By on July 28, 2008

The Chevy media site had only six pictures of the 2008 Cobalt.  Two of them were of the 2-door.  The other four were shots of this car, two with the outdoorsy background and two against a blank background. This isn't the LS model reviewed; it's the "Sport" model.A couple of weeks ago, grainy images portending GM's bright, small-car-driven future "leaked" onto the Web. "All hail the new Cruze!" shouted the GM Kool-Aid Klub, apparent fans of intentional misspelling. A compact come-to-Jesus from the higher-ups quickly followed, delivered by GM's Design Chief. "In North America, we never did a good small car," Ed Welburn mea culpaed. So things will be different this time, right? Just like they were going to be different three years ago, when the Cobalt was released? The Cobalt I rented this weekend? Bah, humbug, I say.

The Cobalt, you'll remember, was launched to similar fanfare in 2005. According to the buff-book bluster, "Lutz told engineers not to hold back on the good stuff and… they'll get that money back and more in reduced rebates." Another gem: "Lutz says being competitive isn't enough. The Cobalt has to be better than competing small cars to get the market to notice."

If you need a refresher course as to how that turned out, head down to your local Enterprise office and ask for the basic $20/day buzz box. Doing so got me a four-door Cobalt LS, resplendent (kind of) in Victory Red with plastic hubcaps, devoid of high mileage stress. It's an appropriate venue to meet the Cobalt; everything about it suggests that it was engineered so badly it Hertz.

So, where do renters go first? To the trunk, of course, to dump off their suitcases. There, they'll find 13.9 cubic feet of space (way more than a Honda Civic's rear cubby) and dainty gas struts, (which won't crush your luggage like the gooseneck hinges on a Corolla).

Slam it shut and run your eyes along the sheetmetal, and… well… you won't notice anything. The Cobalt's soft, flavorless lines are designed to be as inoffensive to Walter from Topeka as they are to Kelli from the Tenderloin. The only interesting design element is the… nope. There isn't any.

They had no shots of the interior of the 2008 model.  I had to go all the way back to 2006 to find one.  However, nothing much has changed since they introduced the Cobalt so this shows about what you get now.Step into the driver's bucket, and- hey, lookitthat!- the cupholders for your airport coffee are located ahead of the shifter, so you needn't bend your shifting arm around your java. Punch the "Info" button on the steering to cycle through MPG, distance-to-empty, outside temperature and tire pressure stats. Tourists will like the turn signal: it finishes each blink regardless of when you release the stalk, so you don't make amateurish half-blinks in traffic. Not bad for twenty bucks a day.

Trouble is, aside from these isolated attempts to surprise and delight, the Cobalt is the sort of relentlessly, oppressively average product that you couldn't possibly imagine buying on your own dime. The interior of my rental wasn't "sand beige," or "balsa beige;" it was waiting-room beige or linoleum beige. The Cobalt's dash is simple as dirt, with gauges scripted in the same font as my long-lost 1984 Cavalier. Once you've sat in the driver's seat, you'll never again wonder what burlap stretched over concrete feels like.

The "latch" for the driver's side dash cubby deserves special mention. It's a molded-in fake, concealing a raggedly-cut thumb hole underneath. Hey, if that's not sincerity, what is?

Okay, enough parking-stall pedantry. Let's put this puppy in motion.

"Do you want to purchase the optional insurance?" With 148 horsepower, no thanks. Twist the key and the 2.2-liter, four-cylinder Ecotec settles into a muted, liquid-smooth idle. Really. Rest your fingers on the wheel and give it some gas. While the noises get Kitchenaid thrashy, absolutely no vibration filters through.

The high-friction shift lever feels as though it spent a day at the beach and came back covered with wet sand. Clunk it into "D" and the four-speed automatic pleases with timely, seamless shifts. Unfortunately, it's still a four-speed, and its Bunyan-tall gearing smothers the Ecotec's wholly agreeable pep. I averaged 25 mpg, and that was driving like a grandma.

Insert handling joke here. Actually, the Cobalt is a fairly surefooted little piece, pouring steadily into turns with weighty, firm-feel electric power steering. The helm still has the foamy, spring-loaded feel endemic to electric-assist setups, but it's far better than earlier models' helmsmanship (the ultimate GM metric). Too bad enthusiastic cornering still scores you a one-way ticket to Understeer City.

The opinions of those who desperately want to believe in something are exceptionally malleable. How else to explain GM fans' short-term memory loss re: the Cobalt's already-broken promises? And now, once again, the Next Big– I mean, small thing are dangled before them..

When the Chevrolet Cruze arrives in 2011, it'll no doubt compare well with the generations of Civic and Corolla on sale during its gestation, just as the Cobalt did in 2005.

This is the other shot they had, once again with either the outdoorsy background or a plain beige backdrop.  Again, this is the \"Sport\" model, not the LS.But will the General fail to lead a moving target, benchmarking rivals that already have one foot in the grave? "Time will tell," the faithful grumble. Trouble is, time's told this tale before.

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134 Comments on “2008 Chevrolet Cobalt Review...”


  • avatar
    Robstar

    Local free newspaper here (Chicago Redeye) has an advertisement for 2008 NEW aveo for $8,499. The dealers must REALLY be hurting. I think the cobat is at 11,499 with 100 advertised as being in stock.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    I wonder if GM isn’t in a branding triangle.

    On the one hand, you have the people would buy the Cobalt. This sort of person tends to get upset if you suggest they’d be better off with a used foreign car. They probably couldn’t afford/wouldn’t understand a good small car. I can’t think of any reason to buy this car except wanting to have a new car but not really having the means.

    Then you’ve got the people who’d sooner believe aliens killed JFK than that GM made a good small car, and wouldn’t touch it without a solid decade of GM not screwing the car up. And if they charge more for the car, their rental sales will dry up.

    If they stay with the first group, they catch some sales. They go for the second group, they get left in the cold trying to work off a reputation for terrible small cars earned by decades of half assed work in the genre. They’ve dug themselves an ugly little hole.

  • avatar
    JT

    I’m an avowed small-car and FWD fan. In 2006 I had a chance to drive a full-up, high zoot “sporty” version of the Cobalt at a press day. I was looking forward to it.

    After flogging the critter around a road course for 3 or 4 laps, I remember thinking 1) this car has “adolescent” written all over it and is completely lacking in sophistication, 2) it does everything almost adequately but nothing well (go, stop, turn) and 3) it had a totally disposable feel to it. You could own the car for a year, wrap it into a ball and walk away from it without being saddened at the loss.

    If that was the high end version, I shudder at the prospects of the base unit.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    it sounds like other some bling and cornering prowess, this might be a good little car. I prefer hatchbacks, so i probably will not consider it. But at 8 large for a new car, i might look at it. Hope it comes with a 5 speed!

  • avatar

    Nice review, P.J. – with each “all new” GM offering I have driven in the last 30 years, I kept hoping for evidence that they had at least driven competing cars as a means to set their design criteria. Only the Cadillac CTS suggested that the criteria went beyond an incremental improvement to the last mediocre GM product.

    In fairness, I recently rented a Saturn Outlook and was impressed with the new 3.6 liter V6 and automatic transmission. The remainder of the car was no match for a Honda Odyssey (the Outlook IS a minivan-with-a-hood).

    The Cobalt is another in a long line of GM small-car offerings which say to the buyer “Wouldn’t you really prefer one of our pricier vehicles?”

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    It’s not a bad car, but it’s not a great one. It needs to be a great one to beat the Corolla and Civic. I can’t see the Cruze being “great” either, in the same sense the Malibu isn’t “great”, but is about as good as the class leaders, give or take.

    To give an example of what the Cruze needs to be: the Focus was (emphasis on “was”) a great car when it was released. Much, much better than the Civic or Corolla of the day. And the Civic and Corolla and succeeded them. And the current Corolla. If it had been reliable out of the gate, Ford would have managed a real coup: beating the Asians at their own game.

    The Cruze needs to be better than the 2011 Civic by the same degree that the 2000 Focus was better than the 2000 Civic and Corolla, plus, unlike the Focus, the launch must be flawless. Good luck with that.

  • avatar
    limmin

    I, too, rented a Cobalt from Enterprise. I don’t know where you can rent one for $20/day, unless you have some serious coupons in your wallet. I paid 3 times that amount….I was EXPECTING to pay $20. Then again, I hadn’t rented a car since 1991.

    I came away impressed on all fronts. Top-notch engine with class-leading power, good fit and finish, informative info center. Seats are a bit small (the Civic thrones are superior).

    I’m not sure where the 2-star rating came from here. Author liked all major aspects of the car, save for some cheap bits inside. A 4sp automatic is inexcusable…but the top is geared high. (I saw over 35mpg hwy)

    The Cobalt is not a failure and it has been a success for GM. It’s not quite as efficient as the Civic. But I’ll take the extra .4 liters displacement—they’ll come in useful with a full load of passengers and the defroster blasting.

    Cobalt is cheap to buy, cheap to run, cheap to repair. And, unlike the Civic, you don’t have to worry about it getting stolen on a typical street.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    What does need to be mentioned, though, is how good the Cobalt SS Super- and Turbocharged are. GM did a very good job with the high-trim versions of this car. The Ion Redline and HHR SS are quite good, too. I don’t think any of those cars get the respect they deserve.

    Of course, this agrees with the point at the edgett makes: The Cobalt is another in a long line of GM small-car offerings which say to the buyer “Wouldn’t you really prefer one of our pricier vehicles?.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    How does this car compare to a 90’s Neon?

  • avatar
    opfreak

    car does everything well, can be bought for cheaper then the civic, and corrolla, will last you years. And yet its bashed.

