2007 Chevrolet Aveo Expert Review:Autoblog
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With cars, first impressions carry a lot of influence. Bad first impression? Then it's on to the next candidate. But when a car connects at that first meeting, you're inclined to hang around a bit to see what else it has to offer. And so goes the story of my time with the Chevy Aveo.
The Aveo arrived after we spent a week with the luxurious and capable Cadillac SRX. To say that personally-held expectations regarding the rebadged Daewoo were low would be understating the matter. The previous generation, despite being a strong seller for GM, was stylistically uninspiring, and it would not have been the least bit surprising to find more of the same in the new one. Upon taking delivery of Autoblog's shiny blue loaner, we were taken aback. The Aveo, you see, makes quite a good first impression.
Make no mistake: this is not a car that will floor you with avant-garde looks. That said, the restyling it has undergone for the 2007 model year is very effective. The bland anonymity of the 1st-gen Aveo has been replaced by a new look that clearly and effectively defines it as a Chevy. The redesigned front end is quite good-looking -- particularly when you compare it to other cars in the econobox/sedan segment. It's definitely more attractive than its hometown (remember, the Aveo's Korean) rival, the Hyundai Accent. A chrome split-bar grille wears a prominent bowtie, clearly establishing the Aveo as a Chevy. Large headlights that sport a familial shape (think Cobalt) flank it, and the rest of the fascia is an all-body-color affair that ends with three cutouts below the bumper. The two on either end house fog/driving lights, a $110 option on our Aveo LT.
Continuing the walkaround, the car's side profile is pretty generic. Bulging wheel flares and an accent line that runs along the upper part of the body from the headlights to the taillamps help keep the car from looking overly slab-sided despite its high beltline. A second line runs along the lower half of the doors. There's no rub strip, interestingly enough. Cheap-looking black plastic inserts take the place of proper glass in the after portion of the rear windows, and the car's 15-inch five-spoke alloys look tiny against the rest of the body. The car's thick C-pillar extends deep into the rear decklid, and the tail end of the Aveo is dominated by a pair of oversized, tunerrific Altezza-style clear lamps, which are connected by a chrome accent strip like the ones seen on the rumps of numerous other Chevrolets.
Opening the door to inspect the Aveo's interior is another eyebrow-raising experience. The test car was outfitted with a very pleasant-looking tan cabin. The seats, upholstered with perforated leatherette faux hides (a $250 option), included a folding armrest for the driver. The leatherette made them look more expensive than they actually were, and the neutral color is also used on the doors and lower part of the dashboard. Woodgrain inserts act as a bridge from the lighter tone to the black plastic that make up the door panel tops and most of the dashboard. The instrument cluster is easy-to read and sensible, with semicircular units for the speedometer and tachometer, and smaller round fuel and temperature gauges set above and between them. The binnacle that surrounds it (as well as the rest of the upper dash surfaces) has a puckered, golf ball-like texture.
Trunk space is rated at 12.4 cubic feet, and it seemed plenty spacious for a car of this size. It's got a bare-bones non-carpeted liner, and if you need to carry larger items, the rear seatbacks fold down to expose a good-sized pass-through to the interior of the car. As for other interior storage, it's lacking. There's the glove box, of course, but outside of that, you'll be relying on your pockets. There's no center console storage bin; instead, you make do with a shallow tray. The door pockets are pretty deep, though, and that's where we kept things like CDs and an MP3 player when not in use. The cupholders that pop out of the center stack are pathetic at best. Designed to hold shorter containers such as 12 oz. cans, they were useless for carrying the preferred travel coffee mug of your humble correspondent. Taller cups or bottles either resided at a dangerous angle, ready to fall out or spill at any moment (if they even fit in the first place). The back seat passengers get kind of shafted, too, as they're given a single cupholder at the trailing edge of the center console. That said, it's the best one in the car. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a reach from up front unless your name is Reed Richards.
