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July 2005
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2005 Chevrolet Cobalt 2 Door LS Coupe

The Good:  Quiet ride. Good Suspension.  Nicely done exterior styling.

The Bad:  Heavy doors. Cumbersome seats. Cheap feeling interior with slippery hard plastic. 

Download Apple QuickTime viewer here.  Watch the exterior, and interior, as well as hear the Cobalt accelerate with the windows open and closed.   Click Here

 

Chevrolet is finally waking up, putting ten new models into production in the last twenty months.  GM's strategy for targeting the small car buyer includes the new Cobalt, introduced in early 2004.  The Cobalt aims to appeal to the budget car buyer, with what GM hopes is a car that feels much more expensive than it really is.  With current Employee pricing, you should be able to buy this car for $2000 less than MSRP making it a great deal as well. 

Based on the Delta architecture used in the Saturn Ion, the cobalt is available in two and four door iterations.  The coupe model tested here is available in Base, LS, and SS Supercharged trim levels.  This setup puts the Cobalt in direct competition with a whole array of cars from the Honda Civic to the Mazda 3, to the VW Jetta, it is to say the least a very competitive market to be in. 

"Our design approach on the Cobalt was to keep the exterior sheet metal clean and uncluttered, with a tailored, refined execution, giving the vehicle a premium exterior feel and appearance," said Phil Zak, Cobalt lead designer.  The exterior is just that; smooth and clean with the look of a modern vehicle.  We especially liked the tail end with Ferrari style round lamps.  The front end is also nicely done with slotted lower grills.  An optional sport package adds a rear wing for an even more sporty look.  The only point we noted that made the Cobalt look more normal than sporty was the height of the vehicle off the ground.

The interior offers standard features such as air conditioning, electric rear defogger, CD player, and a trip computer.  Doors are powered and windows are as well.  Front seats are height adjustable by way of a lever as in VW cars which you have to pump.  These are all basic things which we all should expect in a modern vehicle today.  This base LS version we tested lacked leather surfaces and a steering wheel and shift knob in leather.  This truly made the car feel cheap to drive.  Even a layering of vinyl on top of the plastic on the steering wheel and shift knob would have felt better.  Adding about $1000 worth of options will get you the leather seating surfaces and steering wheel as well as a shift knob but some things should be standard in today's cars like a non-plastic steering wheel.

The interior dash is cleanly laid out.  Most controls are in typical GM style.  The cup holders block the AC controls when actually being used, we would like a different position for them.  The Pioneer upgraded stereo is very loud and has deep bass.  It is not as good or clean as a Bose system however, so we would save our money and upgrade to something better aftermarket.  Standard is a CD player built into the stereo system.  A sunroof is optional and is a good addition to the closed and confined interior of a two door car in any case.  Interior controls and the instrument cluster are simple and basic.  At night we thought interior lighting was quite low.  We could hardly make out lighting in the instrument cluster at dusk. We would definitely like the illumination on the dash and center console to be upped a whole lot. 

Trunk space is large but the opening is a bit small and high.  Small items can get lost deep in the trunk and it is rather hard to reach in and get them out.  The trunk opener button is hidden inside a small cover to the left of the steering wheel, a odd location for something used often, even though it is on the keyfob as well.  We also would like to see a trunk opening button on the back end of the car itself so you don't have to hunt for it.  OnStar was added to our test car as a option and we did like that feature, something that should be on all cars today as well. 

Getting into the rear seats is cumbersome at best.  The driver's seat is large and heavy with seat belts mounted on the B pillar, not on the seat, so you have to pull a lever, then move the seat up with another lever, then slide into the back in-between the seat belt.  The passenger side allows you to pull just one lever to recline forward and slide the seat up but still you have a seatbelt problem.  Putting the backrest into normal position is also not easy because it is quite heavy.  Both front seats are also very heavy and the mechanism is not spring loaded to be light enough for every day use.  Power memory seats cannot cost that much now-a-days, and it would be great to have in a two door car like this.

Power comes from a 2.2 Liter engine producing 145 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 155 lb.-ft. of torque at a high 4000 rpm.  This engine delivered 25 miles per gallon in our mixed driving tests.  If you opt for the SS version you can go up to 205 horsepower.  We think you will do much better modifying the car yourself after buying a LS version.  Many buyers in this age group have already done this, turning the Cobalt into a sport compact street car.  The engine can be whiny and weak sounding approaching red line and this is something we have seen in other GM models as well. 

Driving dynamics are good due to the car being very heavy.  Chevy has worked considerable on noise reduction and handling characteristics.  The underbody uses high strength steel boasting a bending frequency of nearly 27 Hz according to GM.  We found the stability of the Cobalt to be its high point.  Pedal feel and braking are mediocre, and we think the Japanese have done better in their cars.  Vented front disc brakes with single piston calipers and composite rear drum brakes are standard on base models.  Four channel anti-lock brakes are standard on the LS and LT model.  Four disc brakes can only be found on the SS model, a big disappointment.  We think that most customers will end up upgrading the brakes themselves in the aftermarket. 

