- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 7, 2006

Chevrolet’s all-new 2007 Aveo is a subcompact sedan with a surprisingly big interior because it has a high roofline. And the Aveo is loaded with many surprises.

For example, I asked a friend who is 6 feet 7 inches tall to get into the driver’s seat — and surprisingly he fit. Because of the high roofline, he was able to raise the height of the seat, resulting in his legs having more room, making him reasonably comfortable. That was just one of many surprises I had with the Aveo.

The base price of the Aveo LT is $13,250.

The test car had a few options, such as a four-speed automatic transmission and, with destination charges, this car sells for $15,005 — surprisingly low considering its refined interior.

Chevrolet people say the new Aveo has a longer and wider body compared with the previous model. It now has a better suspension that delivers more responsive ride and handling, and has a turning circle of 33 feet.

More surprising was the upscale quality of the interior. It contains appointments that I’d expect only in more expensive sedans. Not only did it have a tilt steering wheel, it has a rear window defogger, daytime running lights, plus a map holder on the front passenger’s seatback.

Aveo has two models — LS and LT; the latter was the test vehicle. The power came from a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that produces only 103 horsepower. But I was surprised with the pickup of this little engine — and it’s rated at 26 miles per gallon city and 34 mpg highway.

I was told it has a stainless-steel exhaust system, plus a MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bar and an independent torsion beam axle-mount compound link-type rear suspension with gas-charged shocks. That combination accounted for the comfortable ride, instead of the usual small-car bounce. Incidentally, my tester rode on 15-inch aluminum wheels.

An unusual option is an Aisin four-speed automatic with hold control mode. This provided me with the ability to manually shift gears. Considering the Aveo’s price, such equipment is very unusual. Another option was leatherette seats, a $250 extra, which improved the interior appearance.

The more I drove this car, the more I had to keep reminding myself that I was in a small, inexpensive sedan.

Even its outer appearance is misleading. Its chrome-accented grille puts emphasis on the bow-tie Chevy emblem. The headlamps, which extend into the hood, also contain fog lamps. In the rear, the round taillamps are set with jewel bezels. Again, all these visual appointments are surprising for a low-priced small sedan.

The 180-watt sound system with six speakers didn’t have the usual GM component of XM Satellite radio, but it did have an IPod connection.

Although the interior isn’t the quietest I’ve been in, the interior noise level was low enough for me to enjoy the music from the IPod.

One annoyance occurred when it rained. The intermittent windshield wiper wasn’t properly set, so the upswing of the blade on the driver’s side banged against the A pillar. But a dealer could easily fix that.

Incidentally, GM cars now carry a 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

One more thing: The National Traffic Safety Administration has awarded a five-star rating in the offset frontal crash test for both driver and front passenger.

But that shouldn’t be surprising because this car is built with a high-strength steel structure so the passengers are seated in a safety cage. It also has dual-stage frontal air bags.

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