By on September 30, 2009

cobaltxfebadge

With my previous Chevrolet Cobalt XFE encounter in mind, visiting three dealerships in search of an XFE tester came as no surprise. Ironically, the dealer formerly associated with “Mr. Big Volume” (a.k.a. Bill Heard) had one XFE-badged Cobalt that survived last month’s Cash For Clunkers shopping spree. Like the surprisingly respectful staff at this once-infamous storefront, the XFE was a refreshing breath of recirculated air. It’s still a Cobalt, but it’s the most fuel-efficient car, battery laden Hybrids notwithstanding. Which turns a rental car special into something…well, something more special.

The Cobalt XFE’s claim to fame is the 37 miles per gallon EPA rating, a figure reached from common sense engineering. Which doesn’t explain the (optional) drag-inducing spoiler on our two-door tester: laminar airflow-seekers look elsewhere.

Why?But the rest of the package is mundane Cobalt. Sure, the split grille has a swept back demeanor and the C-pillar verges on being an elegant sports coupe, but there’s nothing to love about a (non-SS) Chevy Cobalt. But, with the XFE in full effect, that’s the point. That little badge reminds all and sundry just what makes GM’s unloved compact so special.

And if there’s a soft spot for a lightly optioned, purely functional mode of vehicular travel in your heart, prepare for the Cobalt LS-cum-XFE to tug at your sensible side. Yes, the interior polymers are made of the same brittle rubbish of GM’s stock in trade, but that dashboard doesn’t look like its crafted from a single piece of plastic. The seat fabric might be crafted from recycled milk cartons, but they put the same stuff on the doors for visual warmth and long distance comfort. The Corvette-worthy tiller and decent gearbox get the job done with Jon Stewart-like modesty. There’s even a CD/MP3 stereo with a decent set of horns at each corner, and XM radio so they’ll never take a coffee break.

And the XFE-tuned Cobalt works, provided you don’t see the perks of spending more for a Honda Civic. Or what you don’t sacrifice at a Hyundai dealership. Items like the missing center armrest, or the bubbling chrome plating on the interior door handles won’t win any friends. And though the “upshift” idiot light gets old after the first mile of traffic, a useful instant MPG-meter makes the pain go away with every drop in engine vacuum.

The most gratifying number arrived on said economy gauge at a steady state cruise at 65mph: 39 miles per gallon. Which is surprising, even if it isn’t: credit the daddy long-legs gearing and low resistance tires. Not to mention the reasonable grunt (a flat 150lb-ft of torque) enabling those low engine speeds (2500 revs at 70mph) in the proud Detroit tradition of turnpike cruising. But don’t forget the iPod: eco-friendly tires turn into the howling hounds of hell on coarse roads.

But there’s fun in those fuel-economy tires: even if the 2700lb Cobalt XFE is not a performance car per se. With 155 horses and a reasonably accurate Extra spartanshifter, there’s plenty of hoonage potential at school-zone friendly speeds. But that’s all, because redlining the Ecotec nets in more four-banger thrash than its competition, giving the impression of an underhood Anthrax concert controlled by one’s right foot.

Also credit the idiot-proof fun to the Cobalt’s pothole friendly (mushy) suspension and tires with less grip than an Iraqi dictator: adequate for daily commutes, but easily surpasses their comfort level at 7/10ths. Think about it: you can drive the XFE to an inch of it’s life (your life?) and still not piss off the neighbors.

More to the point, this bottom-drawer Bowtie is delightfully crude, not fast. But the almost Hybrid-like mileage doesn’t come at the expense of Prius styling clichés, extraneous engineering of rare-earth battery packs and gee-whiz dashboard gadgetry almost mandatory for today’s Eco-warriers. In the Cobalt, there’s a set of chrome rings on the gauges, and a playful stick shift ready to take requests: fuel economy or fun?

And that’s the way it should be. GM channeled their inner Civic CRX HF this time, and hopefully it’ll stick around for the upcoming Chevy Cruze (but with Civic levels of craftsmanship). If “The Civic that Hates Fuel” returns, the Cruze is doomed to the fate of its Cobalt/Cavalier forefathers. It’ll be too little and too late, even with the Chevy Volt’s halo effect: being less than half the (theoretical) price of a GM hybrid counts for something. But not enough.

Back to the present: my (obligatory) price objection to the Cobalt’s near-17k sticker forced an admission that the dealer’s only XFE is a loss leader: ready for weekend advertisement at $13,995. No wonder the window sticker was MIA, taking the all-important EPA numbers with it. Too bad about that: because the Cobalt XFE is absolutely worthy of an economy-minded buyer’s checkbook.

Star Ratings

Performance (3 stars): Not as silky smooth as the competition, but it scoots along good enough.

Ride (4 stars): More than compliant for this class.

Handling (3 stars): Light on stick, lighter on roll control.

Exterior (2 stars): There’s a spoiler on a dull, rental car worthy compact designed for fuel efficiency. That makes sense.

Interior (3 stars): Relatively comfortable buckets, inoffensive design, overall feeling of getting what you paid for. Unless you paid MSRP.

Fit and Finish (2 stars): Bubbling chrome accents and lousy polymers mean that GM still isn’t playing to win.

Toys (1 star): Want more than a CD player and A/C? Pass on the XFE and get the nicer models with the thirstier engine.

Desirability (4 stars): Its hard not to love a small car with the basics, a decent gearbox and great MPGs.

Mileage: 25/37

Price as Tested: $16,765 (soon to be $13,995)

Overall (4 stars): And you paid how much for your Hybrid?

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80 Comments on “Review: Chevrolet Cobalt XFE...”


  • avatar
    Autosavant

    With all its primitive design and other faults, this car is a far better choice for secretaries with long commutes than their previous automiotive atrocities StupidUglyVehicles such as the Explorer, esp. the Explorer V8, and its GM and Chrysler and Toyota counterparts.

    100,000s of these lowly cobalts on the streets replacing the above dinosaurs will also benefit all the rest of us, by keeping gas consumption and prices overall for the US not necessarily low, but surely much LowER than they would otherwise be, if the above service sector workers continued to commute in the dinosaurs.

  • avatar
    nmcheese

    As long as the primary controls operate in a linear manner it may win sales over any of the hybrids – Civic or Prius. (Assuming people pick gas-saving cars rationally instead of based on green-fashion trends)

    It seems logical that when you apply constant pressure to the brake pedal or accelerator you should get a reasonably linear response.

    However with all of the stop/start, electric acceleration assist and regenerative braking capabilities built into the hybrids, sure it saves a bit of gas, but it makes for a hopelessly nonlinear driving experience. You don’t know exactly when the car will stop regenerating and then brake less effectively, or how quickly the acceleration will pick up when trying to accelerate out of a side street… things that drivers of normal cars take for granted.

  • avatar
    erikhans

    Wow, you can pick up a slightly used Saab 9-3SS for 17 grand and still get around the same gas mileage and twice the sun….at least mine does.

  • avatar
    GrandCharles

    Finally, it’s not only trash talk! Might not be the best vehicule, but at a certain price point it make sense…an accent or this. GM should go that direction you can get a civic, a corolla a clownfaced3 or save 3000$ and get that close to (hummm) product. I know the ecotec is good, drove it for 8 years in a saturn LS, so for certain people that could be ok….

