2008 Chevrolet Aveo
2008 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 The bland anonymity of the 1st-gen Aveo has been replaced by a new look that clearly and effectively defines it as a Chevy.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
Nice interior in an inexpensive package.
The Chevrolet Aveo is Chevy's smallest, least expensive car. Aside from its price, what's most attractive about Aveo is its surprisingly handsome interior, at least on the up-level LT. Its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine is rated at 103 horsepower, which is adequate. Transmission choices are either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Aveo is available as a four-door sedan or a versatile five-door hatchback called the Aveo5.
The Aveo was extensively updated for 2007 to better compete with a wave of new subcompacts, namely the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, and Hyundai Accent. Aveo's basic architecture and mechanical underpinnings date to 2004, and there are no significant changes for 2008.
Aveo was designed to offer sensible, day-to-day transportation. Its ride is tuned more for comfort than sporty driving, and this is where it differs from the frisky Honda Fit. But many of us spend more time commuting through heavy, stop-and-go traffic than challenging the Nurburgring circuit.
Aveo is EPA-estimated to deliver 24 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway. That's compares well with the Hyundai Accent (27/32 mpg), Nissan Versa (26/31). The Honda Fit (28/34) and Toyota Yaris (29/36) are more efficient but when it comes to purchase price look for better deals on the Aveo.
We found the Aveo to be an enjoyable car to spend time with, particularly the LT with its nice cloth upholstery. The climate and audio controls are easy to use and the driver's seat adjusts for height and it drives well. We like the Aveo5 five-door hatchback for its ability to haul stuff.
The 2008 Chevrolet Aveo is available as a four-door Aveo sedan or as the Aveo5 five-door hatchback. All are powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine rated 103 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, a four-speed automatic is optional. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP).
Aveo5 Special Value Model ($10,235) hatchback comes with cloth seats; power steering; tilt steering wheel; four-speaker AM/FM stereo with an auxiliary input jack; a height-adjustable driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support; tachometer; rear wiper, washer and defogger; 60/40 split folding rear seat; and 14-inch steel wheels. Air conditioning is not included, although it can be installed by the dealer. Automatic transmission is not available, nor are power windows, locks, or mirrors. In fact the only factory option at this level is an engine-block heater ($75).
Aveo5 LS ($12,020) adds air conditioning and a greatly expanded option list that includes automatic transmission ($925); a six-speaker stereo with CD/MP3 player ($325); steering-wheel audio controls ($75): cruise control ($250); fog lights ($110); a package consisting of cruise control, power door locks with remote keyless entry, and a security system ($425); a rear spoiler ($225); 15-inch aluminum wheels ($475); and a power tilt-and-slide sunroof ($725).
Aveo LS ($12,170) sedan is equipped similarly to the LS version of the hatchback, and offers a similar list of options.
Aveo LT ($13,920) upgrades to deluxe cloth upholstery and adds heated power mirrors, power locks with remote keyless entry, power windows, CD/MP3 player, security system, and 15-inch aluminum wheels. Perforated Leatherette is optional ($250).
Safety features include dual-stage frontal and seat-mounted side air bags for the front seats, along with front-seat seat-belt pretensioners, which take slack out of the belt in a crash. New for 2008 is a tire-pressure monitor. Anti-lock brakes ($400) are optional for LS and LT; we strongly recommend getting them because they can help the driver maintain control in an emergency braking situation.
The Chevy Aveo is about the same length as the Toyota Yaris, almost a foot shorter than the Honda Fit. The re-styling for 2008 gave the Aveo a more aerodynamic shape, one of the benefits of which has been to reduce wind noise at highway speeds.
Up front, a thick, bright horizontal grille bar emblazoned with a gold bowtie leaves no doubt that Aveo is a Chevy. The lower fascia is nicely detailed, and the fog lights well integrated. Moving around to the side, a crisp bevel just below the window line and a parallel bulge down between the wheel arches combine to camouflage the Aveo's tall, stubby profile, sort of like a person wearing appropriately directed stripes. The sedan's blacked-out window frames look heavy handed, however, especially with bright colors. Around back, a bright band between fashionably complex tail lamps echoes the theme of the grille.
But like many cars, the Aveo sedan has a look that tries to find wide acceptability by not offending anybody. But in its attempt to be neither too boring nor too radical, it lacks personality.
The same cannot be said of the Aveo5, which shares surprisingly little sheet metal with the sedan. It has personality all right, but it's not the kind everyone will like. At just 152.7 inches in overall length, the Aveo5 is a significant 17 inches shorter than the sedan, and despite some fairly ambitious, curvy sculpturing in the doors and rear quarters (contrasting with the crisp feel of the sedan), it all seems to end rather abruptly, just behind the rear wheels. This impression is greatly heightened by a rear-end profile that's more station-wagon vertical than hatchback sleek, and by the almost comically abbreviated quarter windows just behind the rear doors. About the best Chevy can hope is that the resulting rubber-duck ugliness appeals to grownups still missing their favorite tub toy.
Interestingly, while the Aveo5 looks as tall as a bus, it actually measures 0.4 inches lower than the sedan. It is also 1.6 inches narrower, with 0.8 inches less rear track (the distance between the rear tires.).
The big surprise in the interior of our Chevrolet Aveo LT test car 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 Aveo's economy-car status.
The Aveo's basic controls, such as climate and stereo, are simple and easy to use. All radios come with an auxiliary jack for iPods and other MP3 players.
The driver's seat is height adjustable, even in the Special Value model, a nice feature for drivers short and tall. The front seat bottom cushion is a bit short for drivers with long legs, cutting some occupants a little short on thigh support.
Rear legroom is an advantage the Aveo has over the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris. We found it's possible to carry four tall adults (six-footers) for a short distance without anybody being traumatized, as long as there's cooperation from the people in the front seats, that is.
Despite its slimmer dimensions, the Aveo5 hatchback surrenders just 0.1 inch each in rear headroom and hiproom to the sedan; otherwise its passenger-carrying credentials are identical.
The trunk is rated at 12.4 cubic feet for the Aveo sedan. That's competitive in a segment like this, and the back seat folds down if the priority becomes carrying stuff instead of people.
The Aveo5 hatchback has just 7.0 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, but that expands to a wagon-like 42.0 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. If you'll be using the cargo compartment more than the back seat, the Aveo5 makes a lot of sense.
The Aveo works well around town and for commuting. Its 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.
However, 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 shouldn't be any problems merging onto a busy freeway, even with a passenger.
We've always been more impressed with the Chevrolet Aveo's ride than its handling. A thicker front sway bar, stiffer front springs, tighter front shocks, and re-tuned bushings, improved the handling beginning with the 2007 model. Like many front-wheel-drive cars, the Aveo feels nose heavy when driven hard, and it doesn't offer the responsive handling found in the Honda Fit. Try and go fast through a moderately tight turn and the Aveo's body leans quite a bit. That's part of the price for a more comfortable ride, particularly on a broken surface. It is also the Aveo's way of reminding the driver that it wasn't designed to be 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 Chevrolet Aveo offers attractive pricing and a pleasant interior.
Christopher Jensen contributed to this report to NewCarTestDrive.com from New England; John F. Katz reported on the Aveo5 hatchback from Pennsylvania.
Chevrolet Aveo5 Special Value ($10,235); Aveo5 LS ($12,020); Aveo LS ($12,170); Aveo LT ($13,920).
Bupyong, South Korea.
Options As Tested
four-speed automatic transmission ($925).
Chevrolet Aveo LT sedan ($13,920).
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