2003 Chevrolet Cavalier LX 2.2 ECOTEC from North America


Good bang for the buck in an economy car,


No problems to date.

General Comments:

This car is great bang for the buck. I purchased the base 2004 model with no extras for $11,000 Can. I switched over to a GM product from Ford since Fords and Chryslers typically depreciate 20% faster than the equivalent GM.

Gas mileage is great (almost 13km per litre, mixed highway and street, and the car's not completely broken in).

The steering on the car requires more input than previous vehicles I've owned, probably due to the shorter wheelbase.

My only complaint is the hydraulic clutch linkage. You can't feel the clutch engaging. On flat surfaces this isn't an issue, but when you're stopped on a hill with cars directly ahead and behind you have to leave extra room to keep from plowing into the car ahead. I'd recommend prospective buyers to go with the automatic version.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th January, 2004

2003 Chevrolet Cavalier Base 2.2 Ecotec from North America


Very High Quality Driveline



General Comments:

In terms of engine and transmission, quality and exceptional engineering is the theme for this economical machine. In fact, it is probably the best kept secret in Detroit, because most of you are no doubt used to the old cavaliers with the clumsy 8 valve pushrod 4 that Chevy kept around for 15 years too long.

The engine is GM's all new 16 valve OHC 2.2 L Ecotec. I bought this car based on price alone. I did not test drive it, and did not even know it had the Ecotec in it (or even know about the Ecotec) until I drove it off the lot, and instantly knew that the car did not have the engine I thought it had (the old one).

This is a very well engineered engine, with high quality components. The reliability has been flawless. I was blown away when I opened up the hood, and saw a stainless steel exhaust system. This is unheard of on an economy car, but it is a testament to GM's comittment to quality on its new models. The driveline is full of these kind of high quality touches.

The car also has a silky smooth Getrag manual transmission, which is the brand of transmissions used in the European cars (BMW, Volkswagen, and others). Another wonderful surprise.

While the engine and transmission are great, but the suspension does not follow suit. There is nothing wrong with it; it will get you from point a to point b, but do not let the great performance of the engine make you fool you into thinking you can throw it into any corners. This is still a cheap economy car.

The interior is bare bones, but very serviceable. The AC, which is standard, will blow you out of the car. The seats have cheap materials, and look cheap. But, I do not care.

Being an American car, the exterior sheet metal is thick two sided galvanized. Rust should not be a problem. This is in large contrast to Japanese cars, which as a rule, have sheet metal which is assembled very well, but is of a horrible quality.

I got this car for $9600.00 brand new (I bought it at the end of the model year and played hardball), and it has blown me away in terms of exceeding my expectations.

This car is high performance for what it is, but do not abuse it. I have no doubt that with proper care, this car will get me 250K+ miles, with no sweat.

If you are looking for an economy car, with some very nice touches thrown in, you cannot do any better than this one!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th January, 2004

3rd Feb 2005, 20:44

This car is just about ready to turn 25,000 miles, and I am providing an updated review. So far, I am happy to report, the engine and transmission have been absolutely flawless. The last time the car was at the dealership was when I drove it brand new off the lot. I used to work in a dealership, and from that experience determined with great certainty, that I will be the only person that ever works on any of my cars. I change the oil with Mobil 1 every 3000-4000 miles. The car has four grease fittings which I lube at that time as well. The engine runs tremendously well, and is well matched to the transmission. Fuel economy has been in the mid 30's on the highway. The air conditioner blew ice cubes all last summer.

I pulled the tires off at 24,000 miles to rotate them and to address some intermittent brake noise. The tires are wearing very nicely and still have lots of tread left on them. The brake noise sounded like rotor rust, but with 24,000 miles on the original pads, I felt I should go ahead and check things out. The front pads had worn down about two thirds of the way, with the rotors having normal corresponding wear to match. I discovered the noise was in fact due to rotor rust. Some rotor rust is normal after the car sits for a while, but it seems to be happening at a faster rate with this car as the rotors wear down. The brakes perform well. I try to be as easy as I possibly can on them. The original pads will last me until the spring with a comfortable margin, and at that time I will change them and carefully inspect the rotors before most likely machining them as normal. I do not foresee any problems, but will update this review if I come across any.