Cobalt shows some mettle, but don’t expect a lot of flash

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Thread: Cobalt shows some mettle, but don’t expect a lot of flash

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    News Contributor 91 s-10baja's Avatar
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    Cobalt shows some mettle, but donít expect a lot of flash

    ROAD TEST
    Cobalt shows some mettle, but donít expect a lot of flash

    February 18, 2005

    Even if you never owned one, you might have driven a Cavalier as a rental, as I have. It was a popular offering in the fleets.

    Chances are you weren't expecting much from it and that your expectations proved correct. The Cavalier sedan wasn't much to look at, certainly not sporty in its acceleration or handling, but it got you there with no unpleasant surprises.

    Well, the Cavalier's successor, the Cobalt, is here and, while it seems an improvement overall, you'll be happiest if you don't expect too much from it, either. It'll get you there.

    An entirely different vehicle that shares basics with the Saturn Ion, the Cobalt has a fairly noisy four-cylinder engine that, nevertheless, has sufficient get-up-and-go. The interior is finished in rich-looking materials, unlike its predecessor. The ride is firmer than some of you will like. The handling is competent for this price range, and once the engine has settled to cruising speed, the interior is quiet.

    The Cobalt is available with curtain-type, head-protection air bags, which weren't offered in the Cavalier.

    The sedan is nearly identical in length and width to the Cavalier sedan. A comparison of Cavalier and Cobalt interior dimensions, though, yields some disappointment. While the Cobalt is 2.4 inches taller than the Cavalier, it offers slightly less headroom up front - though more in the rear than the Cavalier. It also offers less shoulder and hip room in the front and rear and slightly less rear-seat legroom.

    A step backward there, it would appear. When I asked Chevrolet about it, a spokeswoman said, "The perceived interior roominess [of the Cobalt] is greater even though dimensionally it's smaller."

    I guess it's done with mirrors.

    Anyway, interior room, including rear-seat legroom, is adequate for normal-sized adults.

    Cobalts come in two- and four-door styles. The coupe is available in the sporty SS equipment level with a 205- horsepower, supercharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine and four-wheel disc brakes. That version, though, begins at almost $22,000 with freight.

    Other Cobalt coupe and sedans start at $14,190, including a 145-hp., 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine, air-conditioning, automatic headlamp controls, a split folding rear seat, a stereo with CD player, tilt wheel, a tachometer and a five-speed stick shift. Add $850 for an automatic transmission. At least until March 31, GM is offering $750 cash rebates on non-SS variants of the Cobalt, with a cut-rate financing alternative.

    Note, though, that the tester was an LT - the higher of two equipment levels - and that it had a sticker price of more than $20,000 with the curtain air bags, automatic transmission and options like OnStar and XM satellite radio.

    Competitors to the Cobalt that are worth considering include the Ford Focus, Honda Civic (being replaced in the fall by a new model, however), Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Hyundai Elantra and Suzuki Forenza. Although it's available with the most power in this class, the Dodge Neon is getting rather long in the tooth to seriously compete. So is the Nissan Sentra.

    The Corolla, the Focus, the Mazda3, the Elantra and the Forenza offer more rear-seat legroom than the Cobalt.

    If you'd prefer a larger Chevrolet than the Cobalt, note that the 2005 Malibu is available with a $2,000 rebate. The Malibu begins at $19,825. It shares the Cobalt's engine (with a V-6 option available) but the Malibu is 8 inches longer than the Cobalt, 2 inches wider and offers about 5 inches more rear-seat legroom.

    Like the Cavalier, the Cobalt comes with a three-year, 36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and five years or 60,000 miles of coverage on the powertrain.

    Neither the federal government nor the private Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has published crash test results yet for the Cobalt. Nor is there any publicly available data yet on quality.

    My tester ran flawlessly, but my time with it was cut short by an ignition switch that absolutely refused to budge one day from the locked position. GM spokesman Michael Albano said later that the dealership to which the car was towed believes the problem was a defective lock cylinder.

    I was more disappointed though, with the inability of Chevrolet roadside assistance to get a tow truck to the car until the following day. Yes, it was 6p.m. on a Sunday evening when I called, but there were no blizzards or other cataclysmic events in progress and the location was in a heavily populated area. Twenty-four-hour roadside assistance should mean 24 hours, seven days a week. "We'll get to you tomorrow" is just not good enough.

    The Cavalier was deemed average in mechanical reliability by Consumer Reports, which otherwise hated the car, by the way. The magazine has nothing yet on the Cobalt.

    Chevrolet and its dealers scored just above average in the most recent customer-service survey by market researchers J.D. Power and Associates.

