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Thread: 2009 Chevy Aveo5

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    The Land of The Edentulites

    Post 2009 Chevy Aveo5

    To read this article with pictures:

    General Motors is finally selling some outstanding small cars - including the little Chevy Aveo5 hatchback sedan I just spent a week with.

    If GM had been offering cars like this four or five years ago, it might not have had to go begging for $25 billion from Washington this fall.

    Here's to hoping it's not too little, too late.


    The Aveo is GM's least expensive and smallest car, sold through Chevy dealerships, and offered in both conventional sedan and 5-door hatchback sedan forms. With a base price of only $11,965 (sedan) it is one of the least expensive new economy sedans/hatchback sedans you can buy - and compares very favorably with pricier, import-branded economy cars like the $12,965-$15,880 Toyota Yaris sedan/5-door hatchback, the $12,920-$13,920 Hyundai Accent sedan and the $14,550-$18,760 Honda Fit 5-door hatchback sedan.


    Chevy has incorporated variable valve timing to the Aveo's 1.6 liter engine, which increases both fuel economy and horsepower/performance compared with last year. The exterior sheetmetal has been updated - and every trim level now comes standard with GM's OnStar telematics system and a free year's subscription.

    Also new is a bumped-up MSRP. Last year's Aveo sedan was just $10,235 and the hatchback Aveo5 just over $13k. But don't blame GM - blame the Federal Reserve, which inflates the money supply and causes your dollar to buy less every time it does.


    The front-wheel-drive Aveo's standard (and only) engine is a 1.6 liter four, now with variable valve timing. It is rated at 107 hp (vs. 103 in '08). It comes with either a five-speed manual or (optionally) a 4-speed automatic.

    The Aveo is one of the most fuel-efficient small cars on the road, in addition to being among the least expensive. The 2009 model is capable of 34 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg in city driving, which beats the the Honda Fit's 27 city, 33 highway rating - and saves you a couple thousand bucks up front, too. The price difference between the Aveo and the Fit is enough to keep you in free gas for a year or two of driving - something to consider, if your bottom line is, well, the bottom line.

    Aveo also beats the Accent sedan's 27 city, 33 mpg rating - as well as its MSRP sticker price.

    Toyota's Yaris does slightly better at 29 city, 36 highway - but just barely. And its higher up-front costs negate much if not all of at-the-pump advantage it has.


    Owning an economy car in the not-so-long ago past meant signing up for a low-rent experience - including a bouncy, tinny ride with lots of tire screech in the corners and a tsunami of wind noise through the minimal insulation and el-cheapo carpets.

    Everything felt flimsy and even a little bit dangerous - and that was before you started driving.

    The Aveo will surprise you with its not-half-bad driving dynamics - and excellent ride quality.

    Honda's Fit has the edge if what you are after is the most precise-feeling steering - and handling/cornering ability that can be characterized as sporty without committing editorial fraud. But that's raising the bar (and don't forget, the MSRP) beyond what the typical econo-car buyer is after, right?

    Let's look at what really matters:

    Is the car stable and composed during ordinary maneuvering? Does it take bumps without sending shockwaves through the seats, directly to your spine? Is it quiet and solid feeling? Easy and comfortable to knock around in? Can it handle the highway - without fear of being blown into a ditch by the slipstream of passing semis?

    As Sarah Palin might say, you betcha!

    Compared with the econo-boxes of the '70s and '80s, the Aveo is a veritable mini-me Cadillac.


    Both versions of the Aveo are roomy enough to work as a primary car - even a family car, if only 1-2 kids are involved. But the Aveo5 hatchback sedan is more versatile and spacious, with about 42 cubic feet of cargo capacity when the second row seats are folded down. The Honda Fit has more space - about 57 cubic feet - but again, it is priced several thousand dollars higher than the Aveo.

    The Yaris sedan, on the other hand, only has a 13 cubic foot trunk. The more expensive Yaris 5-door hatchback ($13,305 to start) doesn't do much better, either - with only 26 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

    Hyundai's Accent is not offered in hatchback wagon form; and the sedan has just 12.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

    The styling tweaks for '09 are nicely done - including an upmarket-looking vent on each fender for the Aveo5 hatch. Here again, the car doesn't come across as pathetic or embarrassing. In fact other than its subcompact size, its materials, workmanship and overall ambience are "par" for cars costing in the mid-high teens, several notches above the little Chevy's $11k entry price point.

