First Drive: 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier –

4 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on First Drive: 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier –
Chevrolet Cavalier

February 14, 2002

2003 Cavalier LS coupe, US model Click image to enlarge

by Jim

Last summer, TV ads began for Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac announcing almost unbelievably low prices. $12,800-odd, for a car that with that big an engine litres, 115 horsepower), a German-engineered five-speed manual gearbox, and degree of other Good How could you lose?

I myself #8211; if something looks too to be true, it#8217;s probably good nor true. Maybe it was one of bait-and-switch deals: #8220;Oh that#8217;s the price of the purple car the lime green burlap We can order it for you #8211; should be in six months.

Meanwhile, how about black one with the dark interior over there? be twenty grand#8230;#8221;

So Mr. Cynical in to my local store, Richardson in Milton. Brent Richardson #8220;Yes, we have one #8211; the black coupe with the gray interior over So the average punter can actually buy one of #8220;Absolutely.

We#8217;ve sold a Wanna try that one?#8221;

Chevrolet Cavalier LS sedan, US shown, Click image to

I didn#8217;t have time on day, but tried to arrange General Motors of Canada for a test drive. They had finding one #8211; they spinning off dealer lots than they could them in. Part of that was the price kept tumbling.

The final numbers were like $11,398 for a Cavalier or sedan, $11,488 for the Sunfire with 2.2 litre engine, stereo radio, reclining seats, split-folding rear etc.

OK, no air conditioning #8211; be a dealer-installed option. And if you wanted transmission, that#8217;s a different But the el-cheapo (General Motors the term #8220;high-value#8221;) sub-twelve-grand was a real car.

The low price was achieved with various and rebates #8211; at one point, GM ate the dealer prep and freight. One of this price cutting was valiant attempt to make ABS even for the entry-level segment. they weren#8217;t great ABS but lousy ABS is better than

But nobody else followed the customers didn#8217;t care, and GM made ABS an option.

Still, the line for the customer #8211; the VL or Sunfire SL was a lot of car for the money. They dragged GM#8217;s #8220;no-discount-division#8221; into the fray #8211; was forced to offer their cars for similar prices. In the segment, list price is

I finally caught up with a of 2003 model-year #8220;J-Cars#8221;, to use corporate internal label: a blue Sunfire SL coupe in base trim, and a burgundy VLX sedan. The additional #8220;X#8221; in the designation signifies what be considered #8220;popular#8221; equipment tri-power (windows, locks, tilt steering, single CD Plus, my tester had the optional air and those ABS brakes.

The list for the Sunfire SL was $15,970 plus freight and PDI; the Cavalier hit $21,535 plus. The promotional for these cars keep almost daily; current can bring these as low as $12,985 for a or Sunfire sedan, $13,170 for coupe.

US models shown, image to enlarge

OK, but price everything #8211; what are cars like to drive? Not all actually.

They have been good-looking cars, if you can your prejudices. Clean nicely-balanced, no frippery beyond the deck spoiler on the coupe. The and Furious#8221; street-racing crowd has lots with Cavaliers.

A lowered, de-trimmed, with big and tires? That#8217;s a handsome

The exteriors have been for 2003; the Cavalier now has more of a family, um, #8220;tie#8221; (as in #8220;bow geddit?#8230;.), while the Sunfire the typical Pontiac twin-nostril (Since I spent the majority of my in the Cavalier, I#8217;ll refer to it

from here on in; virtually is applicable to the corresponding Pontiac

There#8217;s lots of room front and back, in the sedan. The is predictably tighter on headroom, in the rear, but is still a reasonable for average-sized adults for less-than-Trans-Canada The front bucket seats decent comfort and support, for my anyway, with even a degree of lumbar re-enforcement. The

Chevrolet Cavalier

upholstery #8211; as it always #8211; made me wonder why would want leather in a at any price.

During my time in cars I got to thinking about all the I used to whine about in the old #8211; steering column for lights and wipers; side-view on both doors; cup holders; #8220;oven-style#8221; knobs for HVAC; seating; high-torque (as opposed to engines. The Cavalier has them even if the left-side steering stalk for lights, turn and high beam is too far away the wheel rim.

There is fairly high-end stuff delayed interior lighting #8220;theatre dimming#8221; #8211; the fade, rather that off; electric trunk tachometer; stainless-steel exhaust intermittent wipers (albeit fixed interval); block two-side-galvanized body panels, for the roof. The heater heats, The air conditioning cools, almost

This is important real-world

The 2.2 litre twin-overhead camshaft four cylinder engine, now on all J-Cars, generates a more-than-competitive 140 at 5,600 r.p.m. and a #8216;way-more-than-competitive#8217; 150 of torque at 4,400 r.p.m. an engine generates more than horsepower, you know be flexible, and offer good performance. Even with the automatic transmission, the Cavalier is short of quick off-the-line.

The is a little noisy, due mostly to roar, but the revving itself is

GM knows from automatic #8211; if they#8217;re good for BMW, they should be enough for you. This one smoothly under all levels of The five-speed I drove briefly was a bit but it had only 500 km on it; it#8217;ll loosen up a few turns around the block.

The rides decently, and doesn#8217;t get unduly upset if you try to lean on the a little. But just a little, OK? ain#8217;t no sports sedan, VW fans will cringe I mention that the suspension are identical to a Golf or Jetta MacStruts up front, twist axle at the rear.

The large-for-the-class tires (195/70R14s) cornering power sufficient for who#8217;d be interested in a car like in the first place.

US models Click image to enlarge

in the early 1990s, I recall that if General Motors only spend about ten more into body and twenty more on suspension, would be 100 percent better I#8217;m not saying my words are directly into General War Room, but for the 1995 models, did just that. No surprise that Cavalier was the best-selling car for years running in this (If they#8217;d combine Cavalier and sales, they#8217;d be pretty to that still.)

But #8211; you a #8220;but#8221; was coming, didn#8217;t #8211; that was then, is now. There have great strides taken in in recent years. Even car like Hyundai have quietness, reduced NVH (noise, harshness), tighter interior fits and higher-quality plastics their cars, and urged levels of assembly quality. are the areas where Cavalier behind the class.

The steering wheel in my car wasn#8217;t on straight. There are large between interior trim #8211; that may not be a function of the

you hit a bump while taking a at anything but a crawl, the noise from the suspension will you quaking in your boots. A of years ago, GM abandoned or at last postponed #8211; a to put the J-Cars onto a more more rigid, European-engineered As Ford discovered when went the European route the overpriced, hence unsuccessful, this doesn#8217;t always in a very price-sensitive market

So GM opted to continue with the tooling of the existing J-Car. It go down in history on anybody#8217;s Great Cars list. It be the car you#8217;d pick for a weekend of entertainment, or the one you#8217;d rent to your high school

But if you#8217;re laying down you own after-tax dollars for a new car, and if you buy on a cubic-metre-per-dollar basis, you could tens of thousands of Canadians in a Cavalier or Pontiac Sunfire.

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