Within the first few minutes of testing the 2009 Chevy Aveo5, I discovered that its cargo area wasn't large enough to accommodate my stroller, and my rear-facing infant-safety seat barely fit in the backseat. I decided to alter my perspective and consider the Aveo5 as a car that might be better suited to a teenager or a first-time car buyer, rather than a mother of two young children. It's not. The Aveo5 has abysmal safety ratings. Despite my best efforts to accommodate the Aveo5, it simply couldn't accommodate me. I ended my time with the hatchback wondering if it could really accommodate anyone.
The Aveo5 feels like driving a go-kart. Colorado has just a few hills; the Aveo5 managed them, but only after I cut a hole in the floorboards and had my husband Flintstone-foot our way up. I'm kidding, of course. It was a struggle to make it up the hills, and this was under the friendliest of road conditions. I shudder to think how the Aveo5 might handle a little snow on the road.
While I was driving with my son in the car, he kept asking, "Mommy, what is that noise?" That was his toddler way of saying, "Mommy, I can hear the outside world loudly and clearly in this car, and it's noisy back here!" If you desire a well-insulated cabin, take the Aveo5 off your list.
The Aveo5 gets an EPA-estimated 27/34 mpg city/highway. I never managed to achieve those gas mileage numbers; I had to fill the car up with gas twice during my short week with it because of its tiny 12-gallon gas tank.
The Aveo will get you where you need to go, though, so if you don't care that much about safety, don't have children and don't live near hills or have any inclement weather, this could be the car for you. It is not, however, the car for me.
The only good thing I can say about the Aveo5 is that it's cute. Clichéd, perhaps, but it's so small it's automatically cute. It reminded me of those little cars you see buzzing around European cities, except the Aveo5 doesn't buzz because it doesn't have the power to buzz. Have I made my point about its lack of power?
While such a small car wasn't convenient to my family life, it was convenient for parking downtown. I was late to a yoga class one morning and unable to find parking for a normal-sized car. However, I found a few free inches along the street that I fit the Aveo5 into without a problem and without a parking ticket at the end of class.
The doors were light enough that my toddler could open and shut them on his own, but the exterior door handles pinched his fingers often enough that he stopped trying to use them. They're quick to snap back on your hand, and it hurts.
As far as its looks are concerned, the Aveo5 is actually plain-looking, with straight lines and no pretense. Some might even call it a little boxy, in a good way. From what I've seen, the Aveo5 - also known as the Aveo hatchback - is much better looking than the sedan version.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Not really
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some
It's an entry-level car, so I wasn't surprised by the lack of panache inside the Aveo. The plastic and faux aluminum trim weren't terrible, and even the leatherette - aka vinyl - seats and steering wheel looked alright. Heck, I'll even admit that I thought the leatherette was real leather. Take that, cows!
Despite the cheap but palatable trimmings, the rest of the Aveo5's interior didn't cut it. There weren't enough places to store my stuff, especially my large purse. There's also a distinct lack of cupholders; I could only find three.
The only way I could fit my stroller into the car - and just barely at that - was if half of it was in the hatch and the other half was in the front passenger seat. Yes, my stroller is big, but I shouldn't have to break it down to make it fit in a car. Given the space situation, I was left to get creative with my mundane goods and gear. Groceries became a fixture in the front passenger seat; my purse took up residence in the hatch from time to time, or it shared the front passenger seat with the top half of my stroller. In short, it was a pain in the neck trying to live my life with this car.
Chevy says the Aveo5 will hold five passengers, but I have to disagree, especially if there's a child-safety seat or two in the rear seat. In fact, since the front passenger seat had to be moved so far forward to accommodate my daughter's rear-facing seat, it was barely a four-person car. The Latch connectors have cute little zippers to signal their whereabouts. However, once unzipped, getting at them was treacherous. I have a cut on my finger to prove this.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Puny
I was hoping the Aveo5 would have good safety ratings; after all, how far can a car (or a person for that matter) go on just being cute? Alas, safety isn't the Aveo's strong suit, so "cute" is the greatest adjective I have to offer you on this car.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash-test ratings for the Aveo5 aren't great. The best score this car gets is an Acceptable in frontal crash tests, and it gets a Poor - the lowest score - in rear crash tests. So if you're considering this car for yourself or your teen, I'd encourage you to think again. Who wants Acceptable when cars that have scored Good - the highest score - are available?
The Aveo5 is missing a lot of key safety components: It doesn't come with side curtain airbags, stability control or traction control. Antilock brakes are optional and cost $440. It does come with front- and side-impact airbags, and a one-year subscription to OnStar's Safe and Sound plan. That's it.
In Diapers: There's barely enough room for a rear-facing infant-safety seat, and the cargo space is too small for a large stroller.
In School: It's a tight squeeze in the backseat, even if your kids aren't in booster seats anymore.
Teens: This car doesn't have enough safety features to keep teen drivers safe.