Used 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier

1998 Chevrolet Cavalier
List price
$2,990

Pros

  • Low price, roomy interior, great basic transportation

Cons

  • Cheap interior materials, buzzy standard engine

Used 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier for Sale

Chevrolet Cavalier 1998 Z24 2dr Coupe
72,557 miles
Used 1998
Chevrolet Cavalier
Z24
List$2,990
Est.Loan: $61/mo
View Details

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

For 16 years, the Cavalier has been a staple sales leader for Chevy dealers. Understandably so, because the Cavalier offers reasonable value and is priced low enough to compete favorably in the compact market, often undercutting smaller models from other manufacturers.

The second-generation Cavalier debuted in 1995, and not a moment too soon. A very good car, this recently designed Cavalier, offers adequate room for four adults, decent performance and acceptable interior accommodations. Styling is attractive and contemporary, and there is a model to suit almost everyone's needs.

Changes to this successful formula are minimal for 1998. The LS convertible has been replaced by a Z24 droptop in an effort to drum up more youthful interest in the car. All the Z24's trim pieces are added, but the convertible doesn't get the sharp five-spoke alloy wheels from the coupe version. Instead, mesh-style rims grace the Z24 convertible. Other modifications include the addition of cruise control to the standard equipment lists of the RS, LS and Z24, and the deletion of power window and remote keyless entry availability on Base models. Also, the AM/FM stereo can no longer be deleted from lower rung models.

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 domestic competition, the Dodge Neon, in power and acceleration. Optional in LS sedan is a 2.4-liter twin-cam engine 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 base models as well. The twin-cam engine is standard in the sporty Z24 coupe and convertible. Manually shifted Z24 coupes are as quick as the Neon Sport Coupe from rest to 60 mph.

Additional changes include one new exterior paint color (Gold), two new monotone interior color schemes and one new convertible top color (Neutral). 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 Chevrolet Metro sedan an exercise in redundancy. We recommend that you check out the Cavalier if a compact car fits your needs.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier.

The Catfish of cars (they just don't die)
Jolex, 7/29/2010
They say that cars are a liability not an investment, but my 1998 Cavalier proved that statement wrong! I bought mine brand new and drove it for 13 years. It still runs and the only thing I ever really needed to do was regular maintenance. It's been through a lot and if anyone says that a Chevy is no good then there is no way that they have ever truly owned one. I would recommend a Chevy to anyone. It was worth every penny and it showed that American made cars are at the top of the list with foreign competition. I loved my car and my faith in Chevy will never be diminished.
Great Car, Worst Buying Time
Litestorm17, 1/21/2010
I bought this 1998 Chevy Cavalier Z24 in December of 07' with 78000 miles on it. I loved the car, but exactly 364 days after I bought it (roughly 90k miles at the time) the entire computer system failed. The dealership has yet to figure out what caused it. It cost me well over $2k to fix. Also, the radiator randomly blew out on me. That was roughly $200. Mine burns oil, but not much. Don't let this rough patch deter you away though. I bought it with all of the wearable stuff at the end of it's lifespan, so now that everything is fixed it works like a dream. It is a great car if you travel long distances like I do. Put an aftermarket short-ram intake, and you can get close to 40 mpg!
They just don't die!
ahnalia, 2/12/2014
I bought my 98 z-24 cavalier with 101k "highway" miles on it in 2003. I have NEVER regretted the purchase. I have only had to have 1 major repair done on it (housing case) in 11 years. Mine has been through a lot. It has been stolen, and they hot rodded it and tore it up externally pretty bad, but it still runs. I let maintenence on it slip pretty bad over the years, and it still runs. No matter what punishment this car has been dished out, it just does not stop running. It also has some real "get up and go" when needed.
I hate this pieace of crap car..
dymondeyz23, 9/23/2003
i have had to replace basically everything on this car.. and it only now has 60,000 miles... i also ended up having to replace the engine.. i don't recomend this car... i have never had so many problems w/ a car until i bought this one.. car has been in the shop since the 1month i bought it... replaced... major electrical cords, fuel pump, belts, computer sensors, dents easy, head gasket, overheats, motor barrings... etc...
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Features & Specs

MPG
21 city / 31 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
115 hp @ 5000 rpm
MPG
20 city / 30 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
150 hp @ 5600 rpm
MPG
21 city / 31 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
115 hp @ 5000 rpm
See all Used 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver1 / 5
    Passenger2 / 5
  • 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
    Poor

More about the 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier
More About This Model

The Chevrolet Cavalier has been around since the spring of 1981, and somehow, year after year, General Motors keeps coming back with more - interest in this car has never waned enough to cancel the Cavalier. Despite a glut of reasonably-priced compact sedans on the market, the Cavalier - in both coupe and sedan form - is a common sight on America's highways. This is partly due to rental car fleets (we rented an inexpensive Cavalier coupe just last February), but a fair share of Cavaliers actually end up parked in people's garages. Excuse our stupefied expression.

