Weekend Athlete: 2009 Chevrolet Aveo5

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As for the Aveo5 — yeah, it’s small. How small is it? It’s so small that when I pulled up to the race this weekend, as a joke I wanted to get out and have a bunch of clowns pile out with me — like in the circus — but our reviewers were busy that day! Hey-o!

The bike did fit with the wheel on for my race, but I wouldn’t recommend carrying one that way for longer than 30 minutes. I only did so out of desperation; the best way to carry the bike is to remove both wheels.

You’ll notice that I didn’t fold the seat all the way upright — I just flopped it over. I did that because when the seat was folded all the way up, while it did provide marginally more cargo area, it forced me to move the front seat so far forward I couldn’t engage the clutch.

Also, the whole flopping process was hard because the tiny seat was, seriously, the heaviest I’ve lifted, and it was secured by a less-than-confidence-inspiring elastic strap. When car folks talk about “perceived quality” issues, this is what they mean. I certainly didn’t perceive that the quality of that strap would keep the seat from flopping back onto anything placed in the cargo area.

Finally, there was a bulky seat belt guide that really got in the way when folding the seats over. If that could have retracted out of the way somehow, it would’ve made things about 10 times easier.

Setting aside the cargo/seat issues, it’s worth noting that I’m not the tallest guy in our office, and I had the seat back as far as it would go in order to drive it. To me, that means tall athletes want to avoid this car, or at least take it for a long, long test drive.

Actually, as much as I hate to say it, I recommend against this car if you carry anything larger than camping gear. It’s just too small, which is a shame because other cars that are similar in size seem to do a much better job of giving you usable interior space. Further, this is the first car where I really have to say that if you’re tall, you are disqualified from driving it.

Put another way, if you’re a tall bike racer and you’re absolutely set on buying this car — because you don’t want a used car or don’t want to spend more than the nearly $15,000 that our model cost — buy a rack and be aware of crosswinds. It’s your only hope.

Weekend Athlete Scores
(out of 10)

Ease of loading gear – 4:
It’s a hatch, so it’s better than a sedan, but you want to avoid folding the seats.

Ease of seat operation – 2:
Again, it’s intuitive, but that seat weighs a ton and I just don’t see that little strap doing the job of holding the seat up. You’ll have to fold the seats halfway and live with a bi-level cargo area.

Bike hauling ­– 2:
It’s just not made for it, and I see putting a rack on this car as being a bigger issue than it would be on many other cars.

Locker-room cred – 1:
It looks kinda sporty and is easy to park, but if I were to buy this I’d know I was doing so for reasons other than to take me to the races. That kills in this category.

All-around – 2:
It’s just not the right car, and I really think that if I were to test other small cars it would be obvious they would do a better job. Small cars aren’t disqualified from Weekend Athlete tests, but this one just didn’t cut it.

Photo of Bill Jackson
Former assistant managing editor Bill Jackson manages the Research section, and he enjoys triathlons and cross-country skiing. Email Bill Jackson

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