- Good front headroom
- Solid build quality
- Peppy performance with manual transmission
- Supple ride for a subcompact
- Practical hatchback with Aveo5
- Ride at interstate speeds
- Radio doesn't have tuning knob
- Sedan's iffy crash-test results
If most of your driving is around town with little interstate travel, the 2009 Chevrolet Aveo and Aveo5 are worth a look, especially if you want a bow tie out front.
At TheCarConnection.com, we have small-car experts who have driven both body styles of the 2009 Chevrolet Aveo to compile this road test. This review also compares the 2009 Chevy Aveo and Aveo5 with the best competitors in its class. On top of this research, we reviewed reports from a range of respected automotive Web sites to give you a complete package of information and help you make an informed purchasing decision.
The 2009 Chevrolet Aveo is one of the least expensive vehicles you can buy in the United States. It's a front-wheel-drive subcompact that's available in two body styles; the Aveo sedan and the new-for-2009 Aveo5 hatchback. With the specter of high gas prices looming over American drivers, the efficient and generally competent 2009 Chevy Aveo should be among the small cars on anyone's shopping list.
Available in three trims—from base, to mid-level LS, and topping out at LT—the Aveo5 joins its sedan sibling with brand new, sophisticated sheetmetal (the four-door Aveo received a comprehensive redesign in 2008). Both models are products of GM's South Korean offshoot, GM Daewoo, though they carry Chevy's new corporate, front-end styling wrapped around the famous bowtie in a large grille. An optional rear spoiler brings some visual excitement to the econobox, as do the larger taillamps. Our editors took umbrage at the side vent in the Aveo5's front fender, thinking it a silly gewgaw. Curiously, the vent is absent on the sedan.
The cabin has five seat belts, but after putting some miles on several Aveo models, one can plan on using four of them without too much complaining from the second row; seating three in the back would is tight. Theatre-style seating brings improved forward visibility for rear-row passengers, while a 60/40 split rear seat offers additional cargo flexibility for those hauling around bulkier freight. Interior matiers are improved for 2009, including optional faux metallic, woodgrain, and carbon-fiber trim. The Aveo may be a diminutive machine, but it doesn't lack for interior storage. Meanwhile, higher-end features such as satellite radio, a large sunroof, and cruise control are available as options. Cars from General Motors often have one of the best XM radio setups, but the Aveo's radio controls are missing a tuning knob found on most other GM vehicles, resulting in a loss of convenience.
The 2009 Chevrolet Aveo and Aveo5 use identical engines, transmissions, and chassis components. EPA mileage for the pair is 27/34 mpg for models with a five-speed manual transmission and 25/34 mpg for those with a four-speed automatic. The engine is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with 106 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque. Expect nearly 400 miles per tank. Being the Aveo is one of the least expensive new vehicles money can buy, it's running gear is consistant with other Asian subcompacts: front MacPherson struts and a rear torsion-beam suspension setup keep costs in check, while 14-inch wheels are equipped as standard. What to dress up your Aveo? Optional 15-inchers (and anti-lock brakes) are available. Around town, the ride is good enough, but over 70 mph, the car feels nervous—certainly not dangerous, but not pleasant.
Regarding safety, the 2009 Aveo includes front and side airbags, but ABS remains optional. We like the height-adjustable front shoulder belts because of the extra comfort they provide. Scores for the Aveo5 in federal crash tests are dual five-star ratings for frontal impacts and dual four-star tallies for side impacts. The Aveo sedan fares less well, losing one star each for the passengers in front and side impacts. In IIHS tests, the insurance institute rates the Aveo's offset frontal-impact performance as Acceptable and side impact as Marginal. On the plus side, GM's OnStar is also standard, offering an extra measure of safety not found in other competitors.
Most low-priced cars today come with "the basics" and then some. For instance, on the base Aveo LS (and Aveo5 LS), a tilt steering wheel, a rear-window defroster, an AM/FM audio system with an auxiliary input jack for an iPod or other device, and OnStar is standard. The 1LT packages add air conditioning and a CD player to the audio system. The 2LT package packs on more, including cruise control, power heated outside rearview mirrors, XM Satellite Radio, and remote keyless entry. Larger wheels (15 inches, up from 14 inches) are standard on the 2LT-equipped cars. Chevrolet also backs the 2009 Aveo with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, plus a five-year/100,000-mile warranty on the powertrain.
