Used 2011 Chevrolet Aveo Review

The 2011 Chevrolet Aveo is a decent and inexpensive subcompact, but that's not enough in the face of better performing, more functional rivals that are more enjoyable to drive and own.




what's new

For 2011, the Chevy Aveo gets a standard cabin air filter and a free six months of OnStar's Directions and Connections plan.

vehicle overview

On paper, the 2011 Chevrolet Aveo looks as if it could be a front runner in the subcompact economy car segment. Cheap price? Check. High fuel economy? Got that. Respectable handling. Yep. The problem (for the Aveo) is that even in this bargain-basement class of vehicles, there are still better choices.

The Aveo does have its share of attractive qualities that include OnStar (with six months of free access to the Directions and Connections plan) and available upscale features such as Bluetooth connectivity and a sunroof. Chevy also gives you a few ways to spiff up this little car with vibrant color choices and available faux carbon-fiber interior accents.

But those perks aren't enough to offset the Aveo's bland styling and middling performance. Granted, folks don't expect blazing acceleration in this class, but rivals such as the 2011 Ford Fiesta and 2011 Kia Soul offer more pep. Part of the reason is that they have better-performing manual gearboxes as the Aveo's is geared rather tall, blunting performance in highway merging and passing maneuvers.

Going tire-to-tire against its competitors, the 2011 Chevrolet Aveo comes up short in nearly every category. The 2011 Honda Fit, 2011 Nissan Versa and 2011 Suzuki SX4 are more enjoyable to drive, have nicer interiors and, in some cases, provide considerably more cargo capacity. Before going with an Aveo, we highly suggest cross-shopping it with the others or even lightly used versions if a low purchase price is of the utmost importance. You might also want to wait a little, as Chevy will be redesigning the 2012 Aveo to be a much more enticing choice.

trim levels & features

The 2011 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: base LS, midgrade 1LT and top-of-the-line 2LT.

In base LS trim, the Aveo is sparingly equipped with 14-inch steel wheels, cloth upholstery, a tilt-only steering wheel, OnStar (with 6 months of complimentary Directions and Connections plan) 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 optional on 1LT Aveos).

performance & mpg

Every Aveo is powered 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.

The official EPA mileage estimates for the Aveo are respectable for this class, with a manual-equipped example achieving 27 mpg city/35 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined. An Aveo with the automatic transmission drops to 25/34/28 mpg.

safety

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 2011 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 front and three stars for rear passengers in side impacts. The hatchback did slightly better, earning 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 rivals score the higher "Good" rating. IIHS side-impact testing resulted in the second-lowest "Marginal" score.

driving

In the economy car segment, most buyers don't expect a lot of excitement, but the 2011 Chevrolet Aveo does manage to deliver decent handling dynamics thanks to its direct steering and well-tuned suspension. The 1.6-liter engine is adequate for day-to-day use, though it notably lags behind most rivals in outright performance. Contrary to our customary recommendation to choose a manual transmission in this segment, the Aveo's automatic seems to be the better choice. The manual's gear ratios are too widely spaced and the taller high gears further dull acceleration, especially on highway grades.

interior

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 offers 37 cubic feet of maximum cargo space (more than a Fiesta's 26 cubes but considerably less than the Fit's 57 or the Soul's 53) with the rear seats stowed. With the seats up that figure drops to about 15 cubes.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.