After the demise of the minicompact Metro following the 2001 model year, Chevrolet had no true entry-level passenger car in its lineup. Compact Cavaliers were the company's smallest models.
That omission was remedied for the 2004 model year with a pair of Aveos. The subcompact sedan and four-door hatchback were promoted as high in value, fun to drive and dependable.
For 2005, a Special Value model and a new LT edition join the LS trim level. A redesigned spoiler is standard on the LT and optional on the LS. Alloy wheels are standard on LT models, and the door pillar trim has been blacked out.
Aveos are actually a delayed result of General Motors' 2002 takeover of part of the bankrupt Daewoo organization. GM Daewoo Auto and Technology in South Korea manufactures these cars. Competitors include the Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio and Toyota Echo.
The Italdesign-Giugiaro studio in Turin, Italy, did the styling on the Aveo. Short overhangs at the front and rear and what Chevrolet calls "cleanly cut contours" highlight the look. Clear headlights have faceted lenses.
A tall roofline allows the rear seats to be mounted higher than usual, which provides backseat passengers with a clear forward view. Aveo suspensions consist of MacPherson front struts with a stabilizer bar and a torsion beam rear axle.
All Aveos are mounted on a 97.6-inch wheelbase and ride on 14-inch tires. Aluminum wheels and a power sunroof are available.
Aveos are capable of carrying five people. Backseat space is limited for taller occupants, but it's relatively spacious considering the car's small overall size. Both body styles have folding rear seats for greater cargo-carrying capacity. The backseat bottom in hatchback models can be flipped forward after the seatback has been folded flat, yielding 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 LT models feature a CD/MP3 player, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry and heated mirrors.
Under the Hood
A dual-overhead-cam 1.6-liter four-cylinder 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. 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. Front occupants get seat belt pretensioners and height-adjustable shoulder belt anchors. Daytime running lights are standard.
Frisky in terms of maneuverability and manual-shifting ease, the Aveo is short on power and ranks as ordinary overall. The buzzy engine must be pushed really hard to get adequate response in each gear. The car tracks reasonably well at highway speeds, but regular correction is needed. Despite appealing prices and fuel frugality, Aveos are old-fashioned and hard to recommend over Japanese brands.