The new sedan retains the wheelbase of previous models, but is 3-in. longer overall, with revised exterior and interior styling.
The only available engine, an E-Tec II 1.6-liter DOHC, has enough oomph (103 hp) to get you safely on the freeway but don't look for it in the next Fast and the Furious movie. Hitched to a five-speed manual with rubbery shift action, it delivers 27 (city) and 37 (highway) mpg. A four-speed automatic is optional.
The four-door sedan looks something like a Honda Civic, and a bright "summer yellow" paint job makes it easy to find the little car in parking lots. Despite the subcompact classification, there's plenty of headroom and hiproom but there's almost zero legroom in back. I suppose the rear seat would be okay for a couple of kids, short ones, but adults would have to tuck their knees under their chins or store their legs in the generous trunk. There is no center-console storage so I stowed my CDs in the door.
The ride is a little rough but reasonably quiet. My biggest complaint (and it's not a big one) is that it's difficult to insert the key in the ignition, which is in the usual place on the steering column. I had to lean far to the right and see the ignition to align the key.
These days, $11,950 (base price) buys basic transportation with a few amenities. These include A/C, rear defogger, tilt steering, cloth front seats with recline, tilt headrests, driver height and lumbar adjust, AM/FM stereo with four speakers and auxiliary input jack, digital clock, 60/40 split folding rear seat, visors with vanity mirrors, remote trunk release, fuel filler release lever, and front and side-impact air bags.
Another $1,760 brings cruise control and keyless entry with alarm, power door locks, antilock brakes, 14-in., five-spoke aluminum wheels, CD/MP3 player, upgraded six-speaker sound system, and fog lamps. That's it. Someone forgot to order power windows, which didn't bother me as it's February in Cleveland and only a snowman would open a window.
And if you're less than impressed with the options, tell Chevy to keep 'em and take home a bare-bones Aveo for $12,515, including destination charge.