Bought this car used with 147k miles, 2 dr, auto, 2.2L I4. Test drove it and all was good. Maybe it was neglect, or maybe it was the dealership, but soon after buying it, things went south. The seats are AWFUL on long trips and has no power. GM also had the bright idea to not put a tranny dipstick in this model, so you can't check the fluid. The tranny cooler lines were leaking, so no idea if it needs fluid without taking it to the shop. Also had rusted brake lines and fuel lines leak. I have an 89 olds 88 and its not even as rusty as this Cavalier. Oil filter is also IMPOSSIBLE to get to. Have to take the front passenger wheel off and it's still difficult then.
Sporty feel when driving
More back support on seats, thicker metal on rocker panels, no plastic body moldings, tranny fluid dipstick, easily accessible oil filter, wheel covers that don't fall off, better mileage (not that great for a tiny car with a tiny engine!), etc.
I got a 2002 cavalier coupe (auto) as my first car. When I got it, it had around 140k miles. Didn't own the car for 2 months and i already had to replace the fuel pump which was about $500. Couple months later my serpentine belt broke and burned in my engine, horrible smell! The belt was about $20. a couple months after this, the bracket that holds the muffler rusted and broke and the muffler was almost falling off. then my car got super loud and i found out there was something wrong with the catalac converter(bad speller) well, then someone pulled out in front of me and i wasn't going over 30 and my car got totaled. Not reliable or safe if you get in an accident.
I bought this car used with 65,000 Miles on it a year ago. Since then the only problem I have had was an evap leak. Nothing too severe. I changed the stock Radio threw in some better speakers and some subs in the trunk. Car is very fun to drive with the 5 spd. Very reliable with good pep when you want it. The A/C drains power when on and I have the very common fuse that burned out on the blower motor.
I bought this car in 2007 w/22K miles. I wrecked it just recently due to someone pulling out in front of me. I hit the other car doing 40 mph and it totaled my car. The frame was warped, windshield cracked, engine shoved back, but still able to go 5 mph to move it. I've had to replace the back left speed sensor (whole brake drum, great planning Chevy - not.) I had the engine mounts go bad, O2 sensor, etc. I had to replace the front bumper pieces and that was around $500 just for parts. Poor build quality, I had panels gaping in one spot and pressed tightly in others. It's a good car if you want good gas mileage and something reliable in winter. Don't wreck you'll be seriously injured.
Used engine bay space appropriately, easy to tinker with and add after market accessories. Easy on the gas pump. It's also a little sporty looking, so it's not too girly. (If you buy the sports package.)
Oil filter placement, better build quality, longer lasting seat fabric, and definitely needs to have better crash test ratings, but as seeing that they discontinued it, there's nothing that can be done.