as well. There are four regular trim levels of L, LS, LT and Premier for the Malibu, and the one hybrid trim sits between the LT and Premier.

Both the 2017 Ford Fusion and the 2017 Chevrolet Malibu come as front-wheel drive standard, but there's an issue that could make or break some buyers' decisions. The Malibu cannot be equipped with all-wheel drive system at all, which is true for the base Fusion S as well. But the SE, Titanium, and Platinum Fusion models are available with all-wheel drive and comes standard with V-6 Sport models. While sheer number of trims is not necessarily better, the options available on the Fusion that the Malibu simply can't offer gives this win clearly to the Ford Fusion.

Learn More about the Ford Fusion

Though you would likely be fine with a Chevrolet Malibu if you had to drive it, the 2017 Ford Fusion has it beat in every category. The Malibu is a capable and likeable car, but the Ford has a better style, vastly better interior, smarter options, and better engine performance. The choice here is clear--the Fusion takes it.

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