  • avatar

    On the MPG–isn’t that withstanding the hybrids?

    On the armrest–must have gotten in the way when shifting, because it’s only on automatic Cobalts.

    On the interior–the Cruze will be a huge improvement–very nice.

    And on reliability–about average based on responses to TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey:

    http://www.truedelta.com/repair_histories.php?stage=pt&bd=Chevrolet&mc=50

  • avatar

    I just realized that I didn’t mention diesels in this review, and they do sip fuel better than the XFE. But non-Hybrid gasoline cars have a hard time matching the XFE’s numbers. That’s what I meant to say. :)

    Autosavant : SUV sales are going back to pre-1995 levels, and I expect it’ll say that way. The big bang for the buck is killing off boxy/tall CUVs for more XFE-cars.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Also credit the idiot-proof fun to the Cobalt’s pothole friendly (mushy) suspension and tires with less grip than an Iraqi dictator…

    Thanks for the chuckle, Sajeev…nice review.

    I rented a Cobalt not too long ago, and you’re spot on about its shortcomings, but it had the same honest, direct mechanical feel as my Honda Civic and VW Rabbit from my high school and college years. Not a bad thing in this day and age of anesthetized Civics and Corollas.

    The Cobalt is a shame – the basics of a great small car are here, and if GM had given it the same sophistication and engineering polish as the Malibu, this could have been a massive hit for them. Here’s hoping the Cruze builds on what they did right with this car.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    A note on the XFEs mpg.
    Forgive me if I missed something in the text, I read it quick, but the only evindence of this cars mpg is EPA estimates and GMs Eco gauge.

    I have seen a few road tests of the XFE (Edmunds did one, maybe CR also?)that calculated all around mileage from actual tank fills. IIRC the results were in the mid-twenties (26 mpg?).
    About what the Cobalt has always provided and far below a Civic or Corolla (typical road test mpg 30-32 all around).

    I think this is a car speced to do well on the EPAs treadmill.

    GM defenders-fire away but please bring independant evidence, OK?

    Love and bullets,

    Bunter

    • 0 avatar

      Oh please do not get me started! I was so mad at Edwards, I can not imagine the type of driving they must of put that poor XFE thru! BUT, these cars get over a ten MPG improvement once they are broken in ( 3,000 to 10,000 miles)
      In the foothills of Kentucky here, by using the hypermiling tips learned online MY 2009 Chevy Cobalt XFE got an average very close to 46 MPG- The record was 45.7MPG of which I have the picture, but no way of proving that I had NOT hit reset for all of those months. I did not reset my meter for over 4-5 months, so this was my average as the car was being broken in. I even have dashboard pics if anyone does not claim they were some how forged. My pics show the AVG MPG from July thru early November before I reset it. I almost never got lower than 42 MPG. 45.7 is my al time highest record, and it’s my hop that once I get the break0in oil changed and the car lubed that the avg mpg will once again start moving upwards.
      With discounts including all taxes registration, tags, 6 months of insurance I made an all cash (check) deal for $12,xxx.xx People often pay double that prince for a prius. $15,000 will buy many gallons of fuel. I think such economy boxes that can also be driven as sports cars should be reviewed and compared to the hybrids. The Honda Insite gets what? 42MPG EPA? For almost half of that price I own a car that gets BETTER MPG in the city/60MPH zones. I see little logic buying a car made on the other side of the world if a car made here in America already beats in in gas mileage.  Not to mention, if somebody gets very ill I know I have the power under the hood to go 120MPH and still get over 34 MPG.
      It’s true. The Chevy Cobalt LS Coupe XFE REALLY does get much better gas mileage than the claimed EPA37 Highway gives it. I admit to using hypermiling methods,  such as putting my car in neutral at the top of a hill and turning the engine OFF then back to RUN real fast. It can be dangerous, however with practice it becomes second nature, and your lights stay on, the stereo does not miss a beat, one has manual steering, and the power breaks are limited to a few good pumps before the car will need to be bump-started, which is to put the gear in 5th or 6th gear and slowly let the clutch out. The result is a car not using a drop of gas downhill yet can be bump started so easily and smooth that nobody else in the car will ever notice it! This method is called EOC- “Engine Off while Coasting”. It can help some cars with manual transmissions gain 10 to 25 mpg within one week, depending on your local countryside. If you live in the flat lands it will not help much. If you have hills, as I do in these foot hills of eastern Kentucky it will help you go waaaay over the EPA for highway use. One must practice with one that does this daily first, to steep a mountain will burn out your brakes and get you killed! Use caution and common sense and ASK the drivers that do this everyday any questions before ever attempting it for yourself.
      On the local 70MPH interstates I get closer to 36.0. That is going speeds of 75 to 95 MPH. Also the XFE can do 0 to 60 in 3nd gear in 8.0 seconds flat, and I have taken it almost to 120MPH before I chickened out and slowed down.
      In conclusion, I love my 2009 Colbalt LS Coupe XFE. It boils down to how you drive it. Drive it like a hot-rod taking a sick person to E.R. and you will get lower MPG. But try to time the relights so they are green when you get there, and maybe using neutral and cruising as much as you can in Neutral somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 miles the car will be broken in, and getting at least 1/3 better gas mileage no matter how much you hod-rod the thing,

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t even have to hypermile to get the 37 MPG that GM “claims”. The 2009 Cobalt XFE is my daily driver and I am amazed with it in all aspects. It may not be the quickest or best on a road course with tires that love to sing and a body that wants to sway in the breeze. But as a daily driver, it is the best car for my money. Just to paint a portrait of what I get for mileage I drove from Columbus, OH to Hilton Head, SC on less than a tank and a half of gas. I honestly here is what I get for mileage: average 73mph = 43mpg average 65mph = 38mpg. I don’t know what Edmonds has against fun, low priced, comfortable, two-door, semi-sport coupes, but they really need to step up and tell the truth.    It took a whole lot of looking, but I found my XFE about 150 miles from home. I have to admit that I didn’t pay MSRP, I got it used… Well the story about it: I was lucky to profit from GM’s downfall. When they closed dealerships, those who were closing had to sell their stock. So I purchased my 2009 in 2009 with 65 miles on it for $10,500, and got the GM Certified used vehicle warranty as well, 48,000 miles or 4 years, which is better than the 36,000, 3 years that it originally came with. So in closing, for those who are looking for a car that will get you from point A to point B at the lowest price OVERALL, the Cobalt XFE even at MSRP is my choice.

  • avatar

    FreedMike — that will be the Cruze.

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    Bunter1 :

    I sure am no GM defender, I am sick of paying these clowns’ bills to the tune of $100 Billion, as a Taxpayer,

    but these outlandish 26 MPG Cobalt XFE numbers must have been NOT everyday commuting and long trips BUT either 100% CITY or, more likely, TRACK TESTING, where EVERY car, as you can see in C&D tests, for example, gets WAY below EPA MPG average, and frequently even below CITY, and this is 100% to be expected in 1/4 mile and 0-60 runs!!!

