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 unfortunateowner on Thursday, February 26, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 113,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "dashboard tac, decent gas mileage, mp3 cd player"
Cons: "mechanical problems, no aux jack, dealer parts"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"As if the barrage of news articles weren't enough to scare you away from this literal death trap, here's an insider look from an unfortunate owner of a 2005 Chevy Cobalt. The short version: run the other way. This car was okay for the first year. But, as you may have seen in the news, after year one it started having all sorts of issues: power steering recall, ignition switch (deadly) recall, ABS issues...and more recently, power window motor out, driver's side window fell out of socket (however that happens), the key gets stuck in the ignition and has to be released using a small button beneath the steering column, charge sys problems and electrical problems...I mean, just an absolute nightmare. And, what's worse, because of the hideous news coverage, the value (as if there ever was any) has now plummeted making the whole thing a total loss. Well, even though it may not affect GM/Chevy profit margins, this car has convinced me to run away and stay away."
By The Linz on Wednesday, February 25, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,975overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Visually appealing, good price, reliable"
Cons: "Rear-side window visibility"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The only problems I found were that the rear-side window visibility required adjustment and I'd hoped for better mileage with combination city-highway use. (Excellent highway only MPG.)"
By Dani on Wednesday, January 07, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 154,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "great price, cheap repair parts, good ride"
Cons: "Factory speakers aren't that great"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"My version of this car is all stock. No power windows or locks, 2.2 engine, with a manual transmission. However, even for lacking all those options, it still has cruise control! I bought this vehicle with 95k on it, and so far the only semi major repair I've had to make is replacing the throttle body. The parts are cheap, maintenance for the DIY person is easy, and once you replace the original clutch with a stage 2 this car has alot of get up and go!"
12 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By Sillybrother101 on Tuesday, January 06, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 120,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Loads of fun, reasonably priced, fun to customize"
Cons: "Short first gear, wheel hop in second"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"As a sports coupe, and Chevrolets first attempt to match the Japanese imported tuner, the Cobalt SS SC is really quite a car. Stock 205 horsepower with additional SC upgrade kits is nothing to overlook. The standard 5 speed tranny does a good job of getting the power to the road, with minimal drawbacks i.e. The very short first gear and on optimal traction situations a little wheel hop in second. Like any car the driver has a large roll in keeping things like that under control. The styling of the car, in my opinion, is quite nice and reflects the cars target market, young wanna-be racers. Dont let that fool you, the car will deliver a hard blow to any competiter that wants to line up next to it. The SS SC Cobalt is tons of fun to drive, and would make a great addition to any tuner racers arsonal."
By Felix the Cat on Tuesday, December 23, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 125,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Runs good when it will start."
Cons: "Too many to list!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Although I have always been a chevy kind of girl, this car should've never come off the assembly line! Too many problems to list, but the major one is the ignition. It won't let me take the key out of the ignition even after spending $100 to put in a new parking shift assembly. Keeps draining the battery. Now there is a recall on the electronic power steering. It just never ends. Although this car runs like a champ when it does run, the rest of the car is a piece of junk! I am trading it in the first chance I get!"
10 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Mitch on Sunday, December 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 78,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"seats are comfortable for about 2 hour drive, and longer a little less comfortable, engine and tranny smooth keep oil changed and will run forever."
8 people out of 10 found this review helpful