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Chevrolet Cobalt



  • johnwny. About 15 years ago in San Diego, California, my car had a flat tire. I used a can of fix-a-flat. Later, I took it in to a Firestone Tire store to do a permanent job. The shop employee read the riot act to me in the public waiting area. He said I attempted to kill him. AND I should have known better. AND I should have told them I had used a can of fix-a-flat in my tire.

    Times sure have changed. :surprise:

  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    Boy the 2009 automatic is good. The engine has gotten stronger over the years (now up to 155 or so horsepower!) while mileage has gone up (from 30 under the "old" measurement to 30 under the "new" measurement to 33 this year despite the stricter EPA testing). I like the "digital information center" which now shows the actual pressure in each tire (my other two cars only warn me if the pressure has sagged below the factory minimum). I like the auto on/off headlamps, daytime running lights. I like the new standard OnStar and XM radio. It's quieter than my Honda Fit and Nissan Versa. The ride is more "compliant." Handling isn't as good as the Fit, but it's better than the Versa.

    The only thing I don't like is the light gray interior they give you on the LS trim line. I like the ebony interior on the LT's, it won't show as much dirt. Of course the light gray won't suck up the heat the way my Fit and Versa do now.

    I like the fact that the "toggle" for the DIC is now on the steering wheel instead of on the dash board. I used to toggle the different modes (MPG, outside mileage, remaining oil life) on my '06 and it's nice to seen GM has made incremental improvements each year.

    You can't argue with a 100,000 mile power train warranty. Or with the PZEV classification in California (which means higher grade fuel lines and other minor tweaks, plus a longer emissions warranty).

    Chevy sure knows how to make a smooth shifting automatic. A five speed auto would be nice, but the 2.2 liter engine in this car has plenty of torque, the 4 speed is fine and well proven.

    The interior looks cheaper than I remember. Ok, maybe my memory is good but my expectations have gone up. Chevy needs to see what Ford does with Focus interiors and upgrade a little. At least everything fits well. Unlike the Yaris, the plastic surfaces don't pick up scuffs. Unlike the Dodge Caliber, the design isn't jumbled together. Actually I have to say the Cobalt interior isn't any worse than the base model '09 Corolla, which I also test drove recently. It's just that neither of them compare to the very neat interior in the base trim Versa. Of course the Versa gas mileage, as reported on the Versa thread, doesn't match expectations.

    I did a short freeway loop in my test drive vehicle and the DIC indicated 31 mpg (I reset the MPG indicator after warming up the car so it wouldn't be penalized by the warmup period). I think I might be able to get 32 mpg on my freeway commute, with my usual "light foot." It's nice to know that if I give it more throttle, on the other hand, I would get more than just the noise without speed that I get from my present two cars (Fit and Versa). Consumer Reports said the Cobalt is definitely one of the better accelerating small cars out there, and that was before the engine upgrades.

    New 2009 owners, what are your thoughts, before I take the plunge?
  • tsjaytsjay Posts: 4,591
    I'm not an 09 owner, but I am one tee-totally satisfied 08 owner, and I say go for it!

  • poncho167poncho167 Posts: 1,178
    You are supposed to tell them but not everyone knows that.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    I'll report more later. More solid, more quiet, computer reporting 36 mpg.
  • tsjaytsjay Posts: 4,591
    Yes, by all means, please tell us more. I love my 08, and I would be very interested in hearing what improvements were made for 09.

  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    OnStar and XM Radio? I'm loving the XM radio, there are so many channels to chose from I can fairly easily find some odd-ball stuff of interest. Makes me realize how completely repetitive the playlists are on most FM stations.

    VVT (variable valve timing) on the 2.2 engine, which seems to have made the 2.4 redundant for now (the 2.4, besides having more displacement, also had fully variable valve timing).

    The switch for toggling through the DIC (digital information computer?) display is conveniently located on the steering wheel instead of being a button on the instrument panel.

    The seat adjusts in height.