    Coblat = decent, afforadable transport.

    So it has good fit and finish, a peppy engine, handling thats geared for the none drive (just like other imports). decent trunk space, and a low price.

    Outside of better gas milage, and a 5spd tranny, that civic is buying you a brand, and free’s you from having to hear brand snoobs look down at you.

    and if you are comparing knobs and printing, toyota’s hvac knobs are using in how many different products?

    as an owner of a 113k sunfire thats whose only part failure was a 02 sensor at 60k miles. The blind swips at gm quality, and grounded in 1980’s thinking.

  • avatar
    NickR

    I will add my voice to the chorus and ask that you test the new turbocharged SS at the first available opportunity. I’ve read good things about the engine. And I like the styling of the coupe. With a firmer suspension and a better wheel/tire combo it might be good, cheap entertainment. Um, and better seats.

    I too am a but surprised at the 2 stars, it seemed from the review to be worth of a 3 star rating. *shrugs*

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I rented a fully optioned Cobalt LT (sun roof, leather, satellite radio) earlier this year in Atlanta. Apart from the somewhat numb steering I thought the car was fine. I’m looking forward to and will seriously consider buying the SS Turbo sedan when it comes out later in the year.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    I hate to be paranoid, but I’m got this sneaking suspicion there are GM claques running around the site.

    I’ve just seen way too many guys posting that they think that a GM product “has all the right moves” and otherwise acting like they have a copy of GM’s marketing materials on their desk.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    everything about it suggests that it was engineered so badly it Hertz.

    I gave the new Cobalt SS a try back in December of 2004. The test drive practically ended before it began. The car was completely lacking in comfort. I had no problems test driving a scion tC and found the Mazda Rx-8 and Mazda3 very comfortable. A Toyota Corolla and Mitsubishi Lancer, while hardly luxurious, didn’t send me straight from the dealer’s lot to the chiropractor either. Based on my other experiences, I think that it’s safe to say it’s the Cobalt not me. Other small cars fit me just fine.

    Jerseydevil:

    It’s the Aveo that is selling for between $8k and $9k ($8698 in my local paper this weekend); Cobalts go for $11k to $12k.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    toxicroach,

    Yes, GM does actually have an unofficially official astroturfing campaign.

    That said, the Cobalt really isn’t that bad. It’s not that good, either, but this is a fair review (though not a fair star rating) for a car that’s about as good as the Corolla, Focus or Sentra, but not quite as good as the Elantra, Civic or 3.

    I do think that we’re perhaps being a little to knee-jerk in our opinions of GM and it’s products–at least in our comments. Again, this car, for the class, isn’t really that bad.

  • avatar
    macarose

    (macarose a.k.a. Steven Lang not posting from home)

    Personally I’ve driven different versions of the Cobalt and found it to be Corolla-esque in it’s blandness. However I have no doubt that a properly maintained version of one would easily last over 200,000 miles. Even the Cavalier/Sunfire/Saturn could hit that mark a decade ago.

    The Cobalt reviewed here is not, I repeat, not an enthusiast’s vehicle. It’s an economic proposition. There are plenty of people who are looking at driving a compact until the wheels off, and so long as they don’t have an anti-GM bias, they should strongly consider the Cobalt along with the Corolla.

    For a drive out price of 12 to 13k on a Cobalt, you’re more or less getting a comfortable and economical vehicle (33 to 35 mpg highway), that will have cheaper routine maintenance and parts cost than a Corolla. With GM incentivizing the heck out of em’, you can likely find a base model around the 10k to 11k range…. or a low mileage demo model for even less. That’s about 3k to 4k less than a comparable Corolla model.

    I can see this being a two star vehicle given that the Corolla (it’s primary competitor) is also graded as a two star car. But it’s light years better than the Kia Rio I reviewed a month ago.

  • avatar
    Ronin317

    Look, there’s no doubt it’s capable transportation. But it begins and ends there. My elderly neighbors have the last model of cavalier, and it’s not given them a problem. It is what it is – cheap, effective transportation. The review was dead on with what I felt when I drove a 2007 late last year. If I was a college student working retail, and it’s between that and a more lux used car, it would be a tough decision. $250 a month on a 5 year buy with a warranty is a pretty good deal for a good enough vehicle.

    But lets not pretend it’s a class-leader, spec or no, in any regard.

  • avatar

    A quick warning:

    TTAC’s posting policy is clearly stated above the comments box. Several commentators have ignored this warning. I have informed them that another flame will mean a permanent posting ban.

    TTAC’s reviewers call it as they see it. I suggest that anyone who doubts this fact reads other reviews of GM products. BUT–

    This is not the place for that debate. Anyone who wishes to discuss TTAC’s editorial stance or style may contact me directly: robert.farago@thetruthaboutcars.com.

  • avatar

    To my eyes, the interior was nearly best-in-class when introduced. Compare the 2005 Civic and Corolla. Of course, they’ve both been redesigned since then…

    The interior styling is heavily cribbed from the MkIV Jetta’s.

    As implied here, the Cobalt is much more refined than the average small car.

    So what’s not to like? The four-speed automatic does kill performance, and the rear seat is tight even when compared to other compacts.

    On the reliability front, TrueDelta’s surveys suggest that the 2006 and 2007 have about an average repair rate, maybe a bit better than average, and about the same as the Honda Civic for those years. Not enough responses for the 2005. It’s the first year, so probably worse than the others.

    To participate in this research:

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Yeah I’m not trying to accuse anyone with with a pro-GM sentiment of being a shill. Far from it, actually.

    It’s just when it sounds like someone is reading off a press release that I get suspicious. I forget what car it was but last week someone actually said “this car has all the right moves.” That’s just too stilted to be real.

    What is the average small car? How is it more refined than the average small car if its not as refined as the Corolla & Civic? I’m confused.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The buzzy, unhappy drivetrain is the deal killer, and the big-eyed front grille doesn’t help. (If GM wants Chevy’s to have a family resemblance, they need some better looking relatives.)

    It’s a great example of GM doing what it usually does, putting forth a second- or third-rate effort against first-rate competition. If this car had a great engine and a transmission and reliability to match, you might be able to get beyond the grille and some of the dash plastics. But they didn’t, so you can’t. They are cheap, though.

  • avatar
    rob

    The exterior of this car is bland, yes, but I guess I like bland. It is less bloated then the Corolla-coaster, better looking than the Focus, and not too futuristic (i’m looking at you, the illegitimate child of a dust buster and a space ship – aka Civic). I guess it would be on par, exterior wise, with the Mazda 3.

  • avatar
    RoweAS

    Back in 2005 I went shopping for a new vehicle. I immediately went to my local Chevy dealer as I had purschasd my prior two vehicles ( a 95 Chevy S10 LS and a 99 Tracker 2dr 4wd)from them and was satisfied. I drove the Cobalt and the HHR. The Cobalt was not a stripper. The car was decent, nothing too negative or positive. The HHR was the same, although the remote startup wouldn’t work. I next drove a Focus wagon and coupe. Much nicer driving but I wanted to look some more. Test drove a PT Cruiser but the prices were unrealistic (Our local Chrysler dealer lives in lala land). Nothing on the Pontiac/Buick lot I wanted. Went to Toyota and drove a Corolla. Not bad and price was good. As a lark, I went to the Scion section and said what the hell, and drove an xB. Bought it on the spot. And have never regretted it. The best I can say for the Cobalt is that it was pedestrian.

  • avatar
    jimble

    So Michael Karesh thinks “the interior was nearly best-in-class when introduced” and “The interior styling is heavily cribbed from the MkIV Jetta’s”? Well, they may have tried to crib the interior styling from the Jetta but they failed pretty miserably on that account.

    The Cobalt’s interior layout is full of abrupt juxtapositions, cheap materials, and unfinished edges. A pretty depressing place to spend a lot of time. On the other hand, when I rented one a few years back I was very happily surprised by the gas mileage — one area where the Cobalt far surpasses my Jetta’s miserable performance. The Cobalt seemed like a car that could get the job done, no more, no less. Pretty much on par with a Corolla, I guess, but not even close to the refinement of a Civic or a Jetta.

  • avatar
    netrun

    everything about it suggests that it was engineered so badly it Hertz.

    Awesome!

    @edgett: The Cobalt is another in a long line of GM small-car offerings which say to the buyer “Wouldn’t you really prefer one of our pricier vehicles?”

    Perfectly said! I thought exactly the same thing when I rented a base Malibu. (I thought it had the 4cyl but it was a V6…)

    @limmin: Cobalt is cheap to buy, cheap to run, cheap to repair. And, unlike the Civic, you don’t have to worry about it getting stolen on a typical street.

    Excellent observation! Not sure the dealers will be able to use it as a selling point, though. If there’s no market to resell stolen ones for cheap – then no one wants your car. That’s not a good thing!

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Leaving out all the alleged bargain basement sale prices one sees, if you compare a Cobalt LS with auto vs. a Civic DX, the Cobalt will be about $3,300 less to purchase comparably equipped. I suppose you might make that back over 10 years including resale value, but who can say for sure?

    The wife and I currently own a Corolla as a commuter car, but we rented a Saturn Ion (same platform) for a week on vacation. The Corolla could last longer, but the Ion was a better car for comfort, room, drivability, and even fuel economy. I’d rather drive the Ion to work than our Corolla.

    For a drone to work during rush hour kind of vehicle, it wouldn’t bother me to drive a Cobalt.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I had one of these as a rental last winter and apart from the sheer mind numbing “made for Avis” looks from the kitchen appliance school of design, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected. I drove it in difficult winter conditions and found it surprisingly predictable. Would I buy one? Hell no, but at least they seem to have got the mechanical stuff right.

