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A Horse With No Name

Mr. Cobalt, we are calling you out...

49 posts in this topic

Here is the question. Is the Cobalt up to standing door handle to door handle, wheel to wheel with the Mazda 3 and the Civic?

We keep talking about price and buy American, but this really is using cost and fear to possibly cover up the fact that the Cobalt is not all it should be.

I love the Cobalt and think GM did a great job with updating over the Cavalier. However, I also think that we need an even better small car for GM to compete in this time of $3.29 gas and student loans that take twenty years to pay off.

So here goes...this is to be a serious discussion.

1. Where does the Cobalt have it over its competition?

and

2. Where should GM best use its creative efforts with the next refresh?

Chris

Edited by 66Stang
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I love the Cobalt and think GM did a great job with updating over the Cavalier. However, I also think that we need an even better small car for GM to compete in this time of $3.29 gas and student loans that take twenty years to pay off.

Astra

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So here goes...this is to be a serious discussion.

1. Where does the Cobalt have it over its competition?

and

2. Where should GM best use its creative efforts with the next refresh?

Chris

1. A very mature and reliable but still improving drive train

some well known detail here

before I get to #2 (improvements) a little background of where I am coming from.

18 months ago I went shopping for my baby daughter's first new car to replace her '94 Cavalier. Our first choice was the Cobalt. She disliked it saying it was worse than the Cavalier and felt like a rental car. We drove A PT cruiser and a Hyundai Elantra. The final drive and easy winner was the base level Saturn ION. Last week my wife and I bought a new HHR. Both of these cars are of course more than a Little related to the Cobalt.

The answer to your question of where to go with the next cobalt is kill the LS. Make the Cobalt at least a little more upscale. In some respects I agree with Oldsmoboi (Astrazie it, but keep the American "style".

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1. Where does the Cobalt have it over its competition?

- Until 2008, arguably the best, (if not one of the top 3) FWD pocket rockets out there

- Interior and exterior style (IMO)

- Value

- Comfort

2. Where should GM best use its creative efforts with the next refresh?

- Offer more engine choices. The 2.2 is great as a volume engine, has plenty of pep for the non-enthusiast, and you can coax some pretty good MPGs out of it. What I'm saying is that there's room for at least one engine beneath the 2.2. A 40+mpg gas sipper, a diesel, or maybe even a hybrid powertrain would do wonders for the car's green image.

- Consider fitting the car with E85 capability.

- Develop a worthwhile 5+ speed auto to further help mileage and performance.

- Make a bigger trunk opening on the coupe, or just make it a hatchback. The current trunk opening is too small to take advantage of the rather large trunk area.

- Some of the switchgear could stand to be better. And how about a express-open switch for the freaking sunroof?

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The E-85 would be huge, as would a more economical choice on powertrain.

Chris

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The Civic has ben un-engineered forf the past three generations,

it is more & MORE & MORE of a $h!pile while the price keeps

going up. The Mazda 3 is a great little econobox (fwd $hitbox)

but in the end I really DO beleive the Cobalt is a better car than

both and by FAR the better value.

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- Until 2008, arguably the best, (if not one of the top 3) FWD pocket rockets out there

- Interior and exterior style (IMO)

- Value

- Comfort

You know all 4 of those are subjective points. At least give some real reasoning. Why is it the best FWD rocket? Why does it have better value?

The Civic has ben un-engineered forf the past three generations,

What do you mean by un-engineered? So you're saying the last good Civic was the 5th gen '92-95?

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There's on such thing as a "good" civic :AH-HA_wink: but for

just one exampe the Civic used to have double

wishbones and Honda always shouted at the top of

their lugs how this made it a better car than all the

other econo-$h!-boxes. Then Honda went to the

cheaper (& according to Honda: INFERIOR) mc-p

struts but did the price go down? NO.

Honda is all smoke and mirrors. I would take a

Honda over a Chinese car, most Toyotas &

Hyundai/KIA but that's like saying I'd rather get

shot in the chest than in the face.

