The Truth About Cars » Aveo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 15:44:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Aveo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Rental Car Review: My Wisconsin Week With a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/rental-car-review-my-wisconsin-week-with-a-2012-chevrolet-sonic-lt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/rental-car-review-my-wisconsin-week-with-a-2012-chevrolet-sonic-lt/#comments Mon, 21 Oct 2013 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=628786 27 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn my travels as Chief Justice of the 24 Hours of LeMons Supreme Court, I spend a lot of time in bottom-end rental cars. Sometimes I get press cars and write about them on these trips, but that’s usually more of a hassle than it’s worth. For about 15 four-day race weekends a year (plus a few vacation trips here and there) I’m in a Dodge Avenger, Nissan Altima, Ford Focus, or other rental-fleet favorite. 2013 is a year of Wisconsin visits for me; first, I went to my wife’s Milwaukee high-school reunion with a ’13 Jaguar XJL Portfolio, then I spent nine days in Door County with a rental ’12 Sonic, and next month I’ll be at the Chubba Cheddar Enduro at Road America with a ’14 Mitubishi Evo. The Sonic made an unexpectedly strong impression on me in August, so let’s see what life with Chevy’s little Daewoo is like.
00 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen we arrived at the Milwaukee airport, the rental-car agency had just one car available in the class I’d reserved: a 2012 Chevy Sonic with more than 25,000 miles on the clock. Twenty-five thousand miles, on a rental car! Rental-car miles are like dog years, with one rental mile roughly equivalent to seven owned miles, and I had never before seen a rental car (in the United States) with more than 15,000 miles under its belt. I figured I’d be getting a sneak preview of what a Sonic with 175,000 hard miles would be like in the year 2025— an opportunity, not a disappointment, for the serious automotive journalist.
08 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMinutes after leaving the airport, I spotted a good-sized car show, complete with live music, so I figured I’d get right into Upper Midwest car culture.
31 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn a way, trips to the Upper Midwest serve as reminders of my cultural roots; though I spent most of my childhood in California, I spent my first six years in Minneapolis. Here we see the Martin Family Motor Pool, circa 1970.
30 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, before the commissars of California turned me into the coastal-elitist Zaporozhets lover I am today, my family lived a proper Old Milwaukee-drinking, sauerkraut-eating, snow-shoveling, Custom 500-driving life in the heartland. In fact, every photo from my early childhood features Old Milwaukee (or Old Style, or Grain Belt) beer bottles and/or Old Dutch pretzels somewhere in the frame.
10 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRight. So, a Milwaukee car show did a good job of getting me back in touch with my inner Midwesterner, plus there were a few interesting machines standing out from the usual background of first-gen GM F-bodies and pre-Pinto Mustangs. Say, this Stovebolt six with vintage Offenhauser intake.
09 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOr this more modern version of the custom-Chevy theme.
24 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe were hungry, so we headed to the south side of Milwaukee to grab some dinner. Before leaving, however, I futzed around with the audio system of the Sonic long enough to get my MP3 player hooked up to the stereo’s AUX jack…
22 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin… at which point I discovered that this no-frills econobox has functioning Bluetooth integration. How long ago was it that only luxury cars had this stuff? Ten years?
13 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Sonic felt a bit loose and rattly, as you’d expect with a high-mileage rental, but everything worked fine and the 1.8 liter Ecotec still made decent, if buzzy, power. In fact, I can say without reservation that this is by far the best overseas-designed badge-engineered subcompact in General Motors history; the mildly unpleasant Aveo was better than the punitive Metro, which was better than the miserable Sprint, which was far superior to the wretched LeMans, which beat the hell out of the excremental Chevette, which seemed like a fine automobile next to the unspeakably terrible Kadett. With those comparisons in mind, we rolled into the south Milwaukee neighborhood in which my wife’s grandparents spent their entire lives.
11 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDinner was at Three Brothers, a little Serbian joint located in the building that once housed one of Joseph Schlitz’s first breweries.
12 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s always a good sign when you’re eating dinner at a restaurant with one of these things on the roof.
14 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinReally getting into the Upper Midwest thing at this point, I tried to imagine rolling up to this restaurant in 1964, driving the rental-car equivalent of a Sonic. A Chevy II sedan with four-cylinder engine and 10,000 miles on the odometer?
15 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFor dinner, I had the stuffed zucchini with dumplings. Highly recommended. No, I didn’t drink Schlitz with it; there is such a thing as carrying local authenticity too far.
18 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinAfter spending the night at my mother-in-law’s place just north of Milwaukee, we hit the road for the 140-drive to Sturgeon Bay, a Lake Michigan town about midway up the Door County peninsula.
23 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Sonic’s suspension was a bit rattly and the body was pockmarked by old hail damage, but the unapologetically plasticky interior had held up to all those miles of rental-car punishment pretty well. I continued to be impressed by the number of once-luxurious features that are now standard on even the stripper rental version of the lowest-end car of a car company’s entry-level marque. Cruise control!
21 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinTilt steering wheel! No power seats, but we may see them go the way of manual-crank windows in the next few years.
07 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI had to supply my own GPS device for the Sonic, but once backup cameras become mandatory in all new cars we can expect all those little screens to enable GPS in even the cheap Daewoos of the US car marketplace.
02 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPassing through Belgium, Wisconsin, not far out of Milwaukee’s sphere of influence, I spotted a highway sign for the Luxembourg American Cultural Society Museum. As my legal surname should make clear to any lifelong resident of southern Wisconsin or Minnesota, I am a proud Luxembourg-American— just like Chris Evert and Dennis Hastert.
17 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe museum wasn’t open at the time, but it seemed like a pleasant place. No, I don’t understand why the Luxembourg American Cultural Center is located in Belgium when the town of Luxembourg, Wisconsin is nearby.
16 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHere we are in traditional Luxembourger outfits, which gave me a powerful hunger for some traditional Lëtzebuerger Grillwurscht. So, we climbed back into the Sonic and resumed our journey.
03 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRural Wisconsin is one of my favorite road-trip states, not least because you can stop in just about small town and snarf up an excellent meal based on the principles of the Upper Midwest Food Pyramid (more of a Food Holy Trinity, really): cured meat, cheese, and beer. The Port O’Call in Kewaunee didn’t have Lëtzebuerger Grillwurscht, but they did offer the full spectrum of New Glarus beers and a good selection of meaty, cheesy fare.
25 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinArriving in Sturgeon Bay, which is sort of a weird mashup of corn-fed Midwestern town, salty port city, and upscale resort community, I wanted to pose the Sonic by all the old-school taverns with nicely weathered Malaise Era beer signs.
26 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI suspect that the Red Room’s Blatz sign predates the Malaise Era by a decade or two.