    As a foot note, I would still rather have the Cobalt interior than the Honda Civic “space pod” design which is just a cheap and but also weird and badly designed as the AC vents are way too close to the steering wheel and thus mainly freeze your fingers.

  • avatar

    I think GM’s main problem on the small-car front is that they lag behind the competition on the MPG front. They might be close (Cobalt puts up the same numbers as a Focus for a 2008 4-speed auto) but the 26/35 and 25/36 of the Corolla and Civic just seem so much better than 24/33, even though it might be just 1 or 2 MPG on the combined cycle.

    The Aveo is just a turd when stacked up against the competition. 23/32? That’s worse than the larger Cobalt, and significantly worse than a (comparatively) big ol’ Corolla. So to move them they have to chop thousands off the price. The fact that they even put their badge on the hood of the Aveo causes consumers to view all Chevy vehicles as less efficient than the competition, and the people looking to spend under $18,000 on a new car are going to really care about efficiency.

  • avatar
    Axel

    If you hate cars, and hate to drive, and immediately forget about your vehicle the moment you walk away from it, and just need an appliance to get you from here to there for the lowest cost and aggravation possible, the Cobalt is the car for you.

    It has earned this title by default, since the erstwhile champ, the Corolla, tripped and fell.

    It won’t cost a lot (Civic), be crappy, uncomfortable and smelly (Rio), or use undue amounts of gas (Impreza, 3, Jetta).

  • avatar
    brettc

    I thought those interior shots looked pretty similar to my Jetta’s interior. It’s sad that it took about 5 years for them to steal a VW interior. (The Mark IV Jetta came out in late 1999).

    My wife had a ’94 Cavalier, and it just kept going. When I met her the car hadn’t been maintained all that well, so I did some basic maintenance like replacing the plugs and wires and changing the filters, and it did pretty well for fuel economy. Of course, that was when gas was $1.00/gallon. It was still an econobox, but she enjoyed it while she had it. The Cobalt seems like the logical successor. Mediocre and low priced, but updated to 2005 standards.

  • avatar
    ronin

    I test drove a cobalt from the chevy store for the express purpose of getting 250 bonus gm card dollars. Was unimpressed, and later bought a new civic.

    On a recent trip Hertz gave me a cobalt. Was disappointed, but drove it off. I was surprised at the pick-up at highway speeds, and at the not-nearly-so-basic as I remembered steering.

    I later noted that this was the Cobalt “sport” trim level- upgraded engine and handling. It showed.

    Can’t imagine how the turbo is, but the livability of even the Sport vs the basic model was already night and day.

    At only 2/3 the price of a Civic the balt seems like an honest package.

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    Hmmm.

    Cross out the word “Cobalt” and put in the word “Corolla” (in red crayon of course) and I think what we’ve got here is interchangable transportation.

    It’s a good small car competing against other good small cars.

    Unfortunately, Chevy and “good small car” are not often mentioned in the same breath and a good effort just is not good enough. If they’re smart, they’ll take the Malibu and put in the wash and come back with a 3/4 scale version in 2011.

    Two stars? What constitutes the 5-Star benchmark in small cardom and is the Cobalt only 40% as good as that?

  • avatar
    sillyp

    All this talk of these supposed similarities between the Cobalt’s interior and that of the Jetta is laughable. I had a 2000 Jetta TDI, 5 spd, black with tan interior. It was a fantastic, fun to drive, comfortable car with a soft-touch dash and awesome ergonomics. The red and blue dash lights were dead sexy. The tranny was smooth and the mileage was between 38 and 50 (yes! 50!). Obviously I can’t compare a TDI to a normal gas burner, but still.

    I rented a Cobalt two years while visiting North Carolina. All I’m going to say is there’s no comparison. None. Zero. It was a depressing, uncomfortable, beige box with an interior made of Fisher-Price grade plastics.

  • avatar

    I don’t want to be ritualistically stoned to death but I have always liked the Cobalt. To me it’s simply a Corolla withy a Chevy bowtie. I haven’t purchased a Detroit product in over 25 years I currently drive an 06 Xb and had two Honda Accords before that so I am not some Detroit fanboi.

    Remember it’s at the low end of the totem pole. A 12 or 13 thousand dollar car will never be as sophisticated or nice as a 20 or 30 thousand dollar car.

    True the Civic is clear class leader in this category but I have always seen the Corolla and the Cobalt as virtually the same car.
    I personally would almost always buy a Corolla because I trust Toyota for durability but I find the Corolla to be virtually indistinguishable from the Cobalt.

  • avatar
    wstansfi

    I have driven the cobalt several times in the last year and would like to chime in…
    Usually I use priceline, so $20/day is about right. It is not the worst car you can get for $20/day – but it is down there.

    On the subject of the trunk, I was amazed at how small the actual opening is to put your luggage into – this is a car designed for airport rental car lots, isn’t it? I could barely squeeze my soft shell carryon bag into the trunk. I’d never experienced this before, and was struck by this egregious design error. I don’t know how the current civic and corrolla compare, because they’ll never give them to me at the rental counter for rates like this.

    I agree with the comment about the seats being slightly better than metal folding chairs. In addition, I couldn’t get the seat far enough back, and I’m not a giant – I have only a 32 in inseam. The thing that really bothered me about the interior was the awkwardness of setting the hand-brake. For some reason, I kept banging my wrist on something, but don’t remember the exact design problem. Regarding the HVAC controls, I was fairly happy to see something very nearly like what honda was using about 1980. It was very efficient and uncomplicated design. The backseat was adequately sized for my backpack.

    The power is adequate for city streets, provided you gave yourself some extra time for merging, and I agree that brakes and steering were also adequate. I had the feeling that the car would have a difficult time on mountain highway, but was ok at lower speeds. I didn’t push the steering or handling – it was adequate for traffic flow but that seemed close to the upper limit. I was glad that no emergency maneuvering was called for at any time.

    So, I don’t know if it’s the worst small car I’ve driven, but it’s probably close in terms of ergonomics, design, and driving experience. I would rate it considerably lower than the other frequent lowball renter, the PT cruiser. At these prices, however, considering current discounts, etc, is it the best value? Well, at least Enterprise thinks so, and that’s saying something.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Sorry, I don’t get the 2 stars in the rating. By what he wrote, I thought it got 3. He gave me the impression he drove a nice car.

    Tha author liked most of the car save, the exterior where he made no comments on the assembly or paint which is difficult to judge given that is a rented car and may have suffered an accident; the interior (I prefer beige color over gray anytime) and the 4 speed auto.

    On a compact FWD mainly family car, understeer is designed in as a “safety” measure. So no big deal on that.

    The 4-speed auto… well, the Corolla does without it so… no big deal either (but the Civic has a 5-speed). The gearing must be configured toward fuel economy, maybe that’s why its tall. Previous Cavalier’s manual tranny got a 3.57 FDR… so it wasn’t a rocket.

    The current Civic looks much nicer both inside and out than the Cobalt.

    And I bet that fixing a Cobalt is less expensive than both Corolla and Civic.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    As somebody said earlier, since the Corrolla only got 2 stars, and he wouldn’t recommend this above a Corolla, I guess the 2 star rating is generous really. The author is being somewhat tongue in cheek (imo), because at this point beating up on GM’s small car efforts is like making fun of a retarded guy for not being very good at chess.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Well, quite a lot of people are buying the Cobalt on their own dime so I guess it must be good enough.
    I still say that anyone who goes on a diatribe against cars like the Cobalt or Focus has never owned one and is also not likely a customer of these cars. The really nice compacts are almost always $3-5000 more than the Cobalt.
    busbodger- The Cobalt is quite a bit more reliable than the Neon. No disintegrating head gaskets here.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    wstansfi:

    I agree with the comment about the seats being slightly better than metal folding chairs. In addition, I couldn’t get the seat far enough back, and I’m not a giant – I have only a 32 in inseam. The thing that really bothered me about the interior was the awkwardness of setting the hand-brake. For some reason, I kept banging my wrist on something, but don’t remember the exact design problem.

    Exact same thing for me to the T, except I was only test driving cars searching for my next car; o I wasn’t stuck with it for several days. Based on my past experience, I wold refuse to take a Cobalt.

  • avatar
    macarose

    No, but this place obviously has a firm line between criticizing a car (or a company) and criticizing the reviewer. I’ve crossed the line myself and learned to tell the tale… although my response obviously did not.

    But keep in mind that some models truly live up to their billing. Aveos, Rios, GM’s full-sized vans and minivans, the Sebring sedan, and countless others are truly awful products. Yet they get a thoughtless free ride from most publications that are in the business of pronging revenue from the manufacturers.

    It all comes to your ability to use your own judgment and discern the truth. TTAC is one of the very few places that can do it without the Pavlovian kow-tow of the modern automotive rag. Whether you think a car is a 4 star or 2 star product is your opinion… and like the ones posted here, others should be able to tolerate your opinion for what it simply is.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I am awestruck at the volume of comments generated by a Cobalt. What makes this car such a lightning rod? The typical GM comments – on both sides – are basically the same for most GM products reviewed. This is an entry level ride. Cut somebody on their choice of a Vette or Porsche I would understand but this? My take is this, for what it is worth: A Cobalt is good choice and a smart buy used when you need a basic ride. Period.

  • avatar

    I’ve always been kind of sympathetic to the looks of the Cobalt. Compared to, say, the mind-boggling hideousness of the Sentra or Ion, or the dumpy, pudgy looks of the current Jetta, it’s not bad.

