Monday, December 11, 2006

2007 Chevy Aveo (USA) - Chevy Kalos (Indonesia)

by Rex Roy - The Car Connection

New styling inside and out looks better than the outgoing model.

The base Aveo LS is a basic car … maybe too basic?

Front seats and cup holders should be better.

That jingling you hear isn't sleigh bells - it's actually the change left in your pocket after filling the 2007 Chevrolet Aveo's 45 Liter (11.9-gallon) fuel tank. This is but one of the joys of driving Chevy's small-but-tall people hauler. The fact that it is (actually) not bad to drive is another.

If you're a car-type person, you may remember that the Aveo was all-new in 2004. In a move that shows just how competitive today's automotive world is, General Motors elected to refurbish their entry-level model for its fourth model year. Good thing, too, as the Aveo's competition is just as fresh, and includes solid players such as the Hyundai Accent, the Honda Fit, and the Toyota Yaris.

Sipping to 100 km/h (60 mph)

Like these other automotive appliances, fuel economy is the name of the game, and the Aveo's 1.6-liter engine delivers 11.4km/L City/ 15.6km/L Highway (27 mpg/37 mpg) with a five-speed manual, and 10.6/14.4km/L (25/34 mpg) with the optional four-speed automatic ($850). The double-overhead-cam, aluminum-block engine puts out 103 horsepower and 145Nm (107 pound-feet) of torque using technology like variable induction - that would be a dual-path, staged intake manifold.

If you're looking for pavement-buckling power, look elsewhere. The powertrain gets the job of acceleration done, but it takes its time doing it. Zero to 60 mph is measured with two digits in front of the decimal, not one.

Performance of another kind

Realistically, this car is not meant to star in the next Tokyo Drift movie. But, it will happily take you and three of your pals to the movie theater … a fourth bud can come along if he/she is kind of small, hip-wise. The Aveo's tall profile provides plenty of headroom, especially up front.

In the rear, there's ample room for passengers up to around 180cm (5'10"). Legroom is adequate up front, but this measurement in the rear feels a bit pinched. The feeling is aggravated by goofy cushion skirts fitted to the rear of the front seats. They visually clean up the joint between the front seats' back and bottom cushions, but they poke out stiffly to jab rear-seat passengers in the ankles.

On the plus side, materials covering the seats and dash looked good and didn't scream, "You're in a cheap car, sucker." Panel gaps were even, another good sign.

Over the river…

Our review period took place over the Thanksgiving holiday, so we loaded the family into the Aveo up for the two-hour drive to grandma's to fully evaluate the Aveo's capabilities. This test revealed that the interior is plenty comfortable for about half that ride. After the midway point, seat cushions get to feeling hard, and drivers whine about the long reach to the steering wheel and the too-close positioning of the dead pedal.

The cup holders also drew poor reviews. Up front, a pair springs out from the center stack like an insect with extra-large mandibles. We wouldn't recommend trusting them to hold your Big Gulp. Another beverage rest stop was molded into the very rear of the center console. Its shallow design completely compromises its effectiveness, so rear-seat drinkers are better off keeping their beverage of choice tucked safely between their knees. We speak from experience. The fact that there is only one center armrest (affixed to the driver's seat) also drew criticism from the occupant of the front passenger seat.

During our time on the road, the interior proved exceptionally quiet for a car in this class. Even at 130km/h (80 mph), conversation was easy. While we didn't put a dB meter in the Aveo, it was certainly quieter than the Accent SE we recently tested, and even seemed quieter than the Saturn Vue Green Line we drove earlier in November. The lack of wind and tire noise is to be commended.

The ride also garnered positive comments. Large potholes and freeway expansion joints were handled capably. There is little body lean in corners, but the tiny P185/60R14 all-season tires don't let you generate tons of lateral acceleration. Understeer is expected and delivered. One quibble is that the steering feels nervous at highway speeds. Never unsafe, mind you, just always needing correction and lacking in a comfortable on-center feel. Perhaps this is remedied on the Aveo LT with its lower-profile, 55-series 15-inch tires.

As previously noted, the Aveo does not present itself as a hot rod. Completely in character, our provided tester was equipped with a four-speed automatic. Shifts were generally smooth and well timed. Eyeing the almost ten-percent increase in fuel economy, we wished we had tested a model with a five-speed manual. Along with a bump in highway mileage, we expect the extra cog would make the Aveo feel sportier and less like an inexpensive rental car.

All Aveo models feature front disc and rear drum brakes. The system is unremarkable in its capabilities and performance. Anti-lock brakes are optional, something we find surprising in 2007.

Right for you?

Our 2007 Aveo LS stickered for a reasonable Rp.123.510.000 (US$13,425) before adding in the Rp.5.200.000 (US$565) destination charge. We recommend forgoing the automatic transmission and option up to the LT model as you'll benefit from added features such as power door locks and cruise control that the LS doesn't have.

Be sure to check out the Aveo5 before you make a final decision, as Chevy does offer a hatchback version along with the sedan pictured here.

Chevy's Aveo is a strong seller in the class, and GM hopes its updates for 2007 will help keep the sales numbers at the top of charts. We can't predict how well the car will do in 2007, but we do know the Korean-built Aveo (by GM's subsidiary, Daewoo) can rack up 640km (400 miles) without a pit stop. Combined with GM's new corporate warranty that provides powertrain coverage for five years or 100,000 miles (USA conditions), this is a solid contender for the driver who wants an inexpensive, reliable, and efficient commuter car.

2007 Chevrolet Aveo LS (USA test)

Base price: Rp.108.100.000-Rp.123.510.000 ($11,750; $13,425 as tested)

Engine: 1.6-liter DOHC four-cylinder, 103 hp/145Nm (106 lb-ft)

Transmission: Four-speed automatic, front-wheel drive

Length x width x height: 4310 x 1709 x 1504mm (169.7 x 67.3 x 59.2 in)

Wheelbase: 2479mm (97.6 in)

Curb weight: 1153kg (2542 lb)

Fuel economy (EPA city/hwy): 10.6/14.4km/L (25/34 mpg)

Safety equipment: Front and side airbags

Major standard features:

Tilt steering column, air conditioning with air filtration system, rear window defogger,

AM/FM sound with auxiliary input jack, 60/40 split-folding rear seat

Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles


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