First Drive: 2009 Chevrolet Aveo

The Chevrolet Aveo sedan and Aveo5 hatchback are a pair of no-frills five-seat subcompacts aimed at efficiency and affordability. Our drive time was spent with the Aveo5, which gets a mild facelift and revised interior styling for 2009. The sedan’s aesthetics, however, have remained the same. Both models received a slightly upgraded engine.

The Aveo is still powered by a modest 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, but variable valve timing has been introduced to add an extra four horsepower. Regardless, the Aveo5 remains underpowered during periods of hard acceleration. Competitors like the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa perform much more competently in higher speed traffic.

But when it comes to fuel economy, the Aveo is right on par with the rest of the subcompact class. The 2009 EPA rating is 27 city and 34 highway. Our Aveo5 achieved 32.8 miles per gallon in a 162-mile roundtrip test loop from Churchville, Md. to Philadelphia, Pa. and back. Approximately 80 percent of the mixed drive was comprised of 50 mile per hour state routes and two-lane highways, while about 20 percent took place through in-town traffic.

As for ride and handling, the Aveo is adequate, but again falls short to foreign competitors from Honda, Toyota, and Nissan. It just does not have the same solid, balanced feel. In other words, the Aveo is a good choice for daily commuting, but longer hauls may become tiresome. Aveo has good headroom, but is short on space for the legs. In terms of practicality, the Aveo5 offers a decent amount of usable cargo space, especially with rear seats folded down. There’s a versatile 60/40 split folding feature to accommodate a combination of passengers and cargo.

The 2009 Aveo’s base price is hard to beat: $11,500.


  • Jonny

    Im getting more millage out of my VW golf Diesel :-)

  • RGG

    “Falls short to foreign competitors”? It is a foreign competitor. It is built in Korea! That being said, I find 32.8 MPG a little dissapointing. My ’91 Civic DX Automatic would consistantly get 35 MPG in daily driving that resembles the trip in this article. 17 years later and the Aveo doesn’t achieve that despite having technologies (multipoint fuel injection and variable valve timing) that the Civic lacked.

  • Shines

    Consumer Reports has nothing good to say about this car. What I find is most telling is that it has one of the lowest owner satisfaction ratings of any vehicle… Even people who “buy American” end up wishing they hadn’t bought this one.

  • Will S

    Is this still “hybridcars.com”?

  • ex-EV1 driver

    Come on, 32.8 mpg? My dad almost gets this with his Ford Escape Hybrid 4wd.
    Come on, why can’t we even get small cars with good mpg? Are hybrids the only things that get good mpg today?

  • Boon

    Why bot GM go back to Geo Metro? Get 40+ MPG.

  • bill wellington

    IS toyota or honda sponsoring this site.

    IF you look up the AVEO is a very cheap car its not supposed to peform like a civic.

    The reviewer is making blanket statements against us products comparing cars out of the class range and price range and this is not even a hybrid vehicle.

    I hear toyota sponsors this site so now I know they do. Its fake advertising for toyota.

    Come on do a decent review of cars that is fair.

    umm now I know why our stock market is crashing because people who write articles are so anti american they want america to fail.

    Lets all go out and spend money .

    The only thing green about toyota is us money going to japan.

  • Dom

    Was that with an automatic or manual transmission?? I would expect the car to be more responsive and more efficient with a manual vs an automatic. Also, how can a 1.6L engine in a car that small be considered underpowered??? That’s the whole wasteful American mindset again. Of course, they could put a even smaller turbo engine in it to make an Aveo GT… would this reviewer be happy then?? Probably not, as they would whine over the fact that a turbo engine takes Premium gasoline…

    BYW – I’m with Jonny. I also get much better MPG (and handling and power) from my VW Golf TDI. Just one example of the many many good small cars and hatches in Europe that get much better MPG… I wish the automakers were allow to import those unmodified… if the government wants to do us a favor, that would be it. A quick easy way to help out Detroit too.

  • Howie

    Disappointing. I never really understood why people even consider these cars – is it because they think the size of the car and engine that it automatically gets good mileage? I get better mileage with a 1996 VW golf with a 1.8L gas engine. Bigger car, bigger engine, better handling, and has a better resale value.

    Considering the driving test that they have done, I drive similarly (80% highway, 20% city) on a daily basis and get 34-38 MPG. I do not drive it like a grandma either.

  • Boom Boom

    Bill,
    Get a clue, man. Did you see the GM add on the page? This site isn’t pro- or anti-American. If the US puts out crap, then they don’t deserve to have us buy it. And besides! This thing is built in Korea?

    Compared to the Fit, this car is flat. The only place it beats the fit is on the pocket book. It is a cheap, basic transportation sort of car. I hope that the Ford Fiesta eventually gets over here from Europe and provides an example of a quality US built small car. All of the US companies have subsidiaries in Europe that build worthwhile small cars, why can’t they bring them over here? (i.e. more Saturn Astras, etc.) (Did I just complement a Saturn?… Ack. I need a bath.)

