2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Sedan

Rating7.8

Ranked #16 in Midsize Sedan

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Starting MSRP 

$25,195

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Key Spec of 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Sedan
fuel economy

29/32/36

fuel type

Regular Unleaded

horsepower

160 hp @ 5700 rpm

basic warranty

3 yr./ 36000 mi.

ProsConsWhat's New

Decent fuel economy

All driver-assistance features are optional 

No major changes 

Good ride and handling 

Aging interior design 

Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now standard 

Handsome styling 

Mediocre interior quality 

Standard buckle-to-drive safety feature 

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

Updated on: August 1, 2022

Nathan Dyer's image
Nathan Dyer 

Senior Editor

With a starting price of $24,400, the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS sedan aims to offer sportier exterior aesthetics coupled with decent practicality and fuel economy. For the 2021 model year, Chevrolet has added wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard. The “Buckle-to-Drive” safety feature is also standard. The Malibu RS continues to be powered by a 1.5-liter inline-four turbo engine with 160 horsepower. The RS trim’s blacked-out appearance, good gas mileage, and cargo space are some of the reasons behind its existence in the competitive sedan market. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS For Sale

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS offers exactly the same performance as the L, LS, and LT trims. The RS trim adds blacked-out grille, black bow-tie emblems, rear spoiler, dual exhaust outlets and all-black interior with premium cloth upholstery. Starting at an MSRP of $24,400, a destination fee of $995 is levied on the RS trim, bringing the total cost to $25,395. However, nothing much has changed between the 2022 and 2021 model years. So, you might get an attractive deal for a used Malibu RS sedan with lower mileage on the odometer and in good condition. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Buying Advice 

The Chevy Malibu RS is not different in terms of gas mileage, interior dimensions, practicality and even performance. However, it differs with its exterior styling, with Black being the dominant accent color. The RS trim was introduced as a mid-range trim for the 2019 model year and continues to go on sale with little to no changes. So, if you are looking for Malibu RS, then we would suggest 2020, 2021 or 2022 model years as they come with the least number of recalls and problems as compared to previous models.

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS 

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS is the mid-range trim that sits in between the LS and LT trim. The Chevy Malibu RS does not offer better performance like the top-tier Premier trim as it is equipped with a bigger 2.0-liter inline-four engine with 250 horsepower. The RS trim looks more sporty and mean but in reality it is equipped with the same underwhelming 1.5-liter engine with 160 hp. The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS competes with the likes of Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Kia K5.


Over All Rating

7.8

Out of 10

8.00
8.00
8.00
8.00
8.00
7.50
7.50
8.00
7.50
Notable Rankings

#16 in Midsize Sedan

#19 in Sedan


Pictures & Videos


Trims

Base$25,195 onwards

  • 18-inch aluminum Wheels
  • 8-inch diagonal color touchscreen
  • 9-Speaker Bose audio system
  • Driver Lumbar support


Colors and Styles

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

Expert Review, Pricing Analysis and Buying Guide

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu sedan offers sleek styling, good ride and handling characteristics, plus a pleasant interior with an excellent infotainment system- KBB.com 

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS goes on sale for a starting MSRP of $24,400 and $995 is levied as destination fee. For that amount of money, the Malibu RS can be termed as decent for the asking price but not the best value for money deal. The consumer reviews for the 2021 Malibu have been quite positive, so for the RS trim also, those reviews can be considered. In the J.D. Power Consumer Rating, Chevy’s midsize sedan scored an 80 out of 100, which can be considered as “Great”. A quality and reliability score of 84/100, points at its issue-free nature. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Review

The cost of ownership of the Malibu RS is estimated to be similar to the other trims. The “Cost-To-Own” for a five-year term depends on various factors. The estimated depreciation is about $10,900 in five years. The fuel, maintenance and repair charges are $9,700, $3,900 and $820 respectively. The financing costs are estimated to be $2,410. So, considering the segment and starting price, the Malibu RS can be a fairly easy sedan to buy and own for a term of five years. 


Buying Advice
8.0/10

The Chevy Malibu RS is a standalone trim and does not offer any other subtrims. The Malibu RS sedan is aesthetically different but mechanically same to the L, LS and LT trims. It features blacked-out exterior appearance with RS badging in Red and bow-tie emblems in Black along with several dark elements. The interior features include leather-wrapped steering wheel, 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar support, and rear seat armrest as well. So, as the name and looks might suggest, the RS does look distinct but nothing special about its performance. For better performance, the top-tier Premier trim with 250 hp engine would make more sense.

