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trinacriabob

Weekend in a Cobalt

4 posts in this topic

trinacriabob    21

Ok, it's the end of summer and I want to take a few road trips before it gets colder. My sled is old, so I think I will take an Alamo rental into the "low" Sierra for a couple of weekend days to plunk myself onto an air mattress and enjoy the sun for a mere $ 22 a day....and collect some frequent flyer miles in the process. My reservation for a compact turned out to be a chance to try a Cobalt for over 200 miles.

Mine was that electric blue with a hint of purple. The little sedan is pleasing to the eye. The front grille is definitely an improvement and the greenhouse with the sweepback in the rear passenger compartment side window is a departure from the ordinary, which I now like. It's just the rear end that is less than optimal. The taillamp design is a little overused (read "G6") and the lack of definition in the bumper is a little bland. Otherwise, not bad...like I said above: cute.

The interior has a host of strong points and some negative ones. Most noteworthy is the fact that the entire layout is ergonomically "predictable," meaning that it takes no time at all to familiarize yourself with this car and use its features effortlessly. Mostly everything is easy to reach and use. The seats offer a great viewing position though they are a tad on the hard side. Also, they are a bit narrow and the bolsters intrude. However, the fact that you sit high mitigates some of the awkwardness. (I deduced that the combination of pronounced bolstering and low seating position, taken together, is what makes the GP a little disappointing). As I pulled out of the airport rental lot, the greenhouse's styling sports its vantage points. In a styling era where glass is on the decrease, Cobalt sedan's visibility is excellent. The entire layout of the dash is pleasing to the eye. Controls are generally easy to operate. The radio set-up is the ubiqutous GM layout...from Cobalt to Cadillac. This car separates the lighting and the wiper stalk...that's good, in my mind. The trans lever feels like a short-throw stick. That's nice, too.

There is a triad of misses. The first is that there is NO temperature gauge. I don't want to operate the buttons on the info system to get the coolant's Fahrenheit reading! The other is that the cupholders are so far forward that, when used, intrude on the operation of the climate control. Lastly, because of the center positioned parking brake, the armrest console storage bin is a little weak.

For the bucks, the car drives pretty nicely. The handling is pleasant and predictable. Pushing it a little hard doesn't inspire excessive confidence as this car's center of gravity is not what we find in a sports car or even something like a GP which inherently feels more planted. On the interstate, the car has a nice centered feel. The only drawback is that, like the pre-redo Impy and MC, there is a tire drone. If that were gone, the motoring experience would be much more serene. The EcoTec 2.2 engine feels peppy in this little sled. It's at home here, whereas it seems to be a little weak for the Malibu. It's a little grainy at lower speeds but quiets down sufficiently on the highway. It was interesting to lift the hood: the plastic shroud seems to cover EVERYTHING. I want to see SOME engine so I can see if there's a leak or a vacuum hose that has become undone. The Turbo Hydramatic transaxle shifts nicely but the 1-2 shift feels "weird" (not as purposeful as on a V6), but they seem to act this way on so many 4-bangers. Still, this powertrain ought to provide many years and miles of reliable motoring for the money.

The good part was the gas mileage. I couldn't believe it. I bested the EPA sticker. On pleasant undulating roads in the lower Sierra, it returned 35.89 miles per gallon! That's awesome since previous tries in Malibus brought back about 31 to 33 mpg. And all for a car that is functional, reasonably comfortable, well-priced and features a powertrain that's a staple.

Cars are getting better, it seems. I recently drove a Milan and ...God...what an improvement over the Taurus/Sable it replaces. I feel the same way about the Cobalt sedan. It's a commendable improvement over its Cavalier heritage.

Edited by trinacriabob

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regfootball    250

good writeup and quite accurate. I remember that my cobalt test drives, i felt it was a very good car!

one point you touched on that is important is that ecotec equipped cars get tremendous gas mileage and often exceed EPA ratings. I recall one person who told me they surpassed 35 mpg often in their L200 saturn which is larger. Every Ecotec I have driven I have enjoyed because the car has great revvability and great power and torque everywhere.

Yes, the Mazda 3 is the class of the field, but the Cobalt is darn good. I think Chevy needs to get the word out more on this car.

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z28luvr01    170

You've pretty much hit the nail on the head. I'm not sure which trim level you had, but the Michelin tires that come with the 16" wheels are much better. I can't shake my car loose while taking hairpins at 50mph. I know the Continentals used on the lower-end Cobalts are pretty bad in terms of wind noise and traction in slippery conditions.

Agreed 100% on the sedan rear. Hopefully they give it the coupe's quad circles for the '08 refresh.

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trinacriabob    21

You've pretty much hit the nail on the head. I'm not sure which trim level you had, but the Michelin tires that come with the 16" wheels are much better. I can't shake my car loose while taking hairpins at 50mph. I know the Continentals used on the lower-end Cobalts are pretty bad in terms of wind noise and traction in slippery conditions.

Agreed 100% on the sedan rear. Hopefully they give it the coupe's quad circles for the '08 refresh.

197890[/snapback]

It was an LT. The wheels were 15". I didn't notice the brand of the tires, though.

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