    The primitive CObalt is essentially a 28 year old Cavalier with new sheetmetal and a few other improvements. I had owned an 83 pontiac 5-speed version of that car, with its imported 1.8 lt 84 HP engine (105 lb ft torque, or 102) and the primitive, lightweight 4 door (2400 lbns weight) was rated by the early optimistic EPA rules 28 city, 46 hwy, and I was able to go above 40 on long trips easily.

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    You know I find it profoundly disappointing that GM and other manufacturers, have made their most efficient cars the most unsatisfying, like they didn’t really want to do it in the first place. It makes me feel, as a customer, that they do not value my desire for maximum fuel efficiency as anything less than a gripe and that I’m too cheap to pay for decent seats, heel-toe shifter, and better lateral grip. This complaint doesn’t just go to GM. Honda at one time had its most fuelly Civics as the lowest on their totem pole. Hyundai continues this with the appallingly bad Accent 3 door., but at least it comes with nice wheels.

  • avatar
    WildBill

    Autosavant writes: With all its primitive design and other faults, this car is a far better choice for secretaries with long commutes than their previous automiotive atrocities StupidUglyVehicles such as…

    If you had an hour or more each way in a penalty box you too would clamoring for something more comfortable, even a SUV, trust me.

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    delorean:

    Honda over two decades (mid-80s to mid-2000s) had a series of extra high Fuel efficiency models, that were NOT its bottom priced crude CXs and DXs.

    I remember the original tiny 2-seater CRX HF, then the Civic VX of 92, (55 MPG highway back then, maybe 48 today), the excellent civic HF with its 44 MPG more recently.

    Only Toyota’s success with the Prius dethroned Honda from the fuel efficiency crown.

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    “WildBill :
    September 30th, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Autosavant writes: With all its primitive design and other faults, this car is a far better choice for secretaries with long commutes than their previous automiotive atrocities StupidUglyVehicles such as…

    If you had an hour or more each way in a penalty box you too would clamoring for something more comfortable, even a SUV, trust me.”

    I 100% agree with you and trust you, but note that you and especially I are not needy, low-paid service sector workers,

    that have already been burned with $4 and $4.50 gas prices in 2008 and are not about to buy another (equally uncomfortable, BTW, or MOre!) Body-on-frame POS SUV! And I know some of them that drove these POS, and they drove them not for their nonexistent comfort, but for their high driving position and good view they afforded their usually much shorter than my 6′ 1″ frames.

    If I had a 60 mile commute each way, which means spending 15% of my waking hours in this vehicle, I would still drive a top of the line S-class, LS or 7 series just like the “Magnificent 7″ 98 740iL I now drive, which I bought BTW at HALF the price of this cobalt (!!!), loaded with everything, even its original navigation, and in excellent shape.

  • avatar
    Bancho

    This was a nice review. Thanks Sajeev.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Autosavant: once again: the Cobalt has nothing to do with the Cavalier. Different platforms, one is a Delta developed in conjunction with Opel, the other a J Body.

    You are dead right about the car site tests of this car though. My 2.2 ION with the 4 speed auto gets 35-37 on freeway trips and 24-27 in mixed city/freeway on my commutes.And I live in LA. Bad mileage capital of the world and also don’t hyper-mile.

    Not surprised this Cobalt manual gets 39 @ 65 mph. And the Eco gets better fuel economy as the miles roll up.

    Bunter: you keep making the same claim over and over. After everyone on TTAC gladly trashes the car rags and other test sites you want to quote thier #s as gospel?

    I don’t give a rip what you read “somewhere”,I’ve tracked every fill up, every drop of gas since new [now 40,000 miles] and have never gotten the sort of mileage the EPA claims. It’s always better.I’ll take my anecdotal results over your claims any day of the week.

    The recalculated EPA#’s are even more ridiculous [29 MPG Hwy for my 05]. All the EPA did is subtract 10% off their old #s. Real scientific, that.

    Nice and objective, Sajeev.You actually tested the car and didn’t start out with a bias toward it. I love basic cars without a lot of electronic junk on them.Thanks for the balanced look at a much maligned car.

    The Delta platform is competent and the engine robust and fuel efficent.The transmissions are tough as well. This is the car that should have been the Delta Saturn introduced with the ION in 03.

  • avatar
    RGS920

    I don’t see why GM doesn’t make an XFE badge for all their cars. Imagine an XFE corvette. Just shrink the wheels to a size 14, stick a pair of the most nasty, hard, skiny tires you can find and adjust the final drive ratio so the vet can putter around at 900 RMPS @ 55 MPH in 6th gear. GM could tout the Corvette XFE as innovative engineering because it would get 37 MPG Highway. How great would that be? (/Sarcasm off).

  • avatar
    Stingray

    This car would be a perfect beater. I’d hit it, but not sold here.

    Slap CNG to it, and you could claim yourself green.

    Don’t want the weight of that heavy CNG tank, no problem, replace it with a carbon fiber one and wake up you inner tunnerzzz… you can also show a real (and working) carbon fiber part to the HOnduh fanboys…

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I’ve done over 40mpg in 70mph interstate driving* in both a current generation Civic and Corolla (both were 1.8L AT equipped). The EPA ratings on both models are way lower than what you’ll see in real world driving on both models. The Cobalt my wife and I rented in NM returned a hair over 30mpg (granted, this was some city driving mixed in). Plus, over 30mpg, the difference of 1~3mpg is of no consequence.

    What really turned me off of the Cobalt was the tiny trunk opening.

    * My GTI returns 31mpg on the extact same route.

  • avatar
    sean362880

    The problem is that 37 mpg isn’t that much better than 30 mpg (about 0.006 gallons / mile difference). You’re already past the point of diminishing returns. So no ordinary non-fuel rabid consumer going to buy the XFE over a comparably priced compact with better features and slightly lower mileage.

  • avatar
    Autosavant

    “DweezilSFV :
    September 30th, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    “once again: the Cobalt has nothing to do with the Cavalier. Different platforms, one is a Delta developed in conjunction with Opel, the other a J Body.”

    It is 100% wrong to claim that the Cobalt “has nothing to do” with the cavalier JUST because it is based on a more recent, but STILL cheapo ecobobox, platform. There have been 20+ years of evolution in the cavalier, and the first cobalt had a TON of components and systems that the cavalier it replaced it also had.

    “You are dead right about the car site tests of this car though. My 2.2 ION with the 4 speed auto gets 35-37 on freeway trips and 24-27 in mixed city/freeway on my commutes.And I live in LA. Bad mileage capital of the world and also don’t hyper-mile.”

    I have lived in the LA area for more than two months, and have driven in it at other times on business trips. TO those who live there, there is NOTHING that can beat a PRIUS. NO other Hybrid or non-hybrid comes close. I NEVER was able to get below 52 city, and in some leisurly drives at Palos Verdes at 40-50 MPH, I would get 62 to 69 MPG! Both the car computer and my manual measurements confirmed the above, BTW. A USED Prius will always be far better than any Cobalt, Ion, FOcus, Sentra or Versa, and it is much better than even a New Honda Insight.

    ALso, there are far worse driving styles, MPG wise, than in always warm LA with long distances to commute. Try 1.5 miles each way in -20 F in the snowbelt, then an Accord gets 15-20 MPG, even the small 5-speed manual coupe I once drove, and a BMW 7 series like my 98 740iL gets 12 MPG, in such short-drive, cold start trips.