    I think edgett is right on target, though, that the fundamental weakness of the Cobalt (and at this point, the Focus) is that its raison d’etre is really to fill a hole in the line-up, to lure people into the dealership in hopes that they can be persuaded to buy a Malibu instead. It’s not a question of specifications or even performance in any hard-numbers way, it’s a matter of feel and detail.

    The way GM tends to approach small car design, going back to the Chevy II and the Vega, is to benchmark existing models and make a point of beating them in hard numbers. They generally achieve that, but often in aways that compromise the cars in more subjective areas (e.g., bigger engines — so they can advertise class superiority in size or power — matched with extremely tall gearing that neuters them in normal driving). There’s still the feeling that they’re building the cars because they’ve been reluctantly convinced they need to have a smaller car in dealerships, rather than any drive to make a satisfactory compact car.

  • avatar
    Rix

    I’m not sure you can even put the Civic or Corolla in the same class as this. Either of those Japanese cars will cost you 20-25% more out the door. As far as what you get, you get what you pay for, which is less.

  • avatar
    James2

    Um, the Cobalt sounds like the perfect car for people who don’t care about cars (plenty of them around, judging by the popularity of Corollas), don’t care to go anywhere fast, and aren’t too picky about the details. I think the star rating isn’t backed-up by the actual review.

    It’s a shame GM doesn’t stick with the Cobalt name, and show us that they have a semblance of a long-term vision. The Corolla wasn’t always “the paragon” it is today; I remember my grandma’s POS 1980 wagon as well as the super-POS ’83 I drove in high school driver’s ed. But Toyota stayed with it, adhered to a refresh/redesign cadence, continued improving the product, and look at it now.

    This kind of classic GM what’s new syndrome / attention deficit disorder is why TTAC’s GM deathwatch count approaches 200.

    BTW, I’m glad Enterprise has “upgraded” to the Cobalt. Last time I rented a car from them it was a Neon that wouldn’t have rated ANY stars.

  • avatar

    I question the comparison of this car to the much more expensive Civic and Corolla.

    There are semi-premium compacts and budget compacts, and this should only be compared to the second group.

    Corolla starts at more than 15K. The cheapest Toyota is the Yaris, which is about the price of this car, but with 106HP v. 148HP for the Cobalt.

  • avatar

    I have driven the following very cheap cars, all 2005-2007 models:

    Scion xA
    Hyundai Accent
    Kia Rio
    Chevy Aveo
    Chevy HHR
    Toyota Corolla

    The Scion xA was by far the best (and most expensive) of them and all around a fun car, and the Accent was the worst of the lot because it was so bumpy and jittery a short trip was almost painful on my spine. Substantially worse than a well-used late 1980’s Camaro.

    The Rio, HHR, Corolla and Aveo were bland but acceptable basic transportation.

    What are the best $10,000 to $14,000 out the door cars? “They all suck compared to cars that are $16000 to $18000 out the door” is not very informative.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    gregw-GM seems to think it competes with the Corolla and Civic.
    The Yaris is B-segment.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I still say that anyone who goes on a diatribe against cars like the Cobalt or Focus has never owned one and is also not likely a customer of these cars. The really nice compacts are almost always $3-5000 more than the Cobalt.

    I agree, but probably for different reasons.

    Someone who goes on a diatribe like this about the Cobal (or Focus) probably doesn’t own one. He probably tested one, then went to the Honda dealer and bought a Civic. For the same reason, he’s not a likely customer, yet we know he’s a customer for the same class of car.

    I looked at Cobalt at the same time I looked at Focus, last winter. I just could not see buying either of them. I’d rather have a used Civic.

    The nice compacts are 3K more, and it’s worth it. This is why I never beleive GM when they say they can’t make money on small cars – if they made something as good as the Civic, they could make another 3K profit on each unit.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    Regarding star ratings: I personally hate handing them out. Each writer interprets the scale differently (absolute virtue vs. rank within class, etc.), and readers often interpret below-average ratings as brutal condemnations, when the average new car is really quite good these days.

    The other side of that coin is that they *all* shuttle occupants from A to B with adequate comfort, so that’s more a prerequisite than a selling point.

    The Cobalt got two stars because a) three out of five implies a better-than-class-average product, which the Cobalt isn’t, and b) this was intended to be GM’s “premium” small car, and while the cash on the hood indeed makes it a bargain, it also indicates that GM failed to meet its own design brief.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    After looking at the other reviews for small cars and seeing how most of those entries got two stars, I have to wonder: Does TTAC like small cars?

  • avatar

    PJ, You forgot to mention the horn. On the ’07 Cobalt I rented in Calgary, Alberta a few months ago it turned out the click of the turn signal relay was louder and more urgent sounding than the horn.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    Quasimondo:

    For the record, compacts (including sport compacts and affordable sports, i.e. Miata) are the cars that interest me most.

    IMO, above $25K, and especially above $35K, what you get for each additional dollar becomes exponentially more difficult to quantify/justify.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Axel :
    July 28th, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    It won’t cost a lot (Civic), be crappy, uncomfortable and smelly (Rio), or use undue amounts of gas (Impreza, 3, Jetta).

    The Cobalt is rated at 22/31 with an auto. The auto Mazda3 is 22/29 or 23/31 depending on your engine choice. I don’t see much of a difference. I’ve averaged 30 in my ’04 Mazda3 2.3L since I bought it new. It is a 5-speed though.

    The back end of the Cobalt has always seemed unfinished to me. You can see too much undercarriage and the car looks like it has been jacked up an inch too high all around. Other than that, the looks are okay. I’ve never driven one so I can’t say too much, but the 2-star rating on this car does seem a little harsh after reading the review.

  • avatar
    revjasper

    Gentlemen,

    Does anyone here _own_ one of these wee beasties? It appears that everyone who has first hand knowledge of the Cobalt has rented one. Or in my case, I’ve probably rented fifteen of them.

    GM did finally fix my ‘balt pet peeve. The steering wheel of the 2005-06 models are inexcusably bad. Ugly plastic that felt wrong, looked wrong, and still gives me nightmares. The three spoke replacement from the 2007 model year is so much better.

    They are commute appliances, no more sexy than a washing machine. Except some of those new front-loaders, they are way sexier than the Cobalt.

    The car magazine that publishes reliability reports (rhymes with “With humor Distorts”) dislikes them almost as much as a Chrysler product. And they’re just about as reliable.

    I suppose if I had the need for a car with a warranty and a low payment, I could do worse. But isn’t it just easier to get a nicer used car and a bottle of Scotch for your mechanic?

  • avatar
    Campisi

    The Cobalt always struck me as what the Civic used to be in the early-mid Nineties: a cheap and reliable car that was kind to tuners.

    Hear me out. The Cobalt Coupe has at least a decent exterior design (I actually rather like it) that would look even better after some different wheels are installed. The seats aren’t great, but they’ll do until an aftermarket seat can get thrown in. The required exhaust/intake change would make it sound better, and you know that understeer-prone suspension setup would be tweaked into oblivion. As for the engine, I doubt anyone would seriously deny that it’s a good design to build on.

    I’m not saying that I would bother doing any of this crap to a Cobalt, but then again I wouldn’t do it to a Civic either.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    P.J.,

    And what about non-sporty compacts? Not everybody wants (or needs) a car that has a stiffened suspension, and I’m guessing these are the same folks who couldn’t tell you if their car has communicative steering even if the wheel talked to them.

    If anything, I think these two-star compacts are being looked at with the wrong yardstick. Looking at this review, it seems that the only sin against this car is that it’s inoffensive, and it can’t outhandle a Mazda3, which seem to be the same sins that plage the Corolla, Lancer, and Sentra.

    The question is simply this: Are these cars being tested as compact commuter cars or as sport compacts, and if it’s the latter, why?

  • avatar
    M1EK


    The Cobalt always struck me as what the Civic used to be in the early-mid Nineties: a cheap and reliable car that was kind to tuners.

    Normally in boolean logic both parts of the “and clause” need to be true for the whole thing to be true. Just a hint.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The Cobalt always struck me as what the Civic used to be in the early-mid Nineties: a cheap and reliable car that was kind to tuners.

    I thought that this was one of the problems — the Cobalt is not worthy of the “reliable” label. It helps to hold up the bottom of Consumer Reports’ reliability survey, and JD Power’s Initial Quality Survey gives it three stars in a system that goes from two to five stars. (There are no bad dogs or one-star JD Power recipients, apparently.)

    It’s not exactly confidence inspiring. If you don’t plan on owning it long, you’ll get killed on the residuals. If you own it for a long time, its ability to go the distance is up for debate.

    You’d either have to really like it enough to take a risk, or else be so hard up that you can’t afford one of the alternatives. You might be better off with a Hyundai if you’re price sensitive, the Honda if you aren’t, or the Mazda 3 if you are willing to compromise absolute reliability for the best driving experience.

  • avatar
    hwyhobo

    P.J. McCombs wrote:
    The Cobalt got two stars because a) three out of five implies a better-than-class-average product

    Not to get too scientific here, but 3 is the average on the 1 – 5 scale, unless there are “zero star” scores (I haven’t seen one yet), and in that case the scale doesn’t make much sense, as it would never allow for “average”.

  • avatar
    factotum

    Where the Cobalt fails is in side impact protection. In NHTSA testing, a 2009 Cobalt sedan with side airbags got only 3 stars. An 09 Corolla got 5. The difference between 3 and 5 stars is being carried out on a stretcher or walking away.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    The Cobalt kinda reminds me of my wife’s old 94 Cavalier coupe. Nice looking car but I still wouldn’t buy one. My kids Power Wheels car has a nicer dashboard. I remember every time I reached for the turn signals, I hit the dash light dimmer because it stuck out way too far from the side of the gauge cluster. Who designs this stuff anyway ??