Beer at local prices! I gave up on the Sonic-with-vintage-beer-signs idea once I realized that such a project would take about a week to finish.
32 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinActually, I lost focus on beer signs when I spotted this Nissan Figaro parked in downtown Sturgeon Bay. I couldn’t find the owner, so I can’t tell you what no-doubt-innovative paperwork magic was performed to make this car legal for US roads.
33 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNor can I tell you how a Citroën 2CV can survive in Wisconsin without vaporizing in a cloud of red dust within hours of arrival.
19 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne feature that really struck me about the Sonic was the cheap-and-cheerful instrument cluster, a discrete standalone unit that can be mounted on left or right side of the dash without too much trouble. No doubt using the same Korean-design/Taiwanese-capital/Chinese-labor system that brought us $25 boomboxes that can be tumbled down several flights of concrete steps and still crank out the Tang Dynasty, Daewoo has produced a tough, easy-to-replace analog/digital instrument cluster that provides all the needed driver information, looks vaguely science-fictiony, and probably cost less than the fuel gauge on a Maepsy.

In fact, this cluster is the first thing you see in the add for the Japan-market Chevy Sonic. Wild compact!

Now that we’re watching Sonic commercials, let’s take a look at a few more examples of the way this Daewoo is conquering the world. Here’s how they pitch it in Brazil.

In Australia, the Sonic gets badge-engineered into the Holden Barina.

In Argentina, this Sonic ad gives the econo-futuristic instrument cluster heavy billing.

The Thai-market Sonic is So You. Note the instrument cluster on the right side.

This US-market ad features Theophilus London and the sort of hoonage that would have been illegal under Malaise Era car-ad restrictions.

