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Chevrolet Cobalt

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  • I've been reading this board for the past couple months. A couple weeks ago I bought a 2006 Cobalt LT Sedan and wanted to detail my experience.

    Total Car Options:

    Cobalt LT Sedan (Note that the LT was the LS in 05)
    Manual Transmission
    Sport Package
    Fog Lamps (No longer in Sport Package for 06)
    Pioneer Audio Upgrade
    MP3 Stereo
    Color - Blue Granite Metallic

    I test drove the 05 sedan versions of the cobalt LS, corolla LE, civic LX, and focus SES. My initial impressions of each were as follows:

    Cobalt: Quietest ride of the four. Best power out of the four (not by much). ABS standard on the models I wanted. Styling is a personal thing but the Cobalt was my favorite followed by the Civic (Redesigned 06 still fits second on my list). Heavier and good crash test ratings. The gas mileage was only ok. Back seat is a little tough to get in and out of. I'm 6'2" and I don't have to put the seat back all the way. Really like the audio controls on the steering wheel (nice for taller drivers). Hated the plastic over the engine (which I think is there to cut down on noise). There is also a poor design of putting the parking break under the center console (Note: for the 05 LS the documentation says if you get a manual transmission you don't get a center console. I never saw an 05 LS with a manual so I couldn't prove it. My 06 did have a center console with a manual transmission. It is a little difficult to get to and when you pull the brake all the way up the console rests on it. Not a huge deal but I would rather have the console even if it touches the brake). Also I really liked the Driver Information Center on the Cobalt. It has features such as oil life, mpg, miles left in tank, and exterior temp. If I had my ideal setup of the cobalt I would have liked the 16 inch wheels. LT interior except with cloth seats and a manual transmission. As it was I had to get the sport package to get the 16 inch wheels which included a spoiler I didn't really want and the metallic control console which wasn't my favorite either (I'm learning to like these features though).

    Corolla: Decent power. Expensive with the options I wanted (Alloy rims for example). No MP3 player offered. I liked that the wood trim was offered with a manual transmission. Great gas mileage. Didn't really like the looks. ABS not standard. Good crash test ratings.

    Civic: Underpowered. Great gas mileage. I liked the styling. You had to get the special edition LX to get alloy rims without getting sun roof. ABS not standard. Handling wasn't good compared to the rest.

    Focus: Good low end power. Weak top end power. Lowest emissions I believe. Incredible pricing. I almost bought the focus because of the price. Could have drove off with the car for about 12,500 (That was an SES sedan. Top of the line except for STS sports model.) ABS not standard. Bad crash test results. Really poor quality interior such as fake leather around the shifter and parking break. Plastic overhead compartment with a latch made to be broken. Inside door handles with poor leverage. Poorly placed audio controls on steering column (gets in the way of blinker). Vinyl sun visors. If I moved the front seat all the way back I was barely far enough back to drive. One plus was the rear seats fold up so the back can lay down flat. Drives (corners) the best of the four (except for the top end power).

    When I was making the decision on what to buy I wasn't in a huge rush. I was driving a 2000 S10 and had drove a 1991 Ford Ranger before that. I wanted to find the best compact car (with a manual transmission) for the fun to drive factor and to get better gas mileage. After almost buying the focus after the test drive based on the price I went back to cobalt and corolla. I steered away from the civic because it was being redesigned for 06 and it really didn't drive all that great (too weak and too much body roll took away from the fun to drive factor). The dealership was also too far away from my house. The corolla not having an MP3 player was a big turn off in addition to I didn't really like the exterior styling. The plastic under the hood of the cobalt, the back seat not having tons of space and the question of whether I would get a center console with an LS and manual transmission were the things going against the cobalt. In the end I don't carry that many people around and I really liked the cobalt styling and quiet ride (with mp3 player) so the cobalt won out. I actually ordered the car from the dealer because I couldn't find an 05 with the options I wanted (they just don't make enough manual transmission models). It was ordered at no obligation to me since the 06s weren't out yet. Once it arrived I test drove it and took a couple days to decide. I was glad to get an 06 though. Hopefully, all the radio and AC issues have been worked out that were mentioned in previous posts about the 05s.

    I have about 700 miles thus far on the car. It's been a lot of fun to drive after having 2 small trucks previously. About the only complaints is that it doesn't have as much power as my 4.3 liter S-10 had and the gas mileage isn't good enough to keep up with the rising price of gas. I'm getting ~29 MPG in half city half highway driving which isn't too bad probably with the AC blasting. The cobalt with a stick is rated at 25/34. The thing people keep commenting on when I give rides is how quiet the car is. You really get very little road noise for a car in this class. It's obvious why when you see all the seals on around the doors.