Our test car was painted an awful shade of blue which Chevy calls "Aquamarine Blue Metallic." As if the car were not homely enough on its own merits, this color ruined it for good. Aside from the exterior color, the sedan suffered from black plastic door handles and side mirrors, and one serious underbite of a front fascia: the squinty headlights are set well aft of the front bumper structure, and the abridged hood doesn't quite form an even seam at the front. As a whole, this car's appearance isn't much improved from the 1982 model year Cavalier.

The drive is memorable because it was the worst we've experienced in a long while. The ride is choppy, the engine's hoppy and the transmission's droppy. Overall, we'd call it sloppy, but that's too many rhymes. Let's just say that the car is unrefined.

The engine needs to redline to find any power, and when it does, it sounds as if it's about to push its way through the firewall and land in your lap. Our test car came with the optional 2.4-liter DOHC four cylinder, which makes 150 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 155 foot-pounds of torque at 4400 rpm. That's an extra 35 horsepower and an extra 20 foot-pounds of torque when compared to the base 2.2-liter engine, which is considerable for a 2,630-lb. sedan. But this is by far one of the noisiest motors on the market. Even at idle, we witnessed the little engine shaking like a caffeine addict going through withdrawal.

The LS sedan comes equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission. The tranny performed adequately under light acceleration, but when we stepped on the gas, the car would run to redline and then heave itself into the next gear. While the motor, thankfully, was not powerful enough to create whiplash, the transmission's behavior is not one of this car's highlights.

The seats are uncomfortable for any length of time due to a lack of thigh or lateral support. That includes the rear seats, though they provided more legroom than we had expected. Up front, tall people will fit surprisingly well, but there's really not enough room in the footwell to rest a big left foot. The rear seatback can be folded flat with a simple tug on a strap, and that makes for plenty of cargo space - enough for a few golf bags, skis or whatever bulky items you'd care to haul around.

Noise is abundant in all directions, and comes from all the elements: earth, wind, water and fire. Road noise is present at all times, wind noise permeates the cabin at highway speeds, and when it rains, water is picked up by the tires and hurled at the underside of the car, much like the sound of a carwash. The engine noise is present mostly during acceleration, but it's always in the background. Cruising at 75 mph, however, the engine turns at only 2,800 rpm, which is probably ideal for noise reduction. The stereo, unfortunately, is not powerful enough to compete with the other less appealing sounds.

On the plus side for this car are braking and handling. The brakes fade moderately at first, but then even out and grip well even when hot. Successive panic stops resulted in little loss of traction from the tires, and the ABS action didn't shy us from the brake pedal. Steering is not quite crisp, but it is consistent and gives feedback from the road without feeling too direct. ndersteer isn't bad, but the motor isn't quite strong enough to induce much understeer in the first place.

The interior of the Cavalier is laid out quite well, but it's made up of the lowest form of materials from the GM parts bin. Black plastic bristles are probably the least attractive of the interior accouterments - they line the inside slots of both shift lever and parking brake handle. Truly, the bristles are the bottom of the barrel in terms of automotive parts. In time, they fray. Just take a look at any early 80's rental car, or any slightly-used windshield scraper brush for an example.

We'd prefer that the stereo controls be positioned north of the climate controls, but otherwise the dash layout is quite ergonomic and easy to read. Our test car's dash-top air vent wasn't attached correctly and as a result was coming loose, but the rest of the interior was assembled well. The only complaint, really, was that he exterior paint was plainly visible through the rear doorjambs. This might not have been a source of gripe, but remember that we really hated the "Aquamarine Blue.".

Our test car came with power windows, which seem a bit out of place in such an economy car. We were constantly in search of the old-fashioned cranks. In fact, if we were considering the Cavalier, we'd skip the options altogether, except for the 2.4-liter engine. Our test car came in at an MSRP of $16,524, which is dangerously close to much more refined cars such as the Honda Civic EX sedan, fully-optioned Toyota Corolla LE or the Chevrolet Prizm LSi.

The Cavalier is in a sort of no-man's land, positioned in the Chevy lineup between the scrappy-yet-economical Metro and the competent Prizm. If you're looking for motorcycle-like fuel economy, look at the Metro. Want an affordable, sensible sedan? Drive the Prizm or Corolla. But with such plentiful competition, the Cavalier is not a vehicle we can recommend.

The word "cavalier" has two very distinct meanings. In one sense, cavalier is a noun meaning a courtly or gallant person such as a knight. In another sense, cavalier is an adjective meaning haughty, unceremonious, or thoughtless. We're guessing that the product planners had the former definition in mind when they named this car, but the alternative definition is intriguingly accurate.

Used 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Overview

The Used 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier is offered in the following submodels: , , . Available styles include 2dr Coupe, LS 4dr Sedan, 4dr Sedan, Z24 2dr Coupe, Z24 2dr Convertible, and RS 2dr Coupe.

What's a good price on a Used 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier?

Price comparisons for Used 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier trim styles:

  • The Used 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 is priced between $2,990 and$2,990 with odometer readings between 72557 and72557 miles.

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