2009 Chevrolet Aveo
A redesign fashion-forwards the 2009 Chevrolet Aveo5, but there's not much to be positive about.
The 2009 Chevrolet Aveo5 gets a facelift and a refreshed interior, but the Aveo sedan rests on the styling updates it received in 2007. Snide remarks regarding the sedan's styling are common, but reviewers are less critical of the new five-door.
"Chevrolet's entry-level car is available as a homely-looking sedan or an altogether more attractive five-door wagon," says Car and Driver. MyRide.com remarks, "the twin-grille look that we like on the Chevy Malibu and new Chevy Traverse looks forced and weird on this little car. The headlights sweep up into the bodywork uncomfortably, the fender vents behind the rear wheels are laughably corny, the hubcaps have fake plastic bolts, and the rest of the car is just bland and boring." Automobile Magazine doesn't like the hatchback's styling, "where the only external changes lie with an ungainly front fascia and a pair of new taillight lenses."
The interior of the 2009 Aveo5 receives at least some praise. Edmunds says "the interior of the Aveo5 was redesigned this year, which finally puts it in step with the sedan." Automobile Magazine remarks "our LT test car sported a two-tone cabin complete with faux-wood accents, but the dash is the same-ol' Daewoo instrument panel first seen (overseas) in 2002.
MyRide.com says that the 2009 Aveo's "interior styling is a slightly different matter. The design is bland, but inoffensive and simple, unlike the busy interiors of some of the Aveo's competitors. Chevrolet has even attempted a bit of style and upscale feel, giving the 2009 Chevy Aveo a two-tone tan-and-black theme with fake wood trim."
2009 Chevrolet Aveo
The 2009 Chevy Aveo delivers just adequate performance and surprisingly unimpressive fuel mileage.
According to reviewers, the 2009 Chevy Aveo is awash with adequate performance, including fuel mileage. However, the revised inline four-cylinder engine now includes variable valve timing.
In its evaluation, Edmunds says "while the 2009 Chevrolet Aveo is certainly no thrill ride, it provides respectable vehicle dynamics. The steering is direct and the suspension is well-tuned for day-to-day commuting. The 1.6-liter engine is adequate, but it's not particularly powerful."
According to ConsumerGuide, the "Aveo accelerates off the line quicker than one would expect, but no one will mistake these subcompacts for a sports car. Manual-transmission versions feel slightly quicker than automatics, but a rubbery, imprecise manual shifter detracts from the driving experience. The automatic is relatively responsive."
Continuing with the transmission, Automobile Magazine says, "The manual transaxle is a mixed blessing—it allows you to more easily stay in that rev band, but the shift action is rather sloppy, and the optional ABS can't be had with the manual." In addition, "the manual shifter is numb and rubbery, which wouldn't be all that terrible if you didn't have to downshift constantly just to keep up with traffic." Edmunds remarks, "We normally recommend that buyers in this class opt for a manual transmission, but in the Aveo's case, the automatic is the better bet. The manual tranny's gear ratios are too wide, leaving the car underpowered on highway grades and ultimately compromising fuel economy."
Suspension and ride quality receive positive feedback. MyRide.com says, "One of the bright spots in the 2009 Chevy Aveo is the ride quality, which is pretty good. Like most small cars, the Aveo's short wheelbase makes it bounce too much over freeway expansion joints and the like. However, the soft spring settings and good shock absorbers help smooth out even that common problem better than we expected. By comparison, many of the 2009 Chevy Aveo's competitors feel downright jittery." ConsumerGuide comments that the Aveo is "nimble enough due to its petite size and responsive steering, though some testers say steering effort is a bit heavy at low speeds. Aveo's body leans more in turns than class rivals."
In the area of fuel consumption, ConsumerGuide says the "Aveo sedans with the automatic transmission averaged 24.5-28.4 mpg. Aveo5 hatchbacks with the automatic averaged 28.3-28.7 mpg. All figures are unimpressive for the class."
When it comes to scrubbing speed, MyRide.com states that "the brakes prove perfectly adequate in the day-to-day world of commuting in which the 2009 Chevy Aveo will be thrust, but no more than adequate." ConsumerGuide says "the brakes provide decent stopping control but are nothing special in terms of pedal feel."
2009 Chevrolet Aveo
Comfort & Quality
The 2009 Aveo provides passengers room to move and comfortable seating, but has minimal storage space compared to its rivals.
