Last post on Aug 23, 2012 at 6:41 PM
You are in the Chevrolet Cavalier
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Chevrolet Cavalier, Sedan
#1454 of 2171 Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control
Nov 04, 2003 (4:44 pm)
I decided to give Chevy a chance since they have been so good to the economy...by being good to car buyers. I have seen their ratings improve considerably on quality and consumer satisfaction over the years. They haven't had the major stumbles like Ford had on the Explorer and and the Focus (quality control issues on the Focus, mainly related to the first year).
I also have a Ford Focus ZX3 with the PZEV enginge - no air and a 5 speed - that I got as an "advertised special" for $9k.
The 2004 Cav Coupe cost me 10,295, less $200 California rebate for increased license fees. List price was $10,700 with the 5 speed, air con, and cd player. If you punch in a California zip code on gmbuypower.com you can see the "Special Value Package" option, which is the 1SV package. You can't add any options, like ABS, or this model reverts to regular "base model" pricing. There are no rebates on this special model (but you save on taxes and license fees which would otherwise be charged on rebate amounts). Current rebate is $4,000.00, but I did the math and there is no way to grind a 2004 below 11,000 just with the generous rebate. I am sure, however, that these models will turn up in newspaper ads for under $10k at some point. It is a great marketing device.
My car is quite fast with the Ecotec. Of course the Focus is quite fast with the 2.3 PZEV adapted from the Mazda6. In a couple of years I'll decide which one to keep - the Cav or the ZX3. A lot will depend on dealer service, reliabilty, glitches.
My initial (over 100 miles) impression of the Cav is that the ZX3 has better NVH - "noise, vibration, harshness" - but a freeway speed the Cav is similarly quiet, with a solid feel over bumps, but comfortable on most road surfaces (the ZX3 I have, with the 15 inch wheels, is similarly compliant, but the ZX3's with the 16 inch wheels and lower profile tires are much harsher).
The air con is strong, but sounds odd - the proverbial "hamster in an exercise wheel" kind of sound. Maybe something is out of whack, or maybe the compressor/fan is noisy; I'll have the dealer check it out at the first oil change.
The Getrag tranny is worthy of "name branding." It is a nice unit, not as slick as the current Honda Civic 5 speed, but certainly "enthusiast" grade. The Ecotec is a little noisy until it warms up, then sounds more solid; it is always fast and strong. No hesitation like on the Focus ZX3 PZEV 2.3 (which I believe is the result of stricter pollution controls on the Focus).
I am really impressed by the highway mileage ratings on the Ecotec with stick. This brings back memories of my 35 mpg Neons and 39 mpg Civic. Also I am betting it will do well at interstate speeds, unlike my former VW Golf which tended to suck fuel due to the very high freeway revs.
Sound system is fine. I like the steering wheel, the actual temperature gauge, the 150,000 mile coolant (even if you are on the 3,000 mile service cycle!), the 100,000 mile spark plugs (even on the 3k service). I think its neat that Chevy includes in its official "inspections" "cleaning the radiator of bugs" since I do country road driving.
Finally, the Coupe looks pretty good. I peeled off the "Cavalier" emblem, so now all that you see on the back is the big gold bow tie and the emossed "Chevrolet" name on the back bumper.
#1456 of 2171 To retire or not to retire...
Nov 07, 2003 (12:53 pm)
Well, I'm laboring over the decision of whether or not to sink a bit of money into ole semi-reliable, or whether to say goodbye after 11 years. My '92 Cav, bought new, now has 102K on it, doesn't burn any oil, runs like a top, but I think will soon need its 1st new exhaust, a set of new tires, and possibly front end work, since I hear an occasional strange sound when turning at low speeds. Not to mention that coolant seems to disappear for the last couple years (to no obvious place - no puddling, no foam on dipstick, no "white smoke" out the tailpipe). I'm flip-flopping on whether or not to keep the car. It's a so-so car at best, but I'm sentimentally attached. Advice? I feel like I'd be euthanizing an elderly pet if I were to junk it.
Nov 07, 2003 (2:21 pm)
Apparently the new Cobalt (replacing the Cavalier next year) will have an optional 2.4L 170 hp version of the Ecotec. The new Ecotec will have variable vale timing and also some added refinements.