    Not surprised this Cobalt manual gets 39 @ 65 mph. And the Eco gets better fuel economy as the miles roll up.

  • avatar

    37 mpg = 23.3% better than 30 mpg. That is definitely not a trivial improvement.

    On the other hand, steady-state highway cruising is the easy part. Even a 3800-engine Impala or Grand Prix could do close to 30 mpg, thanks to Alpine-high gearing; it’s not surprising that a car with smaller frontal area and two-thirds the engine displacement would do better. Hybrids have little advantage in such driving, other than low drag and low rolling resistance tires. Where the hybrid has a huge advantage in mileage is in stop-and-go traffic. My Mazda3 2.3 will do 33-34 mpg locked on 65, but fall to the low 20s in city traffic. How does the Cobalt XFE do in that cycle, EPA estimates aside?

  • avatar
    midelectric

    Damn skippy, 155 horses in this thing wouldv’e earned it a Z24 badge and then some back in the day. I’m surprised how much the goalposts have moved. I remember when the 140hp of an SE-R was smokin’ and here we are with the penny pincher high mileage model scraping by with 155.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    I derided the Cobalt Coupe until renting one to do an interstate run through the Rockies. With my lead foot and 75 mph being slow, it easily attained 32 MPG. The Ecotech 2.2 makes decent torque for a car this size.

    GM’s state of the art 1990’s styling is still presentable in the coupe form. The car is an econobox.

    Bottom line – not too shabby – if buying one that has around 20,000 miles on the odometer and falls within the $7,500 to $9,000 range.

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    Autosavant: Honda over two decades (mid-80s to mid-2000s) had a series of extra high Fuel efficiency models, that were NOT its bottom priced crude CXs and DXs.

    Absolutely! And then enter 2000, where the Civic was redesigned for “Jennifer” and the Civic HX was only offered as the little 3 door with the smallest standard wheels, no anit-lock brakes, and A/C the only option. Even the lowly Geo/Chevy Metro’s best fuel miser was the most spartan of any vehicle since the Yugo.

    RGS920 I don’t see why GM doesn’t make an XFE badge for all their cars. Imagine an XFE Corvette. Yep, I’d buy it. Here’s why. Imagine base price of a Corvette XFE to be around $20K less than current base model. No dealer markup here! Comes in any color you want as long as its black or white. It would still come with the 5.7L V8, which being an XFE model would be restricted most likely by a chip, easy to replace. The wheels? Straight off an Impala, can chuck those for some better cleats. Suspension would be same. 5 speed manual only, but comes from Cobalt SS. Brakes would have to be replaced along with the wheels, but the aftermarket is generally cheaper than what GM originally buys. Altogether not a bad package.

    Quentin: I’ve done over 40mpg in 70mph interstate driving* in both a current generation Civic and Corolla (both were 1.8L AT equipped). Dude, gotta call BS on this one. Now I’ve admitted tweeted several co-workers and friends whom own the 1.8L Corolla appliance and not one has come back with more than 36 on the highway. And she was 70 years old. Looks like 34 was more the norm at 70-75 mph.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    Not bad. The Cobalt reminds me of the Neon more than anything, down to an anemic engine note followed by some degree of ambulation. One of my friends gets 55-60 mpg in his ’04ish 1.8 AT corolla through a combination of mild hypermiling and strategically taping up rear wheel arches and front openings.

    I’ve tracked my fuel mileage by tank in my ’08 Z and hit about what the EPA says I should as far as gas mileage according to the OBC (it’s generally within 2-5% of what I calculate by the tank). On the freeway, I usually average lower than EPA, probably due to the lack of cruise control and the lead weights in my right shoe.

    Autosavant : My 08 350Z, driven in LA weather, in ~2 mile hops to work and home, gets about 12-13 MPG. I’d say you are doing quite well with the BMW.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Autosavant and Dweezil, I think you missed my point.

    I do not claim the road tests represent real world mpg.

    I am pointing out that under the same conditions, out in the land of real physics (air drag, accelerating mass etc.) the XFE has not delivered mileage equal to the best in class under the same/similar test conditions. It’s mpg appears to be only slightly better than the regular Cobalt in similar tests.

    BTW-CR does multiple mpg loops (separate tests for city, hwy, combined) with different drivers for each vehicle. Their mpg figures do not include the performance evaluation portion of their tests.

    In a side note, CRs hwy mpg numbers tend to support Quentin’s observations.

    I’m just saying that the data available outside of the EPA numbers makes me skeptical of the XFEs ability to deliver high mpg for it’s class.

    I do think it could be an EPA treadmill special to get a number for advertising.

    Cherrio,

    Bunter

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Autosavant: No, it is 100% wrong to say that the Cobalt is a 28 year old Cavalier. We’ll agree to disagree. The Cavalier did offer the 2.2 [introduced in the Saturn L Series in 2000] and it supersceded the 2.4 Quad used by it previously. That was done in 2002 IIRC along with others in GM’s lines. And the same 4 speed auto.Torsion beam rear axle, just like others in it’s class.Pretty much it. The J folded up like a tin can in crash tests. The Delta derived car didn’t.Big difference from 1995 [Cavalier 60% all new from the 82 original] to 2005. They’re not the same just because they shared some parts and were built in the same factory.

    I am no fan any longer of GM and I will never buy another of their cars.For a lot of reasons and for the same one you cited, especially.

    Even as late as 2005 when I bought my ION , GM was still expecting the customer to finish their work for them: 5 trips for the frigging ignition switch, [a problem I don’t think they ever corrected and known from 2003], strut bushing failure 2003-2007,leaking rear door weather-stripping,water getting in the headlights, etc etc.

    The car has a lot of shortcomings, but the gas mileage is not one of them. Respectable engine and trans, quiet, rides well. 80% there on introduction, just like most GM cars.Good commuter car and makes a lot more sense than an SUV as you said.

    No argument on the Prius being a perfect car for LA in the mileage dept. But then I’d have to look at it and even my ION is better looking [to me anyway].

    There’s no doubt that sub zero city driving will cut your mileage. So will road test driver hoonery.

    If one wants to check on mileage that people are getting in use, True Delta and the EPA website have records of that. And Edmunds, any of the fan sites, etc will have a “What mileage are you getting with your [fill in the blank]?” thread.

    Not hard to find more than just some car mag’s or web site’s anecdotal test results based on some tester they most likely beat like a rental car over a two day period.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    dolorean23 : Call BS all you want. I was shocked to see that number as well. Civic owners regularly report 40mpg in real world highway driving. Both cars make around 130hp, are pretty lightweight, have narrow tires, and have throttles tuned for economy. There is no reason you shouldn’t be able to hit 40mpg real world in a Civic or Corolla considering my GTI w/ a 200hp turbo 2.0L w/ 225 series tires will see the mid-30s until the speed gets up to 70mph. My GTI sees a huge fuel economy difference between 70mph and 75mph. Remember, the velocity component is squared in the drag equation. That is 15% more drag at 75mph versus 70mph.

