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Avg. Price Paid:$6,036 - $8,695
Original MSRP: $14,410 - $19,695
MPG: 24 City / 33 Hwy
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2008 Chevrolet Cobalt Performance

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

The Cobalt has a smooth, responsive ride that helps it earn a good performance score. U.S. News' reviewer Rick Newman says, "Performance is one of the Cobalt's standout features. The 145-horsepower four-cylinder engine is lively and quiet compared with some of the wheezers found under the hoods of economy cars."

The Cobalt delivers spirited performance, though annoying exhaust noise is a repeated criticism. The Cobalt's stiff chassis and good handling provide what the New York Times calls a "nice balance between cushy and responsive."

Acceleration and Power

The 2008 Chevy Cobalt has two engine options. The base is a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 148 horsepower and 152 pound-feet of torque. The more-powerful Cobalt Sport has a 2.4-liter High Output 4-cylinder engine that makes 171 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. Automobile Magazine calls the base 2.2-liter Ecotec engine "quiet, a minor miracle in itself." USA Today is also complimentary, noting that "The non-supercharged engine claims an adequate 145 horsepower, but feels as if it has more, even with several people aboard."

But some reviewers still feel it doesn't pack quite enough power. According to Auto Mall USA, "It was smooth, but never felt truly powerful until it was revving very high." Though power may be lacking, fuel economy is a plus. According to the EPA, the 2.2-liter manual transmission rated at 24 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway. The Sacramento Bee says, "At a time of gas-pump-price shock, those are welcome numbers from an internal combustion engine." Another plus: Regular fuel is recommended.

All engine models are paired with a five-speed manual transmission, and a four-speed automatic is optional. But MSN finds the automatic somewhat lacking, commenting that it "upshifts at about 70 mph and thus doesn't hold passing gear until 75 or 80 mph are reached for the quickest passing." A final plus is the Cobalt's oil-life monitor, which, as USA Today explains, allows the drivers to "change oil according to how you drive, not every 3,000 miles or 7,500 miles, according to the manual. That's owner- and environment-friendly."

Handling and Braking

Reviewers are largely pleased with the Cobalt's suspension and steering, which the New York Times says are "better than most cars in this class. GM has hit a sweet spot for cheap-car ride, achieving a nice compromise between cushy and responsive." The Cobalt has reprogrammed electric power steering (EPS), resulting in "a more natural heft and better feedback. Directional control through corners is stable and sure-footed," according to Car and Driver. USA Today praises, "GM has its unpredictable electric power steering tuned right. Cobalt's doesn't feel as if there is sand in the steering gearbox." The Kansas City Star calls the electronic power steering "light, sometimes too much so. The turning radius is commendably tight at 34.8 feet."

Reviewers highly praise the Cobalt's tight feel, no doubt thanks to GM's Delta chassis architecture and use of high-strength steel. For suspension, MacPherson struts are used in front, and the rear has a semi-independent torsion beam rear axle. Car and Driver continues, "Your fingers feel, well, almost nothing of the vibrations generated by the engine or road blight. They are absorbed by a stiffened structure and better-isolated suspension."

A final bright spot among reviews is the Cobalt's front rotor and rear drum/disc brakes, which USA Today says "seem to work at a rate somewhat consistent with the pressure you apply to them. That's rare in GM vehicles."

Review Last Updated: 2/17/09

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