2010 Chevrolet Aveo: GM Sub-compact looks Agile
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Chevrolet's economy subcompact Aveo was introduced to the American market in 2004 and by 2006, the hatchback Aveo 5 joined it on the line. The original Aveo was a rebadged version of the Daewoo Kalos, and much of its engineering was based on the Pontiac Wave.
Marketed to those who valued fuel economy and a low sticker price, Aveo has been slow to gain a wide purchase base. To address flat sales, GM has increased horsepower for 2010 slightly (from 106hp to 108hp), added a new exterior color: Wintergreen Metallic, made a rear spoiler standard on Aveo5 2LT and installed lower numeric fourth and fifth gear ratios on the five-speed manual transmission to increase fuel economy by reducing engine rpm at higher speeds.
One more change in the wind is a potential name change. Since Aveo sales can use a boost, GM is contemplating a name change to something more hip … Agile seems to be the front runner, but Viva is also gaining some consideration. Then again, in 2011, an all-new Aveo may be out there on the market again under its own name, but with some cool design, power and interior upgrades.
Competing in the tough fuel-efficient, inexpensive sub-compact market, Aveo does everything expected in those two areas, with the base LS model starting at $11,965 (my test 1LT had a base price of $14,100, but incentives brought that figure lower), and the Aveo is EPA rated at 27mpg in the city 35mpg on the highway for the manual transmission.
Considered boxy by some, the Aveo has appeal to environmentalists, young buyers, high school and college students and those older drivers who have long commutes every day and tired of filling their 20-gallon SUV tanks every few days. Another audience is those hip performance and style enthusiasts who see Aveo as a blank canvas just asking to be souped up with powerful engines, upscale interior packages, top-of-the-line sound systems, eye-catching exterior paint schemes, dubbed wheels and video screens everywhere imagined.
But the base vehicle, for the base crowd stands on its own. Manufactured in Bupyong, South Korea, the front-engine front-wheel-drive 5-passenger subcompact is the smallest, lowest-priced vehicle in the GM arsenal. Aveo measures 97.6-inch wheelbase 169.7 inches long, 67.3 inches wide and 59.3 inches high on a 97.6-inch wheelbase, stepping on the scales with a light 2568-lb. curb weight.
Under hood is an Ecotec 1.6-liter I-4 engine, mated to either a 5-speed manual transmission or 4-speed automatic – my test vehicle was outfitted with the manual. The system puts out 108hp and 104 lbs.-ft. of torque. As expected, acceleration is sluggish but steady. During a gray fall day, I was able to push the Aveo from zero to 60mph in 10.8 seconds, and had a single quarter-mile test of 18.3 seconds before rain shut down the track.
Rated at 27/35, a week of tests garnered an average of 30.3mpg, with about 70 percent of the mileage accrued on the highway.
The driving experience was in line with other vehicles of this genre. The ride was very noisy with engine and road noise invited into the cabin. Acceleration at speed is hesitant and an occasional downshift is necessary to regain composure during long ascents. The Macpherson struts up front with offset coil springs and 17mm stabilizer bar and semi-independent rear torsion beam axle with coil springs power rack and pinion steering made for a relatively smooth ride, though quick steering maneuvers are best left to other vehicles.
Inside, you get a surprising amount of comfort and room. The sightlines are good and with seating for 2 up front and 3 in row two the cabin measures 39.3 inches of front headroom, 37.4 in row two; 41.3 inches of front legroom and 35.4 in the rear, with 53.6 inches of front shoulder room and 52.8 in the second row.
The low-frills interior is decked out with cloth seats, but you also get remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, cruise control and satellite radio. Also standard were air conditioning CD/MP3 player, six-speaker audio system and outside, 14-inch steel wheels.
Safety features include standard front-seat side airbags are standard on all trim levels, but side curtain airbags and Stability Control are not available. Antilock brakes are optional on the LT models with automatic transmission and were not installed in my manual test vehicle.
The base 1LT is priced at $14,100, and my test ride was upgraded with the power and convenience package ($425) : remote keyless entry, power door locks, power windows and content theft-deterrent system; and destination charges of $720, for an MSRP of $15,245. But with a $1500 cash-back incentive offered at the time of my test, bottom line was $13,745.
The sun roof $795 and rear spoiler $225 would be a nice addition and body-side moldings and chrome could add another $600. An automatic transmission would add $925 and 4-wheel ABS could then be added (not available with the 5-speed manual) for $440.
Even with all the additions, you could drive away with a relatively sporty and “agile” Aveo for about $16,600 plus tax and license.
Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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