What's New for 2009
Chevrolet has revised the Aveo's four-cylinder engine for 2009. It now has variable valve timing, and fuel economy has improved as a result. The five-door Aveo hatchback gets a face-lift and refreshed interior design, and all models now have an auxiliary audio jack and OnStar (with a year of service) as standard. Upgraded trim levels also get satellite radio.
Not too many years ago, those who made fun of Chevrolet's subcompact cars seemed to greatly outnumber those who would ever consider driving one. But when Chevy turned to General Motors' South Korean subsidiary Daewoo a few years back to build the Aveo, the result was an affordable subcompact that offered greatly improved quality over the small cars of Chevy's past.
The Chevrolet Aveo receives some notable changes for the 2009 model year, with a revised, more fuel-efficient engine that comes standard on all trim levels, as well as an updated hatchback model that's been refreshed both inside and out. These improvements make the 2009 Chevy Aveo a worthy contender, but they don't necessarily make the car a standout in the segment.
Because price is important when it comes to shopping for a subcompact car, it also makes sense that fuel economy would play a major role when considering which one to buy. And although the 2009 Chevy Aveo gets better gas mileage than last year's models, it's still a tad less than what's provided by the redesigned Honda Fit, the Toyota Yaris and even the Kia Rio. As for the all-around driving experience, the Aveo is similarly mid-pack. Overall, we think the Aveo offers decent quality at a competitive price, but you'll want to take a look at top models like the Fit before plunking down the dough for a new Aveo.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Chevrolet Aveo is available in sedan and four-door hatchback ("Aveo5") body styles, both of which seat five passengers. Each is available in three trim levels. On both body styles, the base LS trim comes standard with 14-inch wheels, intermittent windshield wipers, cloth upholstery, a four-speaker AM/FM stereo with auxiliary input jack and OnStar.
The 1LT trim level on both the sedan and hatchback adds air-conditioning and an upgraded six-speaker audio system with CD player. Optional on the 1LT are remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, cruise control and satellite radio. (Power sideview mirrors are not available.) The 2LT comes with the 1LT's optional equipment and adds 15-inch wheels, front foglamps, a trip computer, upgraded cloth upholstery, heated power sideview mirrors and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
Powertrains and Performance
All Aveos come with a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 107 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic, the latter of which is only available on the LT trim levels. For this year, the manual now includes a shift indicator light to help maximize fuel economy. The new engine helps fuel economy this year, and the automatic-equipped 2009 Chevrolet Aveo gets an EPA rating of 25 mpg city/34 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined.
Front-seat side airbags are standard on all trim levels, but side curtain airbags (a feature that is increasingly common on subcompacts) aren't available. Antilock brakes are optional on the LT models, but only on those with the automatic transmission.
In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the Aveo sedan earned a five-star rating (the best possible) for its protection of the driver and four stars for the passenger in frontal impacts, and four stars for the driver side and three stars for the passenger side in side impacts. The hatchback did slightly better, garnering five stars for the passenger in the frontal-impact test and four stars for both sides in the rear-impact test. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash tests, the Aveo received a score of "Acceptable," or one spot from the top.
Interior Design and Special Features
The interior of the Aveo5 was redesigned this year, which finally puts it in step with the sedan (which got its overhaul two years ago). The hatchback now sports higher-quality materials, "woodgrain-appearance" or metallic trim, a driver armrest, additional storage and other advantages over the previous Aveo5, which had a very bargain-bin feel to it. Both the hatchback and the sedan have a 60/40-split-folding rear seat that creates extra space for cargo. But although the Aveo5 has a respectable 42 cubic feet when the rear seats are down, it offers significantly less cargo space than some competing hatchbacks with the rear seats in place.
While the 2009 Chevrolet Aveo is certainly no thrill ride, it provides respectable vehicle dynamics. The steering is direct and the suspension is well-tuned for day-to-day commuting. The 1.6-liter engine is adequate, but it's not particularly powerful. We normally recommend that buyers in this class opt for a manual transmission, but in the Aveo's case, the automatic is the better bet. The manual tranny's gear ratios are too wide, leaving the car underpowered on highway grades and ultimately compromising fuel economy.