A person looking for an inexpensive, practical small sedan with an American nameplate
Comparable models in this class:
Honda FIT, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Nissan Versa, Scion xA, Suzuki Aerio, Toyota Yaris
The 2007 Chevrolet Aveo Road Test Review
Thanks to last summer's high gasoline prices, small cars are popular again.
But there's another factor in the growing interest in small cars. They are no longer boring econoboxes, but more like scaled-down versions of larger cars.
In general, small cars tend to be nicer than ever, and driving one doesn't require a sacrifice in style or convenience.
For example, the top-of-the-line Chevy Aveo LT, with a base price of $13,250, has side-impact airbags, power door locks, power windows, air conditioning, cruise control, aluminum wheels and an AM/FM stereo with CD player and six speakers.
The Aveo, available as a five-door hatchback or a four-door sedan, is built in South Korea by Daewoo, GM's Korean subsidiary. Major competitors include the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio and Nissan Versa.
Chevrolet has redesigned the Aveo sedan for 2007. The exterior is slightly larger, the interior is new and the list of standard equipment is longer.
Aveo is tall and narrow to provide decent interior space in spite of the smallish overall size. The upright seating position gives good headroom and legroom. The chassis has a 97.6-inch wheelbase. The overall length of 152.7 inches is more than two feet shorter than a Chevy Cobalt.
When I adjusted the driver's seat for legroom, I had to stretch to reach the steering wheel comfortably. Moving the seat closer made my legs feel crowded. I eventually found a compromise, but it was never ideal.
And speaking of the driver's seat: I felt as if I was sitting on it instead of in it. The car was more comfortable after driving it for a few days.
The 60/40 rear seat folds down to expand the cargo space, and the front passenger seat can be folded forward to accommodate long items.
The instrument panel is attractive. Its pebbled surface is visually interesting without being gimmicky, and the gauges are easy to read both in daylight and at night. The air conditioning has cabin filtration and rear-seat air vents.
The audio and HVAC systems are nicely integrated into the center stack. Controls are attractively styled yet easy to operate. The wiper is the only switch that felt clunky.
The 1.6-liter, 103-horsepower four-cylinder engine powers the front wheels. Acceleration is modest, but certainly adequate. I never felt as if I couldn't keep up with traffic. The engine is not the quietest.
The test car was equipped with the four-speed automatic transmission, and while it was easier to drive in city traffic, fuel mileage was 26 miles per gallon in the city and 34 on the highway. The five-speed manual is only slightly better, at 27 city and 37 highway. Real-world mileage is lower than the Environmental Protection Agency's ratings.
The Aveo has a decent ride. The suspension has MacPherson struts in front and a torsion beam axle in back. The brakes are vented discs in front and drums in back.
Price: The base price of the test car was $13,250. Options included the automatic transmission, fog lamps and steering-wheel controls for the radio. The sticker price with these options was $14,850.
Warranty is for three years or 36,000 miles with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Point: The Aveo LT sedan offers room for four adults, a nicely styled interior and long list of standard equipment for a reasonable price.
Counterpoint: I had a hard time finding a comfortable seating position, the engine is a bit noisy and fuel economy is just so-so.