    Maybe your friends/coworkers are just terrible drivers.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Bunter: got it. Thanks for clarifying. You’re right I did miss your point.

    Was afraid Sajeev was going to get burned at the stake for being a heretic by suggesting there might be something worthwhile to be found in a lowly Cobalt. This is a tough room.

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    Quentin: Touche, they may all be texting while piloting their Corollas. I should have mentioned they all live in Kansas and Nebraska where a 30 mph headwind is the norm and may skew the few results I received. For your GTI, I would have to agree if you kept your foot off the throttle, which considering how wonderful the GTI is, I find remarkable.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    I like the approach to fuel-saving with this car, I cant tell you how many times I’ve encouraged hybrid enthusiasts to just get a light-weight four cylinder stick-shift. Save yourselves ten grand and get a vehicle that will still get 35+ mpg (even in winter, when hybrid battery-packs tend to turn into useless rare-earth bricks). One problem though, the high-stopping resistance tires on this thing scare the hell outta me. I don’t need to be risking my life with factory pre-balded, over-filled tires to save 5 bucks every fill up. I’d rather have high-grip than low-gulp.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Nice little car but I’ll wait for Volt which if driven correctly, you’ll be draining the fuel back out of the tank after it has gone bad from sitting so long.

  • avatar
    texan01

    This car should break 40 pretty easily. I had a 2000 Ford Contour with the 130hp four, a 4 speed slushbox and the bargin-basement fleet option.

    The EPA rated it 19 and 29. I got anywhere from 17 to 24 in town with it, usually closer to 20 though, which compared to my well used Explorer, didn’t bode well for a small car to get small-suv-like gas mileage (I get a consistent 18mpg out of the Explorer in town)

    On the highway though it’d routinely get 35-40mpg without much effort on my part, the Explorer would hit the wall at 23mpg.

    It was a miserable car on long trips though, noisy and cramped as well as seats that were only good for about an hour or so at a time.

  • avatar
    PeregrineFalcon

    As long as we’re waving our eco-Johnsons in the breeze here: 2005 Honda Civic, 1.7L 5MT, commuting on the 401 at 100km/h (~62mph) yielded 55 miles per US gallon.

  • avatar
    NickR

    $13,995? Even with its shortcomings, it’s a bargain. There’s a lot commuters here who’d do just fine with this, so long as it’s durable.

  • avatar
    r129

    Want more than a CD player and A/C? Pass on the XFE and get the nicer models with the thirstier engine.

    For 2010, Chevrolet is introducing a new “Value Leader” model, which is basically the same as the LS, but without A/C. This will push those newspaper ad prices even lower, but does anyone actually buy a car without A/C? More competition for the Honda Civic DX and the Nissan Versa 1.6, I guess.

    For those who are interested in a Cobalt XFE, but want power windows, power mirrors, power locks/keyless entry, etc., they do make a Cobalt LT XFE. They’re very rare, but I’ve seen a couple in real life. Theoretically you can order an XFE with ABS and Bluetooth, but good luck finding one.

  • avatar
    Monty

    Not to rain on anybody’s parade, but I had no problem getting 51 MPG out of a Imperial (Canadian) gallon, (which converts to about 42 MPG out of an American gallon) in my wife’s Focus, driving the great prairie flatlands.

    I’m fairly certain that the XFE Cobalt would easily get the mileage the Sajeev is suggesting.

    I don’t know what the EPA’s testing metrics are, but their mileage claims for the Focus on the highway are significantly less than what I achieve on a regular basis.

  • avatar

    ALL: my tester had about 25 miles on odometer.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if adding 10k on the clock (and the little things like switching to synthetic and removing any throttle-numbing intake resonators/silencers) pushes the XFE well over 40mpg in steady state driving.

    I gotta say, this car is unbelievably tempting at $13,995. And I’m man enough to admit that, too.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    We had a brand new Cobalt sedan as a rental down in North Carolina a couple weekends ago (new as in 3 miles on the odometer when we picked it up). It wasn’t bad, but after renting LTs the last couple times I had a Cobalt in Atlanta, I was surprised by the return of the rental stripper. This Cobalt wasn’t even a LS. The only options were A/C and the (not activated) satellite radio. No remote entry, no power door locks, crank windows.

    I can’t remember the last time I had to use a key to unlock a car and tell people to roll ‘em and lock ‘em when we park.

  • avatar
    mcs

    @joe_thousandaire :I like the approach to fuel-saving with this car, I cant tell you how many times I’ve encouraged hybrid enthusiasts to just get a light-weight four cylinder stick-shift. Save yourselves ten grand and get a vehicle that will still get 35+ mpg

    I have a 38 mpg car with a manual and a Prius. The problem is that when you have a commute with several miles of stop and go traffic, the 38 mpg drops into the teens or low 20’s and the hybrids mileage stays pretty much the same. The XFE and other conventional cars may do well on the highway, but that isn’t the environment many of us in the larger cities are dealing with. For us, hybrids are a better choice.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I agree with MCS’s hybrid comments. My Prius pretty much gets a consistent mileage whether I’m on the freeway or on the stop-go streets. No matter where or how I drive, I get about 10 MPG higher than anything the Cobalt will manage even if the latter is given a handicap and allowed to stick to the freeways.

    I don’t think the Cobalt looks “great” or anything. It looks more like GM’s attempt to compete with the Corolla or the Civic. Which disqualifies the Chevy in my book…I mean, why not just buy a Corolla or a Civic, hmmm?

  • avatar
    drifter

    Since 90% of Americans can’t drive manual transmission, XFE is a non-event.

  • avatar
    stopwhining

    @zoomzoom,

    Why buy a cobalt over a civic? How about $5000. I recently ran across reports that the average civic was selling for upper teens to low 20K.

    Then I go and see that Cobalts are selling for about $14K.

    That and in that car market, no one cares about 0-60 times, or sexiness. That market is an appliance market, and if I were in that market, the Cobalt or Focus would be where my money goes. Cruze will def be in my shopping list once it is on the used market.

    I like the simplicity of the Cobalt. I like the mileage without needless technology. I like the cheap buying price. I like the simple, yet pretty nice interior (unlike GM cars of the past with their HIDEOUS/cheap/gaudy interiors). I like the infrequent repairs and I like the cheap parts. I like the fact that it is AMERICAN and any way you slice it, the Corolla/Civic is foreign (I dont care where a japanese car is manufacturerd).

    If I am going to buy a basic appliance, my money is going to Detroit engineers/designers/workers.

    That being said, I have to commend Sajeev for writing a non-biased post.

  • avatar
    stopwhining

    And quite frankly, if I had a long commute everyday, the Cobalt would be buy for me.

    Since work is 10km away, my SL does the trick (for the summer).

  • avatar
    law stud

    its sad to see that the only way to review a car is to rent one or borrow one from a neighbor. How long can this “brand” website last?’

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    I’ve encouraged hybrid enthusiasts to just get a light-weight four cylinder stick-shift. Save yourselves ten grand and get a vehicle that will still get 35+ mpg.

    There it is again, the anti-hybridists ‘ol faithful refrain. Does Joe Wilson yell at you?

    1. The overwhelming majority of cars are not purchased for cash up front, so any “saving” has not occurred driving off the lot.

