2009 Chevrolet Cobalt SS Review – not your average compact rental car

Chevrolet Expert Reviews

2009 Chevrolet Cobalt SS

The Cobalt has an electronic power steering rack, which typically gives an unconnected feel to the front wheels especially at low speeds. While it certainly makes the car easy to steer, I’ve never driven a car with electronic power steering and walked away with smile. After driving the Cobalt SS, I am forced to qualify that statement. The steering does feels unconnected and a bit sloppy at low speeds, but as soon as you get above parking lot speeds, the steering feel comes alive. In aggressive maneuvers at low speeds, the car goes exactly in the direction that you point it in. In the twisty Santa Cruz mountains, the Cobalt SS truly showed how well tuned it is in tackling tight turns with minimal understeer and exceptional balance. The car feels very composed at the limits with no surprises.

At freeway speeds, emergency maneuvers are positively confidence inspiring. The suspension does a fantastic job of limiting roll at all speeds and keeping the backend inline with the front. It’s quite amazing what can be done with a lowly torsion beam rear suspension setup. Best of all, ride comfort is not sacrificed. The car tracks well with responsive on center feel on the highway. The suspension is firm and sporty without being overly harsh. The standard Stabilitrak vehicle control system is calibrated with two settings to allow you push the car to its limit without stepping in too soon. The Continental SportContact2 40 series low profile tires provide the necessary grip to lay down the power in all directions without sacrificing ride quality.


When you look at the car, they first thing you notice is that is unmistakably bland, after all it is a Chevy Cobalt. The car is not un-attractive, it’s just plain. The high performance sport compact coupe formula dictates that you start with a plain Jane compact economy car, spice up the engine and other chassis hardware, throw in a spoiler and ground effects and voila. The Cobalt SS follows that formula perfectly erring on the conservative side.

The Cobalt SS package gets you new front bumper fascia with integrated fog lamps, in the rear, you’ll notice the polished exhaust pipe and the big spoiler that is really the only thing that would tip off casual observers that this is no ordinary Cobalt. Keen observers will note the low profile tires and 5 spoke forged aluminum rims and black Brembo brakes hiding underneath. There is adequate front end ground clearance so you won’t have to worry too much about damaging the front spoiler lip on parking lot curbs and speed bumps.

2009 Chevrolet Cobalt SS

The doors are long and heavy, which makes getting in and out of this car in tight spaces without hitting the car next to you a challenge. Finer detents to hold the door open at certain angles would certainly help. The longer door really only helps rear seat passengers and I suspect that most people who opt for a coupe these days rarely have rear passengers.

Truck space is pretty good and the rear seats fold down to allow longer objects to be accommodated. The Pioneer subwoofer takes up a little bit of space on the driver’s side of the trunk. The lift over is a bit high considering where the floor of the trunk is, which helps make the size of the trunk opening feel a bit on the small side.


There are plenty of high performance sport compacts cars in today’s market. The Cobalt will do everything that’s expected from a compact car. The SS package throws in some serious hardware that allows it to perform with the best in its class and match the performance of cars which are more expensive and powerful. Its peers offer better build quality and materials, but that comes at a price. The question you have to ask is how important are those factors to you and whether you have other uses for that money.

With Chevy’s entry into this race, it’s difficult not to recognize the Cobalt SS as a value leader. The Mazdaspeed 3 slightly edges the SS with more power, but other head to head tests show that the Cobalt SS is quicker. The standard 7 speaker Pioneer audio system with CD player, XM® Satellite Radio, integrated Bluetooth® handset pairing, and OnStar round out entertainment and communications equipment. As far as safety features, the Cobalt SS offers dual frontal airbags, side curtain airbags, ABS, stability control, and tire pressure monitoring as standard equipment.

The SS is a no nonsense performance package that offers a great bang for the buck. The other sport compact cars in this class can match the SS in performance, but not value. A similarly equipped Subaru WRX or Mitsubishi Ralliart will cost $5,000 more. Note that there are also likely to be some good manufacturer incentives or financing which only increases the spread.

Who should buy it?

The person who buys this class of car is someone wants to have some serious upgraded hardware on a car that handles well and can handle everyday tasks without breaking the bank. This car is ready to hit an autocross circuit right out of the showroom and take down some names. The Cobalt SS will also excel as a fuel efficient daily driver even if your right foot is heavy. You will have the peace of mind that all this running gear has met GM’s durability requirements and is backed by the 5 year/100,000 mile factory warranty. Chevy has already amassed a following of people who are tuning these Ecotec engines for some serious horsepower, so aftermarket support will continue to grow. You’ll also have a fatter wallet with the money that you could save versus other competitive offerings.

2009 Chevrolet Cobalt SS


Buy this car if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck under $25,000 which gives you a very civilized driving experience running around town as well as an exceptional autocrosser. This is one of the best performing compact cars, the performance numbers speak for themselves and you won’t be draining your wallet every time you fill up. You won’t get noticed in this car at all, so if you need that attention you’ll have to go elsewhere. The upside is that it has a built in stealth mode–after all it is a Cobalt. Why should people who have a smaller budget not have the opportunity to enjoy chasing down unsuspecting BMWs and Boxsters all day long?

Build Interior Performance Handling Styling Value Overall
Rating 4.0 4.0 5.0 4.5 3.5 5.0 4.5/A-

Chevrolet Cobalt Photo Gallery

Chevy Cobalt SS specs

Chevrolet Cobalt SS Specs

Official website for Chevrolet cars, hybrids, trucks, and SUVs – www.chevrolet.com

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  • Ion says:

    Good review except for the fact they never made an automatic SS Turbo or Supercharged Cobalt. Only the 2.4L “1SS” Sport model came with an auto, and it was not the same car. While still better than a base Cobalt, its suspension was not as taut and it had a naturally aspirated 2.4L LE5 motor versus the 2.0L LNF turbo. Also had an F23 Getrag 5-speed versus the Turbo’s Saab F35 5-speed. :)

  • Jordan says:

    With gas prices on the rise many Americans are adding small cars to their consideration list. Import brands like Honda and Toyota have long held the dominant position in the subcompact category, but what about buyers who prefer to shop the domestic brands? Enter the Chevrolet Cobalt, an American take on the small car.

    While previous small General Motors like the Chevy Cavalier might give you pause, the Chevrolet Cobalt is a different animal. Good fuel economy, attractive styling and high value make the Cobalt worthy of consideration.

    A quick look at the average number of days a Cobalt sits on the lot (around 60) suggests that good deals can be found if you make dealers compete. Tip: When you go into the dealership, use these magic words: “out the door price.” It is the price you will pay after all fees, taxes, incentives, etc. The other prices are generally teaser rates. If you want the real deal, use this process: http://tinyurl.com/lqzesq

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