Chevrolet redesigned the Cavalier several years ago, making it bigger and fancier so it could better compete with the Honda Civic. As a result, it needed a new entry-level model. That is the Aveo, which is built by the Korean automaker Daewoo.
For the 2007 model year, the Chevrolet Aveo sedan has been updated, although it still relies on the basic mechanical underpinnings, or architecture, from the 2006 model year. That reworking was a good idea since the Aveo has to face new and serious competition such as the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Accent.
What is attractive about the front-wheel-drive Aveo is the price and, for an economy car, a surprisingly handsome interior, in the case of the fancier LT model we tested. It also has a nice amount of standard equipment.
The Aveo's role in motoring life is sensible, day-to-day transportation including a ride that is aimed at comfort and not sporty driving. That is where the Aveo differs from the frisky Honda Fit, for example.
The 1.6 liter four-cylinder is rated at 103 horsepower, which is adequate. Transmission choices are either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimate is 26/34 miles per gallon City/Highway with the automatic. Pick the manual and the EPA estimate is 27/37 mpg. For consumers whose goal is maximum mileage the Aveo's fuel economy is not as good as that of the Fit and Yaris.
One concern with the Aveo, as with all small cars, is a collision with a larger vehicle. In frontal and side-impact crash tests conducted by the federal government the Aveo did well. However, in more severe tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Aveo got only an "acceptable" rating for frontal-crash protection and "marginal" for side-impact protection. The institute uses a system of good, acceptable, marginal or poor. The frontal ratings should only be compared among other small cars of similar size and weight. It doesn't mean the Aveo's performance will be "good" in a collision with a larger vehicle. The side-impact ratings can be compared among vehicles of all sizes.
What the Aveo has going for it is price, a relatively handsome interior and a ride that is comfortable for a small car. One question mark, however, is long-term reliability, an area where slightly more expensive competitors such as Honda and Toyota are known quantities.
There are two versions of the Chevrolet Aveo sedan.
The Aveo LS is the base model and includes air conditioning; variable-speed wipers; 14-inch wheels; AM/FM stereo; height-adjustable driver's seat; rear-window defogger and 60/40 split fold-down rear seat.
The Aveo LT adds power windows and door locks; remote/keyless entry; AM/FM/compact disc player; power/heated outside mirrors; cruise control; 15-inch aluminum wheels and a 60/40 folding rear seat.
Options: anti-lock brakes ($400); four-speed automatic transmission ($850); sunroof ($725); cruise control and remote/keyless entry ($425); power windows ($295); AM/FM/compact disc ($325): fog lights ($110) and rear spoiler ($225).
Safety features include seat-mounted air bags for front seats and seat-belt pretensioners for the front seats. The latter take slack out of the belt in a crash.