2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Sedan

MSRP $25,195

Ranked #19 in Midsize Sedan

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2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Sedan Price, Review, Ratings and Pictures

Updated on: September 18, 2021

Nathan Dyer's image
Nathan Dyer 

Senior Editor


The Chevrolet Malibu is certainly a good-looking mid-size sedan from General Motors. However, the same cannot be said for its interior design which seems to be decade-old in comparison to other sedan models. The new Chevrolet Malibu RS is basically the same model as the 2020 Malibu but comes with an equipment group package for a sportier exterior design. 

See detailed review »

Pros

Fuel efficiency

Good ride and handling 

Handsome styling 

Cons

All driver-assistance features are optional 

Aging design 

Mediocre interior quality 

What's New?

No major changes 

Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now standard 

Standard buckle-to-drive safety feature 


Features

vehicle bio

base price

$25195

bodystyle

4dr Sedan

passenger capacity

5

top speed

157 mph

drivetrain

front wheel drive

engine type

displacement

91 cu.in.

horsepower

160 hp @ 5700 rpm

torque

184 lb.-ft.. @ 2500 rpm

transmission

1 speed CVT

chassis

suspension front

Independent front strut suspension w/anti-roll bar

brake rotors (f/r)

11.8/11.3 in.

capacity

passenger volume

102.9 cu ft.

cargo volume

15.7 cu ft.

towing capacity

1000 lbs.

performance

zero to 60 mph

7.5 sec.

warranty

basic warranty

3 yr./ 36000 mi.

drivetrain warranty

5 yr./ 60000 mi.

corrosion warranty

6 yr./ 100000 mi.

roadside assistance

Yes


Pictures & Videos


Trims

Base$25,195 onwards

Colors and Styles

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Sedan in Cajun Red Tintcoat color
Cajun Red Tintcoat

Vehicle images are guides only and may not reflect the model's exact specifications/features– exact specifications/features should be confirmed with the seller.

Expert Review, Pricing Analysis and Buying Guide


The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS comes in a single trim configuration and is priced at $24,270 excluding additional charges. The Malibu RS comes with an overall blackened exterior theme to give it a more distinctive and sporty appearance. It faces competition from established rivals like Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Kia K5

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Sedan Features

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS is available in just one trim configuration just like the previous year. The RS trim is basically a normal LS trim that gets accentuated with some sporty exterior elements to give the Malibu a sportier appeal. The RS trim gets black Chevrolet bowtie emblems, black Malibu badges, chrome grille surround with black grille inserts, trim-specific RS badging, and some more. However, the performance remains the same as that of other Malibu models. If you need more power, you need to opt for the Premier trim. 

Trim 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS

MSRP

$24,470 

Key Features 

Black Chevrolet bowtie emblems and black Malibu badges

 

RS trim-specific badging 

 

Chrome grille surround with black grille inserts 

 

18-inch aluminum wheels 

 

Dual exhaust outlets 

 

Rear spoiler 

 

Keyless open and start 

 

Leather-wrapped steering wheel 

 

Premium cloth seat trim 

 

8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat 

 

Single-zone manual climate control 

 

Wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto

 

Rear Vision Camera 

 

8-inch diagonal color touchscreen display 

Which trim should you buy?

As the 2021 Malibu RS is available in a single trim configuration, you need to go for it if you want to buy the LS trim with some sporty exterior design features. The RS is basically an extension of the LS trim and adds blackened exterior trim elements to accentuate its sporty appeal and some additional interior features like a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support, and rear seat armrest as well. However, performance remains unchanged compared to other Malibu trims, except the Premier trim.

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Sedan Engine and Performance

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS is equipped with the same 1.5L turbocharged engine producing 160 hp and 183 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to a CVT transmission and it works just as intended. It provides different drive modes and you can choose one depending upon your needs. The small engine is a gem on an engine, especially when considering that it offers most of its torque in the lower rev range only. As a result, the Malibu is extremely tactile at low city speeds. Also, the DOHC configuration helps to manage excessive vibrations at higher engine speeds and gives you a smooth and refined pull of power when revved hard. 