    And Howie,
    My grandma resents your comment about her driving. :)

  • Need2Change

    I’m glad that this site also reviews competitors to hybrid vehicles.

    I agree that this is a foreign vehicle.

    In my opinion, there’s no Honda or Toyota competitor. I can’t find anything new from these companies for under $15K–let alone $12K. The Fit I looked at was over $18K after adding “fair market value.”

    One could buy two of these for the price of one Prius, or one must drive a Prius very far to make up for the extra $12-15K in price — if all that’s important is saving money.

    So the question is whether to buy a new Aveo, or a two year old Fit or Yaris.

  • Boom Boom

    That is a fair assessment, Need2Change. Your fair market value on a Fit might be a bit high. I know someone who got a Fit Sport for 16k two months ago, brand new.

    I’ve been in a 2006 Aveo and a 2008 Fit, and I’d go with the 2 year old Fit without hesitation.

    There is no denying that it is the cheapest ride on the block, and that if you look at the MPG/cost trade off that small, cheap non-hybrid cars make the most sense. But then you could also argue that a 89 Civic Vx or Geo Metro which got 40+ mpg are the way to go. You could get either used for less than 3k.

  • joy

    this really is a fair judgment on the chevy aveo, and the price itself is cheap? i wonder if the performance itself of the car is as great as it looks… well let’s just wait and see…

    ____________________
    Joy <3
    http://www.thepartsbin.com

  • qqRockyBeans

    to Boom Boom:

    Ford WILL be selling the Fiesta over here in about a year
    it will be made in Mexico, but otherwise they’re not changing anything meaningful about the car, so it will be just as good over here as it is in Europe!

  • slim

    wait for a sec.when you say toyota do u mean the yaris? if yes u guys are all funny.HOW ON EARTH CAN A CAR THAT UGLY WITH A RUBBISH INTERIOR BE BETTER THAN THE AVEO.

  • ShadoMakr

    I agree with Bill W.
    If more people supported the domestic car manufacturers Detroit wouldn’t be in the situation they are in today. Keep sending those US dollars overseas and see where it gets us, oh that’s right we can look to the news headlines and see it today! “US auto makers on verge or collapse, congress planning bailout.” So instead of supporting your fellow workers you elect to send the money across the pond, which inevitably will force some, if not all, or the American auto-workers to the unemployment lines, then your tax dollars can pay them to sustain the basic needs for their families. Boy, what a loser stategy.

    And don’t give me the bull crap about “if they made a a reliable, quality car, I’d buy it”, when most of you stand a better chance of programming your VCR-DVD player than having any actual technical knowledge of your car. Truth be told, JD Power and serveral others sources report that when it comes to cost, fuel efficiency, and reliability, American cars these days are caparable to most any model made. Americans live in the past, believing that the cars produced today have many of the short-comings that plauged them years ago.

    Bottom line, the Big-three bail-out and failures come at your Ex$spen$e !!

  • Ron Wagner

    We just bought a new 2008 Aveo Sedan with auto and air for $9,250! We love the way it sits. It has ample leg room for all but really tall people. We like the cab better than any other sub compact. It comes with a warranty similar to a Hyundai. I own an Elantra and have owned two Sentras. It seems equal to those. It moves fast enough for safety. You may need to gun it in sticky situations. I would like to see a continuously variable transmission added. I can spend about $10,000 on gasoline before I even get to the purchase price of a current hybrid. I think hybrids are the way to go, but agree with the CEO of Honda. He thinks the price will have to come down. I planned on waiting for the new Honda Insight, but couldn’t pass up this deal. I think the future is in plug in hybrids with a generator for long trips. China may have beaten the GM Volt to the punch. Check out the BYD hybrid on autobloggreen.com. It is about half the price too!

  • Anonymous

    My Aveo has never gotten over 28 mpg intown or hwy! I am very disappointed!!

  • B DAVIS

    I LIKE MY 2009 AVEO LT. YES I AGREE THE GAS MILEAGE IS NOT AS MUCH AS I EXPECTED BUT I THINK IT HANDLES LIKE A MUCH LARGER CAR. I HAVE OWNED CADS, LINCOLNS, MERCURYS LARGER CHEVYS , THAT SAID I THINK THIS SMALL VEHICLE IS A GREAT LITTLE CAR. THE AVEO5 GIVES ENOUGH STOREAGE TO DO THE THINGS I NEED TO DO, PARKING IS VERY EASY. I THINK THIS EVEN HAS A RICH SOUND TO THE 4CYL ENGINE. IT ONLY RIDES ROUGH OVER LARGER BUMPS. POWER ACCESSORIES IN THE LT SEEM TO GIVE IT MORE OF A LUXURY FEEL. I ENJOY DRIVING THIS CAR. CAR WAS PURCHASED JUST A MONTH AGO,AND I LIKE IT MORE EACH TIME I DRIVE IT. DRIVE ONE ,YOU MAY BECOME A BELIEVER IN THE CAR.