Used 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier Review

Edmunds expert review

What's new for 1998

A Z24 convertible is introduced, cruise control is standard on all but base models, power windows and remote keyless entry are no longer available on base cars, and buyers can no longer delete the AM/FM radio. Second-generation airbags debut on all models.

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 The LS convertible has been replaced by a Z24 droptop in an effort to drum up more youthful interest in the car.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.

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.