2011 Chevrolet Aveo

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Review: 2007 Chevrolet Aveo

This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2011.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

This entry-level economy car is decent, but needs more open-road punch.
Pros:
  • Nicely restyled sedan version
  • Fuel-efficient
  • Fairly roomy
Cons:
  • Average highway performance
  • Rubbery shifter action
  • Bascially unchanged hatchback version

The lowest end of the car market has never been cracked by General Motors on its own because American wage rates don't allow profitable small economy cars. The entry-level 2007 Aveo thus carries a Chevrolet badge, but comes from South Korea.

The Aveo is Chevrolet's best-selling model in Europe. It arrived in America for the 2004 model year as a base transportation model after GM bought South Korea's Daewoo and renamed the Daewoo Kalos the Aveo.

The Aveo has been well-accepted because it's an inexpensive economy car with a well-known nameplate and is sold by thousands of Chevy dealers. Automakers like entry cars such as the Aveo because they attract many young, first-time buyers. Indeed, the Aveo is a near-perfect car in which to send kids to college.

Revamped Sedan Version
The restyled 2007 Aveo sedan is a little longer, wider and taller than the 2006 model. It's also more attractive and has an upgraded interior. Its styling links it more closely with the rest of the Chevy lineup, with the front resembling the Cobalt's and the rear having some Malibu cues.

The mechanically similar Aveo5 4-door hatchback has more versatility, but remains virtually unchanged for 2007. Improvements include an improved suspension, quieter interior and folding driver armrest. New uplevel options include an AM/FM stereo with CD/MP3 player and auxiliary input jack for iPods. The Aveo5 is sold as the SVM (Special Value Model) and higher-line LS.

The Aveo5 is priced at $9,430 and $11,860, while the entry LS sedan lists at $12,010 and the higher-line LT is $13,450 for the Aveo5 and $13,510 for the sedan.

Retro Feel
One Aveo I drove was the lowest cost LS sedan, which has a 5-speed manual transmission and manual windows, locks and outside mirrors. Those mechanical features almost made the car seem from the 1970s. Manually locking the doors and reaching across the front seats to adjust the inside right-side mirror control soon became bothersome.

The higher-line LT sedan adds an AM/FM stereo with a CD/MP3 player, cruise control, 15-inch (vs. 14-inch) wheels and power windows, outside heated mirrors and locks with remote keyless entry.

Those with a car budget that isn't too tight can get the LS sedan with cruise control and those power items in a $425 package.

Fairly Well-Equipped
Still, the base 2007 Aveo sedan, which has more standard and optional features, is hardly a bare-bones car. Standard are air conditioning, power steering, driver's folding armrest, tilt wheel, front disc brakes, front-seat side airbags, AM/FM stereo with an auxiliary input jack for an iPod, intermittent wipers, rear defogger and 60/40 split-folding rear seat.

No side-curtain air bags are offered, but $400 anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution is a key option. Also offered are a power sunroof, front perforated leatherette bucket seats and upscale sound systems for the LT, with optional steering wheel audio controls.

However, the $225 real spoiler just looks silly on both the sedan and hatchback, although you can bet that some dealers will put it on cars in their inventory to make a few extra bucks.

Rubbery Shift Action
The manual transmission is acceptable—after you become accustomed to its shifter's rubbery action. The manual gearbox allows the best performance, but much shifting is needed because the car's small 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine requires that gears be changed a lot for decent performance. The $850 4-speed automatic transmission stifles acceleration a little, but is preferable for most Aveo buyers.

Although small, the 103-horsepower engine is sophisticated, with dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. It performs well in town, but merging onto freeways and passing on highways leaves you wanting more punch, even with just a driver aboard. A fairly decent 65-75 mph pass calls for a downshift to third gear with the manual transmission.

The engine turns over at a high 3000 rpm in overdrive fifth gear, but doesn't sound strained during highway cruising.

Good Fuel Economy
Fuel economy is an estimated 27 mpg in the city and 37 on highways with the manual. The automatic drops Aveo figures to 26 and 34. Only regular-grade fuel is required.

The first-generation Aveo mostly competed against such South Korean autos as the Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent. But it now faces stiffer competition from the new Japanese Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit and Nissan Versa small economy cars—although the Aveo undercuts them on base prices.

Entry-Level Experience
Mostly, the Aveo drives like an entry-level car, although such autos are much improved over the generally awful entry-level autos of past decades. The nimble Aveo is somewhat fun to drive in town because of its small size. And its ride is very supple for a car with only a 97.6-inch wheelbase and a solid rear axle instead of an independent rear suspension.

The variable-rate steering is average, as are handling and braking, although the suspension has been refined to provide more responsive handling. The brake pedal has a rather soft action, and the narrow 14-inch tires handicap roadability.

Large, body-color door handles make it easy to enter the upgraded sedan's interior, which has an enhanced acoustical package for more noise isolation.

Fairly Roomy
There is decent room for three 6-footers and a shorter adult. Front seats are supportive, and all seats provide an upright seating position, which makes occupants feel as if they're in a larger auto.

Gauges can be quickly read, and sound and climate control systems are fairly easy to use. However, more interior storage space would be nice.

Being a hatchback, the Aveo5 naturally offers more utility. But the sedan's trunk provides a generous cargo area, which can be enlarged by folding the rear seatbacks forward.

The Aveo—most especially the sedan version—is more able to confront stiffer competition. And let's not forget that it's got all those Chevy dealers out there in all parts of the country ready to support it.

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BB06 - 8/30/2014 3:38:39 PM