The subcompact Chevrolet Cavalier sports two major improvements for `92-the addition of antilock brakes as standard in all models to minimize wheellockup during braking; and a new, 110-horsepower, 2.2-liter four-cylinderengine as standard on VL and RS models to provide a performance boost. Themultiport fuel-injected 2.2 replaces the 95-horsepower single-port fuel-injected 2.2-liter four offered in 1991.

Another noticeable difference is the addition of power door locks on allCavaliers. When the transmission is shifted into drive on automatics or thecar reaches 8 m.p.h. on manuals, all doors lock automatically.

We test-drove the `92 VL, or Value Leader, with five-speed manual. ValueLeader means the base price is $8,899. Power brakes and steering, 14-inch all-season radials and cloth bucket seats are included in the base price. Youcan add a VL preferred-equipment group for $550 that includes electronicallytuned AM/FM stereo with digital clock, color-keyed front and rear carpetedfloor mats, left-hand remote/right-hand manual sport mirrors, tinted glass andbody side moldings.

For $170 more you get a rear-window defogger, for $745 air conditioning,and for $145 a tilt wheel. Automatic runs $495.

The VL represents basic transportation and a respectable price tagwithout having to settle for a stripped, no-frills vehicle.

The VL is a good commuter based on the 25 m.p.g. city/36 highway ratingwith five-speed manual, or 23/32 with automatic.

With high mileage and a decent price, it makes a good starter car for the collegian looking for wheels for work without sacrificing the first year`spaycheck. With today`s economy, it also will transport that collegian to the unemployment line without draining too much petrol.

Our favorite Cavalier, and the one college- or high school-age son ordaughter would like to get into, is the Z24 convertible, which is back after atwo-year absence. We`ll review that car when top-down motoring becomesfeasible again in the Snow Belt.