    My Nissan’s aren’t perfect either, But at least they try.

  • avatar
    AuricTech

    Back in late 2006, I was preparing to move 1300+ miles for a new job. I knew that my 1995 Plymouth Grand Voyager wasn’t up to the task (a leak somewhere in the cooling system meant that the Maroon Beast was only fit for short trips), so I was in the market for a new vehicle.

    Having driven a couple of rental 2007 Cobalts, I found them… adequate. Had I found nothing better, I suspect that I would have found owning a Cobalt a cost-effective appliance solution for the problem of getting from Point A to Point B.

    Fortunately, I decided (on a whim) to see what Suzuki offered for MY2007, and found the SX4. Once I had a chance to test-drive the SX4, I never looked back.

    I might have been satisfied, owning a Chevy Cobalt, much as I’m satisfied that my apartment’s refrigerator keeps my food cold. That being said, I rather doubt that I would have sought out a forum dedicated to Cobalt owners (as I sought out SX4Club.com), let alone auto enthusiast sites like TTAC or Jalopnik. As a Cobalt owner, I would have moved my body from point to point. As an SX4 owner (especially here in southern Arizona), my soul gets to play, too (and at a better value-to-price point than the Cobalt provides).

  • avatar
    AuricTech

    Hmmm. My last post hasn’t shown up yet.

    The Reader’s Digest version: The Cobalt (as I experienced it in rentals) is an adequate appliance, while my Suzuki SX4 is more than adequate and not just an appliance.

    ETA: Oh, and my SX4 beats the Cobalt on value-for-price….

  • avatar
    Ryan

    What a mess.

  • avatar
    chanman

    So what’s the depreciation like compared to its erstwhile competitors?

  • avatar
    JuniorMint

    golden2husky :
    I am awestruck at the volume of comments generated by a Cobalt. What makes this car such a lightning rod?

    It is a Sanjiya sort of thing, isn’t it?

    Why DO we discuss this car so extensively? Some possibilities!

    1) EVERYONE has driven one. You rent a car, it’s what you get. Unless, of course, Enterprise screwed up your reservation, in which case they upgrade you to a Grand-Am. It’s the American way. Way more experiences with this car than, say, the latest Audi Q7 means far more comments.

    2) Recent popularity of small cars. Not since the last gas crisis has small looked so good, hence the microscope on the compacts of the world. The Aveo requires no discussion for obvious reasons, so the debate climbs up the chain to GM’s other semi-adequate offering.

    3) We’re Heard It All Before. Everyone is familiar with GM’s pattern: a) Hype up NEW new new small car, b) insist new small car is “the one,” c) release yet another vehicle only competitive in the Pizza Delivery Vehicle category. The pattern of “are-you-SURE-you-didn’t-want-an-Impala” small-car design has been around for decades, but maybe now that American desire has shifted people are finally noticing.

    Just some thoughts.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    Quasimondo:

    “The question is simply this: Are these cars being tested as compact commuter cars or as sport compacts, and if it’s the latter, why?”

    I’d like to think that I judge commuter compacts and sport compacts by two very different yardsticks. My enthusiast bias undoubtedly creeps in at times (and contributes to the Mazda3 being my favorite car in this class), but I can definitely appreciate a comfy, competent transportation appliance when I drive one.

    That said, I don’t think the Cobalt benefits much from being judged as a pure appliance. The Elantra, Sentra, Civic, and Corolla all offer two or more of the following: very comfortable seats, good rear-cabin accommodations, lots of storage cubbies, good fit and finish, or excellent mileage. The Cobalt falls short in each one of those practical aspects.

    I honestly cannot think of one area in which the Cobalt exceeds the class average, and no matter how little you care about cars, I can’t imagine why you’d want to buy “that product.”

  • avatar
    shaker

    I never drove a Cobalt, but I did drive a Cavalier. If the Cobalt is twice as good a car, then I’d say that it’s ‘slightly better than average’. I never questioned that the Cobalt/G5 was an ‘honest’ effort at improvement on GM’s part, but it falls short in so many little ways of the class-leaders that it could never justify its sticker price in the higher trim levels — It’s ‘bones’ just aren’t there. I looked at G5 GT’s a while back, and every one was offered with enough add-ons to bring the sticker to 19-21k. Even then, you still have the beam rear axle, the glued-on window glass, and a Cavalier-carryover muffler on proud display below the unfinished rear bumper.

  • avatar
    ivyinvestor

    My wife and I just rented one of these for 11 days at $38/day with only a Costco membership as the “coupon” from Enterprise’s SeaTac location as we embarked on our tour of Seattle, Vancouver, the Olympic, Cascades, and Mt Rainier N. Parks…

    We were surprised by the gas mileage – averaged 31.6mpg, counting all of those hills, switchbacks, and waits for construction along Rainier’s roadways…Total mileage driven was just a shade over 1400 miles.

    The transmission, if not its mapping, is horrendous in the car. If I had a dollar for every time that I depressed the accelerator to engage a downshift and instead watch the tach fall from 2200 to 1500, then up to 2000, *then* downshift, well, I’d have rented a Mazda3! :P I mean – really: what gives? I learned to drive on a 1986 Chevy Nova with a 3-spd auto. Push the accelerator=downshift.

    How about some of the other oddities: hidden trunk release door in that little “junk cubby” to the left of the driver’s left leg; the incessantly-vibrating “flappy” armrests and 25mL-sized center storage bin; the starter that’s essentially automatic (tiny twist=autostart); *heavy* resistance on the accelerator pedal to any input short of stomping.

    Most of the time, though, the car was fine – but less fun than the 1990 Civic LX econobox I drove years ago.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    One of the best Gas Sipper In the Market!!!

    Cobalt SS is also pretty good lots of performance parts to install.

    who cares about the looks and cheap interior as long it gets 32 mpg. I will be happy to have this for everyday driving.

    Now a days it is common sense not common looks to drive around with a car.
    meaning rather buy a car that is economical than buying a car just to show off around town.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    The pattern of “are-you-SURE-you-didn’t-want-an-Impala”

    Having driven an Impala as a rental two years ago, yes I’m quite sure. ;-)

  • avatar
    kericf

    For those of you claiming the Cobalt SS is a winner, for the retail price ($22,995) they ask for it, you could have a Civic Si ($21,100), VW GTI ($23,690), or MazdaSpeed 3 ($23,310). Granted the Civic is not turbocharged, but at least it feels like an adult’s car when you sit in it. Same for the Speed 3. And the GTI is all of that, just with VW reliability and parts costs hanging over it. Also, the Speed 3 does a good job of NOT looking like a ricer with some huge goofy wing like the SS and the Civic. That is a pet peeve of mine. Just because it is a “performance” model, does not mean it needs a huge wing on it. It almost looks like the car is going to tip over backward from the weight of the thing.

    The review nailed it on the head when it said the Cobalt felt like a juvenile’s car. This is the car people buy for their kids because they are cheap and disposable since they know the kid is going to kick the shit out of it. It is meant to last 3 or 4 years and get thrown away and that is exactly how GM designs small cars. Until that changes their small cars won’t be seen as anything but cheap and disposable.

    That being said, if there are enough rebates on it, the poor interior and ugly exterior can be overlooked for the performance numbers. But to think GM can sell these for the same price as the others is laughable at best.

    I think we need a TTAC comparison on this. Speed 3 vs Cobalt SS vs Civic Si vs VW GTI. Give us a real comparison.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    I had a rather well-equipped rental Cobalt coupe recently. I think it was an SS but naturally-aspirated. Had synthetic leather, heated seats, upgraded stereo (Kenwood?) with XM, nice alloys, bigger exhaust tip, spoiler, etc… Not bad looking from faraway, especially the interior. Simple and clean looking. However, as soon as I sat in the car I was appalled by the plastic seams with rough edges, poor panel fitment, and slippery seats. I know you have to cut costs somewhere, but adding little chrome bits and fake leather only downgrades the interior’s ambiance further. The interior on my old 1992 Integra GS-R was much more inviting with a soft-touch dash and plastics that weren’t roughly cut. No frilly stuff, just clean and simple. Also held up well for 14 years that my family had the car.

    Sadly, this interior wasn’t too many steps below that of a friend’s C5 Z06.

    I won’t compare it to the interior of my Mazda3 Grand Touring-packaged wagon, but even it has some cheaper plastics due to costs. However, the execution is much, much better done.

    The driving wasn’t bad, seemed similiar to a Focus actually. Which is a good thing in my book when thinking about domestic models. But it felt reassuring unlike GMs of the past that I’ve driven. It didn’t creak or rattle and the steering seemed just fine for navigating around Omaha for those few days. It did suffer from rather poor rear visibility with the triangular windows and tall spoiler. Something that many coupes have an issue with. Maybe this is why the Focii coupe’s rear windows are rather large like a previous generation Civics.

    We had a 1997 Civic HX coupe, as well as the Integra, in the family a while back. It was a great car and for it’s price it couldn’t be beat. It was well-packaged, efficient in every manner, and fun to drive while returning awesome fuel mileage. Why can’t we get cheap compacts like this anymore?

    For the money, I’d rather have a Focus (new coupe or older hatchback), used Civic (EM coupe or EP3 hatchback), used Mazda (3 or Protege5), or a new Fit. Of course, with a few of those you’re limited by no warranty, no new-car financing, and unless you know the history…the potential for unknown issues.

