2009 Chevrolet Aveo5 LT Review

Basic transportation gets a funky new shape

2009 Chevrolet Aveo5 LT Review
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Automobile: (aw-tuh-muh-beel), Noun – a four-wheeled motorized vehicle used to transport passengers; usually propelled by an internal combustion engine.

FAST FACTS

1. The 1.6L inline four-cylinder powerplant churns out 105 ft-lbs of torque at 3400 rpm and 106 hp at 6400 rpm.

2. Air bags and a five-star frontal crash test rating are standard, ABS is not.

3. The five-door Aveo5 hatchback gets a face-lift and updated interior for 2009 and receives a revised inline four-cylinder engine that includes variable valve timing.

4. Fuel economy is excellent with a rating of 27/34 mpg (city/highway).

The aforementioned definition, while entirely too generic and simplistic for many vehicles on the road today, pretty much sums up the sub-compact Chevrolet Aveo5 in a nutshell. Also available as a sedan, the Aveo is free of most frills, convenience features or even comforts that come standard on most cars these days. After all, the Aveo is a car for people who require simple transportation, and not much more.

After its debut in 2004, the Aveo has actually been a popular seller for Chevrolet as the market shifted to smaller, more economical vehicles. That being said, the old adage that “you get what you pay for” struck me immediately upon entering the Aveo. The rudimentary interior is short on visual appeal while the seats lack comfort and support.

BASIC NECESSITIES IN A COMPETITIVELY PRICED PACKAGE

Simplicity is, however, par for the course in the sub-compact segment, so the Aveo certainly doesn’t come up short against its competitors, only models in higher categories. None of the basic people-movers in this segment really offer anything extraordinary to write home about (Honda Fit excluded), but that doesn’t mean that there is a lack of competition in this sector. Battling it out at the bottom of the barrel, the Aveo goes head to head in the ultra-competitive econobox segment with vehicles like the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, Kida Rio5, Hyundai Accent and Honda Fit. Auto manufacturers know that while profit margins for entry-level vehicles are small, building brand loyalty is huge.

The trends in this market focus on practicality and affordability in an attempt to give customers the most value for their hard-earned dollar. While the $12,625 ($13,770 CDN) base price of the LS model certainly is competitive (undercutting even the Hyundai Accent sedan by a few hundred dollars), that number includes few standard features aside from a CD player with mp3 compatibility. If you want added comforts like air conditioning, power windows and locks, cruise control and a power sunroof, you will have to upgrade to the $15,375 LT2 model. Parents will appreciate the standard air bags and five-star frontal crash test rating, but would likely get more peace of mind if their kids check the optional ABS box when ordering their model as it isn’t a standard feature.

AIMED AT YOUNGER BUYERS, RIGHT DOWN TO THE PAINT

The Korean-made Aveo attempts to appeal to younger first-time buyers not only in price, but by offering bold colors like Inferno Orange, Tahiti Green or the vibrant Highway Yellow, like that of my tester. The combination of the tiny car’s high roofline, narrow track and bold canary colored paint made me feel like I was driving a Five Alive juice box. It is significantly more modern-looking than many of the competitors’ vehicles.

While the high roofline works against the Aveo5’s exterior appearance, it does, however, provide a great deal of headroom. Leg room is equally generous but shoulder room is minimal at best. The back seat of the Aveo5 is best suited for children because filling the Aveo5 with adults offered a cramped and claustrophobic, not to mention lethargic, driving experience. With all seatbelts in use, getting up to highways speed seems almost impossible. That being said the Aveo is best suited to downtown commuting where parking is always an issue and space is at a premium.

ADEQUATE ENGINE WITH EXCELLENT FUEL ECONOMY

Cargo room is quite good, but only with the rear seats folded down. Initially there is just 7 cubic feet of cargo space, which grows to 42 cu.-ft. with the rear seats down. The Yaris has only slightly more behind-the-seat space and far less total cargo volume at just 25.7 cu.-ft. Both pale in comparison to the Fit with 20.6 cu.-ft. behind the rear seats and a total of 57.2 cu.-ft.

The five-door Aveo5 hatchback got a face-lift and updated interior for 2009 as well as a revised inline four-cylinder engine that includes variable valve timing. The 1.6L powerplant sluggishly churns out 105 ft-lbs of torque at 3400 rpm and 106 hp that peaks at 6400 rpm, which was further slowed by the optional four-speed Aisin automatic gearbox. Both engine output and the four-speed are standard in this segment.

Fuel-economy is quite good with a 27/34 mpg (city/highway) rating –edging out the Honda Fit and trading a point on either side with the Hyundai Accent.

Teaching your kids to drive manual will not only save you a grand off the purchase price, it may also offer some added punch when merging with faster traffic. This econobox wasn’t exactly designed for highway cruising comfort however, with small tires and a hard-riding suspension. Inclement weather was also a challenge as the windshield wipers and spray were only slightly more effective than using your glove.

And while it was hardly a soul-stirring experience, driving the Aveo5 was easy to get accustomed to as inputs were predictable, gauges were easy to read and all controls were well laid out.

THE VERDICT

While the base price of the Aveo and Aveo5 seem low, they offer bare bones transportation with few amenities and features. Checking option boxes adds up quickly to the point where the price tag will easily match that of a superior automobile.

PLUS

Fuel efficient More convenient than taking the bus Inexpensive base price

MINUS

Pathetic windshield wipers Stiff suspension Limited luggage space

An excellent alternative continues to be a slightly used higher-end vehicle, however, customers who prefer the novelty and peace of mind that come from buying a brand spankin’ new car should give the Aveo5 a look, as it holds its own in the competitive entry-level sub-compact market.

RELATED READING

2009 Honda Fit Sport 2009 Hyundai Accent GLS 4-Door 2008 Scion xD

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