Ever since the demise of the minicompact Metro after the 2001 model year, Chevrolet has had no true entry-level passenger car. The Cavalier has been the company’s smallest model. That gap is now filled with a pair of Aveos, which were shown at both the Chicago and Toronto auto shows in February 2003.
“These products will give Chevrolet a significant presence in the entry-level market, where we are not now participating,” said General Manager Kurt Ritter. The subcompact four-door sedan and five-door hatchback went on sale early in 2004. Marketers promote the Aveos as high in value, fun to drive and offering Chevrolet dependability. Base and LS trim levels are offered.
The Aveos are actually a delayed result of the takeover of part of the bankrupt Daewoo organization by General Motors in 2002. Because GM failed to buy the U.S. distribution network of the South Korean company, Daewoo cars — including the compact Lanos — quickly evaporated from the U.S. market. At first, GM said it would not offer Daewoo-derived automobiles — either badged as Daewoos or under a Chevrolet or other name. Executives later changed their minds, and the new Aveo has actually evolved from a Daewoo foundation. Competitors include the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio and Toyota Echo. Suzuki now markets two Daewoo-derived models, and Canadian Chevrolet dealers offer two models that aren’t available in the United States.
The Italdesign-Giugiaro studio in Turin, Italy, did the styling on the Aveo. The cars are manufactured by GM Daewoo Auto and Technology (GMDAT) in South Korea. Short overhangs at the front and rear, which are coupled with what Chevrolet calls “cleanly cut contours,” are said to give the Aveo a “sense of style typical of more expensive vehicles.” Clear headlights have faceted lenses, and the Chevrolet gold bowtie emblem is installed in the front and rear.
A tall roofline that’s similar to the one in the Suzuki Aerio allows the rear seats to be mounted higher than usual to provide backseat passengers with a clear forward view. Aveo suspensions consist of MacPherson front struts with a stabilizer bar and a torsion beam rear axle. The Aveos are mounted on a 97.6-inch wheelbase and ride on 14-inch tires. The sedan version is 166.7 inches long overall, vs. 152.8 inches long for the hatchback model.
Aluminum wheels and a power sunroof will be optional. An appearance package for the LS includes a rear spoiler.
The Aveos can carry five people. They are equipped with a high roofline and raised seating for the two or three passengers in the rear seat. Backseat space is limited for taller occupants, but it’s spacious enough when considering the small overall size of the Aveo. Both body styles will feature folding rear seats for greater cargo-carrying capacity. In the hatchback model, the backseat bottom can be flipped forward after the seatback has been folded flat, which yields 42 cubic feet of cargo space. The four-door sedan has a 60/40-split, folding rear seat.
Standard features include a tilt steering wheel, a rear-window defogger and intermittent wipers. Upscale LS models add air conditioning, power locks, remote keyless entry and a CD-player audio system.
Under the Hood
A dual-overhead-cam, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine produces 103 horsepower and 107 pounds-feet of torque; it teams with a standard five-speed-manual gearbox or an optional four-speed-automatic transmission. A gated portion of the automatic’s shifter permits driver control of gear changes, if desired. Pushing a button produces second-gear starts, which can be helpful on slippery roads.
Antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are optional, but side-impact airbags are not available. The rear seats are equipped with a LATCH child-safety seat system. Front occupants get seat belt pretensioners and height-adjustable shoulder belt anchors. Daytime running lights are standard.