By KBB.com Editors
Soaring fuel costs have changed the mix of compact-car customers. First-time buyers and budget-conscious consumers are no longer the only potential owners for small cars – SUV drivers looking for an economical second car are also flooding showrooms. But these people have a bit more cash on hand and, although they want something that's good on gas, they also want more than bare-bones transportation. Enter the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt, an attractive small car with a bit more size, style and equipment than its entry-level competitors, but with a reasonable price tag and good gas mileage. Available as either a coupe or sedan and in a number of trims including the super fuel-efficient XFE and spicy SS models, the Cobalt definitely merits a test drive.
If you're looking for a small car with an upscale interior, a smooth ride and an All-American nameplate, the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt is a worthy alternative to the Ford Focus. The Cobalt is also easy on gas, a key point of interest for many new car shoppers.
If you're looking for a small car with a big back seat, the Cobalt can't compare to the Dodge Caliber or Scion xB. The Cobalt's engine is a bit coarse and its exhaust note is even louder.
For 2009 the Cobalt has a number of improvements. They include a revised 2.2-liter Ecotec engine delivering more power and better fuel economy, 15-inch low-rolling-resistance tires, a USB port added to the radio, standard OnStar and available Bluetooth phone connectivity, new 15- and 16-inch wheel options and a tire inflation kit as standard equipment. The Sport trim and 2.4-liter engine have been dropped.
Driving Impressions Clearly a cut above previous-generation GM smaller cars, the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt delivers reasonably spirited performance and a surprisingly good ride for a generally enjoyable driving experience – apart from...the exhaust noise. Suspension is more effective than in some other GM automobiles, with a firm, direct feel. Only the nastier bumps and potholes are likely to be bothersome. With the easy-shifting automatic transmission, this sedan accelerates enthusiastically enough for its class. Nimble handling is accompanied by well-assisted, confident steering, which enhances agility in around-town driving, and the Cobalt is stable on the highway.
XM Satellite Radio
Standard XM Satellite Radio is rare in this price range. Once you've tried it on a long trip, you're likely to become a satisfied customer.
In many recent vehicles, a large glovebox door opens onto a constricted storage space, but the Cobalt's glovebox is ample in size.
The 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt sedans have a high seating position for a more commanding view of the road, and all-around visibility is impressive. The interiors, crafted to offer five-passenger seating, are attractive, if rather basic. The only gauge on the instrument panel is for fuel level, but digital readouts deliver other data. Front passengers enjoy good head, leg and elbow space, but rear-seat passengers must accept a somewhat confined space and an average-size person may have trouble getting in and out of the rear of the coupe. The 60/40-split rear seatback includes a pass-through to the trunk, which holds 13.9 cubic feet of luggage.Exterior
Chevrolet claims the 2009 Cobalt's rigid body structure contributes to benefits in quality, ride and handling. Based on GM's global Delta architecture, its dimensions are comparable to the former Cavalier's, except that the Cobalt is more than two inches taller. Each trim level has specific 15-, 16- or 17-inch wheels and appearance touches. Coupes mimic the sedan's profile from the A-pillar forward, but a tapered reverse C-pillar leads back to Chevrolet's signature quartet of round taillamps. Chevrolet claims a turning radius, curb-to-curb, of just 37.4 feet, handy for dealing with tight spots.
The base LS Cobalt comes equipped with air conditioning, a CD audio system with USB and auxiliary input jack, a tilt steering column, head-curtain side airbags, GM's OnStar communications system, XM Satellite Radio, driver information center, traction control (models with automatic transmission and ABS only) and electric rear-window defroster. Speed-sensitive electric power steering is tuned to match the tires and suspension. Brakes are front discs and rear drums. Stepping up to the 2LT adds anti-lock braking (ABS), StabiliTrak stability control, keyless entry system, cruise control and power windows and mirrors.
The Cobalt offers a number of nice optional features, including AM/FM stereo with six-disc MP3-compatible CD player, remote start, a four-speed automatic transmission, heated leather seats, power glass sunroof, Bluetooth hands-free communication, cruise control, rear spoiler and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The newly-improved 2.2-liter engine still lacks the refinement and quiet operation that has become the trademark of the Honda and Toyota powerplants, but it is not so raw as to be unlivable. On the positive side, the 2.2-liter engine is a strong performer, offering good acceleration and passing power while returning better-than-average fuel economy.
