- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2008

If everyone owned a Chevrolet Aveo5 the ridiculous high price of gasoline would topple. This car provides 34 mpg, which is in the range of upcoming hybrid vehicles.

But you don’t have to wait until affordable hybrids hit the market, as the 2009 Aveo5 is available now with a starting base price of $12,120. It comes in two models: Aveo sedan and Aveo5 hatchback, which is the vehicle I drove.

Although it is available with an automatic transmission with overdrive, I enjoyed the easy shifting of the Aisin five-speed manual transmission. I also enjoyed the reasonably quiet interior. Powering the Aveo5 is a sophisticated 16-valve four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing for optimal power and fuel efficiency. It is rated at 106 horsepower and 107 lb.-ft. of torque.

The 2009 Aveo5 has sporty wraparound headlamps and circular taillamps, a dual-port grille and integrated front and rear fascias. And it comes with a load of features: OnStar; XM Satellite availability; revised driver information center with outside temperature display and fuel economy/driving range function; 15-inch aluminum alloy five-spoke wheels; Charcoal leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; auxiliary jack for the radio (to play your iPod music); oil-life monitoring system; 95-amp alternator; variable intermittent windshield wipers; enhanced ergonomics with new controls and features.

If all of this sounds like the contents of an upscale vehicle, well, that too, was my impression of this little, inexpensive hatchback. The base price on the test car was $13,595; it didn’t have much in the way of options, which brought the total price to $14,930, which included the destination charge. The options were power windows, remote keyless entry, power door locks, and cruise control.

The test car was painted bright yellow, and if that’s too much color for some buyers, Chevrolet makes available a total of 10 different colors.

Even though it’s a small car, the Aveo5 has a surprisingly large interior. The front has good headroom and one of the advantages I found in the compact Aveo5 was the flipping the rear seat down. I could have packed 42 cubic feet of stuff through the liftgate and I didn’t expect that.

I was told the Aveo5 is engineered for a broad range of driving experiences. The suspension system features MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and stabilizer bars and an independent, torsion beam axle-mount link-type rear suspension with gas-charged shocks. It also has power-assisted variable rate rack-and-pinion steering.

With such a foundation, I wasn’t surprised when I gave the hatchback a good workout on my favorite roads. I went through the turns at speeds I usually reserve for the upscale expensive vehicles and the Aveo5 held the turns quite well. I had to keep reminding myself that this hatchback only cost $14,930.

Then came the next question: How safe am I in this little car. That question was quickly answered when I looked at the price sheet. It indicated it had received the government’s highest rating of five-stars for frontal crash for both the driver and front-seat passenger. It also received four stars in side crash tests.

It also has the mandatory tire pressure monitoring system, daytime running lights, front safety belt pretensioners with front-load limits, and children LATCH seats.

The point is this: If you’re looking for a car that offers hybrid gas mileage, there’s no need to pay a premium. The affordable Aveo5 is available now.

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