2007 Chevrolet Aveo LT 4-Door Review


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SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyers Guide

DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD
WITH CAREY RUSS

2007 Chevrolet Aveo LT 4-Door

Subcompact sedans may not be high-profile dream machines, but they do meet a need. As inexpensive transportation, both in price and operating cost, a subcompact sedan works for people with modest budgets who want a new car, not a used one. And a subcompact can also work well as a dedicated commute vehicle, especially if it's roomy enough inside for a four-person carpool.

With rising fuel costs, subcompacts have been getting more attention in this country recently, and Chevrolet has the Aveo as its entry in this competitive segment. Like many of its competitors, the Aveo is offered in hatchback or sedan form. 2007 sees significant upgrades to the Aveo, and this bodes well.

I drove one of the original Aveo hatchbacks when it was new a couple of years ago. In its first year, it was decent but not great, lacking suspension refinement. Subsequent refinements to the engine, suspension, and safety systems improved it, and having Chevy's extensive distribution network behind it helped make it popular. But the 2007 model is improved further, and the Aveo is now a solid contender in the subcompact class.

Built by GM subsidiary Daewoo in Korea, the 2007 Aveo is offered in five-door hatchback and four-door sedan body styles. As is typical in the subcompact class, the sedan is positioned a little upscale from the hatchback. In the sedan line, the LS is the base model, but it's not too basic. Yes, the windows operate with hand cranks, but power steering, a tilt-adjustable steering wheel, an AM/FM stereo with an auxiliary input jack, a rear window defogger, and a 60/40 split folding rear seat are among its list of standard features. The LT adds 15-inch wheels and tires, heated, power-adjustable outside mirrors, power windows, cruise control, and more. In either trim, an Aveo is a lot of car for little money.

I've just finished a week with the top model in the Aveo line, an LT sedan with key options including an automatic transmission and an upgraded interior with leatherette seats. It's a much-improved car. It compares very well with its compatriots, and beats most in useable interior space and comfort. Four adults can fit, and the rear seat is not cruel and unusual punishment. Its 1.6-liter, 103-horsepower engine is strong enough to keep up with traffic, even with the optional four-speed automatic. Best, revisions to the suspension improve both the ride quality and handling. Considering the packaging and the modest $15,000 price - loaded - the Aveo is a worthy car for everyday use.

APPEARANCE: In common with the other current subcompacts, the Aveo sedan has different proportions than larger sedans. "Long, low, and wide" is adamantly not the class standard. Quite the opposite - short, high, and narrow is the case, with an emphasis on the passenger cabin accentuated by a short hood and rear deck. Form follows function, and the function is to put as much inside as possible into as little outside as possible. The 2007 restyle gives it a better-defined look, with sharp character lines on the hood and shoulders. Noticeable wheel arches keep it from being slab-sided, and alloy-look wheel covers and trendy clear taillight covers give it an almost-sporty look. The bright crossbar grille prominently displays the Chevrolet bowtie logo.

COMFORT: The Aveo's emphasis on its passenger cabin pays off for passengers with good head and leg room for all despite the car's small size. Besides basic transportation duties, it can function quite well as a four-person carpool vehicle. The seats are more comfortable than expected in the entry-level class, and the high roofline means both an upright seating position for comfort and a high eyepoint for visibility. Cushion height adjustability of the driver's seat further improves comfort, and safety by improving both comfort and visibility. The perforated leatherette and woodgrain trim in my test car gave the interior a more upscale look, reinforced by good attention to details . Remote keyless entry and power windows and mirrors, optional in many competitors, are standard in the LT. An auxiliary jack for an MP3 player or iPod is included with the AM/FM stereo that is standard in both the LS and LT, and both the standard (in the LT) single-disc CD player and optional in-dash changer can play MP3 CDs in addition to regular ones. Good trunk space and a 60/40 split rear seat round out the package.

SAFETY: A high-strength structure makes a safety cage that surrounds the Aveo's passenger cabin. Dual-stage frontal airbags and standard seat-mounted side airbags further protect the front seat passengers. Brakes are disc front and drum rear, with an anti-lock an available option. The 2006 Aveo received a five-star rating for both driver and front passenger protection in frontal crash testing.

RIDE AND HANDLING: The week before I had my Aveo LT test car, a friend and colleague had an LS. We went out to lunch, and I got the back seat. Fair enough, and actually a treat for me, as I'm usually the driver. And the back seat is the best place from which to notice any shortcomings in a car's suspension. I was pleasantly surprised to find good shock damping, even on rough roads, and even when the driver was trying hard to annoy the rear seat passenger. My LT was more of the same, and much improved over the Aveo hatchback I drove several years ago. It compares favorably with its classmates, and is reasonably quiet on the road. The transverse front engine drivetrain is typical for the small car class, as is the MacPherson strut front, torsion-beam axle rear suspension design. But Chevy has paid attention to the setup details, and a relatively long wheelbase and wide track make the Aveo stable on the road. It squeezes easily into small parking spaces, a plus for city driving.

PERFORMANCE: With a curb weight just over 2500 pounds, the Aveo sedan is light by today's standards. So the 103 horsepower (at 5800 rpm) and 107 lb-ft of torque (at 3400 rpm) produced by its 1.6-liter twin-cam, 16-valve four-cylinder engine are adequate for its needs. A five-speed manual transmission is standard; my test car came with the optional four-speed automatic. Because of the engine's broad torque curve, due in part to variable intake manifold geometry, four speeds are fine, and acceleration, if not blistering, is no worse than that of many an SUV at around 10.5 seconds 0-60 mph. Fuel economy is good if not class-leading, with EPA city/highway at 26/34 and my experience in mixed driving of 28 mpg.

CONCLUSIONS: Comfort and value more than ho-hum with features.

SPECIFICATIONS

2007 Chevrolet Aveo LT 4-Door

Base Price			$ 13,250
Price As Tested			$ 15,160
Engine Type			dual overhead cam 16-valve inline
				 4-cylinder
Engine Size			1.6 liters / 98 cu. in.
Horsepower			103 @ 5800 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			107 @ 3400 rpm
Transmission			4-speed automatic (5M standard)
Wheelbase / Length		97.6 in. / 169.7 in.
Curb Weight			2542 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower		24.7
Fuel Capacity			11.9 gal.
Fuel Requirement		87 octane regular unleaded gasoline
Tires				P185/55R15
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc / drum, ABS optional
Suspension, front/rear		independent MacPherson strut /
				  semi-independent torsion beam axle
Drivetrain			transverse front engine,
				 front-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		26 / 34 / 28
0 to 60 mph				est 10.5  sec

OPTIONS AND CHARGES
4-speed automatic transmission			$ 850
Leatherette seats				$ 250
Fog lamps					$ 110
Steering wheel radio controls			$  75
Mud guards					$  60
Destination charge				$ 565

Complete specifications on the 2007 Chevrolet Aveo LT 4-Door and other vehicles are available at the New Car Buyers Guide!

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