    I am looking forward to changing the oil since the cobalt has a built in filter can that you remove the smaller throw away part from the top (not sure exactly how it works yet). I think I'll like it but won't know till I change it.

    That's pretty much my experience to this point. I hope it will be of some use to everyone out there trying to pick a small car which I'm sure is a popular market these days with gas prices the way they are.
  • Congrats - be sure to keep us updated.
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    Thanks for the review. Did you pay the employee discount price?

    Let us know of your mileage changes as you put more miles on the car. The 29 average seems correct according to the sticker figures.
  • I didn't get the employee price because it was an 06. I did, however, get the supplier discount because of the company I work for.

    Sticker price was $17960 (with destination charge).
    My price was $17051.55 - $500 rebate + $971.54 tax/tag/title/doc fee
    My Total 17523.09

    Invoice was 16176.60 + 590 destination charge - 500 rebate = 16266.6.

    I figure I paid ~ 300 markup + 398 doc fee (which I consider basically markup).

    I tried to talk the sales rep out of the doc fee without any luck. With the focus they waved the doc fee because I was going to get the xplan there before their family plan pricing started. Anyone had any luck getting the doc fee waived with a chevy/gm?
  • Hey guys,
    I just bought a Cobalt LS yesterday! I really like this car, I like the 4 door feature on it that is why I didn't go with anything else. I am brand new to the whole customizing your cars gig and I was wondering if anyone could point towards any sites or if you have any advice on where and how to do more to my car. Thanks
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Check out our Speed Shop: Tuning & Modification board. Let us know how it goes!
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    Check out a search engine like google.com to find Cobalt accessories.
  • Sounds like cobalts have some problems... I am currently looking for a new car for long rides to work and back... approx 100 miles round trip each day. I need something more fuel effecient than her Jeep Liberty. I bought a Scion tC for myself in April and while I only get 28mpg... i got 160 HP 2.4 liter engine with more bells and whistles than any GM car for only 17,220 walk out price. I love this car and have not had any problems with 15k miles on it so far. I was interested in a cobalt but after reading here they seem very problimatic... i had problems with a GM truck I bought 6 years ago and swore I wouldn't buy a GM product again... looks like I was right :shades:
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    A tC is a great car, but it's a little unfair to compare a limited production, small coupe at full list price (Scion value pricing) to a Cobalt which is a utility family car - and often sells for a lot less than list price. I guess you could compare it to a Cobalt coupe, but the Cobalt coupe is still larger and available at a lot more dealers.

    I've gotten to the point in my auto buying experience that being able to find a dealer in small towns, or a dealer in a metro area near me, means a lot. I think Toyota has a good dealer network, but it is hard to beat Ford and GM for the sheer number of places to take your car in for service.

    There are going to be a LOT of Cobalts on the road in the years ahead, many more than tC's, and that just helps a lot with parts, aftermarket stuff, service, etc.

    I'm not knocking the tC, it seems like a good choice, but the comparison is a little apples to oranges.
  • gsemikegsemike Long Island, NYPosts: 1,775
    Comparing a Cobalt coupe to a TC is apples to apples. Both are smallish 4 cyls that attempt to be a sporty value. I'd bet alot of customers will cross shop them both.
  • has a bit more hp than TC with 170 and 205 options.

    Also, the real biggest difference between them is perception. PPL will percieve the toyo/scion TC as a good choice b/c its a toyota, not minding the fact that chevy is actually better in initial quality than toyota, and its only when factored in with lexus does toyota still have good quality. Also, the quality differences are now just academic. 20 years ago it was a diferent ball game.

    The fact is, that if Cobalts were riddled with problems then no one would buy them. Thats why Chrysler is now in foreign hands.

    The Cobalt I think has more options than the TC, and is more powerful and with employee disc. is most of the time with a lower price. If you want to buy a TC b/c you think it will last longer or is built better, your buying into perception.

    the truth is you can't loose either way, but for my money i'd rather have a nice black cobalt with the 18inch wheels and 205 hp.
  • ron_mron_m Posts: 188
    Can you supply us with your source of information which states that Chevrolet's initial build quality is superior to that of Toyota's? I would be interested in reading that particular article. According to an issue of AutoBeat Daily that I read this summer, the combination of Toyota Motor Corporation and General Motors Corporation dominated the most recent J.D. Power and Associates Initial Build Quality survey results. Toyota captured the top slot in the majority of vehicle segments surveyed, followed by GM. Admittedly, Toyota's Lexus brand was the biggest winner of all. Just as you alluded to in your post, the Lexus marquee does prop up Toyota's numbers big time. However, the Toyota brand itself traditionally does well in these types of quality surveys. Consumer Reports usually gives Toyota extremely good ratings as well.