Features
8.0/10

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu is offered in L, LS, RS, LT and Premier trims. The RS trim stands out of the crowd, courtesy of its sportier exterior styling. However, sadly, the performance remains the same as compared to the L, LS and LT trims. The 1.5-liter inline-four turbocharged engine is good for urban commutes and highway driving but punchy performance is missing. The more powerful 2.0-liter engine with 250 horsepower is reserved only for the Premier trim. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Features

The Chevy Malibu RS trim offers Black Chevrolet bowtie emblems along with Black Malibu and Red RS badging. The chrome grille surround gets Black grille inserts. The 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels are exclusively designed for the RS trim. The dual exhaust outlets lend it a sporty appearance. The outside power -adjustable mirrors are covered with body-color caps. The interior gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with power lumbar control and rear seat armrest with cup holders. 

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 

As with every other trim, the RS trim gets only basic safety features like airbags, LATCH system, rear vision camera, Teen Driver Technology, and TPMS as standard. Most of the advanced driver-assistance features like automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, lane change alert, side blindzone alert, rear cross traffic alert, and rear park assist are a part of Driver Confidence Package I and II. It will cost you additional $1,045 over the msrp of the RS trim. 

Engine and Performance
8.0/10

Just like the L, LS and LT trims, the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS is also equipped with a 1.5-liter inline-four turbocharged engine producing 160 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front wheel drive (FWD) is the only drivetrain option. The AWD drivetrain is not available even as an option and most drivers would miss it in adrenaline-inducing driving conditions. The engine is quite refined and the CVT is tuned well. 

Caption

Chevrolet’s midsize sedan is capable of sprinting from 0 mph to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds and completing a quarter-mile run in 16.0 seconds. The driving experience is decent and so is the ride quality. The CVT might dampen the feel of grunty acceleration but it offers good fuel economy in different driving conditions. Even the steering wheel has good feedback and the cabin is well insulated for acceptable NVH levels. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Performance

Owing to the RS moniker, we expected better cornering performance but sadly the steering feel needs an improvement, offering drivers a feel of the road in a more direct fashion. Even the braking performance is very good for a car weighing 3,126 pounds. The Malibu RS can stop from a speed of 60 mph within 113 feet of distance, courtesy of adequately sized brake rotors. The anti-lock braking system prevents locking of brakes and thereby inspires confidence while braking.

Model 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS 

2021 Honda Accord Sport 1.5T

2021 Toyota Camry SE Nightshase Edition

2021 Kia K5 GT-Line

MSRP

$24,400

$27,430

$27,260

$25,490

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 

7.8 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. In our recommendation, the 2.0-liter turbo engine must be offered as an option on the RS trim.  

Fuel Economy
8.0/10

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS delivers an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 29/36/32 miles per gallon (mpg) in city/highway/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 Sport 1.5T 

2021 Toyota Camry SE Nightshade Edition 

2021 Kia K5 GT-Line 

MPG (City)

29

30

28

29

MPG (Highway)

36

38

39

38

MPG (Combined)

32

33

32

32

Fuel Capacity (in gallons)

15.8

14.8

14.5

14.8

Range in miles (City/Hwy/Combined) 

458/ 569/ 505.6

444/ 562/ 488.4

406/ 566/464

429/562/474 

The Honda Accord is the most fuel-efficient car in the lot. But owing to its smaller fuel tank capacity of 14.8 gallons, it offers similar 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 Honda Accord with 488 miles, Kia K5 with 474 miles and Toyota Camry with 464 miles, . A lower curb weight and larger fuel tank allows the Malibu to deliver better combined driving range. 

Interior
8.0/10

The interior of the 2021 Chevrolet Malibu is attractive and modern, with lots of soft-touch materials and a high-quality feel to the plastics- KBB.com

The interior of the 2021 Malibu RS is not fancy but functional to the core. It bears resemblance to other trims. Overall, the design looks dated and we think it requires an instant update to compete with more modern rivals. A silver trim can be found inside the cabin which circles around the A/C outlets and runs on the top side of the dash. The steering wheel and gear shifter handle are wrapped in leather. The outside visibility is decent but not the best in the segment. The front seats offer good comfort and support. The center console, glove box and door bins provide additional storage spaces. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Interior 

The rear seats offer good comfort and even the headroom and legroom is adequate for most adults. The seats are covered in Jet Black premium cloth upholstery. Some features like 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, 6-way manual-adjustable passenger’s seat, 60/40-split rear seats, manual tilt and telescopic steering wheel, air conditioning, a 12-volt power outlet, keyless entry, keyless ignition, and manual day and night rear-view mirror are standard. The Malibu RS’s trunk space of 15.7 cubic feet is good but not the best in the segment.

