May 23, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Thursday, 10 November 2011 12:04
The occasion was a destination wedding in beautiful Marco Island, Fla. When the time came to rent a car, what did the automotive reviewer choose?
Well, he regularly gets high-priced cars from the agencies, so why not sample the low end of the market?
Last time we traveled, we rented a subcompact 2011 Ford Fiesta, a nice choice because it was a new model. No such luck this time. So we settled on a 2011 Chevrolet Aveo sedan, a model we hadn’t driven in several years.Designed and built in South Korea, the subcompact Aveo has been the mainstay of General Motors’ economy segment since the 2004 model year. It’s in its last days in American showrooms, having been supplanted for 2012 by the subcompact Sonic. The reviews thus far have been favorable, but while both the Aveo and Sonic are considered economy cars, the latter has a base price about $2,500 higher. It won’t be available in the extreme Spartan demeanor of our rental Aveo 1LT, one step up from the base LS.
How Spartan? Windows, locks and outside mirrors are operated manually. To open the trunk, you stick a key into the lock in the trunk lid. The Aveo LS and 1LT are throwbacks to the days when used-car ads contained the abbreviation “R&H,” for “radio and heater.”
Stepping up to the $15,365 Aveo 2LT gets you 15-inch wheels, cruise control, satellite radio, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, audio controls on the steering hub, and power outside mirrors. The Aveo also comes as a hatchback, called the Aveo5.
Our Aveo best could be described as competent. Visibility is quite good, the ride is acceptable, and the cab is fairly roomy. Handling is a little ungainly for a small car, and wind noise is noticeable. Ease of access and egress is a strong point. Space for rear-seat passengers and luggage also falls within acceptable limits. The car seemed well put together.
Outsourced from the beginning to Daewoo and successor companies in South Korea, the Aveo was never much more than an adequate entry-level Chevy that elevated the nameplate’s fuel-economy numbers. The Aveo we drove, with a 1.6-liter, 108-horsepower engine and a four-speed automatic transmission, was rated at 25 mpg city, 34 highway.
The Aveo never matched the infamy of the Corvair, Vega and Chevette, but it never stacked up well against the Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, or the entry-level Hyundais and Kias, either. And its performance in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests has been lackluster, ranging from marginal to acceptable since a 2007 redesign.
What’s next for the Aveo? Versions still will be available overseas after the Sonic takes over in the U.S. market. For the immediate future, buyers may be able to score discounts of as much as 20 percent on remaining 2011 inventory. For the driver whose priorities don’t include style, novelty and amenities, the last days of the Aveo could bring big savings opportunities.
Price: $15,785 (with standard transmission)
Engine: 1.6-liter inline Four, 108 horsepower, 105 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Weight: 2,568 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear
Wheels: 14-in. steel alloy
Tires: P185/60R14 all-season
Luggage capacity: 12.4 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 12 gal.
Fuel economy: 25 mpg city, 34 highway
Fuel type: Regular unleaded gasoline
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