    Which brings up another point, in cars this small it makes much more sense to have a wagon/hatchback body style. You’re limited to the amount of stuff you can haul around with a sedan. And unless you’re buying this as your second or third vehicle, you’re buying this car because your funds are limited and you need a car that can do alot besides drive from point A to point B. Again, at the same price I guess the Fit is the only excellent 5-door model.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    @KeriCF: Or maybe take out the high-performance versions and do a more basic comparison of those models. Something that is more realistic to the average driver (and maybe even the average TTACer). Mazda3, Lancer, Cobalt, Focus SE, Civic LX, Corolla, etc…the models you can rent would suffice. and then do the performance versions of those that apply. I know the car magazines do them all the time, but it’d be nice to see the perspective from a TTAC editor.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    That said, I don’t think the Cobalt benefits much from being judged as a pure appliance. The Elantra, Sentra, Civic, and Corolla all offer two or more of the following: very comfortable seats, good rear-cabin accommodations, lots of storage cubbies, good fit and finish, or excellent mileage. The Cobalt falls short in each one of those practical aspects.

    You had me until you put the Sentra in this class. I rented a 2.0 S, and it came with it’s fair share of goodies, including Bluetooth integration, which I really liked, but those seats were horrid. I’m not good with analogies, so I’ll say it plainly. The seats in the Sentra suck. There were numerous times during my trip in this rental that I had to pull over and get out of the car because I couldn’t sit in those seats any longer, and these weren’t extended trips that I was taking in this car. I’ve never had to do that in any other car, not even with the M998 HMMWV’s I had to drive.

    I’m going to have to rent a Cobalt now to see if they fail this simple test.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    My Friend bought a Cobalt 2 years ago but not the SS model with leather seat,on star,sub-woofer,16 inch allow wheels in the trunk,satelite radio stations and much more for $15,550.

    The Cobalt SS is about $18,000 fully loaded.

    The 2008 Chevy Cobalt Super Charge is about 260 horsepower. I guess Mazda has to be more faster catching up in little freedom fries rocket (it’s an american not japanese)but 2008 Mazda3 is almost the same size with a Cobalt and the leg room is almost the same.

    I see a lot of Cobalt in Massachusetts just like the Honda Civic and Mazda 3.

    But still The Consumer is still the winner if they buy this car because of the gas mileage.I see a lot of old Cobalt at Interstate 95 they are still running and very old.

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    kericf :

    Are you forgetting that the entire point of a Cobalt SS is to go fast? I agree that the Mazda looks like a much better car (without having driven either), but the Civic and GTI are not even near the power/performance of the Cobalt SS

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I see a lot of old Cobalt at Interstate 95 they are still running and very old.

    The first Cobalts hit the market as 2005 models, so no Cobalt could possibly be over four years old.

    If they are looking “very old” now, that would be a bad thing, wouldn’t it?

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Actually it hit the market in 2004.

    Ya with salt and water on the 95 interstate
    what do you expect especially in the Northeast?

    Even a BMW will look old after 5 years.
    It looks old but it doesn’t mean anything. My mechanic has 1978 Toyota and so rusty that you can’t even touch it but the engine is flawless.

    A 5 year old car in Massachusetts is considered old not brand new.

    Hey if you don’t want it don’t buy it but a lot of people buy the Cobalt and it’s there money not ours.

    simple arithmetic.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    The 2007 SS supercharged was rated at: 205 hp (153 kW) 200 lb·ft (271 N·m)

    The 2008 SS turbocharged is rated at: 260 hp (194 kW) 260 lb·ft (353 N·m

    The 2008 Mazdaspeed 3 is rated at: 263 hp (196 kW) and 280 ft·lbf (380 N·m)

    The turbocharged SS is much more refined than the supercharged model and is a bit more competitive with the current king of the FWD rockets.

    Finally, the MPG that a regular Cobalt gets is going to be higher than a forced-inducton Cobalt. And while it is rather decent mileage, it’s about mid-pack for compact cars. The 2.0l Mazda3 gets slightly better numbers, while the 2.3l Mazda3 does worse because it’s really not marketed as a fuel-miser. The turbocharged SS does do a little better than the MS3 due to it’s smaller displacement I4.

    Like many GM products, an excellent drivetrain and suspension in a lackluster package.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    I wonder why my friend’s 2008 stock Lancer with 146 horspower beat a Mazdaspeed3 with 263 hp the other day on Time Attack laps in Bakersfield race track?

    I wonder why. tsk tsk tsk tsk!!!!

  • avatar
    davey49

    The Cobalt is decently reliable. It may show as below average in the magazines but these days the average is pretty high.
    One thing that is forgotten about the Cobalt is that at least it comes in a 2 door coupe form. Something that the Corolla,3, Sentra, Elantra, Spectra, doesn’t.
    I’m actually surprised that so many people rent these. I would use a rental as a way to get a better car than I normally drive. At Enterprise tomorrow the Cobalt would be $45 per day. An Impala would be $50. I think I’d spring for the extra 5 bucks.
    BTW I’m perfectly OK with the two stars. No one said this car was actually good.

  • avatar
    kericf

    thetopdog :

    I agree, the Civic Si and GTi are about 50hp short of the SS, but if you were to pay retail price (which we all hope no one is stupid enough to do) for an SS, it would take a hard core GM lover, or someone only out for some drag racing to choose it over an Si or GTi, let alone the Mazdaspeed. Also, the SS only has a 5 speed while the others all have 6 speeds standard. Granted it’s how you gear it, but that extra cog is nice to have.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    but 2008 Mazda3 is almost the same size with a Cobalt and the leg room is almost the same.

    Assuming that’s correct (didn’t verify it), this is just an example of numbers don’t tell the whole story. The Mazda3 feels absolutely roomy to me; whereas, the Cobalt was the definition of penalty box. There was no way possible for me to get comfortable in the Cobalt I looked at.

    I wonder why my friend’s 2008 stock Lancer with 146 horspower beat a Mazdaspeed3 with 263 hp the other day on Time Attack laps in Bakersfield race track?

    Are you trying to say that the Lancer had a faster lap or is this like slot racing at the dragstrip where you are shooting for a particular time (consistency)? If the Lancer made it around the track faster, I would say the Mazdaspeed3 driver was piss poor. I’ve driven a Lancer, a Mazda3 (2.3L engine), and a Mazdaspeed3. There’s no way that a Lancer should beat either one of the Mazdas.

  • avatar

    Funny, I got one in Enterprise’s special this weekend too.

    While I generally agree with this review, I found driving it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be (steering sucked though).

    John

  • avatar
    wickedwindsor

    The Cobalt is a rolling pile of garbage, and one more in a long list of reasons why people no longer buy american automobiles. Our 2005 has been to the dealer too many times to count. The shifter has broken. The shifter? Seriously, and it took the dealer 3 or 4 times to correct the issue of the shifter locking and the key not being able to come out of the ignition. Then, the radio broke. No, were not done yet. The ignition coil has failed. At 44k miles, the coil has failed? You have got to be kidding me. No, not kidding, and out of warranty. Last but not least, the check engine lite is on again, and now needs a convertor. I had to remind the dealer this is covered by federal law until 70k miles. Our car has less than 50k miles, and is an absolute joke (unless you happen to own it) The front end rattles over bumps, and we pray it makes it until May when the lease is up. No more GM vehicles for our family. Way to go Lutz, just keep on cranking out the trash-mobiles. Just file already, and spare the public from this kind of garbage. And these clowns wonder why Civics sell so well?

  • avatar
    BEAT

    It is not always the car it is the driver.

    How do I know these Facts about Cobalt and Mazdaspeed 3 or 2008 Lancer? probably the Lancer won because it was better on curves while doing 65 mph or whatever or you can ask him how he did it?

    My friends and fellow tuner drives those cars. We have discussion every time someone upgraded his/her car with a new performance parts. We check each others car “interior”,exterior,mod etc etc.

    We have a Forum not internet forum but discussions on each other cars on the race track.

    I don’t get my facts on magazines or a car review I go out in the real world.

    I don’t get my facts from Hertz Rent Car

    American still drive American cars. Ask the Europeans why they buy Ford.
    the 2 best selling compact cars in Europe. The Ford Focus and Ford ? whatever the other one is called.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    I can’t really answer that BEAT, I wasn’t there and no one except yourself (on TTAC) was there either. There are so many inconsistencies, and I’m not sure what it had to do with my posting of power numbers from the manufacture (GM and Mazda) or with the article relating to the Cobalt.

    Ford cars in Europe are European, not American. Ford of Europe was started in the 1920s (I believe) and after the Model T, many Fords in Europe became distinctly seperate models from American Fords. Obviously, as Americans demanded compact vehicles, the first source for Ford of America was Europe…until Ford of America could create an inferior product (until the Focus).

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Here we go again. Help Mr. Farago

    I didn’t ask you any question.

    Ford is not European my friend.
    It is Henry Ford of America.

    Just saying why Americans eat Hummus it is not even American or they changed the ingredients in order for Americans to eat Hummus.

    Europeans cars only differ with horsepower or some areas that cater to Europeans.

    Will you put a Heater in the car that is going to be marketed in Africa. or a Honda Civic that was made in the Philippines does not have airbags or seatbelt because Philippine law doesn’t require those safety equipments.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    I’m sorry, I should have been more clear: I meant to your question relating to your friend’s Lancer beating the MS3. I took it as a question. That is all, and as far as I know I wasn’t out of line with my post.

    I wonder why my friend’s 2008 stock Lancer with 146 horspower beat a Mazdaspeed3 with 263 hp the other day on Time Attack laps in Bakersfield race track?

    Oh, and it gets rather cold in Africa.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    ok.
    how did we get from basic transportation to comparing 260hp turbos???
    and from reading the latest posts…the GM haters must be just getting home from work.
    And one more comment ,if I may as to spending $3000.00 more for a Ricer..jeez, do you think that MAYBE there are folks out there that CANT spend that much more, and want new for the warranty?
    stop being such elitists and TRY to understand what many financially struggling buyers are looking for.
    good
    cheap
    basic
    transportation
    with low insurance rates(has anyone compared ricers to the cobalt?)

