First Drive: 2009 Chevrolet Aveo5

2009aveo5

The redesigned Chevrolet Aveo5 shows how far entry-level cars have come in the past 10 years. Compared to cars then, or even the previous-generation Aveo5, the new model is an improvement. Unfortunately, compared with the best of its competition — the Nissan Versa and Honda Fit — it doesn't shine so brightly.

I recently tested a variety of Aveo5s, some of which were loaded with luxury goodies, some of which were not. It made for a fun day of trying them all out and seeing how they differed.

In a nutshell, as you'd expect, the more you pay, the more you get. Things like better interior coverings, a sunroof, power locks and the like creep in as the price goes up. What surprised me the most, though, was that the steering was extremely light on lower-end 1LT models – almost disconcertingly so. I find small cars to be twitchy under the best of circumstances, and a light steering wheel only makes that worse. The upper-trim 2LT levels seemed to have less power-steering boost and felt more composed.

Ditto the manual transmissions. The lowest trim level I got in had a shifter that felt like it would come off in my hand if I shifted it too hard. (Would it actually come off? I doubt it, but it's one of those 'perceived quality' issues that carmakers have from time to time.) Higher trims had a more secure shifter.

With the automatic transmission, the car reminds you that you’re driving a small car with a small engine. It's not fun, and it must be said that the Honda Fit is fun to drive with an automatic, so I'm not buying any excuses that small cars and automatic transmissions don't mix. The automatic needs work.

Speaking of the competition, to my taste the Fit has the best interior in this class, followed by the Versa. The Aveo5 is getting there — it's much better than the previous model – but it’s just not equal to the best. Mostly it was a matter of things like a goofy display in the center of the dash, some weird plastic choices and, yes, the rubber shifter. It all adds up.

Finally, I tested the cars in an area that had a fair bit of rough, potholed roads, and I was grateful for that. It really helps you test a car in real-world conditions, and the Aveo5 did OK.

Make no mistake, this is not a Chevrolet Malibu, Saturn Astra or other uplevel car. You'll feel and hear the bumps, but they're acceptable for an entry-level vehicle. I'd need to drive the Aveo5, Fit and Versa on the same roads to really be sure, but I think if the roads are rough, the Versa is the best, the Aveo5 is second and the Fit is third in terms of comfort. For sportiness, well, that’s another matter, as the Fit wins hands down.

I think the best way to sum up the Aveo5 is to say it is what it is. It's an entry-level car that tries hard and gets some things right, but, unfortunately, the competition is a bit further down the road.

By William Jackson | September 3, 2008 | Comments (13)
Tags: Chevrolet

Comments 

Keith

I don't know if this is typical but the Flickr photo galleries you have started to use are painfully slow and a real test of patience to wait to see every picture. There has to be a better way.

Keith,
We're working on it. It's better to load them in a gallery than on the page. But yeah, we're looking into other galleries to use.

Cj

I think it's ugly. For those who are interested the new 2009 Fit is up @ Honda's website:
http://automobiles.honda.com/fit/

Keith

Have you considered doing the photos like you do in your car reviews? That works well albeit the pictures are usually pretty small.

George

4 speed automatics are utterly horribly obsolete.

Even 5 speed automatics are pretty old.
The Honda Fit automatic is pretty comparable in the first two gears. Third gear of the automatic is taller than the stick shift, so the acceleration performance of the automatic lags behind at higher speeds.

Who ever designed the back of the car should have looked at the front for inspiration. What's with the portal on the side? They went too far to make this look like a GM product!

Trey

How much longer until Chevy admits the giant open snout grill is ugly?

Stephen7

The "chrome" port hole on the side of the car is almost as bad as Cars.com using Flickr. I saw the same thing on the side of the Ford Focus. Another old model that's way over due for a remake. Why Ford and GM even bother to build small cars is beyond me.

J

Keith,

I think that is browser or the computer's problem. (Connection speed could also be a factor)
My Safari has no problem loading the pictures pretty quickly.

Anyway, the grille is overdone on this car.
BTW, is the engine really GM's Ecotec? Isn't this car a Daewoo?

Juan Carlos

yes. is a daewoo. made in korea. in colombia the aveo is much nicer and made in colombia. is given the choice, i would buy it in colombia and bring it here.

US cars are getting more european in design - makes a change from the historic trend of what is good for the US is good for those over the pond!

YOING

Any chance that this one isn't a deathtrap like the last one?

GM has truley given us "Disposable transportation". Should be good for the warranty period then turn it into dog food cans.

Rick LaPraim

The Aveo is far better looking then the FIT and lets face it the Mini Hondas have a much higher fatality rate then the Accords. The Honda does have some ginger bread trim and the finish is cool but it has to be the ugliest car in its class. The long snout makes it look like a Mosqito.I will pass on the fit.
The Aveo is simple and even though it is also maketed as a Pontiac,Holden,Suzuki and Daewoo the Chevy nose treatment is way cool.I have seen them customized and they look awesome.
As for the guy who liked the Nissan interior better then the Aveo. I think it is just the same ole interior Nissan upolstry my old truck had and it didn't last very long My Nissan interior was tearing in just three years.The Versa looks cool but its a Nissan so get ready to realign the front end every time you hit a pot hole. My Nissan truck also had a weak rear end that whinned all the time.
The best car in the class is probably the Kia Rio not much to customize but it is reliable and Kia takes care of there buyers.

As for performance you people need to get a Corvette or a Porsche if you want speed. A fit versa a Aveo is like saying what is faster a Slug or a Snail? It just sounds wrong!!
They will both last 5 years and then you throw them away!

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