2002 Chevrolet Cavalier LS Sport Coupe 2.2L ECOTEC from Germany


A reliable vehicle with plenty of standard features at a great price


The paint job is fairly cheap. The paint chips and scratches fairly easily. I've developed scratches and chips already and have only had the car for about seven months now.

General Comments:

The 140 HP 2.2L ECOTEC engine is pretty zippy for inner-city use. The car definitely shouldn't be used for drag racing, or any other type of racing for that matter. Acceleration is a bit delayed, the acceleration pedal lacks quick precise response. The brake pedal is stiff to engage when braking due to the rear drum brakes as well as the small diameter front discs. Brake griding can be heard inside the cabin at times. This car has very poor handling and excessive movement of the chassis when turning. One needs to decelerate dramatically when turning to prevent fishtailing, which I've done on one occasion. Despite all the previous noted deficiencies, this vehicle performs well and is unbeatable for the price it's offered at and all the standard features it comes with.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 14th September, 2002

2002 Chevrolet Cavalier Base 2.2 from North America


A fun to drive, high value economy car


The base model wheel covers squeak when I go over bumps. This problem was very annoying.

My hood is mis-aligned.

My front suspension pounds a bit over larger bumps and expansion joints.

General Comments:

I bought my 2002 base Cavalier coupe as a car to use to drive to work. It's my primary daily transportation. Price, standard features and fuel economy were my major concerns in looking for a new car. I purchased this car with large cash rebates, a dealer discount of $950 off sticker and also credit card points that I had accumulated. I shopped Honda and VW, but their prices couldn't even come close to the Cavalier price after the discounts. From a purely financial standpoint, it was a no-brainer to buy the Cavalier.

Power is adequate from the 2.2 engine that's been used since the 1980's. It's certainly not a sports car, but then I don't expect it to be one. GM has made some very noticeable improvements in reducing the clatter and vibrations from this engine that I remember from previous Cavalier/Chevy applications. Though, it is not as smooth as Honda or VW motors. Reminding myself of what I paid for the car makes this point a non-issue.

The car is light (~2600 lbs), so that helps with having decent acceleration. For around town, this engine provides decent amounts of power and torque. The torque ratings on this motor are higher than all of the similar priced competitor's cars. I am getting consistently between 30-32 mpg and the motor is not even broken in yet. The German designed Getrag 5 speed manual transmission is very easy to shift, does not balk at all and is a huge improvement over the 1999 and older transmission.

A CD player was standard equipment and actually provides good sound. There is not a huge amount of low frequency response, nor is there lots of power, but it certainly is well above average compared to other car manufacturer's base stereo systems. It plays disks that my aftermarket CD player will not play. I replaced this factory stereo with an aftermarket unit in order to expand the audio system in the car and removing the factory head unit requires disassembly of the entire dash.

The car's handling is below average. Even for a base model car, Chevrolet could have made this car handle better. The car has excessive body roll. Replacing the tires with higher performance models and mounting larger diameter rims did not help much. The freeway ride is good, though the soft suspension does not inspire confidence when doing fast maneuvers. The stock Goodyear Conquest tires are adequate and are what a person would expect in a high volume, economy car (they have to suit many different driving styles and road conditions). They are relatively quiet and perform well in wet conditions.

Instrumentation is very good (clear and easy to read). The tachometer is a nice standard feature and I consider it to be a necessity with a manual transmission. The A/C is typical GM air conditioning: you can make ice cubes inside with the A/C on. Ventilation controls are small and somewhat recessed under the radio area, but are easy to use and work just fine. The 4 speed fan provides plenty of air movement. The dash and interior is well laid out and the rear seat will accommodate 3 adults in a pinch. My children fit perfect in the rear seat.

The front seating is a bit soft and unsupportive, but this is an economy car. The fold down rear seat is a plus (standard) and the power, remote trunk release is also an excellent standard feature. The trunk is large (for a compact car) and has a relatively low lift over point.