Most reviewers find the 2009 Chevrolet Aveo offers pleasant accommodations for its price, but the Aveo doesn't please everyone. As with other categories, the hatchback is better received than the Aveo sedan.
MyRide.com's evaluation is the harshest review of those read by TheCarConnection.com's editors: "The reality is that the little Korean-built 2009 Chevy Aveo is subpar in most respects to the big three of the subcompact world—the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris—and not even better than the remainder of the crowd. It is noisy, uncomfortable, slow, largely unpleasant to drive and not particularly well thought-out compared to its competition." Regarding the Aveo's competitors, Edmunds concurs but isn't as brutal in its commentary: "As for the all-around driving experience, the Aveo is similarly mid-pack."
ConsumerGuide says, "The engine sounds coarse and buzzy during acceleration on all models. Wind and road noise can be intrusive, more so with the hatchback than the sedan." Automobile Magazine points to the sunglasses holster and wonders "how many of these will get ripped off by accident."
The subcompact Aveo received kudos for its ample front seating. ConsumerGuide observes "good headroom despite a somewhat tall seating position, though sitting high up makes for excellent visibility. Taller passengers will wish for more legroom, though."
"Both the hatchback and the sedan have a 60/40-split-folding rear seat that creates extra space for cargo. But although the Aveo5 has a respectable 42 cubic feet when the rear seats are down, it offers significantly less cargo space than some competing hatchbacks with the rear seats in place," reports Edmunds.
"Neither body style offers much cargo room with the rear seats up. Split-folding rear seatbacks help increase space. In-cabin storage is sparse, with a meager glovebox and a few small bins," observes ConsumerGuide.
2009 Chevrolet Aveo
The 2009 Chevrolet Aveo is barely adequate here—especially considering it's one of the smaller, lighter vehicles on the road.
Adequacy is the recurring theme with the 2009 Chevy Aveo. Lackluster crash-test results are met with some—but not all—the expected safety features.
"In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the Aveo sedan earned a five-star rating (the best possible) for its protection of the driver and four stars for the passenger in frontal impacts, and four stars for the driver side and three stars for the passenger side in side impacts," says Edmunds. Furthermore, "The hatchback did slightly better, garnering five stars for the passenger in the frontal-impact test and four stars for both sides in the rear-impact test. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash tests, the Aveo received a score of 'Acceptable,' or one spot from the top."
Car and Driver reports, "The Aveo gets dual front side airbags in addition to the standard front bags, but curtain airbags aren't offered—a glaring oversight. There is no traction or stability control on offer." "Antilock brakes are optional on the LT models, but only on those with the automatic transmission," states ConsumerGuide.
The Aveo comes standard with GM's OnStar system, which other cars in this class cannot boast.
2009 Chevrolet Aveo
The 2009 Chevy Aveo is built to serve basic transportation needs, and it's best to leave it that way by not adding expensive upgrades.
There are three trim levels available for both the sedan and hatchback versions of the Aveo. The price for either model with the trim level is the same, leaving the purchasing decision based solely on body type.
The Aveo5 only makes sense as basic transportation, says Automobile Magazine, while noting it's nearly impossible to comprehend why anyone would shell out more than $14,000.
For 2009, "The Aveo gets a revised driver-information center that now shows outside temperature and fuel economy. GM's OnStar system is now standard, along with an auxiliary input jack on all radios. XM satellite radio is now available, as are new five-spoke aluminum 15-inch wheels," reports Car and Driver.
The base LS includes standard side airbags, variable intermittent windshield wipers, a tilting steering wheel, and a stereo with an audio input jack. To get air conditioning requires a $1,000 price increase and upgrading to the 1LT model. Options for this model include power accessories and anti-lock brakes. Says Car and Driver, "Choosing an auto-equipped 1LT makes the most sense if you plan to use the Aveo as a no-frills commuter vehicle, providing, as it does, an acceptable level of comfort."
For about $16,000 you can get the 2LT model. "The 2LT comes with the 1LT's optional equipment and adds 15-inch wheels, front foglamps, a trip computer, upgraded cloth upholstery, heated power sideview mirrors and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls," reports Edmunds.
"Our test car had air conditioning, a halfway-decent audio system, power windows and door locks, but manual outside mirrors. However, the tons of hard plastic, occasional shiny bit, odd contrasts between black and tan and the atrociously orange wood trim shatters any illusion of civility quickly," remarks MyRide.com.