    2. Usually, if you have a higher vehicle entry price, you have a higher exit price, so the quantum of “saving” is lower (if any over cheap’n’nasty vehicles).

    3. You get your fuel savings during the lifetime of the vehicle, it might not suit everyone. Combine with (1) & (2) above and you have a concept called “Total Cost of Ownership”. Too hard for many.

    4. What mcs said.

    Cobolt might be cheap and miserly now, but it will be CHEAPER in a few years than other alternatives. It’s just the GM way of things…

  • avatar
    oldyak

    at last…
    Farago is gone!
    Thanks for the honest unbiased review!

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    Congrats to GM for finally building a better compact than the Cavalier … I guess [talk about damning with faint praise]. But I can’t imagine the sense of utter despair that would surely result from sitting in that interior for an hour each morning and evening. For decades the Detroit 3’s interiors were the envy of the industry–truly world class. But as with so many other aspects of their product, they went into a terminal decline, beginning in the 1970s.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Dweezil-Thanks for the gracious reply. It is appreciated.

    Sajeev-No problem with your review. It seems pretty balanced to me. It’s your review and your honest opinion, that’s cool with me.

    I just don’t think it really put anything solid on the table mpg-wise.

    Take care,

    Bunter

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    Great review. FWIW I would never buy a hybrid to save money on gas. Might buy a hybrid so I used less gasoline over the lifetime of the car though – more of an inner satisfaction than one that lands more money in my wallet. On the other hand I could buy something sporty or sexy or big and tough and never get anything back from those cars b/c they aren’t designed to save gas. Why does a hybrid have to live up to savings where the other cars don’t?

    Anyhow. The Cobalt ALMOST gets it right for me. No hatchback. If I’m going to live with a small car it better have a drop top or a hatchback. Tiny trunks in tiny cars are really no fun while a tiny car with a back seat that lays mostly flat with a hatchback to open and carry all sorts of large objects home makes me happy. The “perfect” hatchback I ever owned was an ’87 Honda Accord. Enough creature comforts, lasted 325K miles+ and could carry a week’s worth of gear. Seriously if I could find one that had been hidden in a dry garage all these years I’d buy it.

    Typical GM product. Almost gets it right or gets it right (Astra) and then gets discontinued prematurely. And no, I’m not going to try to care for an Astra for the next 10-15 years when I can’t get parts for it.

  • avatar
    NickR

    This is a perfect ‘secretary car’. Affordable, reasonably stylish, and decent on gas. Two pieces of advice for GM. Save money on the wing and put it into a better stereo. From my observation, a decent stereo with iPod compatability is pretty much a requirement. Do something about the color palette…it sucks! The younger demographic to whom this will appeal does not want a choice of six colours, five of which are bland.

  • avatar

    law stud : its sad to see that the only way to review a car is to rent one or borrow one from a neighbor. How long can this “brand” website last?’

    Well I’ve been here for over 3 years and its been nothing but upward projections and more and more people finding me on Facebook. I can (if necessary) live without Press Cars for the rest of my life, thanks.

    joeaverage : Anyhow. The Cobalt ALMOST gets it right for me. No hatchback.

    Wow, you are so right that I can’t believe I missed that. And you’re definitely right about the Astra too.

    Bunter1 : Sajeev- I just don’t think it really put anything solid on the table mpg-wise.

    And I appreciate your comments. As long as people understand the limitations of these reviews I am happy with that. I’d love to hypermile this bad boy against a Prius, just to see if the $10,000 price differential (remember the dealer’s asking price) is worth it.

    • 0 avatar

      [b][Quote]”I’d love to hypermile this bad boy against a Prius, just to see if the $10,000 price differential (remember the dealer’s asking price) is worth it.”[/Quote][/b]
      Me too. I would love to see an unbiased review of such a test. I am pulling nearly 46MPG at speeds near 60MPG in the foot hills of Kentucky. I would love to see what a good driver could pull out of the almost double in price of a Prius in higher gas mileage. For $10,000 to $15,000 between the prices, based on options and discounts accounted for, one could surely buy a lot of fuel for all of that money. I think the savings in sticker price should be reflected back in terms of how much fuel it could purchase at the current avg fuel price as well. I have confirmed my gas mileage with my calculator, and indeed for many months during the summer as it was being broken in, the AVG MPG went up and up until it hit about 45MPG, then it became a challenge to squeeze 46MPG out of her. (45.7 AVG MPG is my record for the first 4 to 5 months of driving the new car). I hope changing out the break-in oil will help improve my mileage as well, many others online report tank averages close to 60MPG!! (By hypermilling, which can be dangerous if one is not practiced it a lot before being turned lose to shut of the engine in Neutral and then switched to RUN)
      Also the 2009 Cobalt XFEs get EPA 37 Highway (one gallon higher) to to it’s ability to turn off the fuel being feed to the engine during downshifts resulting in rapid deceleration, around 2200-2500 RPM. Going down steep mountains one only needs to put the car in 2nd or 3rd gear at once the RPM goes much over 2,200 to 2,500 then the transmission is slowing you down without burning ANY gas, yet the power steering and power brakes remain working. It’s a nice touch!

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Before you tell GM to take the wing off the back you need to understand how many cars that will help sell. While I’m sure you have no idea what that number is my bet is that GM does.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    I’ll agree with MCS’s point, hybrids are excellent city cars no doubt. If I lived in a warm-weather city with horrible traffic (LA, Atlanta) I’d be allot more open to driving a hybrid in the future, where I live in rural Michigan, it makes no sense to own one. So, again I’m happy GM is taking this simpler approach, I hope they remain committed to it with future products.

    For PeteMoran, thats allot of mental gymnastics to go through in order to justify buying a hybrid, so yeah maybe after 150k miles it’d pay for itself, maybe. Your right about the overwhelming majority of car buyers not paying cash up front though. They all should. Then perhaps the overwhelming majority of Americans wouldn’t be drowning in debt.

  • avatar
    SpikedLemon

    The Chevy Cobalt is a gussied up Cavalier. The transmission is its best (and only decent) feature: nearly on par with a Honda manual transmission. The XFE give the owner no frills and no reason to buy it.

    The Astra is the vehicle that deserves this pedestal but killed by zero marketing and being hidden in the Saturn dealers along with poor choices by GM have lead it to an undeserved early grave in the USA. It’s got a very nice package with a fuel efficient drivetrain.

    Of competitors:
    Even at the 13995 pricepoint: the Nissan Versa (I refer to the hatch: the sedan is an abomination) still blows it away by a longshot. A fanstastically frugal car with an immense amount of usable space that’s relatively fun to drive with it’s 6spd manual transmission and at a far higher build quality than the Cobalt.
    The Elantra sedan, if you must have a trunk, is the next in line to mop the floor of this sad little mistake of a Chevy.

  • avatar

    Carlson Fan : Before you tell GM to take the wing off the back you need to understand how many cars that will help sell. While I’m sure you have no idea what that number is my bet is that GM does.

    I’ll take you up on that bet. Because GM has never re-forecasted, overproduced and relied on fire sales to move product/lower inventory, right? Especially not with the fleet-heavy Cobalt.