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A couple Ecotecs w/ autos and 5 speed manual, a turbo 2.0 w/ 6 speed, and a diesel is what I'd like to see.

Other than that, make the interior a little better quality and keep its good looks (at least the coupe's).

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You know all 4 of those are subjective points. At least give some real reasoning. Why is it the best FWD rocket? Why does it have better value?

All right, I'll bite.

- Note the word "arguably" in my previous post. Among the various rags, There's no real agreement as to which among the SS/SC, Si, MazdaSpeed 3, and GTI is actually the best. To be mentioned in that company says something.

- As for styling, I already said that my opinion favored the Cobalt. No need to say it again.

- As for value, I can't speak for other Cobalt owners, but I feel like I got a lot of car for what I paid for it. The base cars, while admittedly spartan on the inside, do come with the same suspension bits as the upper level (non-SS) Cobalts, so if you're not concerned about creature comforts you can get the same driving experience for less than a loaded Aveo.

- Comfort. Obviously this is subjective with any car. What fits one perfectly could be too small for one and too big for another. Assuming you can fit into a Cobalt, you should have no problem taking it on extended trips without having your butt or legs go numb.

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- Comfort. Obviously this is subjective with any car. What fits one perfectly could be too small for one and too big for another. Assuming you can fit into a Cobalt, you should have no problem taking it on extended trips without having your butt or legs go numb.

I definitely agree with that having been there and done that.
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Pretty much the only thing the Cobalt has going for it is its powertrain. Styling is subjective.

I'd buy a Mitsubishi Lancer GTS over a Cobalt easily. Cobalt needs a better interior ASAP.

Changes I'd make: Completely redone interior, new design, better materials. Bump up the horsepower for all available engines, give it a 5-spd auto (not for me), and competitive options such as navigation, HIDs, etc.

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- Until 2008, arguably the best, (if not one of the top 3) FWD pocket rockets out there

- Interior and exterior style (IMO)

- Value

- Comfort

- Offer more engine choices. The 2.2 is great as a volume engine, has plenty of pep for the non-enthusiast, and you can coax some pretty good MPGs out of it. What I'm saying is that there's room for at least one engine beneath the 2.2. A 40+mpg gas sipper, a diesel, or maybe even a hybrid powertrain would do wonders for the car's green image.

- Consider fitting the car with E85 capability.

- Develop a worthwhile 5+ speed auto to further help mileage and performance.

- Make a bigger trunk opening on the coupe, or just make it a hatchback. The current trunk opening is too small to take advantage of the rather large trunk area.

- Some of the switchgear could stand to be better. And how about a express-open switch for the freaking sunroof?

That pretty much sums up my thoughts about mine. I've had mine for 2.5 years and 41K miles and would buy another one today if my lease was up.

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The Saturn ION is a much improved car since it switched from the 5 speed automatic to the 4 speed automatic.

There is plenty of performance with the 2.2 l. engine even in my heavier HHR. Even with almost 550 pounds of passengers it accelerates briskly up a rather short and steep freeway on ramp.

I agree with those that mention comfort as my daughter and wife took the ION on 10 hour one way drive several months ago and there were absolutely no complaints.

The base Cobalt needs better upholstery and hub caps.

BTW I bought a two new Mitsubushis in the past and they were good cars but the Delta triplets are better in the long run. Just my opnion and experience.

Edited by haypops
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I am sunburned to hell and had more than my fair share to drink today at the end of a dock, so I will make this brief. Those of you masochistic enough to want more detailed "opinions" of the Cobalt can read my past posts - if you dare.

My small car pecking order, based purely on LOOKS:

1) Civic

2) Mazdal 3

3) Cobalt

There are no others. (Well, the Pursuit/G5, or whatever the Hell they are calling it this week, I guess!)