Should be a great leap in quality and refinement but I'm sure it will cost considerably more than the 10K bargain you drive now.
#1458 of 2171 Issey....
Nov 08, 2003 (3:00 pm)
If that 92 doesn't have any major issues and still runs as well as you say it does, why not hold on to the car and drive it until it dies? You're not gonna get much trading or selling the car, and you will more than likely have to end up making car payments on something newer.
I have been through several cars in my 7 years of driving because I get tired of them. I sometimes wish I still held onto one of the cars I had, a 99 Protege DX. It was totally basic except for automatic and a CD player, but it was one of the most reliable cars I have owned. It would be totally paid for now, but of course with about 150K on it with the amount that I drive.
Oh well, live and learn I guess...
Nov 09, 2003 (7:19 am)
Well, I know what you're saying. As someone who previously owned a 92 for 9.5 years, I would just note that from a safety perspective, you're at a disadvantage in that car compared to most other cars on the road today. One thing to consider....
Nov 09, 2003 (10:40 am)
Even with all the rebates, you won't spend 10,000 dollars to go over your current car. Don't expect to get it back, ever, but you'll keep it going for at least another 5 years.
The "safety" is relative. People are still driving VW Bugs on a daily basis,and you will ALWAYS encounter larger vehicles than yours even if you drive an SUV.
I understand about the sentimental value. My 99 [trouble free 44,000 miles] Cavalier is the first brand new car I ever allowed myself and I will never get rid of it. It's been totally satisfying and reliable as well. I have had my 63 Valiant for 23 years and it's not going anywhere either.[and I only have seat belts in that one and have never been worried about it's safety. You get to know your car's limitations.]
Remember, what your car is "worth" is what it's going to cost to replace it with something else.
It's an old friend, keep it and fill your bank account with the car payments you would make on a new one. It adds up fast.
Nov 11, 2003 (5:15 pm)
My friend just got a 2004 LS sedan(ABS, power everything, auto., etc.).
He got a GM family discount, plus whatever other incentives are going on right now. He ended up paying 11-something out the door.
Is this a good deal? Or could he have done better? This was right near Youngstown, Ohio where the Cavalier is built.
#1462 of 2171 It's A Great Deal
Nov 12, 2003 (9:18 am)
My 2004 Base Model, no power anything, cost 10,200, and I still feel I got a great deal (this is what my cheapie 93 Civic CX cost me in 92!).
#1463 of 2171 600 Mile Report; Plus One Tires
Nov 13, 2003 (10:35 am)
At 600 miles, the engine is starting to break in and run a little smoother and surer. Came close to redline a couple of times and it revv'd freely and strong.
Body and interior integrity high to date - no squeaks or rattles whatsoever.
NVH is higher on hard acceleration and during warmup, but comparable to Ford Focus at cruise.
Quality - fit and finish - seems comparable to the Ford Focus (which is high, except for 2000 and 2001 quality control issues) and my 2003 Honda Civic LX so far. It seems higher than Cavaliers I test drove in 99, 2000, and 2001. Possibly GM's mandate for better quality has made it down to the Cavalier; I was worried that GM was only pushing Impala and Malibu quality. In other words, nothing I have seen so far makes me think the Cavalier, even as a last year model, is a neglected, old style construction model.
The one issue I HAVE had is the quality of handling - vagueness in the steering, wallowing when changing lanes. I thought this was due to soft springs and lack of a rear sway bar, but the other day I changed out my tires and the handling is now greatly improved - much more precise, more like a Focus ZX3, with enough springiness for a comfortable ride. Appararently the sidewalls on the stock tires (Goodyear Conquest) were quite flexible and were degrading handling, even with a 2 psi overfill (32 psi instead of factory 30 psi).
I replaced the stock 195/70x 14 with 205/60x15 Bridgestone 950's. For wheels I used steel wheels with wheel covers - according to Tire Rack, which provided the package, their steel wheels (usually sold as part of their snow tire packages) are made by the OEM for GM which reassures me. Total cost of the 4 tires, wheels, with free mounting and balancing, and shipping, was $560, very reasonable for an upgrade in tire quality and size. Installation ran another $10 at a local tire store.
The car now drives like its on rails, and freeway driving feels much more secure. I had planned on installing Eibach springs, but now I will wait a while.