2009 Chevy Aveo5: no movie star but worth a look

Chevrolet Aveo has been the anchor at the entry level for Chevrolet for quite some time now and is a carry over of GMs relationship with Korean automaker Daewoo.

For 2009, Aveo receives a good deal more attention that began on the sedan model last year. This little econo-cruiser gets a more powerful engine, the 1.6L Gen 3 Ecotec, as standard in all models, delivering more horsepower but with the same fuel efficiency found previously.

The 2009 Aveo lineup includes the sedan and Aveo5 – a sporty five-door hatchback that is redesigned inside and out. The new design features Chevy’s bold, global front-end design with refined details including prominent, Malibu-inspired grilles separated by a bowtie emblem.

“Aveo characterizes the Chevrolet mission of delivering a great-looking, fun-to-drive car that is fuel efficient,” Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager, said. “Its great fuel economy continues to be a smart choice for customers seeking solutions to the dependence on petroleum, as the Aveo offers the fuel efficiency of many hybrid vehicles.”

Both the Aveo sedan and Aveo5 offer somewhat charming styling and roomy interiors. They also deliver fairly confident driving experiences and offer generous features usually seen in more expensive cars, challenging the expectations of what an entry-level car can deliver.

In addition to the more powerful standard Ecotec engine and the Aveo5’s new look, the ’09 Aveo lineup includes the following new or revised features:
• OnStar standard on all models;
• XM Satellite Radio available;
• Revised driver information center with outside temperature display and fuel economy/driving range function;
• New 15-inch aluminum alloy five-spoke wheels;
• New 15-inch steel wheel with bolt-on wheel cover (standard on Aveo sedan with the 2LT package);
• New Charcoal leatherette seating;
• Available leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob (included with leatherette seating);
• Revised LS/1LT/2LT trim lineup;
• Auxiliary input jack included on all radios;
• GM Oil Life monitoring system;
• More powerful 95-amp alternator;
• Variable intermittent windshield wipers;
• New spoiler for Aveo5; and,
• Enhanced ergonomic controls and features.

The Aveo5’s signature “tall car” design boasts smooth lines and short front and rear overhangs that give it a bold personality. It was conceived for maximum versatility and practicality, such as the convenience of easy access for both front and rear passengers, and the versatility of a hatchback configuration with ample cargo space that can reach all the way to the front of the cabin.

New exterior styling for 2009 includes a frontend design that leaves no doubt that the Aveo5 is a contemporary Chevy. Signature, Malibu-inspired upper and lower grilles are flanked by sweeping headlamps that give this small car big attitude. At the rear, a lower fascia insert and roof-mounted spoiler complete the sporty look.

The Aveo5 offers the same standard equipment and options as the sedan as well as having a standard rear wiper/washer and offering standard 60/40 flip-and-fold seats. Aveo5’s cabin reflects a youthful interpretation of refinement. Generous dimensions offer ample interior space capable of accommodating passengers more than 6 feet tall in each of the five seating positions. A combination of sound dampening technologies and aerodynamics provides a quiet and comfortable ride, even at higher speeds.

The interiors were designed for maximum comfort and convenience, which is evidenced in elements such as the standard folding driver’s armrest and lower-profile rear-seat headrests. Additional conveniences include dual visor vanity mirrors, a sunglass holder on the driver side headliner, door and seatback storage pockets; and clever hooks, located on headrest posts, that can hold items such as backpacks or shopping bags.

Theater-style rear seating provides a commanding view for all passengers and offers up to 42 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded.

Make no mistake, the Aveo is no Camaro when it comes to onroad characteristics and driving charisma.

However, Chevy Aveo models are engineered for a broad range of driving and road conditions around the world and tuned for a dynamic, well-planted driving experience. The suspension system features a MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bar, and an independent, torsion beam axle-mount compound link-type rear suspension with gas charged shocks. Power-assisted, variable-rate rack-and-pinion steering is standard. The steering gear is mounted on the front suspension cross member for precise action and stability. Power-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes are standard; a four-channel ABS system is available. The four-sensor system – one at each wheel – incorporates electronic brake force distribution, which balances braking performance based on such factors as road conditions and the weight of passengers and/or cargo.

