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Avg. Price Paid:$4,780 - $6,272
Original MSRP: $10,235 - $13,920
MPG: 24 City / 34 Hwy
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2008 Chevrolet Aveo Performance

This performance review was written when the 2008 Chevrolet Aveo was new.

The 2008 Chevrolet Aveo's performance gets negative reviews based on its weak engine and vague steering. Despite some "competent" responses, Car and Driver recommends that "for anyone who seeks some modicum of pleasure from driving, even in an activity as mundane as commuting, this car is exactly as entertaining as televised ice fishing."

The USA Today writer expresses concern about driving the Aveo in high speed traffic: "Nimble and handy in tight traffic, it felt tiny and frail on the big road. A highway trip would be nerve-wracking for any but the immortal young."

Acceleration and Power

Under the hood is a 1.6-liter 16-valve E-TEC II DOHC L-4 engine capable of putting out 103 horsepower and 107 pound-feet of torque. Reviews' opinions are mixed, ranging from Edmunds calling it "yawn-inspiring" to Kelley Blue Book calling it "surprising … zippy." A few are even more critical, with USA Today complaining that the Aveo is "barely adequate for surviving cutthroat driving common in modern 'burbs." Autoweb concludes that "What kicks this car to the curb is the totally underpowered 103-hp engine Chevy expects consumers to accept."

But Newsday reminds buyers to take the engine at face value, noting it's "pretty typical of the inexpensive four-cylinder breed--a little noisy on acceleration, acceptable at cruise, peppy enough for ordinary driving." New Car Test Drive cautions that "you can't expect miracles from 103 horsepower, so it won't exactly shoot you forward if you stomp it at 65 mph in fifth gear," but the reviewer still feels "The Aveo is zippy with room to spare, at least with the standard manual transmission."

Reviews are also mixed on engine noise, with most critics saying that it's "par for the course" for this class, according to Kelley Blue Book. However, New Car Test Drive notes, "Out on a Texas Interstate … it was pleasantly, surprisingly quiet inside the Aveo cabin, with nary a buzz from under the hood." This may be due to the large intake resonator and dual muffler exhaust system, which help keep buzz to a dull roar.

The engine is paired with a five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic. Reviewers have more good things to say about the automatic transmission, rather than the standard manual. "In the Aveo's case, the automatic is the better bet," says Edmunds. "The manual tranny's gear ratios are too wide, leaving the car underpowered on highway grades and ultimately compromising fuel economy." Consumer Guide is not pleased with either transmission, noting, "The manual has rubbery shift action, while the automatic often hesitates to kick down for passing."

According to the EPA, the sedan's engine nets 24 miles per gallon in the city and 34 on the highway with the manual transmission and 23/32 city/highway with an optional automatic. The Aveo5 nets the same. Reviewers are largely disappointed with these numbers, with Cars.com noting "mileage is beat by all major competitors--and some of them feel noticeably quicker."

Handling and Braking

The majority of reviewers agree that the Aveo performs best getting from home to the office and back, and flaws are revealed once drivers try to do anything other than commute. Autoweb complains about "Vague steering, meager passing power and weak brakes." New Car Test Drive adds "Try and go a bit faster through a moderately tight turn and the Aveo's body leans quite a bit." USA Today found that the car "felt tiny and frail on the big road. A highway trip would be nerve-wracking for any but the immortal young." About.com also heavily criticizes handling, complaining "Aveo handles curvy roads with all the grace of a pickup truck; the body leans excessively and the tires squeal like a high school girl at a horror flick."

The Aveo's power-assisted, variable-rate rack-and-pinion steering also leaves reviewers disappointed. "Steering feedback is moderate, and turn-in is unimpressive," says Cars.com. "At low speeds, the steering wheel offers rather low assist, requiring noticeably more effort in parking lots and neighborhoods than the larger Chevrolet Cobalt." Consumer Guide is more moderate, calling the steering "responsive, if heavy" and noting it makes "for nimble-low-speed moves."

There are a few critics that find the Aveo's ride and handling a delight. Motor Week says "off the track… a somewhat great ride. It is the best of the new crop of subcompacts, being both smooth and amazingly quiet. And comfortable." The Aveo may be missing its gene for driving fun, but several reviewers mention how easy it is to maneuver into tight spots while behind the wheel. About.com praises "There's very little front overhang, and virtually no rear overhang. That makes the Aveo one of the easiest cars to park that I've ever driven. I was able to squeeze this thing into some miniscule spaces without breaking a sweat--a definite selling point for those of us who live in crowded urban areas."

The Aveo utilizes an independent front suspension and semi-independent rear which was tuned for sportier handling in 2007. Reviewers feel it's adequate, with New Car Test Drive concluding, "Call it good enough for the price." Motor Week says the suspension "grants a predictable and planted driving experience. Soft springs do induce body roll, but it was well within control."

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

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