What it Is
2009 Chevrolet Aveo5 Preview – 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show: How appropriate – Chevrolet unveils its five-door 2009 Aveo5 hatchback at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show, a place bustling with people that are shoving, pushing, and using natural size to intimidate others into clearing a path. It’s like a California highway, where too many too-big things are fighting for limited space. Not surprisingly, there are people who don’t buy into “smaller is better,” so Chevy aims to appease them by offering the reintroduced Aveo5, providing a semblance of utility and style with econocar affordability and practicality. If only auto shows could make as much sense.
by Thom Blackett
Photo Credit: Thom Blackett
Why it Matters
When high gas prices hit, drivers immediately began to consider downsizing their rides. What they found were a number of import-branded vehicles to serve their new needs, and few domestic products aside from the Chevrolet Aveo. Coinciding with the uptick in small-car interest, Chevrolet has launched redesigned versions of its econocar, starting with the Aveo last year and finishing with the mid-2008 release of the Aveo5. The Aveo sedan provides buyers with a decent option in this segment, but it’ll be up to the Aveo5 to deliver unique style and the oxymoron that is small-car utility.
What’s Under the Hood
Chevy engineers outfitted the 2,557-lb. Aveo5 with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that’s good for 107 ponies at 6,400 rpm and 106 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,800 rpm. Transmission choices include a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic, with the former returning an EPA-estimated 27 mpg city/34 mpg highway and the latter registering 24 mpg city/34 mpg highway. Underpinnings include a suspension comprised of MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam rear axle, front disc brakes with optional ABS, and standard 14-inch wheels that can be swapped out with optional 15-inch alloys.
What it Looks Like
Shoppers who find themselves attracted to small European cars will probably be the biggest fans of Chevy’s smallest car (that changes when the Beat concept car goes into production). Besides its diminutive proportions, the 2009 Aveo5 features a brutally short rear overhang, a tall greenhouse, small wheels, and a few character lines that give the boxy body some character. Up front is a grille that’s shared at least in spirit with that of the new Malibu, and is said to represent the new face of Chevrolet cars. The Aveo5 can be dolled up with optional fog lights, a rear spoiler, and a tweaked rear fascia.
That rear hatch design that sets the five-passenger Aveo5 apart from its sedan sibling offers up only seven cubic feet of cargo room when the rear split-bench seat is raised, though dropping the seatbacks increases capacity to a more impressive 42 cubic feet. Chevy claims the Aveo5’s tall interior is well-suited for six-foot-tall passengers, but from what we’ve seen of the car so far, those same riders might need legs that are disproportionately short. Buyers can choose from interior features such as XM satellite radio, a sunroof, an MP3 jack, a tilt steering wheel with audio controls, and more.
What Chevrolet Says
Ed Peper, Chevy’s General Manager, is obviously proud of the new Aveo5. “Chevrolet is committed to fuel solutions of all types, and the new Aveo5 demonstrates that gasoline remains viable in a highly efficient, affordable package. It is a terrific value, with a worry-free ownership experience that has the lowest ownership cost of any vehicle on the market, yet it packs all of Chevy’s fun-to-drive spirit.” Peper goes on to say, “Customers will be surprised by the big features of the Aveo5 – big room, big style, big refinement and, of course, big fuel economy.”
What We Think
Last year we tested the redesigned and competent Aveo sedan, but found there was little to distinguish the Chevy from other small econoboxes like the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris. Adding a boxier shape will do little to negate that fact. But the bigger issues with cars like the Aveo5 are price and fuel economy. Pricing has yet to be announced, but we do know that the Aveo5 (as well as the Fit) reach an EPA-estimated 34 mpg on the highway. That’s great you if ignore the larger and more powerful Honda Civic with its 36 mpg, which makes the Aveo5 one (possibly) desirable based on price alone.