Fifteen-inch, five-spoke aluminum wheels are standard on LT and available on LS models. Fourteen-inch steel wheels with a bolt-on wheel cover are standard on LS, while new 15-inch wheels and wheel covers are standard on 2LT models.

The 1.6L Ecotec engine that powers the 2009 Aveo lineup features variable valve timing for optimal power and fuel efficiency. It is rated at 106 horsepower and 107 lb.ft. of torque. Technologies such as electronic throttle control and an electrically controlled thermostat help maximize performance and efficiency across the rpm range. It also features an integrated oil cooler with piston spray nozzles.
A smooth-shifting, five-speed manual transmission is standard on all models and an Aisin four-speed automatic transmission is available.

The Aveo5 is supported by a comprehensive system of safety and security technologies designed to meet safety standards in markets around the globe. Aveo’s safety starts with a high-strength steel structure that creates a safety cage around the passenger compartment. The structure has been engineered to help maintain passenger compartment integrity and features tailor-welded blanks, a feature not typically found on vehicles in the segment.

All models include standard advanced dual-stage frontal air bags and the Passenger Sensing System. The dual-stage frontal air bags deploy at different levels, depending on the severity of the crash. Standard seat-mounted side-impact air bags provide additional head and thorax protection.

Additional safety and security features include:
• Tire pressure monitoring system;
• Daytime running lamps;
• Front safety belt pretensioners with front-load limiters;
• Height-adjustable shoulder belt anchors;
• LATCH child seat attachment system in the rear seats;
• Rear child safety door locks;
• Fuel door lock with remote release feature;
• Available engine immobilizer theft-deterrent system; and,
• Available four-channel ABS.

The Aveo lineup attracts the highest rate of first-time buyers of any GM vehicle, providing a great opportunity to earn these customers’ long term loyalty. Like the small, premium-car Cobalt family and the HHR small crossover vehicle, Aveo also generates a high number of conquest sales.

The Aveo is making inroads around the world and is sold in more than 120 countries under several nameplates (primarily under the Chevrolet brand). It is the top-selling car produced by GM Daewoo in Korea (GMDAT). Nearly three-quarters of the vehicles produced by GMDAT are Chevrolet models. The number is steadily rising as the expertise and quality record of GM’s Korean subsidiary and Chevy’s tradition of “more than expected” value increasingly resonate around the globe.
The Aveo is the top-selling Chevy model in Europe and is a great contributor to the brand’s global expansion.

Pricing begins at $12,120 (including a $660 destination charge) for Aveo5 LS striking at the heart of the segment – and the competition. Our most recent Aveo5 tester came outfitted in the more upscale 2LT trim level attire, rolling the window sticker up to a somewhat uncomfortable 18 grand and change. (Let’s hope you’re getting incentives on top of your “Cash for Clunkers” discount.)

Fuel economy ratings for the Aveo and Aveo5 come in at 27 mpg in the city and 34 mpg highway (25/34 when outfitted with the automatic gearbox).

The 2009 Chevy Aveo5 is a pleasant surprise on the road offering up ample passenger room, a quiet onroad experience and it handles itself quite well in mixed driving conditions. Just don’t expect it to get any leading roles in Hollywood any time soon like other vehicles in the bowtie fleet have.

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About the Author

David Goodspeed
David was editor of AutoworldToday at Today Newspapers in the Dallas suburbs until its closing in 2009. He was also webmaster and photographer/videographer. He got started doing photography for the newspaper while working as a firefighter/paramedic in one of his towns, and began working for the newspaper group full-time in 1992. David entered automotive journalism in 1998 and became AutoworldToday editor in 2002. On the average, he drives some 100 new vehicles each year. He enjoys the great outdoors and as an avid fly fisherman, as is his spouse Tish. He especially enjoys nature photography and is inspired by the works of Ansel Adams.