Speaking of hoonage, marketers of the Korean Sonic (still called the Aveo in 2012) encourage “Fun Riding” in Italy.

In Mexico, all night party people use the Sonic sedan to escape oppressive techno-state control.

Former Warsaw Pact countries got local-language versions of this ad.

This Indian-market ad is for the previous-generation Aveo, but I’m including it for general entertainment value (and to provide yet more evidence that GM has gone seriously global with its Sonic/Barina/Aveo/Zafira/whatever).
20 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin
OK, back to Wisconsin! After admiring the instrument cluster a while longer, I headed to the log cabin.
29 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMy wife’s grandparents bought this log cabin on the Lake Michigan shore back in the 1940s, and I parked the Sonic in the spot where generations of Buicks and Packards once parked.
05 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOver the course of the next week, I took the Sonic on many trips into town, to purchase crucial supplies (and to get internet access, so I could write about my Bonneville Salt Flats adventures of the previous week).
06 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSonic trips to fine Wisconsonian eating establishments such as the Nightingale Supper Club, took care of my recommended yearly allowance of perch and whitefish.
04 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin
Naturally, the Sonic went on a few shopping expeditions for treats to bring back to Denver.
28 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn the end, I was a little sad to return the hail-battered, much-traveled Chevy to the rental-car lot at MKE. The current generation of Sonic turned out to be a decent transportation appliance. If it can survive 25,000 miles in a rental fleet, you have to figure it should be good for at least 200,000 miles on the street, right? My Rental Car Review Verdict™ of the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LT: Utterly bereft of Mack Daddy style, surprisingly pleasant to drive. If given a choice between this car and a Nissan Versa at the rental-car counter, take the Sonic (and if given a choice between the Dodge Journey and walking, take walking).

01 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 27 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 28 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 29 - 2012 Chevrolet Sonic Rental Car Review - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin ]]>
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GM Will Debut New Spark In 2015, Delays Aveo Launch http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/gm-will-debut-new-spark-in-2015-delays-aveo-launch/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/gm-will-debut-new-spark-in-2015-delays-aveo-launch/#comments Wed, 31 Jul 2013 11:30:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=497545 17213029

Though General Motors has not commented, a spokesman for the Korean Metal Workers Union, which represents employees of GM Korea, said that the automaker plans to launch the next generation of the Chevrolet Spark in the first half of 2015 but that next Aveo (sold as the Sonic in the United States) will be delayed.

 

Choi Jong-hak said that the union has also been told that the company will continue to produce the two models in Korea, dispelling rumors that production would be moved, perhaps to the United States. After GM announced that the next Chevy Cruze would not be assembled in Korea, there were concerns about Aveo and Spark production, but GM Korea remains the Detroit based automaker’s major Asian manufacturing base as well as GM’s engineering and design center for its smallest cars.

“The management said it originally planned to launch the redesigned Aveo in late 2015, but the plan was pushed back. It also said it will produce the new Spark in the first half of 2015,” Choi said.

GM Korea currently exports the Spark and Aveo/Sonic to the United States, Europe and other countries. It also supplies knock-down kits for final assembly in Uzbekistan and elsewhere.

The Spark is assembled at GM’s plant in Changwon, and the Aveo is made at GM Korea’s headquarters in Bupyeong, near Seoul.

GM Korea built 215,177 Spark cars last year, with exports accounting for almost 70 percent of production.

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Selective Solidarity: Ignored By UAW Bosses On A Jaunt To South Africa, Korean Union Threatens Strike Against GM http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/selective-solidarity-ignored-by-uaw-bosses-on-a-jaunt-to-south-africa-korean-union-threatens-strike-against-gm/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/selective-solidarity-ignored-by-uaw-bosses-on-a-jaunt-to-south-africa-korean-union-threatens-strike-against-gm/#comments Fri, 07 Jun 2013 06:55:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=491240

When there was labor unrest in South Africa, the UAW was quick to spend union dues for a long trip to the scenic South African locale, ostensibly to show  their solidarity with South African union brothers who, coincidentally, fought against Mercedes and Volkswagen. Back home, the UAW pulled a whole packet of race cards. It headlines, a bit strenuously: “South Africans have more rights than workers in Mississippi.”