Model 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS 

2021 Honda Accord Sport 1.5T 

2021 Toyota Camry SE Nightshade Edition

2021 Kia K5 GT-Line

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 interior dimensions of the Chevrolet Malibu RS is decent but not the best. 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 60/40-split seatback. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Infotainment System 

An 8.0-inch touchscreen display is offered as standard on the Malibu RS trim. The touchscreen is responsive and the user interface (Chevrolet Infotainment 3 System) is intuitive. You also get a 6-speaker sound system, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto with wireless connectivity, USB port, voice command, and Bluetooth connectivity as standard features.The optional Navigation System is available with the top-tier Premium trim only. Some other features like WiFi hotspot is optional, while Chevrolet Connected Access is standard across all the trims.

Some of the standout interior and infotainment features of the Malibu RS are:

  • Leather-trimmed steering wheel 
  • Premium cloth seat upholstery 
  • 60/40 split and foldable rear seats 
  • 8-way power-adjustable driver seat 
  • An 8.0 inch touchscreen display 
  • Wireless Android Auto 
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay 
  • 6-speaker audio system 
  • SiriusXM satellite radio 
  • 4G LTE WiFi hotspot (optional)
Exterior
7.5/10

The sporty Malibu RS gets a Camaro-like blacked-out grille and exposed dual-exhaust outlets, plus larger wheel and tires and a rear spoiler- KBB.com

The 2021 Chevrolet Malibu has always been a good-looking mid-size sedan and with the RS trim, 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. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Exterior (Front and Side View)

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, sadly that’s not the case. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Exterior (Rear View)

Some other exterior features like acoustic laminated windshield, halogen headlights, and daytime running lights are standard. Some exterior colors like Summit White, Silver Ice Metallic, Dark Ash Metallic, Mineral Gray Metallic, Cherry Red Tintcoat and Mosaic Black Metallic are offered on the Malibu RS trim and every color compliments the blacked-out appearance well. 

Model 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS 

2021 Honda Accord Sport 1.5T 

2021 Toyota Camry SE Nightshade Edition 

2021 Kia K5  GT-Line

Curb Weight 

3,135

3,223

3,350

3,228

Length 

192.4

196.1

192.1

193.1

Width 

73

73.3

72.4

73.2

Height 

57.4

57.1

56.9

56.9

Ground Clearance 

5.5

N/A

5.7

5.3

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 and looks well-endowed from every angle. The Toyota Camry is the heaviest in the comparison.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. The Honda Accord is the longest in the comparison. 

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 
Safety
7.5/10

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. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS Crash Test

The optional Driver Confidence I & II Package worth $1,095 adds automatic emergency braking, lane keeps assist with lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change alert with side blind zone alert, following distance indicator, front pedestrian braking, and rear park assist. The price of the optional driver-assistance package is reasonable but it should had been offered as standard. Some of its rivals offer like the Honda Accord offers multiple driver-assistance features as standard. 

Some of the standout safety features of the 2021 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 
Competition
8.0/10

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS vs 2021 Honda Accord Sport 1.5T 

The 2021 Honda Accord Sport 1.5T 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.

2021 Honda Accord 

The Malibu RS offers better legroom across the first row and has a good reliability track record. The Accord also offers better price to features ratio. The Chevy Malibu will be discontinued after the 2023 model year, making it more sense to go for the Honda Accord. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS vs 2021 Toyota Camry SE Nightshade Edition 

The Toyota Camry SE Nightshade Edition 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 on the highways. It performs much better than the Malibu RS and offers a similar range as well.

2021 Toyota Camry SE Nightshade Edition 

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 Toyota Camry over the Malibu. 

2021 Chevrolet Malibu RS vs 2021 Kia K5 GT-Line 

The Kia K5 GT-Line 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.

2021 Kia K5 GT-Line 

The Malibu RS offers much better interior comfort and marginally better price 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. 

Final Verdict
7.5/10

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. 

Features

vehicle bio
base price

$25195

body style

4dr Sedan

engine type
displacement

91 cu in

horse power

160 hp @ 5700 rpm

torque

184 lb.-ft. @ 2500 rpm

transmission

1-Speed CVT

dimensions
length

194.2 in

wheelbase

111.4 in

width

73 in

curb weight

3135 lbs

Height

57.3 in

Ground Clearance

5.5 lbs

capacity
passenger volume

102.9 cu ft

cargo volume

15.7 cu ft

passenger capacity

5 Seats

fuel economy
city/combined/highway

29/32/36 mpg

highway range

568.80 mi

warranty
basic warranty

3 yr./ 36000 mi.


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