We really are in a whole new world. As evidence, I present the 2005 Chevrolet Aveo LS 5-Door. For $11,370 ($12,135 as tested), Chevy will sell you an Aveo with a 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty and a 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty. The trick is, this Chevy is really a Daewoo Kalos, straight out of Korea. Chevrolet, the quintessential American car brand, has gone international. This is no Chevette the Chevrolet Aveo is a serious competitor in the affordable subcompact car market.
I'm fighting the temptation to use the term "clown car." The Aveo is small and it looks small, there's no getting around it. Watching a full-sized adult climb out of the driver's seat made circus music run through my head. Once I got past that, I noticed that the Aveo is nicely styled, with modern lines and tasteful details. The proportions of the car make it seem a little tall for its size. The body has just enough curves to keep the overall shape from being boxy. Big rectangular headlights wrap the front corners, and a small grill features a polished Chevy bowtie. Fit and finish are very good, with high quality paint and chrome, and tight, even seams and gaps. My test car wore Bright Blue Metallic paint, an eye-popping choice.
The Aveo's wheels are tiny 14 inchers, and they are set at the very corners of the car. There's very little front overhang, and virtually no rear overhang. That makes the Aveo one of the easiest cars to park that I've ever driven. I was able to squeeze this thing into some miniscule spaces without breaking a sweat a definite selling point for those of us who live in crowded urban areas. And I was never worried that someone might want to steal the Aveo it was always the cheapest new car around.
In The Driver's Seat
Clean and neat, not sub standard.Jason Fogelson
Though I wouldn't want to drive cross country in an Aveo, I was pleasantly surprised by how spacious and comfortable the cabin turned out to be. I'm big and tall, and I had plenty of room to drive. A height adjustable driver's seat and tilt steering column made it easy to find the right driving position. The seats are firm and supportive, and covered with a simple, durable cloth. Simplicity seems to be the mantra for the Aveo interior everything you really need is there, and not much else. There's even a twin cup holder.
The dash is clear, well-laid out and elemental. There's nothing about the dash that looks cheap or chintzy it's a very nice dash with clear instruments, a well-designed center stack and clever eyebrow warning light cluster in the middle. The Aveo does have one odd "luxury" feature, a slot in the driver's door that's designed to hold parking lot claim checks. That had me guessing for days.
I took a few friends for a ride, stuffing them onto the Aveo's rear bench seat. They were pleased with the space and thought the seat was plenty comfortable, but complained that they felt like they were sitting right on the rear axle whenever I hit a pothole or a bump. Don't put people you like back there for long trips.
On The Road
My mind was constantly split between a desire for driving pleasure and an appreciation for the Aveo's economy. My test car came with a 5-speed manual transmission that defined "rubbery." It had horrible feel, a long throw and was extremely tricky to get into reverse. No fun whatsoever. A 4-speed automatic transmission is an $850 option. The Aveo's 1.6 Liter 4 cylinder engine cranked out 103 hp and 107 lb-ft of torque, just adequate to motivate the sprightly 2343 lb curb weight. Tiny tires and wheels, simple suspension set up and distant-feeling power rack and pinion steering combine for a ride that can only be described as "okay." The Aveo is basic transportation.
One side of my brain was very enticed by the Aveo's simplicity, gas mileage (the EPA estimates 27 mpg city/35 mpg highway) and low purchase price. I also appreciated the safety features: Front and side impact airbags are standard for driver and front seat passenger, as is the LATCH system for securing child safety seats. The Aveo features front disc/rear drum brakes. Antilock brakes are optional ($400) on the LS model, and my test vehicle didn't have them. The standard brakes seemed fine for most situations, though I would opt for the antilock option every time.
Aveo's short back.Jason Fogelson
The Chevy Aveo is a good, solid car that hits its mark in a lot of ways. Every car represents a series of compromises, and I appreciate the way the Aveo has maintained its low price. Who needs power windows, power door locks and fancy stereo systems? Somehow, the Aveo manages to dispense with such luxuries and still not feel bare bones.
The competition in the subcompact 4 door hatchback world is hot. The Aveo has to be measured against the Scion xA and xB, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Rio and Suzuki Aerio. The Aveo is a little cheaper, and carries a bit less standard equipment. You may also want to consider subcompact sedans and coupes like the Toyota Echo, Kia Spectra and Honda Civic, all good cars that are close in price to the Aveo.
If price is your sole concern, you may want to look at used cars as well you can get a very nicely equipped certified used car for the same eleven grand, and you'll wind up with a car that's more fun to drive than the Aveo. If you absolutely must have a new car with a manufacturer's warranty and that new car smell, the Chevy Aveo is one of the lowest cost ways to get out of the dealer's door with a solid, well-designed vehicle to call your own, and a few bucks left in your pocket to buy accessories.