SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide
SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 14,805 Price As Tested $ 17,310 Engine Type DOHC 16-valve 2.4 Liter I4 w/SFI* Engine Size 146 cid/2392 cc Horsepower 150 @ 5600 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 155 @ 4400 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 104.1"/67.9"/180.9" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 2692 pounds Fuel Capacity 15.0 gallons Tires (F/R) P195/65R15 all-season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content 85 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 22/30/25 0-60 MPH 9.5 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 17.0 seconds @ 83.5 mph Top speed 105 mph * Sequential fuel injection
(It's been 18 years since the Hagins first reviewed a Chevy Cavalier. Matt says there's been changes in the model since then. Having driven both, Bob says the changes have been for the better.)
BOB - That Chevy Cavalier of 18 years ago was one of GM's first ventures into front-wheel drive and it wasn't a pretty sight. It wallowed badly on uneven roads and was short on power. GM was trying to use vintage big-car technology on a small package and it didn't work.
MATT - Chevrolet must have pulled things together. For 12 of the past 16 years, the Cavalier has been the best-selling passenger car of all the GM lines. Those numbers include corporate and rental fleet sales too, but it's still an impressive accomplishment. In years gone by, you could get a V6 engine in a new Cavalier, but that's been narrowed down to a couple of four-bangers for 2000. The base model four-door is equipped with a 2.2-liter pushrod unit with 115 horsepower and a three-speed automatic. Air conditioning is standard equipment and that base engine isn't bad when it's hooked up to a five-speed. But don't look for buyers to line up for them this way, unless they're buying them by the truckload like the big corporations.
BOB - The other engine is a much better choice. It's a little bigger, at 2.4 liters, and it uses a twin-cam aluminum head. It puts out 150 horses and considerably more torque. In years past, this engine has been pretty rough and noisy, but GM redesigned and installed a balance shaft, which smoothed things out. Our LS test car carried a four-speed automatic transaxle that the engineers at GM are pretty excited about. Unfortunately, the excellent, German-designed five-speed manual transmission isn't offered with the LS, but the Z24 version of the Cavalier has the big engine and the neat five-speed. It also has a more sporting suspension package, but it's a coupe, so that eliminates easy access to the rear seat that you young family guys need for strapping little ones into car seats.
MATT - You're using the word "guy" again, Dad, when actually the Chevrolet marketing people expect 80 percent of the buyers of the new Cavalier to be female. Overall, it is pretty much a basic sedan without a lot of frills. The suspension uses basic MacPherson struts up front with a twist-beam rear axle in back. The suspension does a good job of keeping the car glued to the road, but don't expect sports car-like handling. The LS does have alloy wheels that are bigger than those found on the base model, and the tires are "stickier." As a consequence, the LS model handles better than the base version.
BOB - The interior is classically bland - which is to say that all the controls are where they should be, without being a nuisance. As it is with most just-above entry-level cars aimed at young buyers, the sound system comes in several different levels of sophistication. But the item I found potentially most useful is one in the radio that interrupts the CD or cassette that's being played to announce important messages about hazardous road conditions or other things that the driver should know about. It sounds a lot like Big Brother is watching us but in this case, I think it's for the better.
MATT - The seats could use some additional bolstering, but that back seat has an unusual amount of head and leg room for three adults - as long as they're not too big. Trunk space is pretty good, too, and the rear seat back can be folded down to add cargo space. When it's down, the Cavalier LS sedan is essentially becomes a delivery van. The car also has an optional traction control system that retards the ignition spark and upshifts the transmission when either of the drive wheels begin to slip. The front brakes are disk and the rears are drum but anti-lock brakes are standard on all the Cavaliers.
BOB - I'd feel better if all the brakes were discs, but I suppose the car wouldn't be so inexpensive if GM kept adding more expensive systems. I also think the heavy-duty suspension should be an option.
MATT - Dad, if Cavalier shoppers want to go that fast, they're buying the wrong Chevy.