Changing the oil is relatively easy as long as you can lift the car up properly to get at the oil filter. Spark plugs and other filters are easy to get at and easy to change. There is actually room to work on this motor if need be in the engine bay.

Overall, this is an very good economy car. It's easy and fun to drive. Fuel economy is very good and there are a lot of standard features. Plus, the large amount of Chevy dealers makes it convenient for service needs. There are certainly better built vehicles to choose from, but at the price point that I purchased this car at, you can't beat it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 17th August, 2002

9th Mar 2004, 20:33

This is a follow up to my previous review above. After 22,000 miles, I traded my ’02 Cavalier. The only problem that required dealer service was that the check engine light came on after about 5500 miles. My local Chevy dealer reset the light and mentioned it was a common error from a crankshaft sensor. They did an update to the car’s computer and the light never came on again. I did not have any further service issues with the car.

After 22,000 miles, the car showed little wear other than the driver seat which showed a bit of wear in the fabric. Gas mileage improved a point or two as the motor broke in. I was averaging about 30 mpg for about 40 percent city driving and 60 percent highway driving at speeds around 65 mph. My area uses reformulated 'boutique’ fuels which can lead to lower gas mileage in some vehicles.

The front disc brakes did have a slight pulse to them at low speeds. This was present from new, but was a bit more pronounced at the time I sold the car. Pads still had plenty of lining on them.

There was one dash rattle (more of a dull thudding sound) that was present when driving over sharp bumps or road imperfections. The rest of the car was still relatively rattle free (for an economy car).

The aftermarket stereo installation that I did allowed the dash to shake a bit more than I cared for. When I installed the factory head unit back into the car, the dash shake was minimized. The factory CD player is quite good with decent CD section quality. FM radio quality was average. The factory stereo also had a very useable loudness contour that gradually reduced as the volume increased. I ended up using high quality 6x9 speakers in the rear with the factory head unit and factory front speakers. This gave surprisingly good results for minimal investment. The factory rear speakers (non extended range) are poor at best.

The highway ride was quite good for an inexpensive car with a nice ‘on center’ feel. In town driving was not as good and the very old chassis design lead to an un-composed ride quality over poor pavement. Excessive body lean was always present in turns, though I did not push the car past it's limits. This is not a performance car, so one should not expect high levels of handling.

In cold weather (below 32 degrees F), the transmission balked a bit going into first gear after stopping. As the weather warmed up, this annoyance became less of a concern.

Power was adequate (with the 5 speed manual) for 80% of the driving situations I encountered. I grew weary of the average handling and un-composed ride in city driving on poor streets and decided to trade the car.

Depreciation levels were very high with the car retaining only about 52% of its original selling price as a trade in value after 19 months of ownership. But, overall I did not loose too much on this car since it’s original price was very cheap with the $3000 rebate I received, additional sticker price reduction and manufacturers credit card point redemption. I worked with about 3 dealers to obtain the best trade in value before deciding to sell the car. The car was in excellent condition. A private party sale might have resulted in less depreciation.

Crash test ratings are poor as compared to the competition.

This car did it's job as a daily commuter without complaint, though don’t expect high levels of refinement, fit and finish or performance.

2002 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 2.4L TC from North America


Best bang for your buck!


Nothing so far.. it's all good.. I am expecting the water pump to go out around 50k miles..

General Comments:

I LOVE this car.. got some zip and fun to drive. Handles MUCH better than the base model cavalier. You can keep your import! I got the Heartbeat of America in my soul!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd May, 2002

31st May 2004, 03:38

Don't listen to that, My "Z" has 160 on it and runs great still, even though I've wrecked it twice. Remember to change the fluids.

24th Jun 2007, 23:27

Okay, ill tell you, you love this car now... but I can't wait to see your face when you pass 100,000kms...Chevy and Saturn's have the crappy made GM engines, and trust me, they don't last... so I hope you enjoy your piece of crap while its still good, lol.

30th Dec 2010, 01:18

I love mine. It was strange to get used to the clutch, but I have 235,000 miles on mine, and the engine and trans are still great. Can't ask for any more than that. Mainly normal maintenance.