It would have been more a propos if the UAW would have flown to South Korea to show solidarity with workers  who are about to go on strike against GM, the company, ooops, that is partially owned by the UAW.

“General Motors Corp has told its South Korean labor union it has no plans to produce the next-generation Aveo small car at its key Asian base for the time being, prompting the union to threaten strike action,” Reuters writes today.

Workers were told by Sergio Rocha, head of GM Korea, that the new Aveo/Sonic will be made  in China and the United States, and that South Korea could possibly produce the model two years after its launch.

GM and its South Korean unions are in wage talks, and GM has made many not so subtle hints  that it might reduce its South Korean presence if workers don’t fall in line. Instead, the Korean unions now threaten strike:

“Should there be no change in the company’s stance, the labor union will be able to launch strike action – our biggest legal weapon.”

The acrimonious, and often militant labor disputes in South Korea  are being steadfastly ignored by the UAW. In the last month, the UAW’s website  did not mention “Korea” once, if Google is to be believed. It’s easy to show solidarity with “our brothers and sisters in South Africa.” It seems to come a bit harder when the union brothers and sisters threaten strike against a company you partially own.

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Question Of The Day: Have We Passed The Peak Of Cheap? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/question-of-the-day-have-we-passed-the-peak-of-cheap/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/question-of-the-day-have-we-passed-the-peak-of-cheap/#comments Fri, 21 Sep 2012 15:25:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=461129

The good old days of late summer 2009.

It was a great time to buy a new car. Monthly new car sales in North America had plummeted to under 10 million units.  Access to financing seemed to be near impossible for a lot of consumers. Brands were orphaned. Leasing collapsed. Banks were picky. The future was uncertain and… raw materials were cheap.

It was a good time to buy new at a deep, deep discount.  Has that time passed?

What got me thinking about this was a late model car I was using for my auction travels. A popular car. One that sells like hotcakes. Yet it looks like nearly every interior component within it has been parts binned, deconteted and cheaped out to epic proportions.

It offered good fuel economy, a nice radio display, and several hundred pounds of plastics that were in varying forms. Could the car get any cheaper and remain marketable?

I had my doubts. From the wafer fin door panels. To the glossy, Tonka like display of the center dashboard. It reeked of cheap to the point where an hour inside of it felt like a petrochemical bath.

As I went to that evening sale, I thought,  ”I wonder if this material is cheaper to buy than cardboard boxes?” It was an honest question because everybody uses this cheap stuff. From the mightiest of manufacturers to the most irrelevant of niche players. The hollowness of material quality and feel for anything 20k or under seems to be an epidemic of cheap these days.

Yet everything costs more. Reconsider those MSRP’s for a moment. There was a time not to long ago when a $13,000 Yaris, Versa, Cobalt, Aveo, Rio, and PT Cruiser were publicized on a paperish pulp we used to know as a newspaper. Remember those?

Now a few of these names, along with their far more marketable descendants are venturing hard towards the $20,000 mark. There a few discounts. Maybe even a rebate or two.  But the hard march to the next big round number seems to be the new tune of 2012. A loaded Camry can now retail for well over $30k. The Lexus LS400h can now cost nearly $100k.  We’re talking two decent foreclosed houses in the ex-urbs here folks!

This brings the TTAC readers to our question for today. Have we passed the peak of cheap? Are we bound to a new world of car buying where commuter cars only feel cheap and the ‘nip and tuck’ of cost containment has run the course?

What says you?

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The Time My Girlfriend Almost Bought An Aveo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/the-time-my-girlfriend-almost-bought-an-aveo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/the-time-my-girlfriend-almost-bought-an-aveo/#comments Mon, 30 Jul 2012 15:44:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=454745

Back in April, Sajeev and Steve found some time to reply to my letter where I posed the impossible question. As gearheads, we all want something fun, fast, efficient, and cheap (well, most of us want cheap). Much like a traction circle, all these needs are in competition and in order to make good on one you need to sacrifice another. The ultimate gearhead car, unfortunately, does not exist and it never will.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t good, affordable vehicles out there which are fun to drive while ticking most of the boxes. And, this time, I actually followed the advice of someone else and couldn’t be happier.

