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.