    So, the Cobalt probably is a safe bet and one worth considering.

    http://www.newsday.com/business/colu...ess-columnists
    Last edited by 91 s-10baja; 02-18-2005 at 10:43 PM.
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    6.2 Liter LS9 Supercharged V8 goblue's Avatar
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    Re: Cobalt shows some mettle, but donít expect a lot of flash

    This is a terrible reviewer. I don't know how he can call himself a journalist. He isn't biased per say, just seems dumb.

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    Re: Cobalt shows some mettle, but donít expect a lot of flash

    Why is he dumb? I didn't find anything that weird in the article.
    He complained that the cabin was smaller than the car it replaced.
    He complained that roadside assistance made him wait overnight.

    He compares it to the car it replaces, and overall seems to be satisified that it's a better car.

    he also makes a valid argument, that the malibu with incentives could be a better deal.

    How is he dumb?

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    Re: Cobalt shows some mettle, but donít expect a lot of flash

    He is over informed and was looking for any way to talk down the car. He knows all the interior measurements but doesn't talk about feel except to try to put down a GM exec. He's not dumb, he just let his low opinion of the Cavlier and GM skew his article. As for the GM assistance, I'd be seriously hot, a more than legitimate complaint. Has anyone else had problems like this?

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    Re: Cobalt shows some mettle, but donít expect a lot of flash

    Sounds like a JR High kid wrote it.

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    Re: Cobalt shows some mettle, but donít expect a lot of flash

    I think it was a valid article. It didn't speak much about his impresions of the car though. He did mention the quality interior but unfortunatly didn't give his impression on how small the rear seats actually felt (dimensions aren't the be-all and end-all for comfort). The worst part about this is that his car was totally imobalized, something that would make me pretty angry after buying a new car, and to top it off roadside assistance was of little assistance.

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    Re: Cobalt shows some mettle, but donít expect a lot of flash

    It was a good article. Remember, not everyone is supposed to be in love with the vehicle!

    2007 BMW 328i. Black sapphire metallic. Terra leather. Poplar wood. Automatic trans. Xenon adaptive headlights. BMW Assist. Bluetooth. Premium package. Heated seats. iDrive navigation system. Rear sonar. Comfort access. LOGIC7 surround sound. Sirius. 18" BMW wheels. Rear spoiler.

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    Re: Cobalt shows some mettle, but donít expect a lot of flash

    I think this is a very fair review. The GM comment about interior space, (When I asked Chevrolet about it, a spokeswoman said, "The perceived interior roominess [of the Cobalt] is greater even though dimensionally it's smaller.") is pure BS.

    I've been considering a Cobalt and I've driven one as well as a Civic and I'd go with the Cobalt at this point. The issue with roadside assistance is as pathetic as the interior space comment. I've just had a conversation with the GM roadside assistance people as to what their guarantee is. They have no guarantee; it's a best efforts arrangement. The reviewer doesn't say whether he called GM back to get a faster response, but he shouldn't have to. The contract with this tow company should be terminated. They aren't doing GM or the customer any good. Hopefully somebody from GM is tracking this site and will follow up on this and get something done. The way service and product is improved is by constant attention. The roadside assistance people should be following up with customers who avail themselves of the service to assess their satisfaction. In cases like this the contractor should be identified and nailed, and the customer informed about the corrective action taken. A negative could be made a positive.

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    Re: Cobalt shows some mettle, but donít expect a lot of flash

    It's true that the Cobalt is smaller on the inside than the Cavalier. The Chevy website lists interior volume at less that 90 cubic feet of space. The old Cavalier had 91+cubic feet of space or more. The rear seats are nice shaped and use pretty good materials for the dash and trim. But legroom and headroom is a bit pinchy. But the "smaller" Aveo is roomier. What's funny is that the Aveo is rated a Compact, while the Cobalt is rated a subcompact.

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    Re: Cobalt shows some mettle, but don’t expect a lot of flash

    Just because the interior is a little smaller in the measurements, doesnít mean it feels smaller. In My opinion, there is tons of room in the Cobalt. Especially in the coupe! I was really surprised. They may have reduced the space where it was not needed (ie: under the windshield or rear window)

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    Re: Cobalt shows some mettle, but donít expect a lot of flash

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Raider
    Why is he dumb? I didn't find anything that weird in the article.
    He complained that the cabin was smaller than the car it replaced.
    He complained that roadside assistance made him wait overnight.

    He compares it to the car it replaces, and overall seems to be satisified that it's a better car.

    he also makes a valid argument, that the malibu with incentives could be a better deal.

    How is he dumb?
    It just didn't seem like a professional review - read like something out of my high school paper years and years ago. Maybe dumb was a little strong - worthless review might be better, or just bad writing. Its my opinion, people seem to disagree and thats fine, but I just read it again, and its just a bad review - from a structural and writing standpoint. I really can't take issue with most of what he said that was factual. After I read this review, I wanted the minute or two back that I spent reading it and writing about it.

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