    Higher trim LT models even get (or can be equipped with) wood and aluminum trim inserts.

    Nice stuff, too.

    Top-of-the-line LT2 trims come with remote keyless entry, 15-inch alloy rims, cruise, power windows and locks, even fog lamps, leatherette trim and heated outside mirrors.


    This is a lot of car for not much money - with a couple of caveats.

    One, base LS models don't come standard with AC - about the only "must have" option that most buyers will want. That's not so bad, as such. The problem is that if you need AC, you're forced to move up to the 1LT trim level - which carries an MSRP of $14,100 for the Aveo sedan and Aveo5 5-door hatchback.

    Chevy tries to soften the bite by packaging the AC with an upgraded six-speaker stereo - but I wish they'd just let you add the AC as a stand-alone option for $800 or so. This would make the Aveo even more cost-competitive compared with its rivals.

    Two, the base LS can't be ordered with the automatic, either. To get that, you have to step up (again) to the 1LT trim - and then pay an additional $925 for the slushbox.

    Three, the optional ABS brakes can be ordered only if you also order the optional automatic transmission - another way Chevy tries to bump the car's MSRP, which is arguably counterproductive if the goal is to sell a lot of cars vs. racking up the margins on each car.

    ABS is something many buyers want - and Chevy shouldn't be caging them into buying the $925 automatic as part of the "deal."

    To be fair, other automakers pull this same shuck and jive. But I bet they'd get more action if they let buyers choose what they want a la carte.


    The reviewer for hit the Aveo for being "underpowered." He must be about 25 years old - because clearly, he doesn't remember what economy cars used to be like 10 or 15 years ago - when they struggled to reach a top speed of 80-something mph and needed 20-30 seconds to heave themselves to 60 mph.

    In those days, economy cars were iffy on the highway - and made you nervous everywhere else. Other drivers hated you - because you were always in their way. Forget about passing anyone.


    The Aveo, meanwhile, can reach 100 mph in 4th gear - with more to go, including fifth gear. it easily handles sustained speeds in the 70-80 mph range - and can reach 60 mph in about 10-11 seconds (depending on the transmission). None of its competitors are significantly quicker - and some are slower.

    More to the point, all of these latter-day econoboxes can keep up with traffic - city or highway. There is no such thing as "slow" these days - unless you're comparing the Aveo and cars like it with today's high-perf. stuff that runs to 60 in under 5 seconds and tops out at 150-plus.

    Which is a pretty silly frame of reference.

    The manual model's more fun (and slightly more economical, both to operate and to buy) but the automatic version does well, too. There's a handy "hold" button on the shifter lever that locks you into first, second or third - for better performance or traction in winter - but it chooses gears very intelligently all by itself. Even from a dead stop, it accelerates well - another thing not many econo-boxes with automatics could do once upon a time. Part of it is due to an aggressive first-gear ratio that helps launch the car better; part is due to the peppy 1.6 liter engine - which has about 30-40 more hp than the typical econo-car engine of the '80s.

    But the biggest impression you get from driving the Aveo is that economy and self-respect are no longer mutually exclusive. Unlike an '80s-era Plymouth Champ, Ford Escort or Chevy Chevette, you won't feel ashamed to admit that its yours - or feel like a failure when you're behind the wheel.


    Aveo's combo of sedan and 5-door hatchback bodystyles, low price, high quality - and great gas mileage - make it a very appealing (and smart) choice.

    If only it had been available sooner... .
    Last edited by Eric; 11-11-2008 at 09:23 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    Sunshine Coast, QLD, Australia
    They have (Holden Barina in OZ) a bit of an image problem perceived or otherwise because of the Daewoo heritage
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    The Land of The Edentulites
    Quote Originally Posted by Kwozzie1 View Post
    They have (Holden Barina in OZ) a bit of an image problem perceived or otherwise because of the Daewoo heritage
    Today's Korean cars are generally quite excellent. I'd buy one without hesitation if I needed a new econo-box!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Jul 2006
    Sunshine Coast, QLD, Australia
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Today's Korean cars are generally quite excellent. I'd buy one without hesitation if I needed a new econo-box!
    Hyundai and Kia seem's just that Daewoo's seem to have shocking paintwork and a lot seem to blow smoke at a not too high mileage.
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

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