- The Washington Times - Friday, July 18, 2008

Need to save some dough and get good gas mileage, too? Check out Chevrolet’s gas-saving Aveo, a surprising combination of creature comforts, economy and value at a price you’ll like. Front-wheel-drive Aveos carry a base price of $9,995 to $13,510, and come in LS and LT models, sedans and hatchbacks. Power comes from a 103-horsepower, 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine, with fuel ratings of 23/32.

The Aveo is built in South Korea by General Motors subsidiary Daewoo, but don’t be put off by that bit of information. Sure, the company had to leave the United States because of the poor quality of its products; but since then, big, dramatic improvements have been made to the point that its quality and content now match those of most of its competitors.

The test model was a four-door LT sedan, and the first thing I noticed was how surprisingly plush this car was in spite of its price.

This is all thanks to a big redesign the sedan underwent last year, and the result was a huge improvement in exterior styling, which now looks as nice as some larger compacts, and the interior, which provides quite a nice measure of comfort.

I’m not saying it was a luxury car, but the combination of nice fabrics, decent wood and aluminum trim, and comfortable seating sure was pleasing. I would recommend that if you are in the market for one of these cars, you give the most consideration to the sedan. The hatchback model’s interior is much more mediocre in comparison and doesn’t match the quality or appearance of the four-door sedan.

The $13,510 base price for the LT four door includes cruise control, heated power mirrors, power windows, power door locks, fog lights, alloy wheels, dual front air bags and front side air bags, tilt steering wheel and AM/FM/CD/MP3 system, and several other items.

Acceleration was pretty fast around town — another surprise. But highway driving proved a bit dicier, and going up steep hills was a daunting experience. My conclusion: The Aveo’s pretty cool around town, but it needs more punch to meet the demands that most drivers are likely to make of this car.

Another issue for me was the steering system. It felt wobbly at times, and a lot of small corrections were necessary to keep this car on course. The ride, however, was pretty nice; I expected to have lots of bounciness over city streets, but there was very little problem with that, potholes and all.

All things considered, the little Aveo is a capable subcompact worth looking at when you hunt for a gas saver that’s easy on your wallet.

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