Overall, the NVH is well contained and the Malibu RS offers a good ride quality. All the power from the engine is transferred to the front wheels only via the CVT transmission and there is no all-wheel-drive configuration, even as an option. The performance is certainly not a USP of the Malibu RS and some other mid-size sedans in its category perform better than it and are more powerful as well. The Malibu RS does a 0-60 mph sprint in about 8.5 seconds while a quarter-mile drag is completed in about 16 seconds. 

Model 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS 

2021 Honda Accord 

2021 Toyota Camry 

2021 Kia K5 

MSRP

$25,195

$23,870

$24,970

$23,590

Engine

1.5L turbocharged inline-4

1.5L turbocharged Inline-4

2.5L naturally aspirated Inline-4

1.6L turbocharged Inline-4

Drivetrain

FWD

FWD

FWD

FWD

Transmission

CVT

CVT

8-Speed Automatic

8-Speed Automatic

Power 

163 hp @ 5,700 RPM

192 hp @ 5,500 RPM

203 hp @ 6,600 RPM

180 hp @ 5,500 RPM

Torque 

184 lb-ft @ 2,500 RPM

192 lb-ft @ 1,600 RPM

184 lb-ft @ 5,000 RPM

195 lb-ft @ 1,500 RPM

0-60 MPH 

8.5 seconds

7.6 seconds

7.6 seconds

8.0 seconds

Quarter Mile 

16 seconds

15.9 seconds

15.7 seconds

16.3 seconds

Top Speed 

130 MPH

115 MPH

135 MPH

137 MPH

The 2021 Toyota Camry is the most powerful car of the lot and it is nearly a second quicker than the Malibu RS in the 0-60 mph sprint. The Honda Accord is equipped with a smaller engine than the Camry and matches its performance despite being slightly less powerful than it. Even the Kia K5 performs better than the Malibu RS and is more powerful than it. Clearly, Chevrolet needs to work on Malibu RS’s performance. 

How does the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS handle?

The handling of the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS might just be one of its USPs. It takes care of passengers over bad roads with finely tuned suspension for comfort and takes out on many corners extremely well without breaking a sweat, thanks to its well-balanced chassis. However, the steering feel just made those handling abilities fade off with its numbness and a direct feel of the road ahead is missing. 

We expected better steering feel owing to its RS moniker but it doesn’t quite do the justice. If the steering feel can be improved and drivers can get a feel of the road in a more direct fashion then it can surely throw away its more established rivals, at least in the handling department. But the good thing is that despite being a front-wheel-drive car, it inspires much confidence and even some novice drivers won’t have a problem when cornering with it.

 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Braking Performance

While the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS didn't impress us with its performance, it surely did with its braking performance. The Malibu RS is equipped with 11.8-inch rotors at the front end and 11.3-inch rotors at the rear end. All the brakes work simultaneously and with the help of an anti-lock braking system on all four wheels, the 3126-pound car comes to a complete stop from 60 mph within 113 feet of stopping distance. The braking performance is surely commendable especially considering the weight of this mid-size sedan. 

Model 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS 

2021 Honda Accord 

2021 Toyota Camry 

2021 Kia K5 

Brake Front (in)

11.8

11.5

12.0

11.8

Brake Rear (in)

11.3

11.1

11.2

11.9

Curb Weight (lbs)

3,126 

3,131 

N/A

3,241

60-0 MPH (ft.)

113 

123 

124

122 

The Toyota Camry is equipped with a larger engine and hence is bound to have a higher curb weight. It is equipped with larger-sized rotors at the front but still, its braking performance is not satisfactory with 124 feet of stopping distance. The Honda Accord and Kia K5 offer similar stopping distances at 123 feet and 122 feet respectively. The Chevrolet Malibu RS surely wins in the braking department. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Sedan Fuel Economy

The mid-size sedan segment is surely an efficiency-conscious segment. The Chevrolet Malibu RS does not disappoint with its fuel efficiency. It offers 29 mpg in the city, 36 mpg on the highway, and 32 mpg in combined driving conditions. With a fuel tank capacity of 15.8 gallons, it can travel about 458 miles in urban environments, 569 miles on open stretches of highway, and 506 miles in mixed environments. The efficiency figures are decent but its more powerful rivals offer more or less the same efficiency. 