2.2-liter in-line 4
155 horsepower @ 6100 rpm
150 lb.-ft. of torque @4900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/37 (XFE, manual), 24/33 (automatic)
By tictoc on Tuesday, August 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "mpg, comfort, styling"
Cons: "sound system whimpy, sluggish acceleration"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"A few recalls all fixed to satisfaction. Glad that is over with. Outside of known recalls, is fun to drive and still getting great mpg. On avg. 27. More than specs by the way. Would have really enjoyed it had the recalls not spoiled it. The ex had the 2007 Cavalier and it is surely a better suspension and more solid driving experience. Best for a gentle driver. Would not hold up to aggressive drivers."
By Lisa on Thursday, August 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,200overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I love how it handles and responds, but it could get better mileage. I drive 90% highway and only get about 27mpg. Also, while the trunk size is great, the opening is too small to get big items in."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By The Tire Man on Tuesday, July 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Cost, fuel economy, cool+practical,driving options"
Cons: "road noises, sometimes things rattle, loud engine."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I purchased my 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt LS Coupe a month or so ago and I am really enjoying it. I have the manual version BTW so some of the principles may vary from an auto. This car is very fun and relatively fast. My most favorite thing about this car is the fact that it gives you options. Want to save gas? I have been able to get this car up to 32mpg driving to and from work. With about 60% highway and 40% city. OR do you want to have some fun and not make a fool out of yourself? This car handles highway driving easily and makes passing easy while leaving the competition in the dust. I have seen a lot of reviews and honestly cannot justify the complaints. When purchasing a vehicle like this you won't have a dead silent or luxurious ride. It's an economy car, not a Lexus, Audi, or anything similar. One complaint though that I can confirm is that the engine can be VERY loud. I personally don't mind this, but it does attract attention. It only happens when you are accelerating quickly though. I really enjoy the looks of this car though. the first cobalt I considered buying, I immediately fell in love with the coupe design. Sporty, sleek, and well... sexy. This is my first car and I highly recommend it to people looking for a first car or an economical car at a good price. I love how you can look "cool" in this car while not breaking the bank or being left in the dust. I personally drive this car to work and school almost everyday and it never gets old, I enjoy every minute. In terms of reliability, I have never had a problem. I hear all sorts of problems from other owners in other reviews and they have even less mileage than I do. As an Automotive Technician in training and my personal belief, I honestly feel that if you take good care of a car it will take care of you. I always change the oil and filter with Valvoline fully synthetic as well as a high flow performance oil filter from K&N. Fluids always checked and maintained. If a problem appears it is taken cared of ASAP. And honestly, you will pay less if you take care of the problem when its minor. If you wait, wait, and wait the problem will evolve into a more dangerous risk and not to mention a more costly one. One last point I would like to make on this long review is that the Cobalt is extremely advanced in terms of its computer systems. One of many pro's to this is that it will monitor how you drive and adjust accordingly when you need an oil change. A con though is that it is so advanced that in certain areas, its best(or may be your only option) to leave it to someone who knows what their doing and has the proper equipment. Like something as simple as keyless entry remote, I'm kind of annoyed that the keyless remote costs about $95 from a dealer AND only they can program the remote which is an additional $50! Guess I will just get my key copied >:( overall I really enjoy this car and think its very reliable and economical. But it also gives you the option to have some fun while driving, if you know what I mean :) ....."
8 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Felix the Cat on Sunday, July 13, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 115,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "engine runs good"
Cons: "Where do I begin?"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Chevy should never have let this car get off the assembly line!!! Soooo many problems with ignition, not getting the key out of the ignition.... Steering problems.....etc. The engines runs like a champ (when you can get the key out of the ignition and the battery doesn't go dead) is about the only thing good I can say about this car!! Sorry..."
1 person out of 4 found this review helpful
By mushy217 on Monday, July 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 105,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great mileage, takes the bumps on roadways easy."
Cons: "no cigarette lighter, no cruise control."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I always loved the Chevy Cavalier. The older models were the best. The dealer told me the Chevy Cobalt was designed just like it. I was hesitant at first. After owning this car for 5 years I Love it. I wouldn't want any other car. I have had my share of Fords, and GMC's and never owned them longer than a year or two. I was amazed that my car after 5 years had just rolled over to 100,000 and I didn't have to put as much money in to it as what the original cost was. GREAT CAR. If I ever have to buy another car it would be the same. Only thing different is I would add cruise control. Even if I had to get an older model. LOVE MY COLBALT!!!"
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Verrnet on Saturday, July 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 150,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "We are in our 70s and it save us lot $$$$$$$."
Cons: "With my long legs its tough in the back seat."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The cat. converter & oxigen sensors replace at 132,000 miles. NEVER had to add oil between oil changes, NEVER NOT ONCE. Still getting 35 MPG with 150,283 Miles. Only things done were oil changes and third set of brakes were at 125,000 mi. with new rotors & drums. Still has the original anti-freeze, still checks out as good."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful