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Dan Neil Reviews the Aveo


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Dan Neil of the L.A. Times drives the Chevy Aveo and gives it a surprisingly positive review. An excerpt:

That said, there's something quite agreeable about the Aveo. It's comfortable, solidly constructed, and surprisingly eager to please. The little dual-cam motor will happily pull its guts out to get up to speed. The ride quality is reasonably composed for a short-wheelbase (97.6 inches) commuter car, and the interior noise levels more than respectable. The exterior paint quality and panel gap consistency are excellent.

And, let me just say, hand-cranked windows? What a clever idea.

The biggest surprise in the Aveo is the interior's quality. The subject of a major push by GM, the interior is full of over-achieving fabrics, like the dark nail-head upholstery in the door gussets and seats, as well as respectable faux alloy trim on the dash and door pulls, and dense dash vinyl. The switchgear is attractive and well placed; the silver-ringed, black-faced instruments are cleanly legible and well executed.

I actually enjoyed my week in the glamour-deprived Aveo. It could be just my contrarian streak, but I felt a warm glow of moral satisfaction in this car, which clearly announced my disdain for L.A.'s automotive posturing. Remember, Mr. Valet Man, park it out front.

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With the 5 spd, the Aveo is actually a fairly decent car. Yes, it does have a bit of oomph, too. I am 6'2" and have no problem sitting in the back seat. I prefer the 5 - door, but with the recent re-do of the sedan, the interior is far better in the sedan. I have no idea why they woudn't make over the 5 door first - we sell far more of those than sedans!

It's interesting to note that th usual suspects acclaim the Yaris for being such a great car, but this is Toyota's 3rd kick at the small car can in North America. First, the Tercel, which was a decent car, then the Echo which had a crappy back seat and anemic performance, and now the Yaris, which is a decent car but still a little quirky looking. GM-DAT has done a far better job straight out of the gate with the Aveo.

I would prefer to see a better automatic (maybe a GM one?) and a touch more power, but over all this car is decent. Now, if only GM would stop badge engineering this and whoring it out to Suzuki and Pontiac, we might have something that sells, too.

Edited by CARBIZ
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With the 5 spd, the Aveo is actually a fairly decent car. Yes, it does have a bit of oomph, too. I am 6'2" and have no problem sitting in the back seat. I prefer the 5 - door, but with the recent re-do of the sedan, the interior is far better in the sedan. I have no idea why they woudn't make over the 5 door first - we sell far more of those than sedans!

I have seen many more 5-doors than sedans. The last-gen Aveo looked better as a 5-door, too. This time around the sedan may be the better looking of the two.

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The Aveo 5 door is supposed to get a re-do for '08.

How much better of a crash rating than 5 star frontal is the Aveo supposed to get? There is no 6 star! For a little car, the engineering is quite good, actually. Fit and finish, rattles and shakes, wind noise - all of those are quite good. Most people that I've dealt with who drive it are quite surprised. I would hope GM plans to rehash the engine to squeak out either more power for the same gas mileage, or better gas mileage for the same power. I don't care which.

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The Aveo 5 door is supposed to get a re-do for '08.

How much better of a crash rating than 5 star frontal is the Aveo supposed to get? There is no 6 star! For a little car, the engineering is quite good, actually. Fit and finish, rattles and shakes, wind noise - all of those are quite good. Most people that I've dealt with who drive it are quite surprised. I would hope GM plans to rehash the engine to squeak out either more power for the same gas mileage, or better gas mileage for the same power. I don't care which.

NHTSA "star" ratings are outdated and worthless. The Aveo trails the Yaris, Fit, and Versa in IIHS/E-NCAP 40-mph frontal offset and IIHS 31-mph "SUV" side tests.

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Okay, so the Aveo, which is a 5 year old design passed with flying colors the NHTSA test and now you are saying that because the Yaris (two years old), Fit (one year), and Versa (one year) all passed the newer and more acceptable (to you) crash tests, the Aveo is somehow deficient. First of all, I don't know of anyone who drives into a brick wall, either offset or head on, so the tests are all (at best) only indicative of what may happen in a given crash anyway. Furthermore, like the EPA ratings and all other tests, they are only supposed to show how vehicles perform under the SAME circumstances. Real world conditions will vastly vary.

Personally, I believe that crash tests on very small cars are totally pointless, because as any grade 12 physics teacher will tell you, if a Fit and a Tahoe hit head on, I don't care how many air bags or stars you have, you had better have LUCKY stars to walk out of that crash!

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Okay, so the Aveo, which is a 5 year old design passed with flying colors the NHTSA test and now you are saying that because the Yaris (two years old), Fit (one year), and Versa (one year) all passed the newer and more acceptable (to you) crash tests, the Aveo is somehow deficient.

Of course that makes the Aveo deficient. The 40-mph offset barrier test (which came out in 1995) is tougher and more realistic than the NHTSA 35-mph wall test. For the past five years, practically every modern car has gotten the highest IIHS frontal rating.

First of all, I don't know of anyone who drives into a brick wall, either offset or head on, so the tests are all (at best) only indicative of what may happen in a given crash anyway. Furthermore, like the EPA ratings and all other tests, they are only supposed to show how vehicles perform under the SAME circumstances. Real world conditions will vastly vary.

These tests reveal what to expect in the real world. It's obvious that the Aveo structure is weaker than its competitors. So even if a head-on crash occurs at 43 mph and 45% offset, a Yaris, Fit, Versa, or even Cobalt would fare better than the Aveo. Of course all crash tests should be taken with a grain of salt (some "injuries" are test procedure-specific), but to someone familiar with the tests, at least they give you a general idea.

Personally, I believe that crash tests on very small cars are totally pointless, because as any grade 12 physics teacher will tell you, if a Fit and a Tahoe hit head on, I don't care how many air bags or stars you have, you had better have LUCKY stars to walk out of that crash!

Yes, but if you want a small car, why not improve your chances and buy the safer ones (i.e. one with a passenger cell that doesn't crumple)? And their side crashes can be compared against different segments, because the same SUV-like barriers come crashing in at 31 mph for every car. Again, some injury measures might be specific to the test procedure, but at least you can see how well the passenger cell held up.

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