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Chevrolet Cavalier VL (1993)




SEE ALSO:Chevrolet Buyer's Guide

While the Cavalier may not be the newest nameplate in the Chevrolet lineup, it currently has the distinction of being their best seller. To top that, it is now the second best selling car in the country. That's quite a remarkable showing for an entry level car that debuted back in 1981 and still maintains its austere but practical appearance. Over the years several updates and improvements have been incorporated into the Cavalier, so that even though it is not a new model, it is technically and stylishly quite up-to-date fits right into the '90's.

The 1993 Cavalier is available in four models; coupe, sedan, wagon and convertible. Each comes in two trim levels, as well as a choice of a four cylinder or V-6 engine, plus a manual or automatic transmission. There is a Cavalier built to suit a wide variety of buyers.

The Cavalier VL Coupe is the low price leader of the line. In fact, VL stands for Value Leader, and I found out that it is just that. I was all set to think of it as just another plain Jane, very drab, bland car, but a week of all-purpose use and testing convinced me that even an almost basic Cavalier can handle a wide variety of chores with reasonable comfort, pep and economy.


The trim lines of the VL 2-door Coupe are highlighted by large black front and rear bumpers, plus black trim around all windows, and black all-season tires. The Chevy bow tie is centered between the wide headlights, and the air-take is part of the front bumper. Its sides are slightly curved, the hood slopes forward for good front vision, while the short rear deck is rounded, and hides a good sized flat trunk. A roomy cabin features wide doors and lots of glass.


The basic VL is just that, basic. However, when outfitted with Preferred Option Group #2, plus optional air conditioning, rear window defogger and a tilt steering wheel, it is then equipped with the amenities that many buyers prefer. Standard equipment includes power steering and door locks, comfortable tilt and slide front bucket seats, plus manually operated windows and side mirrors. The optional sound and air conditioning systems are console mounted and easy to use. The radio has excellent fidelity and good tone, and the heater/air conditioner quietly and effectively keeps the cabin comfortable. Rear bench seating is cozy, and head and leg room is satisfactory for most folks.


The suspension of the Cavalier VL is designed for average driving conditions all around the country; independent up front with an anti-roll bar, and coil springs plus shocks in back. This results in a proper all-purpose ride that is practical and positive for most drivers most of the time. Part of the VL package includes door-mounted front seat belts without an airbag, On the positive side four-wheel anti-lock brakes, power rack and pinion steering,, door locks and all-season tires are standard equipment items. Vision is excellent in every quadrant, and this VL proved to be a good all-weather car, as I learned while driving in normal summer sun and unseasonal rain.


Last year GM's PowerTrain Division redesigned and improved the Cavaliers four-cylinder engine. This 2.2 liter, four cylinder engine now develops 110 horsepower and 130 ft/lbs of torque, and is equipped with multi-port fuel injection. It reflects some of the latest technology for overhead valve, port fuel injected engines, which give it an increase of 15 horsepower over earlier models, as well as quieter operation. The three-speed hydraulic-controlled automatic transmission shifts fairly smoothly, provides adequate power in heavy commute traffic., and has good compression on down grades. There's adequate power for nimble movement through traffic, and climbing uphill.


Add assist handles to ease access to and from the rear seats.


The EPA ratings are 23 city/31 highway. My overall average was 27.3 mpg.


Cavalier, as Chevrolets largest selling model, and with its second place ranking in national sales, has steadily built a reputation as an entry level and first-time buyers car. The VL "Value Leader" in its basic trim has become and "import fighter" too. It offers a good balance of what Middle America likes: economy, value and dependability.

PRICE AS TESTED: $ 11,911 fully equipped, including preferred equipment Group #2.

BASE PRICE: $ 8,520 without automatic transmission, but with power steering and door locks.



Base Price$8,520
Price As Tested$ 11,911
Engine TypeI-4, ohv - pushrod, mpfi
Engine Size2.2 liter/133 cid
Horsepower110 @ 5200 rpm
Torque (ft/lbs)130 @ 3200 rpm
Transmissionthree-speed automatic
Curb Weight2520 lbs
Pounds per Horsepower23
Fuel Capacity15 gal
Fuel Requirementunleaded regular (87 oct)
TiresMichelin XZ4 P185/75R14 m+s
Brakesanti-lock standard disc/drum
Drive Trainfront engine/front drive
EPA Economy - miles per gallon,
0 to 60 mph11.3 sec.
1/4 mi (E.T.)19.8 sec.
Coefficient of Drag (Cd).40