It's not exactly sporty. and it's no one's idea of a luxury car, but my Cavalier saw me through 220,000 miles with only wear-and-tear repairs. I bought it in 2004 with 20K miles, and it finally gave up the ghost in 2016 with 240K. I wore out the struts, went through several sets of tires, batteries etc, but it had no mechanical issues in all that time. I drove it all through the midwest, California, up and down the East coast, and it never gave me cause to doubt that it was going to start. I miss it every time I take my current car to the shop.
2003 Chevrolet Cavalier LS 4dr Sedan (2.2L 4cyl 5M)
I got the car for $1200, 107k miles. Solid car with lots of little quirks. Interminent windshield wipers lock up, trunk sometimes doesnt open with the key due to problems with latch. Interior made of lots of cheap parts and plastic, whole far front dash is cracked and busted. I have something in place to keep the pieces from rattling or moving around. Whole entire interior on the dash is pretty cheap plastic, ive knicked it a few times and it will just crack off. Very brittle. I originally thought that the transmission was having problems when the gear shift wouldnt allow me to shift to park, took it to the shop where they checked every seal and found no issues, but inside the gear shift knob the plastic was cracked, no surprise, and they had the put a pin inside of it, put More pressure on the gear shift knob when putting it to park for it to go in. Ive had one problem with the transmission/ or engine with high revving rpms with no acceleration. It has only done this once. Other than these things its very reliable and has always started. Shifts very smooth, very smooth ride. Brakes are great and responsive despite some occasional noises. Nice Bright high beams, a good starter car or car for someone who is looking for cheap, reliable transportation. Cavs are pretty good cars!
This is a long review. What I mention can be very important to anyone who is serious about buying this car. Skip to the end if you want my recommendations.
In 2010, I bought a base model 2dr Cavalier with a manual transmission for around $4500 with around 104k miles on it. I look back now and I can tell you that it was NOT worth that, even if KBB said so. In 2016 I sold this car to my friend for about $550. In the 6 years I owned it I had put around 60k miles on it and I was so glad to get rid of it.
Good things: it's a mode of fairly reliable transportation, heating and A/C still work, road noise isn't too terrible.
Bad things during the time I owned it: rocker panels were rusting badly behind the doors, intermittent wiper mode didn't work properly (wipers got stuck mid-cycle), suspension, front seats, back seats (anyone taller than 5' 9" should NOT sit in the back), seat belt harnesses are uncomfortable in front seats, trunk lid latch (occasionally when going to use the key to unlock the trunk, the key wouldn't be able to open it because the socket for the latch would twist when turning the key and would not allow the latch to release).
Bad things I had had fixed when I owned it: air vent control (Under the right conditions, if you force the air vent control knob, it will bend the cable that it uses to switch between airflow directions. After this, it is stuck in one airflow direction and cannot be changed. The dash has to be removed and a new cable has to be installed.), timing chain (This one worried me. It has been reported in forums that, after 100k miles, the timing chain starts to not get enough oil and the chain breaks causing engine damage. I'd like to say I had my chain and other components replaced at around 128k miles.)
Driving this car was dreadful. The suspension was soft and it cornered like a barge. The brakes were there and they got the job done. Acceleration is what you can expect from 2.2L 4cyl. Steering was quite floppy. There was a long throw in gear changes but it shifted smoothly nonetheless.
Looking at this car is not much better. I realized later that what I should have had was a hatchback or at least a 4dr vehicle. This car is NOT practical. Yes, you could get yourself a 4dr Cavalier but they look even worse than the 2dr versions.
Recommendations: 1. Use it for a winter beater. 2. If you travel less than 5 miles to work every day and you don't plan on ever driving more than that in one trip, you should be fine. 3. DON'T BUY THIS CAR! If you're looking for a compact Chevy that isn't built in Korea, look into a 4dr Cobalt. They're more practical than the 2dr, they look way better than a 4dr Cavalier, and they aren't terribly expensive.
Do your research and pick a car that fits you. I clearly made the wrong choice.
Bought this car from a buy here-pay here lot with $160k miles for a ridiculous price. Been reliable so far, but has SOOO many little problems. When I first bought it, the instrument cluster would go haywire at at random times, which was later attributed to moisture in the electronics. The climate control has an annoying click on any setting but recirculate, and the knobs broke to boot. the shifter has a disconcerting grind in it going into fourth gear.
The interior is virtually destroyed, and the body isn't much better. okay, so now for the positives: it's been unwaveringly reliable for the past 6 months! The only expense I've had has been tires. All in all, a solid driver.
Thrifty 4 cylinder engine, easy to park, tight handling.
I bought my cavy when it had around 135,000 miles on it. It's just now gotten to 218,000 after five years of owning it, and it's been exceptionally reliable. The only part to go bad on it was the fuel pump, I have not had to buy any other parts for it. Other than the standard oil change and brake service, new tires, and normal maintenance, I haven't had to put any money in to it. And I used to abuse the crap out of it when I was younger. Well worth the investment. I notice a lot of people posting about having all sorts of problems with theirs, but it's the absolute opposite for me. It's not the sportiest car, but it is reliable.