For a number of weeks, my girlfriend and I scoured the classifieds, made calls, and generated lists of cars we wanted to check out. Initially, a Mazda Protege5 seemed to fit the bill. The interiors are still great to look at to this day, the engines torquey and fun, and the Protege5 is halfway between a proper wagon and a hatchback. She had laid down the law saying she wouldn’t be caught driving a wagon, so for me this was a solid win.

Once we started looking around to see what Protege5s were available, we were promptly disappointed. All were in various states of disrepair, from simple electronic accessories being broken to full on rust infestation and everything in between, the east coast climate was claiming Protege5s at a steady, rapid rate. Our dream econobox choice turned out not to be a valid choice at all.

After a few Mazdisasters, a personal friend of mine invited us to one of Canada’s largest GM dealerships to check out their used inventory. This particular dealership doesn’t keep any wholesale stock sitting around, so the price of entry is relatively steep on the used lot. “Just show me the cheapest cars you have,” I said, hoping there would be some unloved goldmine hidden behind the service bays, waiting for a new owner to care for and cherish her.

“Well, our most affordable option on the lot is a 2006 Chevy Aveo 5-door hatchback,” replied my friend who is relatively new to the car hawking business.

At this point, my internal monologue was unleashing a series of expletives cursing the Aveo’s existence, but on the outside I am telling my girlfriend to take it for a drive, hoping she will come to the realization the Aveo is the automotive equivalent of a polished turd. Even worse, this is someone else’s former polished turd.

I drove the first half of the predefined test route, bemoaned the underpowered 1.6L four-pot smushed together with the lazy 4-speed automatic, and tried to think happier thoughts,  such as getting repeatedly kicked in the groin by someone with a size 15 shoe. I felt dirty, like I had done something completely forbidden and totally frowned upon if anyone found out. I’d driven an Aveo.

Shortly, it was time for us to switch seats and for my significant other to take over for the rest of the journey back to the dealership. Though she didn’t show love or heaping praise for the Korean tin can, she didn’t hate it either. I found this strange. The engine to her was adequately powerful, amenities were few but simple and easy to use, and the steering was fairly light in her hands. On arrival back to the dealership she uttered three words which could have laid waste to my automotive reputation: “I like it.”

If I hadn’t have been there, I am sure the Aveo would have been sold that day.

Over the course of the next couple of hours, the salesperson and my girlfriend exchanged text messages about the red little Chevy while I frantically went dealership to dealership looking for an affordable alternative. And, out of nowhere, an oasis appeared. At a used car dealership sat a vehicle suggested by TTAC’s own Steve Lang, a 2008 Saturn Astra 5-door hatchback with a proper manual transmission.

Two years newer, slightly more mileage, and a hell of a lot more car than the Aveo, the Astra was priced slightly above our budget . When my girlfriend saw the price displayed on the other side of the windshield she winced at the thought of paying more than our budgeted allotment, but I was determined to show her this was the better choice.

The Astra was a victim of being in North America wearing the wrong badge at the wrong time. Saturn was about to get cut from the team and with the economic crisis commencing nobody wanted to pay the premium Saturn dealers were asking for the European built hatch. Fortunately for us, prices for Saturns have tanked since then and the parts and service network still exists. We took the Belgian C-car for a drive around the neighbourhood, my girlfriend fell in love with the car, and the rest is automotive history I can be proud of.

If there is a lesson in this, other than listening to your two knowledgeable TTAC suggestion machines, it’s there is always a better option to “settling”. Nobody deserves to drive an Aveo.

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Review: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ Turbo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/review-2012-chevrolet-sonic-ltz-turbo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/review-2012-chevrolet-sonic-ltz-turbo/#comments Wed, 18 Jan 2012 02:46:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=425906 Let’s face it; we Americans have rarely created a small car worth considering, we have also rarely built a small car in our own backyard. Case in point: the former Chevy Aveo. While I wouldn’t say the Aveo was abjectly horrible, there was nothing to excite a shopper and it wasn’t cheap enough to compensate. While the Aveo was born out of old-GM’s need to buy every ailing car company around the world (in this case Daewoo), it’s replacement, the new Chevy Sonic, is the only subcompact car currently sold in the United States that’s actually assembled here as well. The platform used by the Sonic is far better traveled than most Americans. GM’s “Gamma II” architecture was designed by GM Korea with considerable input from Opel (as the Opel Corsa will share the platform soon) and re-skinned by Chevrolet. To make the Sonic LTZ Turbo from this multi-national compact car, Chevy dropped a 1.4L turbocharged engine and six-speed manual tranny under the hood. Unlike the Hertz-ready Sonic hatchback Michael Karesh has last year, the Sonic LTZ Turbo is the top-of-the-line Sonic attempting to please those who want a hair more shove and, paradoxically, better fuel economy. Sound like a good start? Let’s see if GM got it right this time.

