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. If I'm lucky I could sell this to a dealer for $600. In five years I have put around 41k miles on it and I have grown to loathe 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 currently: rocker panels are rusting badly behind the doors, intermittent wiper mode doesn't work properly (wipers get 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 won't be able to open it because the socket for the latch will twist when turning the key and will not allow the latch to release).
Bad things in the past: 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 is dreadful. The suspension is soft and corners like a barge. The brakes are there and they get the job done. Acceleration is what you can expect from 2.2L 4cyl. Steering is quite floppy. There is a long throw in gear changes but it shifts 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.
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.
i was giving this car as a present from my parents in high school in 2006 it had 40k miles on it, and it was a good little first car, drove me everywhere i needed to go, im 6" ft so its not the biggest and i couldn't fit more then 3 people in my car. i went to college in Oregon and did very well in the rain, considering im from arizona and that's where the car had lived most of its life, i drove 3 hrs every weekend from the coast to portland back never let me down. the longest trip this car has taken was a 16 drive to san fran and was perfect, sold it 96k miles and only did routine maintenance, brakes oil change, never had to replace clutch, did have to replace soarks at 90k
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.
Traded 03 cavi. For a another 03 cavi cause I wanted the sport pkg and manual tran. Car handles great. Fun driving it around with Windows down moonroof open and radio cranked up. I can go 3 to 4 weeks on a single tank of gas. I took it on a 14 hr road trip to Texas this past summer and that was fun. Has been reliable since only a few minor fixer uppers. Cluster wouldn't work when it got over 90 degrees and the car was sitting out in sun. Easy fix I just replaced it. And one of my wires on abs broke off front tire. That's it.
I bought my cavalier on 4/28/10 w/ 85,xxx miles on it. Was prior salvage. I bought it for $4k. Initially, I was very concerned it would break down or something, or if it was just going to die on my way back home. But I fell in love with this car. Not one problem out of it, and I drove it till it had 100,000miles on it. Had two things go bad: A ratchet thing on my muffler that had fallen off from going down my gf's bumpy driveway($25) & tires. Now, it was in a wreck 4 days ago from me hitting a deer. Just want to say, the seatbelt and airbags saved my life. It's a very well built car. And I went to the salvage yard to look at my car, as soon as I put the key in, it started right up.