  • avatar
    Thinx

    I rented a Cobalt (not the XFE, just some rental spec model) on a day trip to Orange County recently. It had only 600 miles on it, so still quite new.

    It was the PERFECT size for a small two-plus-two daily driver. Just enough room, just enough power to get around – and just enough options (4 speed auto, central locking, electric windows, ac, cd/radio) to make it decent transportation. Probably stickered around 15K, less discounts.

    But… the shoddy build quality and materials really let it down. Every surface was cheesy, crappy, (and quite possibly toxic) plastic. With just 600 miles on it, the flappy door on one of the cubbies was hanging crookedly, the glovebox door didn’t shut properly, and one of the rear door panels had an annoying buzzy rattle. My colleague actually silenced it by putting some scotch tape along the edge.

    The shame of it is that if GM (or anyone else) built the _same_ dang car, but spent a little more money on decent materials and a little better finish and quality control, I would gladly consider paying 2K to 3K more. Two thousand dollars more per car is a LOT of money – GM could actually make that car _extremely_ compelling for about half of that – if they cared.

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    joeaverage: Typical GM product. Almost gets it right or gets it right (Astra) and then gets discontinued prematurely. And no, I’m not going to try to care for an Astra for the next 10-15 years when I can’t get parts for it.

    Yes, imagine my fine disappointment in Saturn that the Astra I own and love is now and forever will be a, “Wow this is really nice! What kind of car is this? A Saturn!? Really??!!” car. Welcome to the Oldsmobile and Studebaker dead pool.

    I won’t say my Astra’s the greatest car ever, because its not. It’s a little slow and I still can’t find a Jiffy Lube that carries the oil filter. It is however a fantastic little car with the best mix of style, handling, and practicality I’ve ever owned. Its really too bad that we won’t see the new one here. Its supposed to be epic.

  • avatar
    ajla

    My experience with a G5 GT (2.2L manual) was alright. I don’t know if I would have given it 4 stars though.

    The G5 GT manual was rated at 25/35, while the XFE gets 25/37. Never driven an XFE, but I think the nicer tires might be worth the ding to highway mileage.

    And, FWIW, I would not buy a G5 without the rear spoiler. Then again, I think this car looks awesome.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I gotta say, this car is unbelievably tempting at $13,995. And I’m man enough to admit that, too.…

    That’s what I like to hear…nobody pines for a car like this but it sure fills the bill for the right audience.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I’ll take you up on that bet. Because GM has never re-forecasted, overproduced and relied on fire sales to move product/lower inventory, right? Especially not with the fleet-heavy Cobalt.

    You mean GM has actually over produced certain models. Name me another car or for that matter manufacturing company that hasn’t. Forcasting is a tool not a science.

  • avatar

    Carlson Fan : You mean GM has actually over produced certain models. Name me another car or for that matter manufacturing company that hasn’t. Forcasting is a tool not a science.

    We’re talking about GM on a review of a GM car, not anyone else. You said, “while I’m sure you have no idea what that number is my bet is that GM does.” And I betcha they absolutely do not. Because slapping a spoiler on a Cobalt won’t change the fact that it’s still a Cobalt.

    Before you tell GM to take the wing off the back you need to understand how many cars that will help sell.

    Let’s get back to your previous comment. Because I think decades of GM market share decline (for a plethora of reasons) is one of the better indicators of how many Cobalts they’ll sell in the future. Trend that line linearly downward and you’ll do better than any crystal balls on spoilers.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    I know WHY GM made some of the choices they have made but consider WHAT they have done…

    They discontinued the fine Astra and kept the Cobalt. WTF?

    They kept the Buicks (meh) and discontinued the Holden-based Pontiac products! WTF?

    They continue to sell the Daewood designs and gave up any chance of selling the Opel Corsa and Tigra and other compact rides that THEY owned until recently.

    GM’s choices are, for me, totally counter-intuitive. The keep the “meh” products and discard the real keepers.

    The management of that company ought to be run out of the USA. Seriously.

    Said it many times – I WANT to buy domestic but HOW could I buy what typically gets sold here by the domestics??? Only Ford has a reasonable balance between quality, features, and price in their smallest products. Chrysler has some interesting styling but I’m not convinced that their products’ wheels won’t pop off at 100K miles. They are not famous for durability.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    A good friend has a black 2009 4 door XFE LT model which is rather hard to find. The LT model for a few bucks more gives you power windows and locks, Cruise, keyless, power body color mirrors, passenger seat back map pocket, front senter armrest and bodyside moldings. It also came std with Onstar/XM radio and an MP3 CD player or in other words a lot of equipment for the modest 14K he bought it for. With 20K now on the clock we routinely see over 40 MPG on pure highway runs(both hand calculated and using the std trip computer) and well over 30 for combined city/freeway driving. The 155 HP VVT Ecotec is a spunky engine that can take the car from rest to 60 in 7.5 seconds using his G-tec and the economy tires ride quietly at 75 MPH. We also were surprised to find a gas strut holding the hood open(something you don’t even find on a 30K Honda Oddessey) and a leather steering wheel with radio controls(something even a 25K Toyota Camry LE doesn’t have). The interior is cheap in places but fits are all precise and the materials used are more than fine for a car in this price range. His only criticism is a lack of rear seat legroom but he expected that in such a small car. Overall we both find this a better alternative to the ugly overpriced and over hyped hybrids that are clogging the highways and a much smarter purchase if fuel economy with a bit of performance too is your goal.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    And I betcha they absolutely do not. Because slapping a spoiler on a Cobalt won’t change the fact that it’s still a Cobalt.

    Sorry but like a lot of the other Monday morning GM quarterbacks that post on this website, I think you give yourself way too much credit. As with curb appeal when selling a house, first impressions are everything. GM wouldn’t add cost to that car with the spoiler if they didn’t think it would help sell it. It’s just that simple.

  • avatar

    Carlson Fan : Sorry but like a lot of the other Monday morning GM quarterbacks that post on this website, I think you give yourself way too much credit. As with curb appeal when selling a house, first impressions are everything. GM wouldn’t add cost to that car with the spoiler if they didn’t think it would help sell it. It’s just that simple.

    If first impressions are everything, then the Corolla is one ugly, spoilerless house that everyone wants to buy. Because most Corollas are the wingless LE, CE, and XLE versions.

    Forget the Corolla. Go walk around a Chevy dealer. (Like I did) How many Cobalts have spoilers? Not very many at all.

  • avatar
    Power6

    1. The overwhelming majority of cars are not purchased for cash up front, so any “saving” has not occurred driving off the lot.

    Math challenged? Have you heard of “interest” or “opportunity cost”? Borrowing is not free.

    2. Usually, if you have a higher vehicle entry price, you have a higher exit price, so the quantum of “saving” is lower (if any over cheap’n’nasty vehicles).

    Great, nothing like paying more interest on a bigger lump to have that Toyota. Only in a lease does your above statement apply.

    3. You get your fuel savings during the lifetime of the vehicle, it might not suit everyone. Combine with (1) & (2) above and you have a concept called “Total Cost of Ownership”. Too hard for many.