    It's very difficult for me to take sides on this one, because Toyota and GM are my two favorite automakers. I've owned extremely good and extremely bad GM vehicles in the past. Both of my Toyota Motor Corporation vehicles, one a Toyota and the other a Lexus, have been absolutely bulletproof! I mean ZERO complaints with either of these two cars.

    In the end, all automakers do have their fair share of warts and pimples with certain models. And yes, that does include the Lexus marquee that is supposedly the current brand that all others are benchmarked against in quality--whether it be realistic or perceived as others on this forum have stated. My particular Lexus experience leads me to believe that it could be very realistic for many owners, although certain others haven't been so lucky based upon what I have been reading as of late. That's unfortunate for them, because I am sure that they have substantial amounts of money invested in their cars that cost quite a bit more than mine did.

    Back to the Cobalt. If the Cobalt's quality reputation turns out to be very good after the sedan has been on the market for three full years, I will definitely consider purchasing one for our next family type car. Even though my last GM experience was a really bad one, I believe that you should never say never in the car world. The car you swear off could potentially be a good one for you if you're willing to give it a chance. Now I would indeed think long and hard about a Cobalt purchase, but it's not totally out of the question at this point in time.

    Ron M.
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    The little TC is not in the same class as the Cobalt. It may have 160 hp, but you have to ring the heck out of the engine to get it, not to mention all the noise. The Cobalt is in the premium compact class with the Corolla, Neon, Focus, and Civic. In terms of sales numbers the Cobalt will likely be in the top 10 in new car sales, or very close to it buy year end 2005. Remember this is a first year car. Pretty much all cars in their first year of production, import or domestic, have an issue or two that needs to be addressed. Luckily the Cobalts are minor, and are not drive train related.
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    I don't believe that Chevrolet as a whole was # 1 in initial quality, but the Impala is one of the top models. The Malibu and Buick Regal are ranked better (JD Power) for long term reliability (3 years-50,000 miles) then the Camery.

    Believe it or not, but I read the the Hyundai Sonata has the best initial quality of any car.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    Impala was tied for #1 in initial quality in the midsize sedan category. The Oshawa plant is #1 in efficiency and #1 in initial quality for North America. Chevy is above average over all but I think Toyota was higher over all in initial quality.

    Cobalt is a mostly new car so it's bound to have a few issues. Toyota has had issues with it's new models also. Our firiend has a first year Sienna and it had lots of little problems during the first few months.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    I keep walking by a black Cobalt coupe LS with spoiler on the way to work. Boy is it good looking. There is also a new tC parked in our parking garage. While I admit it is personal taste, I don't think the tC looks quite as good - it is smaller, somewhat conservatively styled, and reminds me of the old Celica.

    In terms of quality, my 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier, at the complete bottom of the food chain, had fewer initial problems than my 2004 Scion xA. This mirrors my experiecne with a 2003 Honda Civic Coupe, which also had more initial problems that my 2004 Dodge Neon, 2002 Dodge Neon, or 2005 Focus. Only the 2000 Focus had more problems than the three Japanese cars I have owned (including the 2005 CR-V which had an alignment problem and now has a front shimmy problem and weak battery).

    Yes, I have owned that many cars. I always TRUST the Japanese cars more, and ignore their problems while fearing that any little issue on an American car is sign of doom, but in reality they are all pretty much the same, at least in the up to 15,000 miles of initial service they usually see under my watch (I'll see if I can change my short ownership cycles for the future!).

    Japanese cars are overrated, and American underrated, but this does impact resale and trade in values, unfortunately.
  • m1miatam1miata Posts: 4,556
    Everyone I know and have talked to over the years has had only the best of luck with Japanese cars. Other than the Internet, I just have not run across people which had bad luck with the Asian cars. I am sure some people got some lemons. Overall, the cars must be better however if you look at the data in Consumer Reports. Aside from the 2002 model year on, I would say it looks like those pre- '02 cars made in Japan had better scores. I have the '03 CR and the '05 magazine, and see mostly those red dot scores for Japanese makes going back many years. I own a Chrysler now, and with fingers crossed, have had no problems with it. The past however has been less than kind where GM cars performance is concerned, in my history. Never a perfect GM car so far for me. This doesn't mean things don't change -- I realize GM has improved. The years after 1973 up until 2001 seem like less than perfect for GM products, and I think that is what people are remembering and thus shying away from their cars.