Model 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS 

2021 Honda Accord 

2021 Toyota Camry 

2021 Kia K5 

MPG (City)

29

30

29

29

MPG (Highway)

36

38

41

38

MPG (Combined)

32

33

34

32

Fuel Capacity 

15.8

14.8

14.5

14.8

Range (City/Hwy/Combined) 

458/ 569/ 505.6

444/ 562/ 488.4

442/ 595/ 505

429/562/474 

The Toyota Camry is the most fuel-efficient car in the lot. But owing to its smaller fuel tank capacity of 14.5 gallons, it offers nearly the same range as that of the Malibu RS. The Chevrolet Malibu RS offers the highest range in combined driving conditions, thanks to its larger fuel tank of 15.8 gallons. It is followed by Toyota Camry with 505 miles, Honda Accord with 488 miles, and Kia K5 with 474 miles. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Sedan Interior

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS is a carry-forward model and the same goes for its interior. It retains the simplistic and ergonomic interior design that might not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, it provides good comfort and the passengers won’t have any reason to complain. The dashboard design is minimalist and all the functions are within easy reach. The front seats offer well under-thigh support and the side bolsters are supportive as well while cornering. The front driver seat is 8-way power-adjustable with manual lumbar support while the passenger seat is 6-way manually adjustable. 

The front seats are comfortable and we liked them. However, the same cannot be said for the rear seat as they offer less legroom in comparison to some of its rivals. The rear seats are 60/40 split and foldable. All the seats are trimmed in premium cloth upholstery and come in black color as standard. The outside visibility could have been better and usage of lighter interior color would have promoted a feeling of roominess in the cabin. It gets only a single-zone manual climate control system and the steering wheel is leather-trimmed with a tilt and telescopic steering column. The steering-mounted controls are convenient to use. 

Model 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS 

2021 Honda Accord 

2021 Toyota Camry 

2021 Kia K5 

Seating Capacity

5

5

5

5

Front Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)

40.1/ 58.5/ 45.3

39.5/ 58.3/ 42.3

38.3/ 57.7/ 42.1

40.2/58.0/46.1

Rear Row (Head/Shoulder/Leg) (in)

37.5/ 57.1/ 38.1

37.3/ 56.5/ 40.4

38.0/ 55.7/ 38.0

37.8/56.1/35.2

Standard Cargo Capacity (ft³)

15.8

16.7

16.7

16.0

All the midsize sedans in the comparison can accommodate up to five passengers. The Honda Accord offers class-leading second-row legroom and the best cargo capacity as well along with Toyota Camry. Both of them offer 16.7 cu-ft of cargo space, followed by Kia K5 with 16.0 cu-ft of cargo space and Malibu RS with 15.8 cu-ft of space. However, the cargo space can be extended by folding the rear seats. Some of the standout interior features of the Malibu RS are:

  • Leather-trimmed steering wheel 
  • Premium cloth seat upholstery 
  • 60/40 split and foldable rear seats 
  • Steering mounted controls 
  • 8-way power-adjustable driver seat 
  • Single-zone manual climate control system 

What’s there in the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS to keep you entertained? 

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS is equipped with an intuitive and easy-to-use infotainment system. It gets an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display powered by the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system. It also gets basic features such as Bluetooth connectivity, 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, SiriusXM satellite radio, etc. For seamless smartphone connectivity and app usage, the 2021 Malibu RS gets wireless Android Auto and wireless Apple Carplay as standard. For a good musical experience, the Malibu RS is equipped with a 6-speaker audio system as standard. Some of the standout interior features of the Malibu RS are: 

  • Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system 
  • An 8.0 inch touchscreen display 
  • Wireless Android Auto 
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay 
  • 6-speaker audio system 
  • SiriusXM satellite radio 
  • 4G LTE WiFi hotspot 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Sedan Exterior

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu has always been a good-looking mid-size sedan and with the RS things get a notch better. The exterior elements are blackened for a more visually dynamic look. The front fascia retains the same sleek headlamps but the front hexagonal grille comes with chrome surrounds and fully blacked-out chrome inserts. Even the Chevrolet bowtie emblems are in black color. It gets a trim-specific RS badging and Malibu badging, all in black. 