In terms of comfort, front seat passengers are treated to plenty of headroom, a commodity that is curiously lacking in back, despite the car's tall-roof look. Forward seating is comfortable enough, but don't expect much in the way of lateral support. Moving to row two, both my father and I, neither of whom is in danger of cracking an NBA lineup, found that if we placed ourselves flush to the rear seat's backrest, our heads brushed the downward slope of the roof. My father also commented that he felt like the back seat's angle was too upright, though I must admit I didn't have a big issue with it. There was no serious problem with legroom behind the driver's seat, which was set to accommodate my 5' 9" frame, but I could see where things might get dicey for taller passengers (or folks sitting behind a taller driver).
Twist the ignition key and the 1.6L Ecotec buzzes to life. Rated at 103 horsepower, it's perfectly adequate for grocery-getter duty, and as a highway commuter it does fine, just don't expect any kind of stirring performance whatsoever. Multiple publications that have done instrumented testing on the new Aveo rate its 0-60 times at 11 seconds and change, and based on Autoblog's sophisticated seat-of-the-pants test regimen, that sounds right. Long on-ramps are your friend, as the Aveo carries on with great clamor and fury as the 1.6 winds itself up to highway speeds with very little in terms of rapid forward motion to show for it. Once it hits that pace, however, it handles highway duty in a businesslike, unexciting manner. Don't expect much, and you'll have no problem.
Over the full tank we went through during its time with us, the Aveo averaged right around 25 miles per gallon. It's EPA rating is 26/34, so the 25 we observed was actually a bit disappointing. Take it with a grain of salt, of course, as it's just one tank over one week, but still: this is, above all else, an economy car, and we expected better.
So, in the end, how does the Aveo shape up? Among the crop of economy sedans, it's pretty good-looking, quite well-equipped for the money ($15,025 as shown, including destination), and has good trunkspace. It's no great performer, but it's still a capable everyday runabout. Perhaps the biggest knock against the Aveo is that it's simply not very memorable. For many people shopping for basic transportation, this is most likely irrelevant. For us, it matters, and so despite the positive first impressions it made, the Aveo left us feeling indifferent at the end of the week. We didn't dislike it, but we didn't miss it when it left us, either.
All photos Copyright ©2007 Alex Núñez / Weblogs, Inc.
New Car Test Drive
All-new, redesigned for 2007.
Chevrolet redesigned the Cavalier several years ago, making it bigger and fancier so it could better compete with the Honda Civic. As a result, it needed a new entry-level model. That is the Aveo, which is built by the Korean automaker Daewoo.
For the 2007 model year, the Chevrolet Aveo sedan has been updated, although it still relies on the basic mechanical underpinnings, or architecture, from the 2006 model year. That reworking was a good idea since the Aveo has to face new and serious competition such as the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Accent.
What is attractive about the front-wheel-drive Aveo is the price and, for an economy car, a surprisingly handsome interior, in the case of the fancier LT model we tested. It also has a nice amount of standard equipment.
The Aveo's role in motoring life is sensible, day-to-day transportation including a ride that is aimed at comfort and not sporty driving. That is where the Aveo differs from the frisky Honda Fit, for example.
The 1.6 liter four-cylinder is rated at 103 horsepower, which is adequate. Transmission choices are either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimate is 26/34 miles per gallon City/Highway with the automatic. Pick the manual and the EPA estimate is 27/37 mpg. For consumers whose goal is maximum mileage the Aveo's fuel economy is not as good as that of the Fit and Yaris.
One concern with the Aveo, as with all small cars, is a collision with a larger vehicle. In frontal and side-impact crash tests conducted by the federal government the Aveo did well. However, in more severe tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Aveo got only an 'acceptable' rating for frontal-crash protection and 'marginal' for side-impact protection. The institute uses a system of good, acceptable, marginal or poor. The frontal ratings should only be compared among other small cars of similar size and weight. It doesn't mean the Aveo's performance will be 'good' in a collision with a larger vehicle. The side-impact ratings can be compared among vehicles of all sizes.
What the Aveo has going for it is price, a relatively handsome interior and a ride that is comfortable for a small car. One question mark, however, is long-term reliability, an area where slightly more expensive competitors such as Honda and Toyota are known quantities.
There are two versions of the Chevrolet Aveo sedan.