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Thank you oldyak

    that was my point good GM product that is economical,cheap and basic transportation that a person who makes ONLY $28,000 can afford to buy.

    Sorry forgive me I mentioned performance on Cobalt.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    What defines a Ricer?

    An affordable, compact American-made Japanese car or any car made in Asia? Something that does better than the Cobalt at the same price and will be easier on the wallet over a long period? Please don’t be so close-minded. Many of us know a struggle with finances, and have also been burned by vehicles of different makes and models.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    sorry about the”ricer” comment.
    I thought it was just easier than going through the list.
    and I am still wondering about insurance rates.

  • avatar
    Campisi

    Normally in boolean logic both parts of the “and clause” need to be true for the whole thing to be true. Just a hint.

    Your attempt at humour is cute, but both of them are true. Truedelta shows that for every one hundred Honda Civics, there were forty two repair trips (averaging 2006 and 2007 repair trip results together, since there is a discrepancy between the two years). The Chevrolet Cobalt shows forty one trips per one hundred vehicles (2006 is the only year shown at Truedelta), making it more or less the same as the current Civic. Considering that both vehicles are going to be considerably more reliable than what was available fifteen to twenty years ago (the era of import tuning I was originally referring to), it would be safe to say that the Cobalt is more or less reliable.

  • avatar
    M1EK

    Campisi, I don’t believe TrueDelta has enough data to be used in this fashion at this point in time – but CR does, and CR would absolutely roll over laughing at your contention that they’re essentially equals.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I think I’ve seen this argument before: We use CR when it supports Toyonda reliability, but we call it into suspect when it supports the reliability of anyone else.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Campisi & M1EK:

    One thing that needs to be factored in and isn’t when talking about frequency of repairs is the cost of the repairs. This really matters once the car is out of warranty. Not knowing what type of trips to the mechanic, none of us knows which car is more affordable. The problem I have with Consumer Reports is the razor thin margins that can exist between a car rated better than average and one rated best (or whatever nomenclature they are using). However, I still think that Consumer Reports is a good source, as they do not take advertising dollars unlike others.

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    My A4 quattro 1.8t 5sp manual gets 32 mpg overall driven politely, no more than 10 mph over the limit, and cost $17,000 as CPO with 45k on clock.

    So I got 55k warranty on an A4 with better mixed mileage. At 92k no serious failures.

    Cobalt, Focus etc, hmmm. Focus at $11k looks good (for my mom).

    Well the way I drive, with a manual they would at least get better than EPA ratings, right?

  • avatar
    Campisi

    Campisi, I don’t believe TrueDelta has enough data to be used in this fashion at this point in time – but CR does, and CR would absolutely roll over laughing at your contention that they’re essentially equals.

    I went with Truedelta because I much prefer its methodology when compared to Consumer Reports. Truedelta had ninety Civics to base its data on and twenty nine Cobalts. In the case of the Civic, the sample size is adequate for the statistic given; in the case of the Cobalt, it’s enough to rule out the possibility of the Cobalt being completely unreliable.

    I would like to once again stress that my original innocuous comment (which seems to have hit upon a button or two) was comparing the Cobalt’s reliability to the Civics that were around back when the import tuning scene really took off. With that in mind, anything from 2008 will be at least competitively reliable.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Truedelta is putting info out on the basis of 29 cars?

    Even 100 cars is of doubtful statistical significance.

  • avatar
    M1EK

    CR beats the tar out of everybody else because they use tens of thousands of data points, not dozens. TrueDelta has some good ideas, but until they can also get thousands of data points, their ideas are hypotheses without conclusions.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    In late 2005 when my 2006 Scion xA was in the shop due to some lady in a minivan hitting it while I was stopped at a light (grrr…), I had a Cobalt as a rental. It was an uber-base model, with roll-up windows even (although it did have A/C and a stereo). It seemed to be okay in terms of power/fuel economy, etc., although the dash was made out of plastics rejected by Fisher Price…and I couldn’t get the key out of the ignition after I shut it off one time. It was hard to get out a few times previously, but one time it was so stuck I ended up calling road side assistance, which sent a guy who eventually got the key out. Now, maybe it was just a beat-up rental, but cars that new shouldn’t have stupid problems like that, IMHO.

  • avatar

    I agree with M1EK – I am very happy that Michael is doing what he is doing at TrueDelta, but his data points are today not sufficiently significant that I would use his numbers over those from CR.

    I’m sure there are some very reliable Cobalts out there and would not use this as the sole criteria for eliminating this car from my buying list. Yet as P.J. points out in his review, there are other choices and the Cobalt has too few standout points to offset the negatives.

    And, as another poster pointed out, why try to make this the price leader in the class? Even though it is also a cheap car, Honda went the extra mile with the Fit to make it a desirable little vehicle. At their heart, I think GM just doesn’t understand that there are people who like small cars and would prefer to drive one over something larger. They seem to feel that driving a small and inexpensive car should put you in the penalty box for even daring to do so.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    At their heart, I think GM just doesn’t understand that there are people who like small cars and would prefer to drive one over something larger. They seem to feel that driving a small and inexpensive car should put you in the penalty box for even daring to do so.

    I have a coworker who has an Echo. GM isn’t the only company who follows this philosophy.

  • avatar

    What’s the point of reviewing a car like this? It’s basic transportation, and as long as it’s safe and somewhat reliable (at least as far as GM goes), then that’s good enough for the folks they are targeting. I think it’s great that many of the reviews here apply a critical eye on higher end cars. But this is basic transportation. It’s for getting groceries and going to work. It’s not designed to provide a “driving experience” or get you laid. Don’t misread this and think I am standing up for GM… they certainly deserve some barbs if they plan on riding this grocery getter to financial stability… Heck, I’ve had 3 GM’s over the last 15 years, and switched to Nissan 2 years ago, and haven’t looked back. However, I have to assume there is a larger (albeit less sexy market) for cars like the Cobalt, than there is for an Audi Q7. In that light, reviews should respect the folks that don’t have a choice other than a car like this, and not what’s cool and fun to drive.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    What’s the point of reviewing a car like this?

    I think those who buy vehicles in this price range want to know more details about cars they may buy than cars they can’t afford. Why would anyone want to read a review that isn’t as critical as possible? I want to know everything that isn’t great about this car so I don’t overlook those details and their significance to me on my own test drives.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    PV_Pathfinder:

    The Cobalt isn’t criticized here for being basic transportation. It’s criticized for being mediocre basic transportation. Even those on a budget want the best for their dollar.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Its especially important to get a quality product when the buyer isn’t well off. I think that if your price range is 10k, you’ll be much better off with a moderately used Civic or something.

    But then the idea of buying a bargain bin GM product gives me indigestion. Its a recipe for the sort of burst expense that tips the financially vulnerable into payday loans to cover repairs and eventually bankruptcy.

    I mean, if you can afford a Mercedes, you can afford the repairs.

    If you can only afford a Cobalt, you need a car so rock solid you can damn near weld the hood shut until 140000 miles.

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    After reading this article, I tried to think of even one person I know who owns a Chevy Cobalt. Even when I included friends of my siblings, my parents, neighbors…NADA!

    Way back in 1993, when I was an 18-year old college freshman, I traded my ’91 Honda Civic DX hatchback for a much nicer, peppier ’93 Civic LX 4-door. A few weeks later, one of my good friends was handed the keys to a new car by her dad- a ’93 Chevy Cavalier RS 2-door. It was loaded for a Cavalier- power everything, cruise control, pop-up sunroof, luggage rack….driving the sticker price up close to $14k. I paid $13,600 for my Civic.

    She was very proud of it and wanted me to drive it. Obviously, I complemented her (lying thru my teeth) because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings or rain on her parade. But the car was ABYSMAL! I remember thinking to myself- if I had to make $300 monthly payments on this thing for five years, I’d probably “off” myself long before then!

    Flash forward to 2007- Phoenix Airport, Rental Car Counter. I’m there for work and plan to drive 800-1000 miles over the 10 days and had requested a full-size car. Instead, I get a ’06 Cobalt with manual-crank windows, no cruise control and an interior hue that can only be described as grey-beige. Compared to the ’93 Cavalier- a little quicker, quite a bit smoother on the highway and less road noise- but still not in the league of the ’93 Civic from 13 years earlier!!!

  • avatar
    ronin

    PJ, if it is criticized for being mediocre basic transportation, we need to know what the clearly superior basic transportation is that is being offered in the $11-$15,000 segment.

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    ronin :
    July 30th, 2008 at 5:37 am

    PJ, if it is criticized for being mediocre basic transportation, we need to know what the clearly superior basic transportation is that is being offered in the $11-$15,000 segment.