    My 2006 had two quality issues. A sporadic dash rattle, and a gurgle in the coolant system. The dash apparently didn't rattle for the dealer when I asked them to check it, and I had a shop replace the coolant to get rid of the gurgle (I was worried I had an air bubble, and air bubbles have been implicated in coolant "gelling" in some situations with the formula GM uses, so I replaced it with "green" coolant).

    This 2009 seems rattle free and solid.

    I love the automatic headlamps, and use the temperature gauge option in the DIC control panel to check the rate of warmup - much better than a dial or idiot light.

    The RDS (radio data system) on the radio displays song title on those stations that broadcast it. All XM stations give you artist and song title, which is cool. The radio has SIX levels of presets, and each preset button can be your choice of AM/FM/XM stations - so on the top level you can have an AM news show, your favorite FM station, and 4 XM stations. The radio also has a tuning knob for frequency or XM channel selection, which is great, of course it has the push buttons for search to next station, but I find twirling a knob much faster.

    The air con is strong. Much better than on most of the Asian cars I've owned. I selectively cycle the airon off and on as needed, I don't need it much, which helps my mileage.

    IF the DIC is accurate (my two prior Chevy's read .5-1.5 mpg high), I think I'll be getting 31-32 mpg. My "drive home" mileage hit 37 mpg, but that assumes steady freeway cruising, below 70 mph, very little city. After my drive to and from the gym last night on city streets, and the slow and go during my normally free-flowing commute to work, mileage is now indicating 32 mpg. City mpg quickly dilutes highway mpg, shorter trips dilute mpg (due to the penalty of warming up the car during which the fuel mix is richer), and interstate driving at more than 70 mph drives down freeway mpg, so unless I do some Yosemite trips (low top speeds, little stop and go) I think I'll be getting close to the rated 33 mpg. Keep in mind that if you are in a hyper mile contest you could probably easily hit 37 mpg if you didn't start measuring until warmed up and at a 50 mph cruising speed.

    After coming out of the Honda Fit, this car feels like a Chevy Impala - solid and quiet and smooth. The people at Car and Driver loved the Fit, because it is cut from the "sports car" frame of mind, but that doesn't make it an easy daily driver for freeway commuting. I think the Cobalt is going to be much better at that, particularly with the automatic.

    I am also driving a Nissan Versa S, hatchback, which I got with a stick shift. Unfortunately the stickshift is optimized for sporty feel and not mpg - close ratios, low top drive ratio (3,500 rpm at 70 mph). While the Versa was 1 level up from the Fit in feeling like a "real" car, the Cobalt is at least 1 level up from the Versa - quieter, solider. The Versa is still the space king, however - the Cobalt is designed for small to medium people, and even then the roof line feels close. I will leave the kiddie seats in the Versa if I have to take the kids when my wife has the minivan.

    My only objection to the Cobalt is Chevy's insistence on shipping the LS models ONLY with lighter toned interiors, and not with the black interiors. The light gray in the Cobalt is a real "smudge" magnet - the doofus in detailing managed to smudge the seats, head liner and B pillar while doing the detail prior to delivery. I'd like to see Chevy start shipping LS models with black (Ebony) interiors and/or offering the YES Essentials, soil resistant fabrics offered by Chrysler in their product line.

    And oh yeah, Chevy is in the middle on the issue of outside mirrors. Chevy is much, much better than cars like the Toyota Echo which had mirrors that adjusted as a single unit - leaving them prone to being whacked out of alignment during every car wash. They are much better than care like the Dodge Caliber, where their manual mirrors have no interior joystick control for manually adjusting them - you have to roll down the windows. (Chevy has an interior joystick on the window frame.) BUT Chevy is not as good as Nissan on the budget Versa, or even as Pontiac on the Toyota-derived Vibe, which both have power mirrors, even on base models where locks and windows are manual. I think the makers need to include power mirrors standard, you need the ability to adjust mirrors on the fly, and that is difficult on the driver's side with manual mirrors, impossible on the passenger's side, and a real safety issue if drivers share cars, human nature is that one of the drivers is going to leave at least the vital passenger side mirror in less than optimal adjustment.

