Chevrolet Aveo5 Review

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams
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chevrolet aveo5 review

General Motors is at it again. After failing to flog captive imports from Opel, Isuzu and Suzuki, The General’s drafted in Daewoo to give Chevy’s “American Revolution” something to sell. Considering GM’s lack of success with captive imports in the past, and Daewoo’s Titanic troubles in the US market, you have to wonder about RenCen’s reasoning vis-à-vis the rebadged machine known on this side of the Pacific as the Chevrolet Aveo. Has GM made yet another logistical mistake, or will they have the last laugh as vendors of the only domestic nameplate selling a high-mileage subcompact car in the US?

As part of the overseas adoption process, Chevy subjected the Aveo to a bit of automotive bow-tox, grafting the family Chevy logo across the Korean’s grill-less grill opening. From there backwards, it’s pure Daewoo. Although the four-door’s been restyled for ’07, the five-door hatchback soldiers on with slab sides, broken by character lines lifted from a 30-year old Datsun B-210. Depending on your age and gender, the overall reaction varies from “like, totally cute!” to “WTF is that thing?”

The interior is lousy with cheap. The instruments and warning lights occupy two humps on a dashboard that fell off a minivan assembly line. The center AC vents perch on the leading edge of the dashboard like an overnight tree fungus. Hollow-sounding doors, fake carbon fiber trim, carpeting with pile shorter than the hair on a Chihuahua’s ears and a headliner made of the same felt found on $100 pool tables complete the ambiance. No matter which of the senses you engage, you know you’re in the bargain basement’s basement.

With the seat up, Aveo’s stubby tail provides enough cargo space for a couple of adolescent contortionists. Fold the seat down and you can add a family of midgets. More worryingly, the top of the rear seat is only about 15 inches from the rear hatch. To put it into perspective, roughly 24 inches separate your rear seat passengers’ heads from the H2’s brush bar at your rear bumper. The sturdily upholstered front seats are wide enough to accommodate your gluteus even if it’s a bit more than maximus. Unfortunately they also provide the lateral support of a barstool. Factor in the short bottom cushions and lack of lumbar support, and you have the automotive equivalent of Chuck E. Cheese–- you’ll go there if you have to, but you’re not going to stay any longer than necessary.

The driving dynamics aren’t. Throttle response is eventual, acceleration is leisurely and steering feel is implied. Applying the brakes is like stepping on a day old jelly-filled Krispy Kreme. The 103hp “little engine that couldn’t” runs out of steam in a hurry, especially when pulling long hills, at which point all it’s good for is converting petrochemicals (with or without ethanol) into noise. Compounding the problem is a four-speed automatic transmission that hunts for gears like a madwoman looking for the bargains at a shoe sale.

The underpowered drivetrain provides a single benefit: knowing you’ll never overpower the suspension. The Aveo will safely negotiate gentle corners at moderate speeds, but its puny tires and lack of acceleration mean the fun ends before you start the engine. Between the squealing 14-inch rubber and Poseidon Adventure body roll, you’ll lose your nerve long before the car loses control.

The only shiny spot in the Aveo’s bland existence is also its raison d'être: fuel economy. Let’s face it: even without the “sudden” demand for fuel efficient cars, GM needed an mpg superstar to offset the CAFE problems caused by its full line of efficiency-challenged SUV’s and pickups. And so the Korean penalty box travels 27 miles for every gallon of petrochemical rotgut its more “careful” owners are likely to buy. On the highway, they’ll score 37 EPA miles per gallon. Owners can bask in the knowledge that they’re enduring GM’s highest mileage US product, ignoring the fact that every Aveo sold helps GM crank-out even more gas-sucking trucks.

Unfortunately the General’s best ain’t good enough. The rental-friendly Aveo faces off against some highly evolved competition including the Fit and Yaris, both of which break the 40mpg barrier on the highway. In reality, I can’t find a good reason to choose the Aveo over either of those or even over a Kia Rio. Honda and Toyota offer reliability of mythic proportions, while Kia provides a warranty even better than Chevy’s “best in America” five year/100,000 mile powertrain coverage.

When Chrysler enters the fray with a rebadged Chery and Ford finally realizes they actually need a marketable small car to survive, the competition will heat up even more. GM needs to move quickly to improve the Aveo and bring it up to world-class standards. Otherwise they’ll have to send yet another captive import back home in shame.

Frank Williams
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  • Amywaco30 Amywaco30 on Feb 05, 2008

    I love cars, and the Aveo's not the most stylish or sporty car in the world. It is, however, dog gone inexpensive. I purchased a new Aveo for $7200 out the door. The driving experience is fine--better than any 10-year-old compact or subcompact, which was what i was driving. The warranty is a key feature for a car at this price point. Others in this thread have said it well. When you rely upon one car as primary transportation, a new car with a 5-year warranty is a good value. The way I figure it, I got this car for three times the price of a Tata Nano. This car is probably four times better than the Nano in terms of build quality, functionality, useability, safety, and reliability. On that scale, this is probably the best cheap car available anywhere.

  • 1tonvans 1tonvans on Dec 06, 2009

    I own an 05, got it new for less than $4000 with rebates. It was worth that but not much more. I have the hatchback; I took out the back seat so there is lots of room to haul stuff. I have 80,ooo miles on it and it is starting to get very loud. I doubt it will hit 100k. Other than this disturbing noisy development, I have not had any major mechanical problems with the aveo. I would buy another new one if I could get it for the under $4k price again. It looks like an orange shoebox, so at least it is not as boring looking as all of those fugly sedans out there. I have the manual tranny, get about 33 mpg on Colorado e-ways, almost all highway miles. It gets up to 80 with no problem, and has decent pick-up if you know how to use a stick. Handles OK in the snow if you put some extra weight in it in the winter. Glad I bought it.

  • Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
  • Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.
  • Marky S. I own the same C.C. XSE Hybrid AWD as in this article, but in Barcelona Red with the black roof. I love my car for its size, packaging, and the fact that it offers both AWD and Hybrid technology together. Visibility is impressive, as is its small turning circle. I consider the C.C. more of a "station wagon" by proportion, rather than an “SUV.” It is fun to drive, with zippy response and perky pick-up. It is a pleasant car to drive and ride in. It is not trying to be a “Butch Off-Roader”, or a cosseting “Luxury Cruiser.” Those are not its goals or purpose. The Corolla Cross XSE Hybrid AWD is a wonderful All-Purpose Car (O.K. – “SUV” if you must hear me say it!) with a combination of all the features it has at a reasonable price.
  • Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
  • Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.