    The Cobalt and all USA car may indeed score well compared to all makes around the world these days. Cobalt doing better than the average Japan makes though is a big question mark, I would say. It likely will not be a dog, as things have improved since 2001.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    I know my fair share of disgruntled Japanese owners. Our office administrator has a Corolla that smells like rotten eggs when the A/C is one and they can't seem to fix it. Another girl in our office has had 2 blown transmissions on her Mazda 6.

    Personal experience is not scientific though and you have to look at the hard numbers. Perception is reality for many people but the reality is, US brands are as good or better in many cases. Cobalt long term should be very durable.
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    I too don't find the TC that attractive, and would categorize it as bland. Interestingly, Honda's new Civic coupe looks like it came off the same assembly line as the TC.

    Japanese brand cars have been trying to distinguish themselves from their other native country cars after many years of basic carbon copy vehicles. Now I see the Honda Civic and Toyota TC, Nissan 350Z and Mitsubishi Eclipse, and others going back to the old ways of look alike cars.
  • m1miatam1miata Posts: 4,556
    " know my fair share of disgruntled Japanese owners. Our office administrator has a Corolla that smells like rotten eggs when the A/C is one and they can't seem to fix it. Another girl in our office has had 2 blown transmissions on her Mazda 6.

    Personal experience is not scientific though and you have to look at the hard numbers. Perception is reality for many people but the reality is, US brands are as good or better in many cases. Cobalt long term should be very durable. "
    ----end quote----
    It is important to let outside air in with today's air conditioning systems. If running in the recirculating mode for some time, just switch to allow outside air in, and if possible just fan only for a few minutes before shutting the car down. When they switched to the new refrigerant, some problems seem to have come up in regard to odors. I had a '98 with no problem. Sorry to hear your office gal has this problem. Seems to be in other cars as well. Oh well, that's progress.

    As far as personal experience not being scientific, well that is a yes and no. Yes, when bad things happen to your American car happen, and it was only your experience, then I could buy the fact there was evidence to the contrary. But, in this case I was not alone, and so many others had problems it shows up big time if you were to look at any Consumer Reports of the 1990's up to say 2001. You will find the problems I had with the certain models of cars, others reported the same areas of defects. The US makes are doing better. Better since 2001 -- how they will be in say the fourth, fifth, or seventh year, who knows. If people are having as good, if not better luck with GM cars, why are they not buying them? Maybe they are old and tired looking? The company image is old and tired? If the babyboomers got burned on GM cars, the youth prefer Japan makes, what's left? If the CTS looks like it is good long term, I would possibly consider one. Looks like the 2003 & 04 Corvettes were reliable. Maybe something to consider. The new G6 Coupe looks good in picks. Who knows, there are a few GM cars which are not too plain or boring. I don't want numb electric assist steering from GM. That I know.

    Loren
  • funny you should mention that...

    I think the G6 GTP's have hydraulic systems but i could be wrong. I could not find any data on the pontiac site.
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    I am pretty sure they are electric in the Pontiac. The electric power steering is the way-to-go. GM from what I have read has the best one.

    I believe the G6 shares the same platform as the Malibu. The Malibu's electric power steering is fantastic from my driving experiences with it.
  • vanman1vanman1 Posts: 1,397
    Electric steering in base and GT. Traditional pump system in the GTP.
  • This should alleviate complaints about "munb" steering. I mean thats fine in say a Malibu but since pontiac are supposed to be the performance division more road feel is the way to go.

    This could also help explain the slightly poor fuel economy on the GTP's.

    I still can't believe the cobalt scored so low in Edmunds comparo. GM should have sent them a better equipped one.
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    Edmund's seems to be in their own little world. I have read other highly praised vehicles by several sources that Edmund's again didn't like.
  • m1miatam1miata Posts: 4,556
    Where did you read that GM has a good electric steering system?

    Loren
  • they are getting better.

    I do hope they perfect this thing already, many GM cars today could post much higher scores in many comparoes if the steering was better. These cars really are good.
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    In almost every auto writers write-up after a test drive. It is not good, but close to great. I personally think it's fantastik from my experience.

    I have links to other tests talking about there liking to the electric steering, but unfortunately today after 15 minutes in my favorites, I was unable to locate them in my over 100 favorites, but they do exist.

    I am sure it is not the most responsive to hard sport car like driving, but overall, it is a great system.
  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    I do recall a writer stating that the electric steering in the Cobalt SS had no road feel. But then again I don't drive as aggresively as one may in this high performance car. Like someone mentioned with the Grand Prix GTP, maybe it isn't ment for high performance driving, but my experiences have been good.
  • gsemikegsemike Long Island, NYPosts: 1,775
    The Cobalt SS didn't do well in the new C & D comparo of small sporty coupes either.

    Do you smell a vast conspiracy???? I don't
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