I've gotten into a lot of discussions about the plight of the domestic automakers in the face of rising gas prices. "They weren't prepared for $4-a-gallon gas!" is a common refrain. I think what a lot of people don't understand is that the product development cycle for a new car is usually 2 to 5 years -- yet gas prices doubled in a matter of months. The Big Three aren't the only ones coming out with gas-hungry vehicles; witness the 2009 Nissan Maxima and the 2009 Honda Pilot.
That said, there is a valid argument in that while times were good, the Big Three invested most of their development money in their most profitable products (SUVs and pickups). The Japanese did too - but they also devoted resources to cars like the 2009 Honda Fit, 2009 Toyota Corolla and 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer.
But General Motors wasn't quite resting on its laurels -- they had an updated version of their least-expensive car, the Chevrolet Aveo5, in the works. And now it's here. So is it any good? find out in my 2009 Chevrolet Aveo5 test drive. -- Aaron Gold
Related: Newly-expanded 2009 Chevrolet Aveo5 photo gallery
Photo © Aaron Gold