When I heard that Chevrolet was releasing a sub $11,000 car I had to go drive one. I was actually a HUGE fan of the Suzuki-made Geo Metro (a.k.a. Suzuki Swift) because of their go-kart like fun-to-drive factor. No power brakes, no power steering, 1700lbs, small engines that wind way up - those were the things that made the Metro a fun car to putz around town in. I've never owned one, but I've driven a few, and have owned a few smaller late 80's Civic hatchbacks and a Civic CRX, which are very close to what the Metro is. Days after hearing about the sub $11,000 Metro replacement I was excited to go drive one. When I got to the dealer they were more than willing to let me take the car out by myself. I soon found out why.
The first thing I noticed about driving the Aveo is that it's gutless. Most small 4 cylinder engines make the most power when they're wound up. Sub 2.0L 4's usually have their max power right AT redline because of their size, so I figured the Aveo would be the same way. Consistantly through each gear and through each sweep of the tach I was waiting for power to come, and it never did. There's no low end (obviously because of no displacement), no mid-range, and after going through those two stages I was hoping for a nice jolt near the top of the RPM band, but that never came either. Since the 1.6L VTEC engines in the Civics made 127hp and have a pretty high "fun to drive" factor as you race through high RPMs, I thought the Aveo would be the same way (being as the engine is the same size). I was quickly disappointed - and this all before turning off of the road right outside of the dealership.
When I left the dealer pointed me toward some curvy roads and encouraged me to take the car out and see what it was capable of. "Just don't kill yourself or total the car" he laughed as I drove off. The car I drove had 16 miles on it, so it was still very VERY new... the newest car I'd ever driven at the time. Not wanting to ruin what could be someone else's new car I didn't beat on the car, but I did drive it like I would drive it if it was mine... and this is where the problems started.
HANDLING AND FIT + FINISH
The car feels dangerous around corners. Not just "a little body roll here and there," but dangerous. The tiny, narrow tires that come on the car have no grip at all, and break loose with ease. The short wheelbase and tall body make the car sway dangerously even while driving in the city. After the car started to heat up 5 or 6 miles down the road it started to smell hot. This is when I got worried and eventually turned around and took the car back to the dealer before some unforseen tradgety could have happened. To be honest I was worrying that something was going to go seriously wrong.
On the way back to the dealer, driving straight down the road, the car popped out of third gear and into neutral on its own. When I drove back into the dealer I was laughing. "How do you like it?" He asked. My reply was "I don't.... at all." I told him everything that I noticed that was wrong with the car... knowing that the car is one of the cheapest on the road, isn't meant to be "powerful," and isn't meant to handle like a racecar, but still... there are some, what I would even go as far as calling "fatal," flaws from the factory on this car.
After ranting about the car, I asked him if he had anything else that was similarly priced, and he showed me a Cavalier. Total base model, no power anything except steering and brakes, 2.2L Ecotec engine that made 140hp (not too bad), and was built like a Cavalier... they've been the same since 1995, and have been on basically the same chassis since 1982. The Cavalier was actually priced less than the Aveo after all of the crazy GM cash-back discounts that they're handing out. This will totally kill the resale value of the car, but GM resale value is terrible anyway so there's not too much to be concerned about there.
For the price the Cavalier was a million times the car the Aveo was. Built in the US with much higher standards than the Koren made Aveo, you could tell by just driving the Cavalier that the platform is superior to the Aveo.
I left the dealership buying neither car, and instead settled for a used Acura, which was half the price and 5X the car of either the Cavalier or the Aveo.
For the price of an Aveo you could do much better. A lot of people don't know this, but 97% of the Aveo is made in Korea by what's left of Daewoo. Don't believe me - check out the window sticker. Daewoo went out of business and GM bought up what facories were left, and built the Aveo on a platform of one of the smaller Daewoo cars of the 90s. The Aveo is not a "new" car... infact the whole car is built on 80s technology methods. For less than the ~$10,000 price of an Aveo, you could get a base model Chevy Cavalier, which is built much better, has a larger 2.2L engine that comes from one of Chevrolet's European subsidaries (Opel) with a proven track record for reliability over the Koren-made 1.6L that's in the Aveo. Would you buy a Kia or a Hyundai? No? Then why buy a Koren made Aveo that's just badged as a Chevrolet?
The Aveo is an attempt at GM to win over people who think they NEED a new car but can't afford one. For the price of a new Aveo you could get a much MUCH better used car. A 3 or 4 year old Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra, Subaru Imprezza, or even a Ford Focus would be worlds above an Aveo, and would still maintain a better resale value for longer than the Aveo. If you think you absolutely MUST have a new car, Toyota is offering the Scion line, where you can get an XA (the cheapest model) for only $2,000 more than the Aveo with power EVERYTHING and a CD/MP3 player standard. The Aveo is a waste of time, anda total waste of money and doesn't come close to the Suzuki-built Metros, let alone a Scion XA that can be had for little more.
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