Pecking order, based on ride/handling (and I am deliberately leaving out the Minis and other 'expensive' cars off the list)

1) Mazda 3

2) Cobalt

3) Civic

There are no others. Focus? I'd rather walk. What's the new Dodge one called again? Mistu-what? Corolla - my grandmother wouldn't drive that one.

Pecking order, based on "value"

1) Cobalt

2) Mazda 3

3) Civic - can we say OVERPRICED?

Pecking order, based on USEABLE features - I do not consider DVD nav systems necessary or useable

1) Cobalt

2) Mazda 3

3) Civic

It would seem that we have a close match above, except that if I am going to buy a pocket car, I sure as hell am not going to mortgage my house to buy or lease one. We are not talking about a Maserati; we are talking about an entry-level vehicle. Ya got money to burn and don't care if your kids work for Wal-Mart? Buy the Civic. But if you don't want to blow money on a $h!box just to make your neighbors think you've 'made it', then buy the Cobalt. The Mazda 3 is a good effort and there are some regional deals to be had, so it wouldn't be a horrible choice. If you're a total idiot: buy any of the rest.

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As the owner of a 2007 2.4L Cobalt SS coupe, I really think its one of the most underrated cars in the class.

I'll start with the good...

The brakes are phenominal, this has been well documented so I don't think I need to elaborate.

The handling is nothing short of amazing 90% of the time, the other 10% of the time I wish the car had both a LSD and an independent rear suspension. At high speeds around corners the rear can give the feeling that its going to break loose as it hops over midcorner bumps.

The engines across the entire board are strong compared to other cars in the class. My car ran a 15.375 @ 89.994MPH with just an intake, which is almost Si territory. A good friend of mine has an Si and his best run is a 15.2, however he does have 18s.

The coupe looks very good, especially the SS models. I also like how the SS models are differentiated from the lesser models, whereas on a Civic you get a tacky i-Vtec sticker and a wing to let people know you have an Si.

The 7 speaker Pioneer stereo is fantastic and one of the best stock systems I've heard, that said the subwoofer could be slightly punchier. If you have ever looked at the speakers up close you will see they are not a paper cone as most stock systems run.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, we come to price. I can't speak for American prices, but in Canada the Cobalt is substantially less expensive than any comparable model. The APRs are also much lower, my lease is at 1.4%, good luck getting less than 5% on a Civic.

Now the not so good...

For a car that is so quiet at idle, the wind noise at highway speeds and up is too loud. This is personally my biggest complaint with the car.

The e-brake, what was GM thinking?!?! You can't use it with the armrest down, its huge, absolutely hideous and you can see the mold lines on it. This is by far my biggest complaint with interior of the car.

The electric steering is maybe a bit too heavy, I noticed this more when I first got the car. I would much prefer a hydraulic unit, maybe just on the SS models?

The panel gaps are good, but if you look closely the doors don't seem to line up very well with the rest of the body work. On my car the passenger is really bad, at first I thought the door wasn't completely closed.

If you close a vent or two and have the fan on 3 or 4 the closed vents whistle, forcing you to open them very slightly.

My overhead interior light vibrates at certain high bass levels. Hasn't happened very often, but when it does its annoying, turning the volume down fixes the problem, but I shouldn't have to.

The doors are huge, enough said.

The cup holders aren't deep enough so if your drink isn't totally full they often tip over if you get the gas.

Trunk is big, but the opening is tiny. I can't get a cooler into my trunk.

Other random thoughts...

The interior on the 07s is much improved, the old steering wheel was really cheap as was, but to a lesser degree, the radio. The little things really do make a huge difference, now if only they would fix the e-brake. The interior isn't nearly as bad or cheap as everyone makes it out to be, it may not be class leading but its definetly competitive.

If I could have any one option it would be automatic UP and DOWN windows for both windows.

The sedan is definetly not a looker, even in SS trim.

Whoever suggested dumping the LS model and moving the Cobalt upscale should just stop talking...

NAV and HIDs would be awesome, but are they really needed? What would the % take be? Leave the upscale stuff to Saturn.

