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2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFEI promised you a return to sane motoring, so here it is -- Chevrolet's most fuel-efficient car, more efficient than the subcompact Aveo5, better highway MPG than a Honda Fit, ladies and gentleman, all the way from Lordstown, Ohio, put your hands together and give a warm About.com Cars welcome to... THE CHEVROLET COBALT X... F... E!!!

[SFX: Crickets chirping]

OK, so maybe it's a little difficult to get excited about the Cobalt, even if its engine has undergone tweaks for better fuel economy (see how I snuck in that factoid? I am nothing if not smooth). I'll be honest, I'm going for maximum razzamatazz in the blog entry because the review is a little... well... dull.

We did, however, get some exciting (relatively speaking) news about the Cobalt's replacement, the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. Its engine will be a 1.4 liter turbocharged four-cylinder that will put out 140 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque -- numbers not far off from the Cobalt's 155 hp and 150 lb-ft. The real question: How fuel efficient will it be? GM isn't saying just yet. But seeing what they were able to do with the Cobalt XFE and its big ol' 2.2 liter engine was encouraging. How fuel efficient is the XFE? And how is the rest of the car? Find the answers in my 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE test drive and review. If you can stay awake to the end, that is. -- Aaron Gold

Photo © Aaron Gold

September 26, 2008 at 2:02 pm
(1) Jeff Glucker says:

About.com Top Secret Curvy Test Road

I am very intrigued where that might be…

September 26, 2008 at 2:29 pm
(2) Dfi says:

I think I know where it is, perhaps I’ll stage a stakeout and report back…


September 26, 2008 at 4:38 pm
(3) LWATCDR says:

Trim for my old man act. Back when I was a kid…
No really why are these cars so “over” powered?
My fun to drive 86 GTI had all of 90 HP and it was fun to drive too boot.
Why does the Cobalt need over 50% more power?
For a small car wouldn’t 120 HP be more then enough? From maybe a 1.8 liter engine?

September 26, 2008 at 5:27 pm
(4) Johnster says:

These cars are so “over-powered” because they are a lot larger and heavier than they were when you were a kid, LWATCDR. Your ’86 GTI weighed right around 2,000 pounds and had less interior and trunk space than the Cobalt XFE. Your ’86 GTI also lacked the front airbags, two-row side curtain airbags, and antilock brakes found on this Cobalt XFE. The GTI probably did not have OnStar, power windows, mirrors and locks, heated leather seats, remote starting, or Bluetooth phone compatibility.

The Cobalt weighs more along the lines of something like 2,700 pounds and, if involved in a serious collision, is a much safer car to be in, than an ’86 GTI. The Cobalt XFE is probably quicker in terms of 0 to 60, the quartermile, and probably has a higher top speed than an ’86 GTI.

Eventually people stopped buying small GTIs and Volkswagen replaced the car with a larger and heavier model that is more directly comparable to the current Cobalt in terms of weight, interior and trucnk space and overall performance.

The observed gas mileage is commendable for this kind of car. Much better than Chevy’s own smaller Aveo.

September 26, 2008 at 5:52 pm
(5) Aaron Gold - Cars Guide says:

LWATCDR — I was going to say pretty much what Johnster said, but then Johnster beat me to it. :)

Also, remember that our standards for acceptable performance have changed. Back when your GTI was new, 0-60 in under 10 seconds was considered pretty darn hot. Today, we expect our cars to make it to 60 in about 8 or 8.5 seconds, or we complain that it’s too slow. — Aaron

September 26, 2008 at 11:38 pm
(6) joe_thousandaire says:

I’m wondering how the brakes felt with the high-stopping-resistance tires equipped.

September 27, 2008 at 9:18 am
(7) Mongrel147 says:

What gas mileage???? My 06 G6 with 3.5 V6 (rymms!!!!) gives me better tht 30 on the highway at 70-75 and mid 20′s around town. 1 or 2 mpg is no real difference. G6 is bigger, better looking and a lot nicer car.

September 27, 2008 at 9:34 am
(8) Mike in Minn says:

You know Mongrel147, that is something I’ve noticed too; often a nicer, more powerful car will get similar or even better mileage than smaller supposedly more frugal cars. Although it sounds as though this Cobalt XFE’s fuel economy drops off precipitously above 70 mph. In his review Aaron saw 37mpg at 65-70 with A/C off (I’ve read that A/C is usually good for about 1mpg poorer gas mileage). So 36 is actually significantly better than your G6 or my Altima 2.5SL. But we’re having a lot more fun. :)

September 27, 2008 at 9:25 pm
(9) Allen says:

