Small and cheap isn't usually the recipe for safety. That said, the Cobalt performs acceptably—though not especially well—in crash tests. Safety equipment is about what’s expected, but no more.
In independent crash tests, the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt garners middle-of-the-road ratings, though NHTSA scores vary somewhat depending on body style. Both the Chevrolet Cobalt coupe and sedan earn four stars for front impact driver protection and five for front impact passenger protection, but when it comes to front side impacts, the Chevrolet Cobalt coupe earns four stars and the sedan only three. However, in the rear side impact test, the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt sedan outscores the coupe five stars to four. In IIHS testing, both body styles earn the highest possible rating, "good," for frontal offset impacts and an "acceptable" rating for side impact protection.
The 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt offers most of the usual safety features that consumers expect, at least in the higher-end trims—too bad these items aren’t standard. Cars.com states that "antilock brakes are standard on 2LT and SS models and optional on LS models," while "Cobalts with the automatic gearbox and antilock brakes also have traction control." Consumer Guide also reports that "traction control, [an] antiskid system, and curtain side airbags" are all available on the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt. Dual front airbags and a tire-pressure monitor are included on all 2009 Chevrolet Cobalts as well.
One crucial characteristic of a vehicle that will help reduce the risk of accidents is driver visibility, and reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the Chevrolet Cobalt excels in this regard. Kelley Blue Book says that the Cobalt features a "high seating position for a more commanding view of the road, and all-around visibility is impressive." However, the view from the Chevrolet Cobalt SS models isn't as impressive, and ConsumerGuide claims that "the tall spoiler on the SS coupe really restricts the view out back."