On the outside, the Sonic strikes some interesting poses. The side character lines are assertive, and the bold nose worn by this baby-bow-tie might be the best look I’ve ever seen from Chevrolet (I’m glad they didn’t get all Camaro-cartoonish on the Sonic). While it seems that the last decade was marked by compact cars that were egg-shaped contraptions with no pizzazz, the Sonic’s headlamps are the polar opposite with “individual” lamp assemblies instead of a single aerodynamic unit. While the look is both unique and striking, I can’t imagine they are “pedestrian friendly” and they look like they’d be a bear to clean (a problem not lost on a guy that washes his own cars). Out back things get a touch awkward with a stubby trunk, tear-drop shaped tail lamps (side view) and a plain trunk lid. While compact sedans are difficult to style to begin with, Chevrolet’s dramatic schnoz makes the boring booty a bit more pronounced. To soften the blow, the LTZ trim includes well-integrated fog lamps and a bump from the base car’s 15-inch wheels to 17-inch 5-spoke aluminum rollers that fill out the wheel wells better than most in this segment (I’m looking at you, Honda Fit).


The problem with looking at the top trim-levels of a particular car is that the interior can disappoint. The reason of course is a practical one; while you might be paying nearly $20,000 for the top-end model, the same interior is used in the base model costing some 25% less. The Sonic LTZ is no different from the rest with plenty of hard plastic on the dash and doors. Fortunately, the interior styling is modern and fairly unique which helps distract from the parts quality. The dilemma of a fully-loaded sub-compact for $20,000 or a base mid-size sedan like a Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry or VW Passat is not lost on me. For the money, if the interior quality matters to you, jump up a size and you will be far happier with your decision. Within its class however, the Sonic is no longer at the bottom of the pack in terms of interior refinement, instead trailing behind Hyundai and Ford but notably above Chrysler and Nissan’s discount offerings. Yet again, features on the LTZ help to distract from any haptic concerns with standard heated seats, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, leather seating surfaces, and a thick-rimmed leather steering wheel. What isn’t standard is an abundance of rear leg room, a problem common among the majority of the competition (the Nissan Versa is a notable exception). The cargo capacity of 14 cubic feet is very competitive and unlike some of the competition, split folding rear seats are standard on the Sonic.

On the safety front, the Sonic has recently scored an IIHS top safety pick along with the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte and Ford Focus. All Sonic models come with a bevy of airbags including knee airbags for the driver and front passenger. GM is quick to point out OnStar as a safety feature; however the Sonic only gets a 6-month subscription for free. While I found OnStar handy on my last vehicle that came equipped with it (a 2000 GMC Envoy), the price could be a problem for budget shoppers with the cheapest package costing $199 a year (there are multi-year discounts available). If you want the turn-by-turn navigation feature (GM’s solution to the lack of an in-dash nav system), that’ll set you back $299 a year. Shoppers with smartphones might want to just stick to their Google Maps app and a basic AAA membership. Still, if you are risk averse and want to know that someone hears you when a tree falls in the forest, the Sonic is the only OnStar equipped car in the class.