Sane motoring, Hum Im not sure a shoe box with Ugh, 155hp 2.2 is really a sane car.
Whats wrong with insanity in our motoring life, we all require a certain amount of healthy go fast you know…
I can see it now.. The neighbors are still drooling, dreaming and wishing over the past few cars that have been privileged to grace Casa Golds palatial grounds. Ah but on this fine calie morning there is a new stallion in the driveway of the Golds.
What is this impostor of a dream car the joggers ask ??? It is a Cobalt XFE a young girl says and the small crowd gasps then starts to snicker and laugh. A sane car at Casa Gold, how can this be says a middle aged man on his $1200.sport bicycle.
This is insanity, we want our insanely fast stallions back the small crowd roars…

September 27, 2008 at 11:34 pm
(10) Mike in Minn says:

Not on subject. Aaron thanks for the twitter stuff. Glad to hear your dog is mastering continence. It’s a watershed event-for a dog. That Ezra Dyer stuff is hilarious. I especially liked “art poop”. One question begs, though…what happened after 05?

September 28, 2008 at 12:59 am
(11) Mike in Minn says:

Oh never mind, Aaron. I Googled him. His early writings are addicting.

September 28, 2008 at 2:24 pm
(12) jimmy says:

Aaron, your on Twitter? I did a search for your name but didn’t find you.

September 28, 2008 at 11:25 pm
(13) Aaron Gold - Cars Guide says:

Allen: Don’t worry, there’s an insane test of an insane new-for-2009 car coming later this week.

Jimmy: http://www.twitter.com/autonerd (autonerd is my alter ego). Which reminds me, I gotta update!

Mike in Minn: One can only assume he got a real job late in 05…

September 30, 2008 at 9:36 am
(14) LWATCDR says:

My GTI had AC but your right no power windows or seats.
As to trunk space? Not on your life! I could and did fit a footlocker in that trunk along with some small suitcases and still had room for three four adults.
I would get over 30MPG driving way too fast on the interstate. So no I don’t think most cars have more room than the GTI did.
I will give you that they safer. However the key is why do we expect a modern econobox to go 0-60 in 8.3 seconds?
Why not at least have the option to trade speed for mileage?
When I bought my Mazda3 was disappointed that the 2.0 liter wasn’t an option with the hatch back. I had to get the 2.3.
That car is fast. Frankly it is annoying because I never really get to floor it. I am way past the speed limit before you know it.
Yea it is a lot of fun but for day to day driving I could live with a little less zip and a little more mileage.

October 1, 2008 at 7:12 pm
(15) Jeff says:

A few months ago we were looking to replace my newly deceased old Volvo with a car that got better mileage (and ran on regular). The Cobalt XFE was on the top of our list. My wife was satisfied (how lucky am I on a car that only comes with a manual?) with everything, space, power, mileage, since she would get the new car. The only problem? Could not get a XFE with the LT package (two kids including an infant made keyless entry a priority) within 200 miles. So, we ended up buying our first new import, a Mazda 3. We also wish we could have gotten the 5 door with the 2.0, but we settled for the sedan and got our 5 speed. We tried to go American, but 4 door/manuals are hard to find. The Focus didn’t have enough back seat room, the Astra just seemed to be missing something. I just wish more cars had manual tranny’s.

Stats show that over 90% of cars sold in the US are auto, so no one thinks they are worth it. But how many people buy an auto because its all they can get (or find) on the car they want? Count me in that category.

October 10, 2008 at 11:25 pm
(16) D Smith says:

After driving a rental 08 Cobalt on two occasions this year, about 2500 miles total, and averaging 33-36 (auto tranny on both) my wife and I have ordered an 09 for delivery in January. The cars were comfortable (for my 6’1″ frame), quiet and equipped nicely. They are no style beater, but are good solid cars for a budget minded commuter. As long as we get from point A to point B safely, and economically we are not concerned with chrome frills or Italian styling. The Cobalt fits the bill for us.

February 12, 2009 at 11:53 pm
(17) Just John says:

Nice looking car with great options, however I’m not too impressed. I had a 1990 Geo Metro with a 1.0 liter Suzuki 3-cylinder and a 5-speed that got 53-55 MPG normally, and 61-64 MPG in 45 MPH rush hour traffic.

With advances in technology you would expect new cars to be getting 75-80 MPG rather than the current “OH WOW” when we see something that gets only 35-40.

April 6, 2009 at 11:40 pm
(18) Joe says:

I also had a Geo Metro with a 1 litre 3 cylinder engine and a 5-speed transmission. I could also get about 61-63mpg on the highway and I liked the car. I just bought a 2009 Cobalt XFE and am very impressed. Using the digital computer to calculate mpg I took a 20 mile ride on the interstate. I was getting 46-48 mpg. Going up a grade it dropped down to 46.x but going down it jumped up to 48. I only have 300 miles on this car so far and maybe 50+ will be possible once it gets broken in and I switch to Mobil 1 engine oil. So far a great car.

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