The Cobalt has received four stars in frontal crash testing however, without the side airbags, which are optional, it only received two stars in side crash testing.  We highly recommend the side airbags. 

In addition to the standard 3-year/36,000-mile (whichever comes first) New Vehicle Limited Warranty, Chevy Cobalt comes with a 5-year/60,000-mile (whichever comes first) Powertrain Limited Warranty. 

More information on the Cobalt can be found on GM's web site.

 

PRICING INVOICE RETAIL
Base Pricing 14,885 15,920
Destination 565 565
MX0  Automatic, 4-Spd w/Overdrive 765 850
1SB  Option Pkg, Sport LS Includes Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel w/Touch Controls, Rear Spoiler, Fog Lights, (4) P205/55R16 BSW Tires & Machined Aluminum Wheels. 535 595
1SY  Option Pkg, Sport LS  Includes Leather-Wrapped Steering Wheel w/Touch Controls, Rear Spoiler & Fog Lights. 400 445
CF5  Moon Roof, Power Glass LS, LT & SS 652 725
UE1  Communication System, OnStar 625 695
UQ3  Radio Equipment, Premium Speakers 135 150
ASF  Restraint System, Dual Front Side & F&R Head Curtain Air Bag 355 395
Restraint System, Rear Side Impact Air Bag • Sedans, Wagons 312 350
Sun Shades, Manual Rear Side • Wagons 134 150

 

  2006 Chevrolet Cobalt
LS 2dr Coupe (2.2L 4cyl 5M)
2005 Ford Focus
ZX3 SE 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
2005 Honda Civic
LX 2dr Coupe w/Front Side Airbags (1.7L 4cyl 5M)
2005 Scion tC
2dr Hatchback (2.4L 4cyl 5M)
2005 Hyundai Tiburon
2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl 5M)
MSRP $15,900 $14,985 $15,660 $16,000 $15,999
Invoice $14,885 $13,942 $14,315 $15,200 $14,639
Basic 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders inline 4 inline 4 inline 4 inline 4 inline 4
Base Engine Displacement 2.2 liters 2.0 liters 1.7 liters 2.4 liters 2.0 liters
Valvetrain 16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
Horsepower 145 hp @ 5600 rpm 136 hp @ 6000 rpm 115 hp @ 6100 rpm 160 hp @ 6000 rpm 138 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque 155 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 133 ft-lbs. @ 4500 rpm 110 ft-lbs. @ 4500 rpm 163 ft-lbs. @ 4200 rpm 136 ft-lbs. @ 4500 rpm
Tires P195/60R15
all season
P195/60R15
all season
P195/60HR15
all season
P215/45ZR17
all season
P205/55R16
all season
Brakes - Front disc ventilated disc ventilated disc ventilated disc ventilated disc
Brakes - Rear drum drum drum disc disc
Anti - Lock Brakes 4-wheel ABS - Optional 4-wheel ABS - Optional Not Available 4-wheel ABS Not Available
Engine Immobilizer Standard Standard Standard Standard Not Available
Headlight Dusk Sensor Standard Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
Turning Circle 33.5 ft.   35.4 ft. 36.1 ft. 35.8 ft.
Max. Cargo Capacity 14 cu. ft. 40 cu. ft. 13 cu. ft. 60 cu. ft. Being Researched
EPA Mileage Estimates Cobalt Focus Civic tC Tiburon
City 25 mpg. 26 mpg. 32 mpg. 22 mpg. 24 mpg.
Highway 34 mpg. 35 mpg. 38 mpg. 29 mpg. 30 mpg.
Length 180.5 in. 168.5 in. 175.4 in. 174 in. 173 in.
Width 67.9 in. 66.7 in. 66.7 in. 69.1 in. 69.3 in.
Height 55.5 in. 56.8 in. 55.1 in. 55.7 in. 52.4 in.
Weight 2991 lbs. 2654 lbs. 2536 lbs. 2905 lbs. 2940 lbs.
Wheel Base 103.3 in. 103 in. 103.1 in. 106.3 in. 99.6 in.
Front Headroom 38.7 in. 39.1 in. 39 in. 37.6 in. 38 in.
Rear Headroom 35.7 in. 38.6 in. 35.4 in. 36.6 in. 34.4 in.
Front Shoulder Room 53 in. 53.5 in. 52.8 in. 54.3 in. 53.9 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 49 in. 53.6 in. 52.6 in. 50 in. 50.6 in.
Front Hip Room 49.5 in. 49.4 in. 50.2 in. 53.2 in. 51.6 in.
Rear Hip Room 46.1 in. 47.9 in. 46.7 in. 47.3 in. 44.7 in.
Front Leg Room 42 in. 40.7 in. 42.5 in. 41.6 in. 43.1 in.
Rear Leg Room 32.2 in. 37.6 in. 32.8 in. 33.6 in. 29.9 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 13.9 cu.ft. 18 cu.ft. 12.9 cu.ft. 12.8 cu.ft. 14.7 cu.ft.

 

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