2008 Chevrolet Aveo Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
May 29, 2008

The 2008 Chevrolet Aveo has a bargain-basement price, and with the exception of good interior comfort, you get what you pay for.

While assembling this definitive review covering the 2008 Chevrolet Aveo sedan and Aveo5 hatchback models, TheCarConnection.com’s experts perused the range of available review information. Then, having driven the Aveo, the experienced reviewers at TheCarConnection.com brought their own impressions and insight to this review.

The 2008 Chevrolet Aveo is Chevy's cheapest model and one of the cheapest in the U.S. market, made by GM Daewoo in South Korea. The Aveo sedan was new for 2007; its bodywork and interior are different from the Aveo5 hatchback, which follows a more dated design.

Whether as a hatchback or sedan, the 2008 Chevrolet Aveo has a well-designed interior, with lots of passenger space for four full-size adults or three kids across the backseat. The tall body affords plenty of headroom or a boxlike cargo space with the seats folded. The sedan's 12.4-cubic-foot trunk is surprisingly roomy as well.

All 2008 Chevrolet Aveo models have a 103-horsepower, 1.6-liter engine that, from inside the cabin, is remarkably refined, but performance is barely adequate with the five-speed manual and sluggish with the four-speed automatic carrying anything but a light load and on level roads. The Aveo doesn't handle particularly well either; it's not confidence-inspiring in tight corners, possibly due to pronounced body lean.

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The sedan is offered in both LS and LT trim levels, while the Aveo5 hatchback comes in an especially stripped-down SVM (Special Value) base model and an LS. Manual windows and mirrors are standard on both Aveo body styles, and air conditioning is not offered on the blue-light SVM. However, both versions of the 2008 Chevrolet Aveo include an AM/FM CD sound system. The LS model includes A/C and can be upgraded with anti-lock brakes, 15-inch wheels, cruise control, and an AM/FM stereo with CD player and MP3 capability.

Those concerned about safety should be especially aware of the Aveo's subpar results in side-impact protection. The Aveo5 hatchback was given a middling four-star rating in side impact, while the Aveo sedan got only three stars in rear-seat side protection. In the insurance-industry tests, an Aveo sedan was rated Acceptable in frontal protection, Marginal in side protection, and Poor in the seat-based rear impact tests. Side-impact airbags are standard on the Aveo and Aveo5, but electronic stability control isn't in the cards, and anti-lock brakes are optional (not offered on the SVM).

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2008 Chevrolet Aveo

Styling

The 2008 Chevrolet Aveo doesn’t turn heads, but it’s tasteful and neatly styled.

The 2008 Chevrolet Aveo elicits mixed responses from reviewers. Some like it, while others dislike it, but there's no real love or hatred regarding its exterior and interior styling.

There are two different styles available with this Chevrolet; 2008 Aveo sedans are newer and distinct from the Aveo5 hatchback, which follows a more dated design.

Cars.com, while acknowledging its "clean, reasonably fresh design," compares it to "a shrunken Malibu with Ford Fusion taillights." On the other hand, Jalopnik, calling the Chevrolet Aveo "short on style," states that "there's nothing wrong with the Aveo's exterior styling (but...nothing right about it either)." In their comparison to a refrigerator and a "late 90's snooze -- er, sedan," the folks at Jalopnik have consigned the little car that couldn't to the gray area of "ho-hum."

Detroit News also laments the failure to incite passion with this Chevrolet; 2008’s redesign has failed to create a machine that stands out from the subcompact crowd. The conclusion here: "If only it didn't look so generic." Motor Week is a bit kinder in its review, praising its unexpectedly "upscale" looks, but still acknowledging that it "is not as cute as rivals Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris." Conversely, the Detroit News calls it “cute and appealing.”

Inside, Cars.com notes that there’s an “open feel” to this Chevrolet; 2008 Aveos can be outfitted with “imitation leather seats, simulated wood trim and metallic accents, clearly an effort to move the Aveo upscale,” they add. “In many places, it succeeds.”

Experts at TheCarConnection.com note that the 2008 Chevrolet Aveo sedan actually bears more than a passing resemblance to its bigger brother, the Chevy Malibu--which, despite its somewhat generic appearance, gets much higher ratings on styling.

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2008 Chevrolet Aveo

Performance

The 2008 Chevrolet Aveo doesn’t perform well, even in fuel economy, where it should excel.

All 2008 Chevrolet Aveo models have a 103-hp, 1.6-liter engine that, from inside the cabin, is remarkably refined, but performance is barely adequate with the five-speed manual and sluggish with the four-speed automatic carrying anything but a light load and on level roads.

All but one of the sources consulted by experts at TheCarConnection.com have come to the same conclusion: the 2008 Chevrolet Aveo is no Audi--and it's not even a '60s-vintage VW bug in terms of performance. The exception was Kelley Blue Book, referring to the "surprising capabilities of the [Chevrolet] Aveo LT's zippy little 103-hp engine." The reviewer didn’t elaborate upon them or specify what exactly those "capabilities" are.

USAToday uses faint praise to damn this subcompact Chevrolet; 2008’s Aveo is compared to the long-gone Yugo, while calling the Aveo "barely adequate for surviving cutthroat driving common in modern 'burbs." They do acknowledge that the manual transmission does permit one to keep rolling in this miniature machine and even "stir...up a little fun in the process," noting that "it's a lot more satisfying to drive an underpowered car hard than it is to drive a powerful car gingerly." The Detroit News called its four-speed automatic “ancient.”