Why are they dropping the SS/SC and not replacing it?

Resale value is fairly terrible at 40% after 4 years.

There are a lot of little features I'd like to see added: Bluetooth, automatic climate control, no wing option, auto up and down windows and so on

bowtie dood, have you ever priced out a Lancer GTS?? And you get what a totally awesome 152HP? Yet the Cobalt needs more power, but its best features are its powertrains?

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Forgot one thing, the car really needs a handle in the trunk so that you don't have to hold onto the outside of the car to close the trunk. Its fine when the car is clean but otherwise it sucks.

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Whoever suggested dumping the LS model and moving the Cobalt upscale should just stop talking...

That would be me; your slightest wish is my command. I would point out however, that this form of communication is typing not talking. :)

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That would be me; your slightest wish is my command. I would point out however, that this form of communication is typing not talking. :)

lol, fair enough

I work at a Chevy dealer and I can tell you we sell a lot of LS Balts with Auto and Air...

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I drove a Cobalt SS (non-supercharged), and I found it surprisingly attractive all dressed up. The seats were supportive, the build quality was solid, the interior finish was tolerable, the handling was fine, and it looked good in 17" wheels and SS bumpers. In fact it reminded me of the previous generation Jetta GLI.

But then I priced one online. They start at $18,900 ($19,295 with side airbags), and even with incentives, the CarsDirect target price was still $17,460 ($17,815 with side airbags). The SS makes the Cobalt as desirable as the Civic and 3, IMO, but it's also more expensive.

And the LS and LT Cobalts don't do it for me, though they do have a price advantage. A Civic LX is about $1290 more (CarsDirect TMV price) than a comparably-equipped Cobalt LT. For that premium you do get a nicer interior, better resale value, better crash results, and better fuel economy (25/36 vs. 21/29 under the new, more realistic 2008 EPA procedures). So it's a wash.

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lol, fair enough

I work at a Chevy dealer and I can tell you we sell a lot of LS Balts with Auto and Air...

What part of the country are you from? A black Cobalt sedan passed me up on the freeway and it was quite "substantial" looking. I am not sure that I really meant that the LS not be sold as much as it transition into an LS1.5. $100 more spent on the details would mean fewer prospects being turned off.

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lol, fair enough

I work at a Chevy dealer and I can tell you we sell a lot of LS Balts with Auto and Air...

Prices fluctuate wildly by region. Toronto has the highest insurance (and the worst highways) in North America; consequently, leasing penetration has hit 60%+. Leasing really levels the playing field, because the consumer only needs to worry about payment and features. Resale value and other variables are irrelevant.

To that end, a LS Cobalt is $6 a month LESS than a LT on a lease. For that, you get the armrest, floor mats, power windows, locks, mirrors, keyless entry, cruise and alarm. Not bad for $6 a month? When you are paying $300 a month for insurance (not uncommon around here), leasing is about the only option.

The Toyota Star did an essay piece (advertisement, really) for some broker who would go out and buy the vehicle for you. What made me laugh about the piece is that when all is said and done, the broker still has to buy the new vehicle from the same dealer you could - and he charges a $350 service fee. What a joke. Sure, he probably has some spy at a dealer who feeds him invoice prices, but does he keep up to date with all the "under the table" incentives? (And who says he isn't just using one dealer and getting a further kick-back from them and just convinces the customer that he got them the best deal?)

Considering that I do this for a living, even I can't keep up with all the incentives, which makes comparison price shopping almost pointless. Let's see if I can make a list of what I am AWARE of that the new Cobalt LT would be eligible for as of today.............

1) "Residual" value 2 pts higher than the LS - which greatly effects a lease

2) $750 Retail Delivery Credit on the LT and higher only.

3) Student bonus of 2 free payments on any Cobalt for eligible university/college/highschool students or recent grads

4) Visa points of up to $1,500 can be used (and it is easy to accumulate - I've managed to accumulate $500 in 18 months!)