    Finally, the 2.2 with 155 horsepower "hauls monkey butt" on on ramps and transitions. The automatic has been reprogrammed to resist unlocking the converter, much less throwing a downshift if you have a light touch on the throttle (a good thing for gas mileage) but instantly unlocks and throws a downshift if you goose it just a little - and that 2.2 roars - in terms of power - in noise it is a low growl. I'm glad to see Chevy realizing the promise that the Ecotec brought to the Chevy small block line when it was first introduced, and I rue the day they decide to downsize to 1.8 liters, like they have on the Saturn Astra. Nothing beats an oversize (for its class) engine loafing along at low RPM until actually needed.
  • A very informative review , I concur with your findings. I am very satisfied with my '08 LS Coupe.
    I agree that the interior should be darker, I bought a cheap seat cover at Auto Zone for the drive to and from work. When you remove it, you realise how much better the actual seat is without it. :( But at least it keeps it looking good.
    I am impressed with the performance of the Ecotec 2.2. Even with the A/T, it has plenty of snap and the downshifts are quick and precise.
    This car is one of the best values out there. I will be putting a coat of Race Glaze Polish on mine tomorrow, have to get ready for Winter. Hopefully it will perform well in that department also.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 21,243
    > and air bubbles have been implicated in coolant "gelling" in some situations with the formula GM uses,

    Probably didn't need to do that. There's a process for some cars for burping air out of heater after draining and refilling system. The DexCool early formula is different than today. Now the Mixes with Any Color coolant and DexCool have the same active ingredients. The green stuff isn't as friendly to the various metals in the system which is why DexCool was developed to be protective of those metals. You might flush and refill with Mixes with Any Color coolant after a year or so; but DexCool appears to be the same. I was told that they are the same functionally.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • tsjaytsjay Posts: 4,591

    Thanks for the nice write-up.

    Some of the features you are enjoying on your 09 were present on the 08s, like mine. Mine came with XM radio (but not with OnStar), and my DIC control is on the steering wheel, not on the dash.

    I think you have an additional seven horsepower with your 2.2 L compared to my 08, which also has the 2.2 L. These little cars SCOOT, don't they? That's one of the main things I like about my Cobalt, i.e., despite its being a gas sipper, it still accelerates great.

    The light interior is going to be a problem, I do believe. EVERYTHING shows! I'm trying to be careful to avoid stains.

    I got a good coat of Turtle Wax on my Cobalt the other day. Man, it is sure easier to get the bugs and road tar off when I wash the car now.

    I can't believe I that I have been so careful about getting stains on the seats, that I have been hand washing the car practically every Saturday, and that I have even waxed the car. I bought this car strictly to have reliable transportation to work and back and to save money on gas. I wasn't going to be particular with it. I didn't plan on even keeping it clean. There was none of the usual "excitement" over buying a new car in this purchase, but the excitement has come from owning it.

  • tsjaytsjay Posts: 4,591
    I was on my way home earlier today and passed a Corolla S. I don't think he wanted me to pass him, but I blew him off the road. I kicked 'er down, and before I knew it, I was going 95 MPH! That little Cobalt was still acclerating real well when I let off.

    I don't normally drive that way, but I was in a playful mood. Besides, I had to show that Corolla guy that he couldn't keep me from passing him.

  • okko1okko1 Posts: 327
    they will surprise you sometimes! ;)
  • The only problem with my 09 LT1 is road noise. It shouldn't be quite that loud. I wonder if it is the 15" wheels instead of 16" ones or the brand of tires. What do you think?
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    I just refilled the Cobalt for the second time. DIC indicated 31.7 (reset on last refill) and my calculation indicates 31.1 mpg, which on the face of it is close but I don't have enough information to formulate a trend yet. Fill variations from gas station pump should make the DIC more accurate, but the DIC on my '06 read about 1 mpg consistently over my calculations.

    Anyway, I was about 1/3 of the way through an approximately 90 mile round trip when I had to refill, so I re-set the mpg and speed indicators after the refill to see what free-flowing freeway driving would show on the DIC, in comparison to the mileage I get from my commute, with is 70 miles round trip with a small amount of surface street when I leave, and moderate amounts on the other legs (freeway off to work, work to freeway on, freeway off to home).

