Don't buy one if you live in the rust belt
At 64,000 miles, the head gasket began to leak, and had to be replaced.
At 83,000 miles, the TRACTION ACTIVE light began flashing periodically, and the transmission would not shift out of 2nd gear. It only did this a few times, and so far hasn't done it again.
At 84,000, the ignition switch failed, and would no longer turn to the START position.
Recently, now at around 85,000, 2 rear brake lines failed, and the exhaust from the catalytic converter back had to be replaced due to rust.
The dashboard cracked from the sun not long after I purchased it.
I bought this car from a small used dealer in town, to replace my Dodge Ram, which I really no longer needed. It will need to be scrapped soon, due to heavy rear frame rot and front sub-frame rot. But, for what I paid for it in 2005, I'm not complaining about 7 years of fairly reliable transportation.
This is a very good A to B car. Mine has no frills. Manual windows, no power locks, manual mirrors, no cruise control. But, it's all just less to go wrong; that's the way I look at it.
The 2.2L OHV 4 cylinder is surprisingly torquey. It will roast 1st (even with traction control on) and this is an automatic! I wouldn't call it fast, but the torque is surprising for such a small engine. Great in the city due to the torque as well. However, this primitive engine is VERY loud. It's just plain noisy all the time. Gaining speed is the worst, but the incessant drone at highway speeds can get very annoying. I'm used to it now, and in fact I never really realize just how loud it really is, until I get into my wife's Camry, and say to myself "Is this thing on?"
The 4-speed automatic transmission shifts a little hard. Always has. It's a cheap car, so you get what you pay for. But, it does manage to keep RPM low enough to achieve pretty good gas mileage. I average about 34 MPG in 90% city driving.
Handling is nothing special. The car feels heavy, actually. It could be the tires, but it doesn't really seem to have much grip or really feel that solid driving down the road. It won't really go fast around any corner. But it handles the bumps quite well.
The interior has plenty of gaps, rattles, squeaks, ticks, you name it. Again, cheap car, you get what you pay for.
Overall, this Cavalier really hasn't been all that bad. I would've liked to see more than 100,000 miles, and the engine would probably do it, but unfortunately, the New England winters and heavy road salt have just completely eaten the body away. So, alas, it will be replaced with a newer car soon!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 18th March, 2012