    I’d take any of these over the Cobalt-
    (prices from CarsDirect.com)

    For reference-
    ’08 Cobalt LS 4-door- $12,865
    ’08 Cobalt LT 4-door- $14,158 (with ABS & CC added)
    ’08 Cobalt 2LT 4-door- $14,716 (same as LT + alloys & OnStar)

    Other under $15k cars I’d take over a Cobalt-
    Ford Focus S- $13,443
    Ford Focus SE- $14,051
    Hyundai Elantra GLS- $14,215 (loaded & 100k warranty)
    Kia Optima LX- $14,309 (MID-SIZE, well-reviewed)
    Mazda3 i Sport w/AC- $14,929
    Nissan Sentra 2.0S- $14,420
    Nissan Versa 1.8S- $12,379
    Suzuki SX4 Base- $13,904
    Suzuki SX4 Convenience- $14,384
    Toyota Yaris Base- $13,835
    Toyota Yaris S- $14,585

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    Ronin,

    Hyundai Elantra GLS – $13,625
    Honda Civic DX – $15,010
    Mazda 3i Sport – $13,995
    Saturn Astra XE – $15,875
    Scion xB – $15,650
    Toyota Corolla Base – $15,210

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    P.J. McCombs :
    July 30th, 2008 at 6:42 am

    Ronin,

    Hyundai Elantra GLS – $13,625
    Honda Civic DX – $15,010
    Mazda 3i Sport – $13,995
    Saturn Astra XE – $15,875
    Scion xB – $15,650
    Toyota Corolla Base – $15,210

    You may already be aware of this, but I figured I’d mention it before someone else made a snarky comment- the Elantra GLS, Civic DX and Mazda3 i Sport prices you quote are without A/C. Although, to be honest, I’d take the Civic or Mazda3 WITHOUT A/C over a loaded Cobalt. =)

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Wow all of these brand name Japanese cars.

    One Japanese auto maker that was not mentioned was the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer DE the base model of the Lancer family is $14,500 (buy cash) with 7 air bag including knee and curtain bags standard with 156 hp non pzev engine and 146 hp california pzev.

    This is like the Cobalt lots of performance parts to install and fun to drive.

    by the way checked those Japanese car recalls the comparison against the cobalt is minimal

    Basic maintenance will make the car last longer.
    it is not about the Name of the car it is the owner of the car than makes it better.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    I tested one of these with my little brother in 05. He had a Cavalier that ran flawlessly and cost him nothing for 8 years, even though it was crude and ugly. Obviously the newer version would be substantially improved in every way, right? Wrong. It wasn’t worse, but there had been no real improvement from the Cavalier to the Cobalt. It looks the same as a Cavi. The interior is a different design but of the same bad breed. If you look at a new Civic and compare it to an 8 year old one, you see how they’ve evolved. And that’s what is supposed to happen. My brother bought a Mazda 3.

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    BEAT :
    July 30th, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Wow all of these brand name Japanese cars.

    One Japanese auto maker that was not mentioned was the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer DE the base model of the Lancer family is $14,500 (buy cash) with 7 air bag including knee and curtain bags standard with 156 hp non pzev engine and 146 hp california pzev.

    I actually like the Mitsubishi Lancer quite a bit, but my long list of alternatives to the Cobalt were all under the $15k mark. After double checking prices, it isn’t possible to get a Lancer DE with the A/C & Power Package unless you also select the CVT automatic. All the cars on my under $15k list had A/C, as do all Cobalt models. The closest the Lancer comes is an ’08 ES 5-speed which is currently priced at $15,274…and quite well-equipped at that price.

  • avatar
    nikita

    No one has mentioned the crappy *dangerous* brakes? Or did National slip in a set of $12.95 replacement pads (highly unlikely)? Or am I the only one here to drives a rental on mountain roads?

    The fit, finish, power, surprising economy (34mpg) were all fine. But, just driving it from the Kona airport, downhill into town in evening traffic, the brakes had pretty much faded away. A few days later we were driving some real mountain roads and had to stop and cool the brakes. It was that bad. The last time I had to do that was on Pikes Peak in a 1980 Ford. Yes, I downshifted, but that is another problem. Why cant all automatics allow the driver to select every gear manually, like it used to be?

  • avatar
    wickedwindsor

    toxicroach
    If you can only afford a Cobalt, you need a car so rock solid you can damn near weld the hood shut until 140000 miles.

    Exactly! we replaced our 1998 Neon with a leased Cobalt. The “new” Cobalt has been back to the dealer consistantly. The irony is we got the Cobalt to replace the aging Neon with 130,000 trouble free miles.(less a fuel pump) We would have done much better to keep the Neon. I couldn’t recommend a Cobalt to anyone.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    PV_Pathfinder :
    July 29th, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    What’s the point of reviewing a car like this? It’s basic transportation, and as long as it’s safe and somewhat reliable (at least as far as GM goes), then that’s good enough for the folks they are targeting.

    If this is basic transportation then what would you call a Civic or a Corolla? (or a Fit for that matter). Just as higher end cars strive to impress their owners (who I’d assume want the best for their dollar) what makes people shopping in the basement any different? Sure they want a car that’s reliable and can take them from point A to B with ease (ANY car can do that) but if the ownership experience is not up to spec then what’s the use? That’s the review here. You COULD by a Cobalt but then there are much better options available for the same money. I have an Elantra that I’m looking to replace right now and I’d buy another Elantra over the Cobalt (the SS version may be the exception, I’d willing to overlook the dash for 260hp but, yet again, there are better options aka MazdaSpeed3).

  • avatar
    monsenor

    Friend from Japan recently visited me here in Calif and for the duration of her two weeks here she had a rented Cobalt…I liked it.
    We used it for tons of local driving and also for a few day trips. Comfortable enough, carried a lot of stuff, economical and never hinted at any problems.

  • avatar
    davey49

    nikita- the brakes on my Saturn ION (similar to the Cobalt) work fine. It could have been a service issue on your rental.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    The Cobalt (like all its predecessors and domestic competition) is one of those cars where the majority of buyers (not fleet or rental, that is) fall into the category of “it’s not what I wanted, but it’s what was available and what I could afford”.

    It’s a shame since, if they had have been able to spend just a few dollars more, they could have gotten a similiarly equipped and infinitely better Corolla.

  • avatar
    wickedwindsor

    We took our Cobalt to the dealer last night, again. The check engine light was on, again. After a TSB to re-flash the PCM, we were on our way. Not more than 8 miles down the road, guess what? on again. Incompetent service for one of the worst cars on the road. Very, very hard to feel any remorse for General Motors after being shafted with this car.

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    With a hatchback and a folding rear seat this thing would have more of a chance than it does now. At least it would be useful for the college crowd moving away and then back home again…

    I had an ’87 Accord Hatchback back in the mid-90s. Last I saw it the car had a bit over 300K miles on the original drivetrain. Very, very useful car for it’s smallish size and a hoot to drive.

    Okay, okay if GM can’t build a GOOD car (or won’t) then at least they could build a USEFUL car. But again, it doesn’t appear that they want to. VBG!

    I want to give them a shot at my transportation dollar next time but they need to have a competitive hatchback that is not an SUV or large. I’m going to buy another compact hatchback car (Astra, Rabbit, Mazda3, Versa, Focus, etc).

  • avatar
    solo84

    i really despise the Cobalt. but the one thing that i despise the most is the e-brake location DIRECTLY UNDER the center armrest. whoever thought of that ergonomic failure needs to be let go.

    great article!

  • avatar
    KingElvis

    He rents a car and then complains it has that rental car feel.

    This is like complaining that bacholors would be more acceptable if they would just take a wife.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    This regurgitated Cavalier is an embarassment. I remember seeing a Cobalt at the 2006 Pittsburgh Auto Show. It was yellow, and from 20 feet away you could see the color mismatch between the rear bumper fascia and the rear quarterpanel paint. I pointed this out to the car’s handlers, who murmured concerns to one another.

    Thinking this was an early car problem, I have been proved wrong every day I see these things on the road. I can’t believe Chevy hasn’t corrected this obvious cosmetic problem (with other colors besides yellow), and it makes me wonder about the rest of the package. You can see the problem even in the GM-supplied photos in this article.

    However, it’s not a bad-looking car. But it’s the last one I’d consider in this class of vehicle.

  • avatar
    cobaltfanatic

    Actually, the Cobalt is gaining some momentum in the tuner circuit.

    Have you seen http://www.chevycobaltlabs.com which is Chevy Cobalt Labs? It’s all about tricking out and racing cobalts.

    Personally, I like the SS version. It’s powerful and handles great, and it looks pretty cool. What not to like?

  • avatar
    John_K

    For those of us who have wanted a decent economy car from a US manufacturer, Chevy did a great job on the Cobalt.

    The ups: Excellent quality, great gas mileage, inexpensive.

    The downs: Anyone who drives alot knows GM makes a lousy four cylinder engine.

    The Cobalt is an inexpensive car but an eight year old Altima or Corolla has more life in it.

    Prove me wrong, GM! I’d love to buy an American made car with confidence again.

  • avatar

    I am NOT A CHEVY guy, I live in Europe, where modern Chevrolets are renamed Daewoos. However,
    not everyone needs a sports car. Not everyone enjoys putting a pedal to the metal. Not everyone likes to go close to the edge on the mountain curvey roads.

    Regarding poor economy figures, if the economy of 25 mpg is the best you could get, than that’s bad for you. Commenters here say they are getting 32 mpg when they want to.

    I’ve read once more your piece. This TRUTH make me sick.

    The car is decent looking, and it is getting replaced soon, so as an end-of-life product, deserves some slack.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The Corolla, Focus, Accent and Spectra all still use 4 speed automatic transmissions so that really is a non issue at this low price point. The Sentra uses a CVT which I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole when the warranty runs out. The all new still looks and drives like the old Corolla is as rental car bland as ever and the silly Civic with it’s cartoon Star Trek interior and gutless 1.8 liter 4 banger make that a deal killer for me. That leaves the Mazda 3 as the best overall small car in my eyes.

  • avatar
    Mr. Gray

    Ha! Your review says it all! I had to rent a Cobalt LS one time. The whole experience of the car, from its clunky doors, to its blah blah hanling, to its “No, don’t rev me,” 1990-like engine, was one huge insult to the consumer. GM must think American car buyers are real dummies if they expect us to choose this clunky bucket over a Civic, Impreza, or Mazda3.


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