    In this trial case, I had about 5 miles to my destination after leaving the freeway on somewhat congested suburban surface streets, and 5 miles of very free flowing main artery surface street back to a different freeway on ramp. So those surface street miles - more than my usual work commute - probably brought down the DIC mpg.

    What was my DIC mpg? A whopping 34 mpg. Subtracting my current apparent DIC error of .5 mpg, that gives me 33.5 mpg, or subtracting 1 mpg from my former car's error gives me 33 mpg - simply astonishing for an automatic, 2800 or so pound car. Apparently I have more "slow and go" and "stop and go" during my work commute; I also haven't learned how to time my "coast downs" to traffic and lights, the automatic holds it's speed more than the stick shifts I usually have, so I find myself having to break harder at the end.

    At one point I was on a 9 mile bridge going across water (hence very level) with no perceptible wind, going only 60 mph, and the instantaneous DIC option indicated 45 mpg (the instantaneous function is much better than on the '06, instead of measuring economy by a fraction of a second, which caused the indicator to jump around too much to be useful, it seems to have a longer duration, maybe a second or second and a half, which means I can readily see the effect of my foot, of ever so slight coasting and of almost invisible rises in the road). It would be interesting to see a club competition with one of these things driven at a constant 40-50 mph - probably quite phenomenal gas mileage. Of course, warming the car up and ANY amount of surface street REALLY hits the tank average mpg hard.

    My average speeds on the trip were generally around 60-70 mph and at the end of the 60 miles (the last 2/3 of my overall trip) the average speed on the DIC was 45 mph. I suspect interstate trips at 75-80 mpg would probably produce more on the order of 30-32 mpg, still excellent.

    I figured out why I like this 2.2 in the Cobalt over, say, the 2.2 in the old Malibu or the 2.4 in the new Malibu. You get TERRIFIC acceleration. I remember from my test drives of the old Malibu that acceleration was more than adequate, but as the poster a couple of posts up notes, even with an automatic Cobalts can be darn quick.

    By the way, for those of you who want to experiment, reset both the mpg and average speed indicators on your DIC when you refill. You will probably note a very strong correlation between average speed and average mpg. The higher your average speed, the more you have been freeway cruising, and average mpg rises with it. If you have an average speed of 25 mph, you are probably driving a lot more city miles than you realize, or have been sitting in traffic or letting the motor run while waiting to pick someone up.
  • tsjaytsjay Posts: 4,591
    I posted this on the "Cobalt Real World MPG" discussion. It goes along with what you were saying in your post. Speed really does kill gas mileage.

    I took a 265 mile (each way) trip yesterday and checked gas mileage. The pump failed to shut off automatically when I filled up on the other end of the trip, and a good amount of gas overflowed before I could get back over to the nozzle and shut it off. I was on the other side of the car getting ready to clean the windshield when I heard the splashing noise. The last time I made the same trip, I averaged 33.7 MPG.

    I did a little experiment as I drove across I 64 in southern Illinois between the Wabash River and Mt. Vernon. I reset the average MPG on the DIC and drove a steady 70 MPG for 15 miles, and the MPG reading was 32.7 at the end of those miles. I reset it again and drove a steady 60 MPH for about ten miles (had to stop at a rest area) and got 37.5 for an average MPG for those miles.


    Can you BELIEVE the acceleration of these Cobalts? For cars that get such great MPG, the acceleration is fantastic.

  • grosloupgrosloup Posts: 239
    It's the first time I drive with winter tires in 33 yrs of driving. Last night the car in front of me made a sudden stop, when I applied the brake at my surprise I slid and almost rear-ended the car in front of me. On another occasion, I was turning after making a "dead stop" and when I starting to turn, my wheels spun making a "screeching" sound (first time I make my tires spin, I was surprised again.

    Is it normal for a winter tire to do so on dry pavement? or my "new" tires are no good?
  • tcaloftcalof Posts: 29
    Winter tires stop and handle more poorly than all season tires.... except on ICE or SNOW! That's why they're called WINTER tires. Sorry for yelling, but that should be obvious. Otherwise, people would use winter tires year round. Make sense?
  • grosloupgrosloup Posts: 239
    Makes sense for sure. Thank you for your reply.