The 2008 Chevrolet Aveo doesn't handle particularly well either; it's not confidence-inspiring in tight corners, possibly due to pronounced body lean.
“The Aveo's responses are competent, albeit with demerits for underassisted steering and long braking distances,” Car and Driver reports. “Its ride quality is acceptable.”

Motor Week tested the brakes on this Chevrolet; 2008 Aveos take 139 feet to come to a complete stop from 60 mph with the stock vented front disc brakes and rear drum brakes. This source recommends that prospective buyers order the anti-lock braking option.

Car and Driver is another source that doesn't exactly heap praise on this particular Chevrolet; 2008 versions are better than previous Aveos, but people demand more today. "The threshold of acceptability for basic is a lot higher than it's ever been," they add. Car and Driver also remarks on the Aveo’s “decent fuel economy — 26 mpg city, 34 highway for this automatic-equipped model,” but observed only “24 mpg.” The Detroit News echoes that, reporting the Aveo’s “gas mileage is only average.”

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2008 Chevrolet Aveo

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Chevrolet Aveo isn’t a paragon of room or quality, but it’s not bad in either respect.

As small as it is, the 2008 Chevrolet Aveo is actually pretty roomy inside, and it’s made of decent materials.

The 2008 Chevrolet Aveo is a spartan, no-frills piece of extremely basic transportation, and it’s outfitted with inexpensive materials. Despite the reference to seats that "feel pretty cheap," the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel acknowledges that GM has put a fair amount of effort into quieting the vehicle.

Cars.com found plenty of room inside: “I'm 5 feet, 11 inches tall, and I found enough headroom plus an inch left over when I adjusted the driver's seat to maximum height.” However, the reviewer added that “the front seatbacks are narrow and thinly padded, and I couldn't find a comfortable position...”

The Auto Channel took a test drive over the Thanksgiving holidays in the Chevy Aveo. After one hour, the seats were reported to become much less comfortable, while the driver became fatigued at a steering wheel that was positioned at arm's length. (The cup holder was found to be entirely inadequate as well.)

Nonetheless, Car and Driver notes the presence of interior materials in the 2008 Chevrolet Aveo that "would be at home in a mid-price sedan.” The Detroit News agrees: "the materials in the cabin are very nice, especially the cloth upholstery and the dimpled plastic trim on the doors and instrument panel." Cars.com thought the visor “snapped cheaply” into place, and the headliner had a “rough” surface. There’s also lots of road noise, they noted.

TheCarConnection.com drove an Aveo this spring and found that whether as a hatchback or sedan, the 2008 Chevrolet Aveo has a well-designed interior, with lots of passenger space for four full-size adults or three kids across the backseat. The tall body affords plenty of headroom or a boxlike cargo space with the seats folded. The sedan's 12.4-cubic-foot trunk is surprisingly roomy as well.

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2008 Chevrolet Aveo

Safety

The 2008 Chevrolet Aveo has below-average side-impact protection and crash scores.

TheCarConnection.com finds that the 2008 Chevrolet Aveo does not get high marks for safety.

The Detroit News cuts to the chase with this Chevrolet; 2008’s Aveo will be judged, they say, on "what kind of safety equipment you get." The list of safety equipment that is not standard--or even available--on the Aveo is telling.

Edmunds reports that the base Chevrolet Aveo model does come with front seat side airbags as standard equipment, but not side curtain airbags. Anti-lock brakes, standard now on virtually all other vehicles, are optional on the Aveo, while four-wheel disc brakes aren't even available, according to Cars.com. Stability control isn’t offered, either.

The Chevrolet 2008 Aveo received a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in head-on impacts--but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Aveo significantly lower scores. While the vehicle was rated "acceptable" when it came to offset frontal impacts, side impacts were rated as "marginal."

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2008 Chevrolet Aveo

Features

The base model is dirt cheap, but options can ring up the 2008 Chevrolet Aveo’s price into the high teens.

Those who choose the 2008 Chevrolet Aveo will find a reasonable number of features--if they're willing to pay extra.

The Detroit News thinks the Chevrolet 2008 Aveo may be the last vehicle built with hand-cranked windows and manual locks and side mirrors. The base model starts at under $10,000, which doesn't buy a whole lot of new car these days. To get all the available options, Cars.com reports, one will need to shell out nearly $17,000.

For about $2,600 over the base model price, one can have air conditioning, driver's seat lumbar adjustment, floor mats, and a stereo with iPod/MP3 compatibility. Another $1,500 will buy power windows, remote entry, cruise control, a CD player, and alloy wheels. About $3,000 later, the proud new owner has fog lamps, anti-lock brakes, a moonroof, faux leather seats, audio controls mounted on the steering wheel, and a six-CD changer. As Cars.com points out, these are not typical of subcompact vehicles, and they may not be worth it to many prospective buyers.

All in all, the Chevrolet 2008 Aveo has a "bargain bin feel," according to Edmunds. Between the lack of safety features and the equipment that owners of other vehicles simply take for granted, it is as if the carmaker is begrudging the driver any sort of luxury or protection at all.

TheCarConnection.com notes that the Chevrolet 2008 Aveo sedan is offered in both LS and LT trim levels, while the Aveo5 hatchback comes in an especially stripped-down SVM (Special Value) base model and an LS. Manual windows and mirrors are standard on both Aveo body styles, and air conditioning is not offered on the blue-light SVM. However, both versions of the Chevrolet 2008 Aveo include an AM/FM CD sound system. The LS model includes A/C and can be upgraded with anti-lock brakes, 15-inch wheels, cruise control, and an AM/FM stereo with CD player and MP3 capability.

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