Car companies equate small car buyers with young car buyers and for good reason; in the US small means cheap and the young buyers typically have little cash. The problem with this segment and the supposed target demographic is that the young demand technology. Unfortunately for Chevrolet (aside from OnStar), the Sonic has little going for it in the cellphone/music device integration department. There is an “OnStar app” which allows you to perform a variety of tasks from your Apple iPhone or Android device including: locking or unlocking the car, getting vehicle service information, setting up service appointments, viewing your tire pressure and finding your car in a parking lot. Two problems exist with this; the yearly fee and the fact that none of those features address the behind-wheel experience. While you can plug your iPod or iPhone into the Sonic, there is no voice command ability for your tunes ala Ford’s SYNC or Kia’s UVO. Adding to the frustration is an incredibly slow interface and tiny screen. I’d say you would be better off unplugging your device, browsing, then plugging it back in – except the system seems to always start at the first tune on your device in alphabetical order. If you’re young and not a Luddite, good luck finding your beat. On the bright side, the Bluetooth system operated flawlessly with above average sound quality.

Ford has been touting their turbocharged engines as the answer to all the world’s ills, so it was only a matter of time before GM hopped on the boosted-bandwagon. Instead of a boring name like Ecoboost, by checking the $700 option box (on LT and above trims) Chevy gives you the “Turbo Sonic” or “Sonic Turbo.” Take your pick. Either way it sounds like something from The Jetsons. For turbo duty, the engineers blessed the 1.4L cast-iron engine with aluminum heads, dual variable valve timing, a suitably small appetite for fuel and a tiny power bump verses the base 1.8L engine. While both engine choices are good for 138HP, the 1.4L turbo delivers peak power 1,400RPM lower than the 1.8 and, typical of turbo engines, it delivers 23 ft-lbs more twist with the peak hitting at 2,500RPM (1,300RPM lower than the 1.8). What does this mean for the driver? As long as you don’t mind the turbo lag, the 1.4L engine will serve up 60MPH about a half second faster than the 1.8L while delivering a 22% improvement in economy (4MPG city and 5MPG highway better). If you are waiting for the Sonic RS, be aware there are no planned power upgrades, just styling and possibly wheel changes.


Due partly to the turbo engine and the 2,850lb curb weight, the Sonic LTZ Turbo is rated for 29 MPG city and 40 MPG highway. Our tester came with the 6-speed manual transmission and, until sometime this spring, this is the only transmission choice for the turbo. I am told however that when the 6-speed automatic does drop, we should expect to see essentially identical EPA numbers. If you live in the mountains as I do, just wait for the automatic. As much as I love a good manual, the tiny engine runs out of steam around 5,000 RPM and as with most small turbocharged engines you don’t just have to downshift to get up a hill, you have to downshift and wait for the turbo to spool-up. When the mountain roads start twisting, the electric power steering is as numb companion, however the chassis is well sorted and grip from the 205-width low-profile Hankook Optimo tires was greater than I had expected. Despite our testing, mountain climbing and plenty of idling at the photo shoot, we averaged 34.6 MPG during 865 miles and easily hit 41 MPG on the open highway.

While the outgoing Aveo was named the Least Satisfying vehicle by Consumer Reports, the new Sonic has a few things going for it. Aside from being the patriot’s choice for being in Michigan, it delivers a competent driving experience with excellent fuel economy. While the $19,420 price tag may seem high, it is less than a Hyundai Elantra Limited and a hair cheaper than a fully loaded Fiesta SEL sedan. The Sonic wins points for being more fun to drive than either, unfortunately it loses more than it gains(in my book) for its poor smartphone integration. Fortunately GM has announced that their new “MyLink” infotainment system is coming to the Sonic in the 2013 model year. While I hesitate to speculate on new products, I have to say the thought of a 2013 Sonic Turbo with the 6-speed automatic and the new MyLink system makes me think GM is finally on to something.

 

Statistics as tested

0-30: 3.0 seconds

0-60: 8.7 seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.6 seconds @ 83 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 34.6 MPG over 865 miles

Chevrolet provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

 

2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, front 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, rear, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, rear 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, side 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, side 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, side 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, side 3/4, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, glove compartment, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, glove compartment, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, glove compartment, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, HVAC vent, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, radio, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, center console, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, HVAC controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, 6-speed shifter, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, gauges, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, gauges, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, steering wheel controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, steering wheel controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, rear seat side view, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Interior, rear seat folded, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, trunk, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, trunk, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevy Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, trunk, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ Turbo Exterior, headlamp, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Oleg Gets His Wish: Russia’s GAZ To Build Chevy Aveo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/oleg-get-his-wish-russia%e2%80%99s-gaz-to-build-chevy-aveo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/02/oleg-get-his-wish-russia%e2%80%99s-gaz-to-build-chevy-aveo/#comments Wed, 02 Feb 2011 11:19:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=382592

Remember Oleg Deripaska? The Russian oligarch that had been under suspicion of money laundering and organized crime activities?  The very same Deripaska GM did not want to have close to Opel for fear of losing their precious intellectual property ? Yes, him. GM just handed him the blueprints and the tooling for the Chevy Aveo.