    Thanks to you I had a good night sleep knowing that it's totally normal.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    Please read, and then post comments, on the Edmunds article here:

    I don't know what it would take to make them happy - maybe a $35,000 Prius instead of a $15k (after rebates) Cobalt XFE?

    Hopefully the current economic situation will remind people that thrift is a virtue, not a punishment, just like the trend in some forums is to discuss, and hence value, careful driving for MPG.
  • The annual buyers guide from Consumer Reports panned the Cobalt as usual. What was interesting was the black mark signifying the fact that owners (who answered the annual questionnaire) were highly dissatisfied with the car and most likely wouldn't buy another. I wonder what is so wrong with this car. The coupe is sportier than anything else in the price range, the powertrain is fairly simple, gas mileage is average for a compact, and the car rides as well as an Impala. I haven't had any problems with mine thus far although I understand from the dealer that the 05 and 06's had lots of annoying small problems.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    Cars are a popularity contest. I've had Toyotas and Hondas, and Ford Focuses and Cobalts, and with the exception of the first year of Focus, all were equal in quality and assembly. In fact, the Japanese makes had, overall, more defects, but there were better about acknowledging minor rattles and other minor issues and fixing them right away. The most defects I've had in a car were 3, usually one but often none.

    The Cavalier was made to "American" quality standards - a little loose, a little off, but highly functional (had a 2004). The Cobalt is made to "Japanese" quality standards - much tighter, much better put together. The Cobalt has some features that are outstanding, like daytime running lights, auto on/off headlamps, a digital MPG, average speed, etc. computer, OnStar, and XM radio. It has the biggest, strongest engine in its class, yet also has top fuel economy.

    So why does CR pan it? Because auto reviews are a large part of its mission, and sell a lot of subscriptions and special issues. In reality, the spread in actual number of defects between low ranked and top ranked cars is very small, but they don't like to point this out, since it doesn't sell magazines. In fact, if you look at the ranked categories, the '07, '08's are very highly ranked by the readers.

    If buyers are less happy with their sturdy Cobalts than buyers of Hondas, is that a reflection of the cars or of the buyers? If everyone tells you your wife is beautiful and sweet you will feel happy even if she seems like a nag sometimes, but if everyone says she is plain and average, the nagging will drive you crazy and you'll join your friends complaining too. Positive feedback breeds more positive feedback, negative feedback feeds on itself. That's why it's called "feed back."

    Michael Milken made investors millions of dollars, and companies even more, by demonstrating that junk bonds did not have a significantly higher risk of default than blue chip bonds, back in the 80's. Car buyers can save themselves a lot of money by studying reliability reports carefully and figuring out which cars, like Cobalts and Focii, are being underpriced in the marketplace to to misperceptions on the part of consumers. That assumes you buy them very cheaply and/or hold them long term, since resale is affected by misperceptions too.
  • tsjaytsjay Posts: 4,591
    Well, CR can rate the Cobalt however they want to, but I continue to be amazed by the value one gets in a Cobalt.

    If we keep in mind that we are talking about a car that carries a sticker price below $16,000, and if all the features and the performance of the Cobalt are viewed from this perspective, then I don't see how anyone could be less than thrilled with this car.

    I absolutely love my Cobalt, and I have zero complaints. What a fun, economical little car to drive! The build quality is at least "average." The acceleration is unbelievable, and the ride and handling are reminiscent of a much bigger car. The trunk is huge, and there is plenty of leg, shoulder, and head room up front. If the back seat space suffers a little, that's a small price to pay for the large trunk and the front seat room. Only time will tell regarding reliability, but I have no reason to think the car will not hold up over the long haul.

