Used 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier Convertible

1996 Chevrolet Cavalier
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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

For more than a decade, the Cavalier has been a staple sales leader for Chevy dealers. Understandably so, because the Cavalier offered reasonable value and was priced low enough to compete with many smaller, but more modern, automobiles. The undeniable fact of the matter, however, was that the Cavalier had been around for 14 years with only minor styling changes and few modifications.

Last year, an all-new Cavalier debuted, and we are duly impressed. The only shortcomings with the new car are the sluggish and loud base engine, the low seating positions, and the odd distortions evident in the lower corners of the windshield.

GM's venerable 2.2-liter four cylinder, whose droning exhaust note you are no doubt familiar with, is standard in the Cavalier. Equipped with this powerplant, the Cavalier lags behind its primary competition, the Dodge Neon, in power and acceleration. Optional in sedans and convertibles is a new 2.4-liter twin cam hooked to a four-speed automatic transmission that features traction control. The Cavalier is a much more livable car with this engine, and we wish that Chevrolet offered this powertrain in the base coupe as well.

The sporty Z24 coupe is available with the twin-cam engine, and in this application can be equipped with either automatic or manual transmission. Five-speed models are as quick as the Neon Sport Coupe from rest to 60 mph.

At just one year of age, Chevrolet is already taking steps to improve the Cavalier. The twin-cam engine replaces last year's 2.3-liter Quad 4, and the four-speed automatic's traction control system is new. Cavalier also receives new fabrics in base models, a PASSLock security system, optional remote keyless entry and new radios. Daytime running lights have been added, and base sedans can be gussied up with an Appearance Package consisting of body-color fascias and moldings, touring tires and bolt-on wheel covers. Two new paint colors are new for 1996, and long-life 100,000-mile coolant has been installed in all engines.

Overall, we think Chevy has a winner here. The styling is attractive and contemporary. The interior is comfortable and well laid-out. Antilock brakes are standard equipment. And, best of all, the price is dead on; low enough to make the four-door Geo Metro an exercise in redundancy. We think the Cavalier will be a big hit for Chevrolet, and recommend that you check it out if a compact car fits your needs.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier.

Deeee, 4/12/2002
I bought my car in the summer of 1999. With the exception of a couple of recalls, and a new ignition coil, I have had no problems with this car. I wouldn't recommend getting a white top, as it is impossible to get it clean. Other than that, I love it and I love the dealership I bought it from.
I've Been Happy!
Michael B, 2/27/2002
Purchased this car w/ 24K.Bought it to enjoy w/top down. Comparble convertible of this size & quality would have cost much more. Been extremely pleased w/reliability of this car. Normal wear & tear things replaced.Power top works great. Still get great comments on car & can keep up with rest of traffic when I am not leading it. Get in the 30's for mpg. Drove this car w/ top down into new millenium. Give it a chance! So far I have put 58K on mine for a total of 82K.
Love it!
Amanda, 1/27/2006
I love this car, yeah it may be a Cavalier but I think it's a great car. The car is fun to drive, drives well, and is great on gas. It's easy to get in and out of, the seats move easily and its more spacious then i thought it might have been. I honeslty enjoy this car more then the others I have had, so overall I believe it's a great car for a 21 year college girl!
Awesome car
mannyd98, 8/26/2006
One of my favorite cars. I owned one in '96 and regretted getting rid of it. When I saw this one, I had to buy it. Also very safe and reliable. We were just in an accident. A Ford F250 ran a stop sign and hit us. It totaled my Cavalier, but we were all alive
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Features & Specs

22 city / 31 hwy
Seats 0
120 hp @ 5200 rpm
See all Used 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier Convertible features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier
Used 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier Convertible Overview

The Used 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier Convertible is offered in the following styles: , and LS 2dr Convertible.

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