Built in South Korea by GM Daewoo, the Aveo5 is a solidly built little car. The body looks nicely bolted together and there aren’t any of the rattles or other noises that often indicate shoddy workmanship. The interior surfaces are also nicer than expected, with none of the shiny hard plastics that often accompany cheaper automobiles. On the down side, wind and road noise is quite high, enough to make having a conversation at normal volume difficult, especially while driving on the freeway. In addition, although the Aveo5 does feature front/side airbags and optional ABS brakes, more advanced safety features like traction and stability control are unavailable.
Chevrolet has actively advertised the Aveo5 as having a more roomy interior than its compact exterior would suggest, which is mostly right. The deep dashboard and sloping windshield help make the interior seem quite spacious, especially from the front seats, and hides the fact that the car is actually quite narrow. Head and leg room are quite good for a sub-compact, but nobody will confuse the Aveo5 for a Cadillac, especially on a long road trip. Unfortunately the trunk is very small and severely limits cargo capacity. Even with the rear seats folded down, fitting a bicycle in the back requires removing both wheels.
Our test car came packaged in the more upscale LT2 trim, which includes air conditioning, cruise control, and power windows/door locks as standard features. Also included is a premium 6 speaker CD stereo with satellite radio that sounds fantastic and wouldn’t be out of place in a much more expensive luxury car. The Aveo5 normally comes with cloth seats, but our tester came equipped with optional “leatherette” seats that are reminiscent of the bad vinyl interiors from the 1970′s. Why Chevrolet thinks people will spend an extra $375 for these smelly, sticky eyesores is a mystery to us.
Like many cars nowadays, the Aveo is the product of global collaboration, having been designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro’s Italdesign studios in Turin, Italy. The exterior has been refreshed for 2009, with the most noticeable change being a makeover of the front end of the car. The Aveo5 now features a bold, split front grill that is very similar to the one used on the much larger Chevy Malibu. When viewed strictly from the front it looks pretty good, but combine the aggressive front end with the Aveo5′s cute little rear and you have a strange mismatch that just doesn’t work. The 15″ steel wheels with cheap looking wheel covers also don’t help in the style department and they reinforce the Aveo’s status as budget transportation.
Value / Who Should Buy It
With high gas prices and a troubled economy driving Americans to rethink the size of their car purchases, the market for compacts and sub-compacts is red hot. Unfortunately, the Chevrolet Aveo5 is a less than stellar effort and will face tough competition from more capable cars in its class, such as the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, and Toyota Yaris. The Japanese have long dominated the compact and sub-compact segments of the market, and the Aveo5 does nothing to upset this dominance.
With an as-tested price of $17,260 and mediocre fuel efficiency for a small car (28 mpg average), the Aveo5 is not a good value, especially since you can buy a base model Corolla or Civic for the same price. Granted, our test car features some expensive options that some drivers won’t need. Stick with a manual transmission, keep the standard cloth seats, and forgo the fancy stereo, and you have a car that should sticker around $15,000. Plus, buyers should be able to wheel and deal a bit when shopping for an Aveo.
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