According to a GM press release, “General Motors Co. and Russian automotive manufacturer GAZ Group, part of Oleg Deripaska’s ‘Basic Element Group’, have signed an agreement for the contract assembly of the new Chevrolet Aveo small car at GAZ’s facility in Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia.”

Production of some 30,000 Aveos is scheduled to begin in mid-2012. The cars are for the Russian market. The new Aveo (Chevrolet Sonic in the USA) hatchback is latest technology. It debuted at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, and is a volume car destined for markets around the world. The Aveo shares a lot of technology with, some say is based on the Opel Corsa. So finally, Oleg gets his wish: An Opel.

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Wild-Ass Rumor Of The Day: GM Likes “Sonic” Better Than “Aveo” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/wild-ass-rumor-of-the-day-gm-likes-sonic-better-than-aveo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/12/wild-ass-rumor-of-the-day-gm-likes-sonic-better-than-aveo/#comments Tue, 07 Dec 2010 18:56:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=376124

When we asked TTAC’s Best And Brightest whether Chevy should stick with the “Aveo” nameplate for its new subcompact offering or move in a new direction, only a few seemed to believe that “Aveo” carries much equity at this point. But then, it’s not like Chevy has a lot of small-car “heritage” to draw on… Sprint, Vega, Monza and Citation all have their obvious limitations. The B&B’s debate was typically dynamic, but it seems that this discussion has gone back and forth at the RenCen as well. GMI reports:

GM has struggled with the Aveo’s name for the last two years. According to sources former U.S. marketing chief Mark LaNeve originally wanted to rename the Aveo to “Viva.” Then–following GM’s bankruptcy filing last year–Bob Lutz ordered the Aveo name to stay put…

The lackluster image of the current Aveo has left GM’s new marketing chief, Joel Ewanick, to conclude that the car needs to be renamed. Although GM has not formally announced the new name, GMI sources are stating that GM has signed off on the name “Chevrolet Sonic.”

According to U.S. Trademark records General Motors LLC filed for a trademark on the name “Chevrolet Sonic” on October 5th.

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Ask The Best And Brightest: To Aveo, Or Not To Aveo? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/ask-the-best-and-brightest-to-aveo-or-not-to-aveo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/ask-the-best-and-brightest-to-aveo-or-not-to-aveo/#comments Mon, 11 Oct 2010 21:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=368271

A longtime critique of General Motors here at TTAC is that it needs to pick enduringly appealing names for its products and stick to them, instead of shuffling through some eighty nameplates for midsize and smaller cars since Toyota introduced the Corolla. Still, this approach doesn’t advocate simply freezing time, and calling every compact Chevy a Cruze from here to eternity. If you’re going to stick with a name, it has to be good, and it has to mean something.

Enter the Aveo, which is about to be replaced by another Daewoo-developed hatchback (made in the US this time), but should (if GM can be believed) represent an improvement over the unlovable outgoing model.GM’s North American supremo Mark Reuss is still wavering on the name, refusing to commit to Aveo, but unwilling to suggest an alternative nameplate. Which brings us to today’s question: is it nobler for the car to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageously poor associations with the name Aveo? Or should GM put the name to sleep, perchance to dream up a better, more enduring one? Is consistency good even if it means keeping one of the most maligned nameplates this side of “Sebring”? Aye, there’s the rub.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: A Whole New Aveo Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-a-whole-new-aveo-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-a-whole-new-aveo-edition/#comments Fri, 08 Jan 2010 00:16:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=341107 (courtesy: theGMsource.com)

This is reportedly the new Aveo RS concept coming to the Detroit Auto Show, and apparently a near-production look at the next-generation Aveo. Well, you weren’t expecting it to look worse than the current model, were you?

(courtesy: theGMsource.com)

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