The side profile is like any other midsize sedan and looks good with extensive use of chrome lining on window panes. The Malibu RS trim gets 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels which look modern as well. The rear profile is embellished with two good-looking tail lamps and a rear spoiler. Also, the dual exhaust outlets accentuate their sporty appeal. Although we would have loved to see the sporty styling of the RS trim with some sporty performance too sadly that’s not the case. 

Model 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS 

2021 Honda Accord 

2021 Toyota Camry 

2021 Kia K5 

Curb Weight 

3,126

3,131

3,241

N/A

Length 

192.4

192.2

192.1

193.1"

Width 

73

73.3

72.4

73.2"

Height 

57.4

57.1

56.9

56.9”

Ground Clearance 

6.5

5.5

5.7

N/A

Wheelbase 

111.4

111.4

111.2

112.2 

The Chevrolet Malibu RS is one of the lightest sedans in the segment owing to its smaller engine. It’s external dimensions are on par with the competition but it offers better ground clearance than its rivals. The Kia K5 sits on a longer wheelbase and is longer as well. A longer wheelbase is always appreciated for better stability and cargo space. Some of the standout exterior features of the Malibu RS are: 

  • Black Chevrolet bowtie emblems 
  • RS badging 
  • Malibu badging in black color 
  • 18-inch aluminium alloy wheels 
  • Dual exhaust outlets 
  • Rear spoiler 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Sedan Safety

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS is a midsize sedan from the house of General Motors. The NHTSA has given it an overall 4-star safety rating in various crash tests performed by it. However, most of the advanced and active driver-assistance features are not available as standard and are optional. Chevrolet offers Driver Confidence Package I and II for more active safety features. Some basic safety features like airbags, buckle-to-drive, daytime running lamps, electronic grade braking, LATCH system, rear vision camera, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring system are offered as standard. Some of the standout safety features of the Malibu RS are: 

  • Electronic grade braking system
  • Buckle-to-drive 
  • LATCH system 
  • Rearview camera 
  • Teen Driver
  • Optional rear park assist 
  • Optional rear cross-traffic alert 
  • Optional forward collision alert 
  • Optional front pedestrian braking 
  • Optional blind zone alert 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Sedan Competition

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS vs 2021 Honda Accord 

The 2021 Honda Accord is a known name in the midsize sedan segment. It offers better performance and fuel efficiency than the Malibu RS. Also, the interior quality is much better on the Accord. It also offers many safety features as standard and is more practical with better cargo capacity. The Malibu RS offers better legroom across the second row and has a proven reliability track record. However, we would pick the Accord for its better price to features ratio. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS vs 2021 Toyota Camry 

The Toyota Camry has been a people’s champ for its lower maintenance costs and reliability. It is equipped with a bigger engine and yet offers better fuel efficiency. It performs much better than the Malibu RS and offers a similar range as well. The Malibu RS offers better legroom across the second row but the difference between the two is very marginal. The Camry offers much better cargo capacity and a long list of standard safety features. We would recommend the Camry. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS vs 2021 Kia K5 

The Kia K5 is undoubtedly the better-looking sedan. It offers better performance as well. It also comes with better-designed interiors and it's also more fun to drive than the Malibu RS. The Malibu RS offers much better interior comfort and marginally better cargo capacity as well. However, the Kia K5 just seems to be a better package overall with more safety features as standard and a more refined set of features, making it a clear winner between the two. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Sedan Final Verdict

The Chevrolet Malibu RS is surely a well-rounded package in terms of interior space and reliability. However, with the onset of more modern rivals, it simply seems to be dated. The interior quality is also not much compared to the competition. The competition offers better safety features and a more desirable cabin ambiance as well. We would agree that the Malibu RS isn’t a bad car but just needs to be upgraded for better performance and interiors. Until Chevrolet does that, many better options continue to reign the market.