5) $750 "loyalty" or "competitive bonus" for anyone in your "household" having a small GM or nearly any competitor's small car and the eligible vehicle itself does not have to be traded in)

6) Car Heaven. $1000 for a POS, 1995 or older even if it isn't running, from GM and the Clean Air Fund people.

7) Many students get a $1,000 visa point bonus just for signing for a GM visa card.

:omfg: Have I left any out?

Is it any wonder I get pissed off when certain know it alls spread total BS about MSRP being the end all and be all? This also stresses the importance of working with one dealer and earning mutual trust and respect. If you time your purchase/lease well, you can damned near get the vehicle of your choice for FREE.

Or you can have Toyota/Honda shove it up your a$#!

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Resale value is fairly terrible at 40% after 4 years.

Has it been four years already? Last I checked, the Cobalt made its debut in late 2004. It is now mid 2007.

How does one go about deciding what a car is worth in the future?

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Carbiz, what is car heaven? Do you guys crush 1995 and older cars for pollution credits in Canada?

Also, WTF?? $300 a MONTH for car insurance? Granted I have a clean record and so forth but I am paying $50 a month for full coverage Zero deductable comprehensive/ 250 Collision/ towing/rental/everything else under the sun for a 2005 car here in Colubus Ohio.

Why in God's name would insurance cost me $250 more a MONTH in Toronto?

Sorry about your sunburn, I agree pretty much with your response. Really think that if GM could make the G5/Cobalt replacement a true class leader like the Mazda 3 it would really help...

Hoping they keep production at Lordstown also after 2009...

Chris

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Carbiz, what is car heaven? Do you guys crush 1995 and older cars for pollution credits in Canada?

Also, WTF?? $300 a MONTH for car insurance? Granted I have a clean record and so forth but I am paying $50 a month for full coverage Zero deductable comprehensive/ 250 Collision/ towing/rental/everything else under the sun for a 2005 car here in Colubus Ohio.

Why in God's name would insurance cost me $250 more a MONTH in Toronto?

Sorry about your sunburn, I agree pretty much with your response. Really think that if GM could make the G5/Cobalt replacement a true class leader like the Mazda 3 it would really help...

Hoping they keep production at Lordstown also after 2009...

Chris

A 55 year old, Canadian born man who had resided for the past 12 years in the Bahamas was quoted $500 a month for a Venture van. Ontario has the worst rip-off insurance in North America; Toronto is probably the worst in the world. When I moved from Collingwood to Toronto, my insurance DOUBLED and the irony is that when I lived in Collingwood I drove to Toronto sometimes twice a week. I know of many people who have cottages or second homes outside the city and keep their mailing address there to get the lower insurance. If you let your insurance lapse for a few months here, many companies will treat you as a new driver. It doesn't matter if you are 35 and have been driving 15 years.

One of my best customers is an insurance agent and when I asked him if I could throw him any business, he flatly told me that they were not taking any new business. NO NEW BUSINESS? Who here on this board has so many customers that they could afford to turn them away?

You obviously have not driven in Toronto lately. The 401 is busier than the Santa Monica Freeway - and that is not something to brag about. I was told off the record that "new Canadians" are costing the insurance industry billions and, of course, since Toronto accepts nearly half the 'new Canadians' that come to Canada every year; well, you draw your own conclusions.

Here's the thing: I have driven in other countries and I have seen far worse drivers, BUT when you drive in Brazil, for example, they all drive like nutcases but they all drive badly the same way. They can anticipate each other's awful driving habits. In Toronto, probably 20% of the driver's learned to drive somewhere else (or not at all, and at 40 years of age are driving a car for the first time!!), so you have 30 different sets of bad habits driving 30 different ways and nobody can anticipate the other's move! That is why "new driver's" of any age are treated like 18 year old drunk drivers; since insurance companies can't descriminate based on nationality or race, but can by age, sex and "experience," they will treat all new drivers the same - and screw them to the wall.

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