  • well im new to forum chat but all i gotta say is hi to all. i own a 2007 chevrolet cobalt ss/sc basically all stock except the fact i put eibach sportline lowering springs. i will be posting daily and i may need info for my car and could give advice for it as well because i do work in a tire and suspension shop....
  • Took the new Cobalt coupe over to Ft. Worth and Dallas (about 450 miles) this weekend just to see what the car was like on the road. It ranged from 33-38 MPG -I drove usually 60-70 mph on cruise. As I suspected the short seats caused some thigh pain after a few hours but you have plenty of room to move your legs around. What was amazing was the passing power and the fact that after 6 hours my back didn't hurt. The Impala caused back aches and it still had bucket seats. The lumbar control is helpful but so is the fairly hard seat that provides good support. Handling was fine in heavy traffic on the Interstates around the Metroplex. All in all it was a good road car. The steering wheel is better on the Impala -bigger controls and more tilt. You feel the pavement, bumps,and, road noise is worse than my Cadillac Deville but for the money (and for even more money) the Cobalt is a fine car. I didn't buy it for long distance trips but it is very capable of them. I like the big doors and windows on the coupe. The sedan feels smaller.
  • grosloupgrosloup Posts: 239
    Welcome aboard! It's great to have a tire/suspension person on the forum. We need people like you with your kind of experience.

    I already have little questions for you that's been bothering me. My other vehicule is a 05 Equinox LT FWD with 235/65/16 (original tires) when I went to buy winter tires the only one I could get in that size were Bridgestone Blizzak's very good tire but to expensive for me. The dealer suggest 215/70/16 in another brand, that was o.k. but when I went to buy them there were all gone so he suggested to put some 225/70/16 instead. That's what I bought.

    Is that size O.K. for my Equinox? What's the difference between all those sizes? From the 235/65/16 to the new 225/70/16?
    The tires are named "Arctic Claw" made by Vanderbilt/Cooper. Are these good winter tires?
  • well first off let me say 1 thing, try to avoid the dealership at all cost when trying to buy tires or questions on the suspension. i say that only because they will try to sell you things that will either: void your warrantee, cause rediculous and anoying problems that vary from noises or vibrations that are very unwanted, or just try to sell you a product that i consider is completely garbage.

    I can definitely help you with the situation your in. the original tires you have on the equinox is 235/65r16 which means and tells you alot of the handling capabilities and recommended perfomance of your vehicle. The size is the description of you tires and it is broken down like this:
    "235" is the section width of the tire, or how wide your tires are in mm. "65" is the percent of 235 which is the profile of the tire, how tall the tire is from the rim. And last but not least, "16" is the rim size. If you look in the door jam, it gives you a recommended tire size and the size of your spare. What you have on your equinox is what you want to stay with when you get snow tires. i can tell you off hand that the dealer was trying to sell you tire just to make money because they went down 2 sizes to 215 and 225 but increased you side wall height. I personally would never go down sizes but it is possible. The only consequence is you lose traction easier due to less contact on the road because the tire is skinnier.

    What i recommend is searching for the same size you have already in a snow tread. recommended brands: pirelli, bfgoodrich and the high priced Michelin. (in order of lowest price and least perfomance to highest price to best perfomance). Like i said, avoid dealership unless it has to do with engine or transmission or anything with powertrain.... should be warranteed.
    Hope that helped, feel free to ask questions. Thank you for a reply
  • okko1okko1 Posts: 327
    that tire should be fine. the tire size differnce isn't much. a taller narrower tire will move through the snow with less resistance than the wider tire. it also tends to steer better.
  • grosloupgrosloup Posts: 239
    Thank you "ssesboi" and "okko1" for your replies. Surely helps me figure out things about tire size and performance.
    In the older days, we saw rarely 13 inches tires, mostly 14 and 15's but now 16, 18 even 20's Wow! How come? Why?
  • The reason we are seeing taller rims is because the standard vehicle performances have been increasing. The manufactures are almost building the cars around the tires. A lower profile tire will have a better and more solid contact on a wet and dry road. High speed handling is better with a low profile tire. I dont know the actual reason for 20s but it could be just so that say a SUV could handle like a compact. In my opinion, the tallest rim id have is 18. Comes stock on my ss cobalt and have put 18s on previous vehicles. 20s are too tall and flimsy, ride like crap and feel like they are gonna break if you go over a speed bump to fast....
    Going back, a skinnier size does cause less friction in snow but what happens when you get back on pavement???? your gonna sacrifice performance. Just sayin....
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