The “GM Bad Idea” segment usually calls out our friends at General Motors for obscure (often, unintentionally obscure) cars they build that were clearly a bad idea at every stage in development, from the first sketches to when the CEO sat inside one and announced: “Eh. Good enough. Not like we’re gonna go bankrupt or anything.”
The Chevrolet Aveo is just like that. But it isn’t obscure.
The Aveo came out in the US for the 2004 model year. I distinctly remember when it came out, because every single journalist realized immediately that it was outclassed, even back then. This didn’t stop GM from selling it, largely unchanged, for eight model years.
So what were the Aveo’s problems? Well: how much time do you have?
To me, the biggest was overall lack of refinement. I spent hours driving Aveos when I was employed for a summer by Enterprise Rent-a-Car, who loved the Aveo because they could buy it from Chevy for like four grand.
During those hours, I can’t remember how many times I had to adjust the radio to a higher volume simply because I was now on the highway. It wasn’t just noise: the ride was surprisingly awful and the steering wheel was constantly getting bounced around by rough roads. This may suggest that the Aveo handled well, but it didn’t, largely thanks to wheels the size of a Super Duty pickup’s center caps.
The problems weren’t confined to its driving experience. One of the Aveo’s biggest problems is that timing belts are notorious for breaking at around 50,000 miles. Fifty. Thousand. Miles. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of used Aveo engines from cars that were totaled after a light accident in a parking lot.
The Aveo was so bad that the second-generation car – still called Aveo in nearly every other market – had to be renamed Sonic for us North Americans. It’s a big improvement. But I’ll reserve full judgment until they start hitting the 50,000-mile mark.