The Aveo LS is the base model and includes air conditioning; variable-speed wipers; 14-inch wheels; AM/FM stereo; height-adjustable driver's seat; rear-window defogger and 60/40 split fold-down rear seat.
The Aveo LT adds power windows and door locks; remote/keyless entry; AM/FM/compact disc player; power/heated outside mirrors; cruise control; 15-inch aluminum wheels and a 60/40 folding rear seat.
Options: anti-lock brakes ($400); four-speed automatic transmission ($850); sunroof ($725); cruise control and remote/keyless entry ($425); power windows ($295); AM/FM/compact disc ($325): fog lights ($110) and rear spoiler ($225).
Safety features include seat-mounted air bags for front seats and seat-belt pretensioners for the front seats. The latter take slack out of the belt in a crash.
The 2007 Chevy Aveo gets a new appearance and a more aerodynamic shape, one of the benefits of which is to reduce wind noise at highway speeds. Like many cars it has a look that tries to find wide acceptability by not offending anybody by being either too boring or too radical. The result is a lack of personality.
The Aveo is about the same length as the Toyota Yaris but it is almost a foot shorter than the Honda Fit.
The big surprise with the interior of the Chevrolet Aveo LT was the handsomeness of the Charcoal Deluxe seat fabric which shames the manufacturers of some more expensive vehicles. That combines with a tidy and sensible layout to minimize its economy-car status. It doesn't scream 'cheap' so much as 'econo-sensible.'
The Aveo's basic controls, such as climate and stereo, are simple and easy to use.
The driver's seat is height adjustable, a nice feature for driver's short and tall. One problem with the front seats is that the bottom seat cushion is a bit shorter for those with long legs, cutting some occupants a little short on thigh support.
More rear legroom is an advantage the Aveo has over the Honda Fit and the Toyota Yaris, according to the automakers' specifications. With some consideration from the people in the front it is possible to carry four tall adults (six-footers) for a short distance without anybody being traumatized.
The Aveo's trunk is rated at 12.4 cubic feet. That's competitive in a segment like this and the back seat folds down if the priority becomes carrying stuff instead of people.
General Motors reworked the suspension on the Aveo, although the basic mechanical underpinnings are still based on the 2006 model. The automaker says the goal was a more refined ride and more precise handling, two things which the old model needed.
Spend some time in the Aveo sedan and it becomes clear that GM has created a comfortable small car with so-so handling.
The Chevrolet Aveo is front-wheel drive, and like many front-wheel-drive cars it feels nose heavy, which means a slight pause when the driver turns the wheel and asks it to make a big change in direction. The hesitancy isn't unusual nor is it threatening. It just means that the Aveo is not the kind of quick-to-react playmate one finds in the Honda Fit (which is also front-wheel drive).
Try and go a bit faster through a moderately tight turn and the Aveo's body leans quite a bit. That's part of the price its occupants pay for a more comfortable ride, particularly on a broken surface. It is also the Aveo's way of reminding the driver that it really wasn't designed as a sports sedan.
The noise and vibration from the 1.6 liter engine is nicely controlled, for a four-cylinder engine. The exception is when the driver slams the accelerator pedal to the floor and holds it there. Then things get a bit noisy at the higher engine speeds.
The Aveo's 103 horsepower is a few less than what's served up by the Yaris or Fit, each of which also weigh slightly less than the Aveo, increasing their advantage.
But the four-speed automatic on the Aveo we tested was fairly quick to respond and the acceleration was adequate. The Aveo would be a bad choice for a tight pass on a two-lane road, but with a little thought and planning there should never be a major problem merging onto a busy interstate with two adults on board.
The Chevrolet Aveo sedan offers attractive pricing and a pleasant interior. There is nothing about it that makes it stand out, including fuel economy which is significantly below its major competitors. Plus, questions about the long-term reliability of the Daewoo-built Aveo make better-known brands such as Honda and Toyota far safer bets although they cost more.
Christopher Jensen filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com from New England.
Chevrolet Aveo LS ($12,010); Aveo LT ($13,510).
Options As Tested
four-speed automatic ($850).
Chevrolet Aveo LT sedan ($13,510).
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