    It is well proven that fuel is not the biggest cost in owning an automobile. Depreciation is. Yeah I know the Cobalt sucks there too, but the thing is depreciation is usually talked about in percentages, but who cares about that, how much money are you going to lose in $$$. With a Prius
    you are already at least $10k in the hole to start with, and if you snag the Cobalt your exposure is already limited to $14000. Think a Prius won’t lose >$4000 in value over a few years?

    Sure the Prius is a nicer car, and so is a Bentley too. But the fact remains: Spending any more than you absolutely need to on a car is a luxury.

    Hybrid-pushers need to get over it, just admit you wanted the car, you love the earth, and move on. Thats what all of us driving performance cars have done for years, and SUV owners are finally doing. I am under no impressions my turbocharger is “saving me money” ;-)

  • avatar
    probert

    “No remote entry, no power door locks, crank windows.

    I can’t remember the last time I had to use a key to unlock a car and tell people to roll ‘em and lock ‘em when we park.”

    Kind of refreshing no?

  • avatar
    Jimal

    “Refreshing” in that I had to consciously remember to tell my passengers to lock the door when they got out and my wife and I got back into the somewhat romantic habit of me unlocking her door with the key and by the time I got around to my side of the car in time for her to reach over and unlock my door.

  • avatar
    Lug Nuts

    Quentin: I’ve done over 40mpg in 70mph interstate driving* in both a current generation Civic and Corolla (both were 1.8L AT equipped).

    dolorean23: Dude, gotta call BS on this one. Now I’ve admitted tweeted several co-workers and friends whom own the 1.8L Corolla appliance and not one has come back with more than 36 on the highway. And she was 70 years old. Looks like 34 was more the norm at 70-75 mph.

    I own an ’09 Corolla, 1.8L auto XLE. My drive to the office is a 120-mile round trip, mostly interstate. The office is 800 feet lower in altitude than my house.

    My best mpg to work is 50, by intentionally feathering the gas pedal and not exceeding 55mph the entire way. I typically drive 65-70mph. My worst mpg to work is ~40, in cold weather. My best mpg driving home is 45, again feathering the gas pedal and not exceeding 55mph. My worst mpg to home is 38.

    Granted, just an anecdotal example here, but I find it almost impossible for my Corolla to get much less than 40mpg if driving reasonably on a free-flowing interstate. Even driving around town, I typically average 32-36mpg. I know because I religiously track my fuel consumption and odometer readings (for business reasons).

  • avatar
    dolorean23

    Lug Nuts :

    I agree with you as I did with another posted above. However, even he admitted to going not a hair over 70 mph, which I suppose in a Toyota appliance is easy to do. The dynamic changes when someone goes towards the more tuypical 75-80 mph. My Astra gets overall mileage of 30 mpg, but if I feathered the throttle, shift into fourth after first, and maintain constant 55 mph for just highway mileage, there is no doubt in my mind that it would get 40-45 mpg. BUT, I don’t drive that way and most people I know don’t either.

    This was the reason that the knee-jerk reaction in the 70s to have all FED HWYs at 55 mph. It changed the way people drove, keeping you under 65 mph, the sweet spot for most cars MPG. This was also proven on Top Gear, racing a Ferrari and Prius around the same track with the Ferrari besting the Prius in MPG at full throttle.

  • avatar
    blautens

    My coworker has bought two non XFE Cobalts for $9999 each – stripper, stick, no options but A/C (and no hideous wings). Of course, that was 2006 and now those aren’t loss leaders as much as they were then.

    He’s got a long drive to work, and he uses them up like Kleenex and never thinks twice – gas/oil/tires, toss it when he’s done. He’s not terribly fond of them (he has other cars for other purposes – Mazda MPV and a Toyota Camry), but he swears by his math – and he loves a loss leader.

    Contrast that to my other coworker who has had the exact same commute, but has made it in a Civic for 10 years (180k miles) and an Accord for the last 3 (70k miles already). It’s a far more enjoyable environment. He swears by his math, too. And no need for another car – the Accord serves all his needs.

    All I know is, we never take the Cobalt to lunch.

  • avatar
    ohsnapback

    GM could make the Cobalt very competitive by putting the Malibu 4 banger in it and spending a modest sum improving NVH and interior material quality, and then pricing it competitively with the Elantra.

  • avatar

    My favorite car in my lifetime!! I love it. I get almost 46MPG (pics to back this up) for long term averaging, sometimes for many months, not doing interstate driving. The foot hills of Kentucky are perfect for these cars that seem to cruise forever in neutral. On the 70MOH interstate that mileage can drop to 36MPG with speeds averaging 80MOH plus. It will go 0 to 60 in about 8 seconds flat, and I have drove it near 120moh before I chickened out and slowed down. What makes this car so awesome is teh value. With all discounts I got, I only paid $12,XXX for the car, registration, taxes, 6 months insurance, everything out the door! Yet I have a kick ass stereo and a stick shift that wants to let the car cruise on forever without stopping. One can hyper-mill down the hills in neutral here in the foothills and easily get over 44 MPG. My record high was for 4 months and it was just shy of 46MPG!! EPA 37?? Not for my Colbalt!! Even 40 sounds too low. On the 70 mph Interstate I can go 85-90MPH and it feels like I am only going 45. I have drove it to almost 120MPH before I slowed down for safety, and it goes 0 to 60 in about 8 seconds flat!! With inexpensive value cars like this who needs a $25,000 Hybrid that gets 42MPG?? I do not understand the math.
    I bough the car last July 2009, and as of November had 0 problems. I am due for an oil change and tire rotation, and I love having my CB Radio installed underneath my dashboard away from my legs. Safe to say I LOVE THIS CAR!!
    For production year 2010 The Cruise will replace The Cobalt. I highly advise checking into The Cruise because it is to be based and built by the same engineers and built at the same factory in Lords-town Ohio. All of this quality and it’s still got more domestic content than the Hondas and Toyotas I looked at. In this recession I feel an obligation to TRY to buy American, and I strongly feel the Cobalt XFE and The Cruise (based on spy reviews) are big time winners. For the price of a typical 42 to 48 month loan, I feel obligated to TRY to buy American first. I was thrilled to discover this American built car that has features of the imports with even better gas mileage. A big thumbs up from me!

  • avatar

    I am pleased and disappointed with the Cobalt. While it is much better than the Cavilier it replaced it did not really compete toe to toe with the Civics and Corollas.

    I can say though that the 2.2L Eco-Tech with a 4 speed auto is a strong and reliable combination. When I needed new wheels for my company I found happiness with a used HHR with the 2.2L engine backed by the 4 speed auto. More fun than the minivans I have driven in the past and more economical as well. The efforts G.M. put into quieting the HHR pay off every day I drive it on the highway.

    I actually prefer the HHR to the 2001 Civic I used to own. While the Civic had amazing fuel efficiency it came at the expense of a lot of road and wind noise and this particular Civic had the worst interior quality of any car I have ever owned.

    I would not hesitate to recommend a used Cobalt to someone looking for cheap used wheels. Depreciation is the friend of the used car buyer.

  • avatar
    jayzwhiterabbit

    I have a 2010 Cobalt XFE. I get a consistent 38 MPG combined. Mainly highway and it will get 44. The EPA highway rating is actually much less than the car will get. Not to mention that I got it brand new for $10k. I love it :)


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