This is a long review. What I mention can be very important to anyone who is serious about buying this car. Skip to the end if you want my recommendations.
In 2010, I bought a base model 2dr Cavalier with a manual transmission for around $4500 with around 104k miles on it. I look back now and I can tell you that it was NOT worth that, even if KBB said so. If I'm lucky I could sell this to a dealer for $600. In five years I have put around 41k miles on it and I have grown to loathe it.
Good things: it's a mode of fairly reliable transportation, heating and A/C still work, road noise isn't too terrible.
Bad things currently: rocker panels are rusting badly behind the doors, intermittent wiper mode doesn't work properly (wipers get stuck mid-cycle), suspension, front seats, back seats (anyone taller than 5' 9" should NOT sit in the back), seat belt harnesses are uncomfortable in front seats, trunk lid latch (occasionally when going to use the key to unlock the trunk, the key won't be able to open it because the socket for the latch will twist when turning the key and will not allow the latch to release).
Bad things in the past: air vent control (Under the right conditions, if you force the air vent control knob, it will bend the cable that it uses to switch between airflow directions. After this, it is stuck in one airflow direction and cannot be changed. The dash has to be removed and a new cable has to be installed.), timing chain (This one worried me. It has been reported in forums that, after 100k miles, the timing chain starts to not get enough oil and the chain breaks causing engine damage. I'd like to say I had my chain and other components replaced at around 128k miles.)
Driving this car is dreadful. The suspension is soft and corners like a barge. The brakes are there and they get the job done. Acceleration is what you can expect from 2.2L 4cyl. Steering is quite floppy. There is a long throw in gear changes but it shifts smoothly nonetheless.
Looking at this car is not much better. I realized later that what I should have had was a hatchback or at least a 4dr vehicle. This car is NOT practical. Yes, you could get yourself a 4dr Cavalier but they look even worse than the 2dr versions.
1. Use it for a winter beater.
2. If you travel less than 5 miles to work every day and you don't plan on ever driving more than that in one trip, you should be fine.
3. DON'T BUY THIS CAR! If you're looking for a compact Chevy that isn't built in Korea, look into a 4dr Cobalt. They're more practical than the 2dr, they look way better than a 4dr Cavalier, and they aren't terribly expensive.
Do your research and pick a car that fits you. I clearly made the wrong choice.
Bought this car from a buy here-pay here lot with $160k miles for a ridiculous price. Been reliable so far, but has SOOO many little problems. When I first bought it, the instrument cluster would go haywire at at random times, which was later attributed to moisture in the electronics. The climate control has an annoying click on any setting but recirculate, and the knobs broke to boot. the shifter has a disconcerting grind in it going into fourth gear.
The interior is virtually destroyed, and the body isn't much better. okay, so now for the positives: it's been unwaveringly reliable for the past 6 months! The only expense I've had has been tires. All in all, a solid driver.
Thrifty 4 cylinder engine, easy to park, tight handling.
I have an 03 cavi with 130,000 miles. There are so many things wrong with it I'm not sure where to start.. I bought it used a year ago. The speedometer doesn't function at all, the whole dashboard doesn't function when it is hot outside. It burns through a quart of oil every week or so. Smokes out the muffler when I press on the gas after stopping, which is now held on to my car via tape. Cracked belt. Air only works when it wants to. I hate this car. There are so many things wrong with it & I can't even save up money to buy a new one because it needs so much maintenance.
bought the can new with 7 miles on it.
around 350 miles the heater switch went on it.
Next one happen around two years after owning the car.
wife called and told me car will not stay running.
I ran the car about a mile to the house, with it stalling about 100 times.
this is 36,000 the fuel pump went.
well the good news was that the car was too new for the bolts to rust.
I changed it.
around 54,000 miles the gauges on the dash went hay-wire.
Stepper motor bad, easy fix with the dash pulled apart.
Now that the car is 12 years old and 97,000 miles the motor went.
I have a ford ranger close to 200,000 miles only thing went was the timing belt.
I love my ford!!! NO MORE CHEVY!!!!!
I hate the car!!! I do not like anything about the car!!!
I was a chevy man until this car.
I can not believe that they put out crap like this.
i was giving this car as a present from my parents in high school in 2006 it had 40k miles on it, and it was a good little first car, drove me everywhere i needed to go, im 6" ft so its not the biggest and i couldn't fit more then 3 people in my car. i went to college in Oregon and did very well in the rain, considering im from arizona and that's where the car had lived most of its life, i drove 3 hrs every weekend from the coast to portland back never let me down. the longest trip this car has taken was a 16 drive to san fran and was perfect, sold it 96k miles and only did routine maintenance, brakes oil change, never had to replace clutch, did have to replace soarks at 90k