What's New for 2000
Two new colors help buyers differentiate between 1999 and 2000 Metros.
General Motors calls the 2000 Metro "a low-cost vehicle that provides new-car peace of mind and excellent fuel economy to the buyer shopping for reliable transportation." Fair enough, being that most small cars are cheap and get good gas mileage. But what we have here is automotive transport in its most basic form competing with larger, more powerful Korean entries and certified used cars from big-brand Japanese automakers. This market climate does not spell success for Metro. As any good comparison shopper will tell you, a bargain is only a bargain in comparison to what else is available for the same price.
So what other new vehicles are even available in this class? Chevy lists only three direct competitors for the Metro, all of them imports: the Hyundai Accent, the Kia Sephia and Metro's twin, the Suzuki Swift. True, Hyundai's reliability record is unimpressive, but recent indicators point to improved build quality in the Accent, which has a longer list of standard equipment and a far better warranty than the little Chevy. Plus, it's been redesigned for 2000, and improved in every way. And for our money, Kia's Sephia feels more substantial than the Canadian-built Metro. In contrast, the Metro comes across as a tinny, bare bones econocar. Finally, the Swift is essentially identical to the Metro, but without the Chevy's roadside-assistance coverage or extensive dealership network. On the used-car market, a buyer could select a certified used Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla and get more passenger room, more powerful engines, and world-renowned reputations for reliability.
Metro does feature dual depowered airbags, but in the way of standard equipment the base hatchback comes with little else. LSi models add a few convenience items, but this trim level is the ticket to many much-desired accessories such as remote exterior mirrors, a rear wiper/washer and an automatic transmission. A tiny, 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine attempts to motivate the base Metro with its 55 horsepower, but we know of some personal watercraft with more oomph. The LSi gets a 79-horsepower four-cylinder. Still, the Metro LSi is no stoplight sprinter, and the base hatchback is pathetically sluggish.
We don't recommend the Metro, and new paint colors for 2000 aren't going to do much to change our opinion of the baby Chevy. Why not? Because a fully loaded LSi Sedan tops $14,000 with an automatic transmission and antilock brakes. That's Chevy Prizm and Ford Focus territory, folks, and they are both in a different - and, let's face it, a much better - league than the Metro. Our advice in this low-cost segment remains to try the Accent or Sephia. If a Korean-assembled car doesn't sit well with you, get a nice used Honda or Toyota. You will probably be happier with it.