What's New for 2010
The 2010 Chevy Aveo gets a 1-horsepower increase, revised manual transmission gear ratios for improved fuel economy and a standard rear spoiler for Aveo5 models.
At first glance, the 2010 Chevrolet Aveo would appear to be a contender for the economy car crown. With a super-cheap price (it's one of the least expensive new cars sold), decent fuel economy and respectable vehicle dynamics, the Aveo could have many shoppers ready to sign on the dotted line. But perhaps their eagerness to commit to an Aveo would be tempered once they compared it to the competition. At that point it becomes clear that the Aveo is more of a back-of-the-pack runner rather than a pace setter.
To its credit, the Aveo does have features like an MP3-enabled audio system, faux carbon-fiber trim and vibrant paint choices for added appeal to younger buyers. It also has GM's OnStar feature, which is a nice touch for such an inexpensive vehicle. But these features do little to conceal the Aveo's bland styling and middling performance. The 2010 model's changes don't do the Aveo any real favors, either. In fact, the new taller gear ratios for the manual transmission may serve to further neuter performance for the sake of a couple added miles per gallon.
Though one shouldn't expect too much from budget-minded vehicles like this, the reality is that the 2010 Chevrolet Aveo comes up short in nearly every category. When pitted against other cars like the Honda Fit, Kia Rio and Toyota Yaris, the Aveo is less enjoyable to drive and is hampered by a low-buck interior. Before going with an Aveo, we would even suggest considering used versions of the previously mentioned cars, especially the class-leading Fit.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Chevrolet Aveo is available as either a sedan or a four-door hatchback, dubbed the Aveo5. Both body styles can seat five passengers and are offered in three trim levels, starting with the base LS, to the 1LT and 2LT. In base LS trim, the Aveo is sparingly equipped with 14-inch steel wheels, cloth upholstery, OnStar and a four-speaker AM/FM stereo with an auxiliary input jack.
Stepping up to the 1LT trim level adds air-conditioning and an upgraded six-speaker audio system with a CD/MP3 player. Options for the 1LT include remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, cruise control and satellite radio. The 2LT includes the 1LT's optional equipment along with 15-inch wheels, foglamps, a trip computer, upgraded cloth upholstery, heated power sideview mirrors and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls. The Aveo5 hatchback in 2LT form also comes with a rear spoiler. Available options for the 2LT models include a sunroof, perforated leatherette (vinyl) seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and Bluetooth (which is also an option on 1LT Aveos).
Powertrains and Performance
Regardless of which Aveo trim level is specified, power is supplied by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 108 horsepower and 104 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on all models, while a four-speed automatic is available as an option -- but only on 1LT and 2LT variants. In an effort to increase fuel economy, Aveos with the manual transmission come with a shift indicator and, new for this year, taller 4th and 5th gears. Official EPA mileage estimates are respectable for this class, with a manual-equipped Aveo achieving 27 mpg city/35 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined. Aveos with the automatic transmission drop to 25/34/28 mpg.
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. Stability control isn't offered.
In government crash tests, the 2010 Chevy Aveo sedan earned a top five-star rating for the driver and four stars for the passenger in frontal impacts. Four stars were awarded for the driver and three stars for rear passengers in side impacts. The hatchback did slightly better, garnering five stars for the front passenger in the frontal-impact test. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the Aveo received a second-best score of "Average" for its performance in frontal-offset collisions, though it should be noted that most new cars score the higher "Good" rating. IIHS side-impact tests resulted in the second-lowest "Marginal" score.
Interior Design and Special Features
Despite the Aveo's small proportions, it still affords plenty of headroom and outward visibility thanks to its tall profile and generous greenhouse. The cabin's layout is simple and logical but certainly not a standout among economy cars. Both the sedan and Aveo5 hatchback feature a 60/40 split-folding rear seat that allows for the transport of longer items. The hatchback boasts a respectable 42 cubic feet of maximum cargo space with both seats stowed, but that figure drops to about 15 cubes with the seats in position.
It's fair to say that in the economy car segment, most buyers don't expect a lot of excitement, but the 2010 Chevrolet Aveo does manage to deliver a decent amount of driving dynamics. The 1.6-liter engine is certainly no barn burner, but it is suited to day-to-day use, as are the direct steering and the well-tuned suspension. Contrary to our customary recommendation to opt for a manual transmission, the Aveo's automatic seems to be the better choice. We find the manual's gear ratios too widely spaced and the new, taller high gears are likely to exacerbate the problem, especially on highway grades.