2005 Chevrolet Cobalt
This 2005 review is representative of model years 2005 to 2010.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The Chevrolet Cobalt coupe and sedan replaces the aged Cavalier as one of the automaker's entry models and is a surprisingly good Toyota and Honda small car rival. It's an encouraging sign that General Motors no longer is settling for a "just good enough" car.
The Cobalt is larger and more expensive than Chevrolet's Korean-built Aveo and is the automaker's first new compact car in years. It seems so good partly because the Cavalier has become quite dated.
Introduced 23 years ago, the Cavalier had a significant upgrade for 1995 and still was offered at the beginning of the 2005 model year, although it's slowly being phased out. Old is old, and the Cavalier no longer is a viable rival against newer, more polished small cars.
The Cobalt sedan comes in base, LS and LT trim levels, while coupes offer base, LS and SS Supercharged versions. The Cobalt shares General Motors' front-wheel-drive Delta platform with the Saturn Ion, but is a better car.
The standard engine is a 2.2-liter dual overhead camshaft 4-cylinder that produces 140 horsepower. Chevy has made this 16-valve GM "Ecotech" engine smooth and quiet, which is almost miraculous if you know how less refined it is in other GM small cars.
Hot Supercharged Version
The supercharged Cobalt has a modified sport suspension developed at demanding race tracks and wide 45-series tires on large 18-inch wheels. It also has anti-lock 4-wheel disc brakes, an AM/FM/CD/MP3 player sound system and a huge rear spoiler that should draw the attention of young drivers. Optional are Recaro front bucket seats.
Regular Cobalts have smooth but rather innocuous styling, while the supercharged version's spoiler, large tires and slightly lower height make it stand out more.
Lively Standard Engine
The automatic transmission is standard in the LT and an $850 extra for base and LS Cobalts, which have a standard 5-speed manual gearbox. The LS adds traction control when the automatic is ordered. Only the manual gearbox is offered for the supercharged Cobalt.
Fuel economy with the base engine is an estimated 25 mpg in the city and 34 on highways with the manual gearbox and 24 and 32 with the automatic. It's 23 and 29 for the supercharged engine. Both only call for 87-octane gasoline.
Fairly Well Equipped
Move up to the LS, LT and SS Supercharged versions and you get standard cruise control, anti-lock brakes and power windows, mirrors and locks with remote keyless entry.
The LT adds leather upholstery, leather-wrapped wheel with radio controls, heated front seats, traction control and wider 55-series tires on 16-inch wheels. (The SS Supercharged version has no heated-seat feature.)
One need not get the racer-style supercharged Cobalt for driving fun. The variable-speed steering on my test LT was fast and accurate, with little of the artificial feel gotten with some versions of this GM electric power-assisted steering.
While LT handling is sharp, the base version isn't quite as agile with its smaller wheels and tires. Of course, the supercharged version has the best handling. The ride is supple with all versions, and stopping distances are short, with good brake pedal feel.
Good support is provided by the front seats, and gauges can be quickly read. Sound system controls are small, as is the case with most compact cars, but climate controls are fairly large, which is not the case with many compacts. Cupholders are nicely positioned to avoid spills.
High Trunk Opening
Chevrolet sold lots of Cavaliers, but the car had little competition for much of its life. The Cobalt has far more competition, but was designed to be prepared for it.