2008 Chevrolet Cobalt 2.2L from North America


Continuing a tradition of mediocrity


Radio had random glitches.

Some timing chain rattle. At least it's a chain and not a belt.

General Comments:

26K-27K miles

Average fuel economy is the same as 2007 Pontiac G6 Sedan, despite a lower weight and weaker acceleration. ~28 MPG with more highway than city driving.

I drove to Death Valley on a cool high-pressure day, and the engine revved very lively, almost matching the acceleration of my old '94 Protege LX (which averaged 30 MPG BTW). No cigar on the hot Nevada highlands though - it definitely had breathing difficulties and petered-out around 5600 RPM. The redline is 6500.

The drive-by-wire throttle is buffered for smooth take-offs. It had a metallic chirp when accelerating onto the freeway at high RPM. Could be an exhaust shield, although more like a maladjusted timing chain guide. A private owner could probably get it fixed under warranty. Too bad for the rental company though.

AFAIK this engine is a descendant of the old 2L OHC Isuzu/Pontiac that was used in Sunbirds and that little korean hatch. By comparison the new 1 has weaker mid-range pep. Maybe it had a dirty air filter, but I could not check it without a set of tools (hint). The headlights require Torx bits to adjust.

GM had a real bad Torx fetish in the early '90s - Cobalt still has some of that. On my '91 Regal the headlight screws were so stuck that I broke 2 Torx bits while attempting perfection. I ran out of bits and the light was not too far off anyway.

The ride is firm, but not harsh like the G6. Throw down a thin seat pad and you can drive it long-distance. Still a far cry from a classic American though.

My friend had an '89 POS Cavalier that I fixed a few times, and it had a much softer ride.

The handling is a redeeming quality of the Cobalt, almost as tight as my old '94 Protege LX. Mine had the optional alloy wheels with flat-profile tires. when Cobalt loses traction it happens smoothly, with slight understeer and a lot of squealing to warn the driver.

Anti-lock brakes are excellent and allow good steering control when sliding through a curve, although after a few miles of mountain twists they get crackling hot.

The interior has random plastic rattles. Dome light is real cheap and is hard to switch. I turned the headrests around so they don't constantly poke the head forward. They match the seats perfectly this way too. Same on Pontiac G6. Looks like nowadays they are designed to be turned around by the customer. To unlock, push a thick paper clip wire into a small hole on the side of the plastic retainer. Cobalt seats are simpler and more comfortable than G6's, Regal's, base Plymouth Sundance, or Cavalier. In fact they seem to have been copied from the '90-94 Japanese imports.

The interior layout is better than G6 though. For example, the cupholders are at the bottom of the center stack. The steering wheel is placed farther forward than usual, but it is the size of a computer gaming wheel and does not get in the way when getting in & out. Thumb buttons are useful.

The radio had an occasional glitch that I would fix with a firm tap :-) Seems to me they are using the good radios in the premium models like the G6 and the 2nd-tier rejects in the cheap models.

Power windows have weak tracks, so that when fully raised the glass pushes outward and opens a void to the inner weatherstrip, through which cold air blows in and chills the shoulder uncomfortably. My mother's 1992 and 1994 Suburbans had identical problem. Continuing the bad 1960s tradition, this car is built for profit rather than excellence and reputation.

IMO this Cavalier is not as good as the early 90s Pontiac Sunbird. I am a mechanic as well as an engineering hobbyist. In my experience GM got desperate for profits in the late '90s and are cutting corners everywhere.

Overall I would not recommend this car for what it costs. You are better off buying a used '90s Japanese import or a late-80s Benz.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 29th May, 2009

29th May 2009, 10:40

"Continuing a tradition of mediocrity"

- That's why GM will be going into the ground soon.

29th May 2009, 21:33

Haha buy a late 80's Benz?? And expect to get fewer problems than you listed? Sorry, but if you bought any car that old, you'd be S.O.L. A Cobalt would be infinitely more reliable.

2008 Chevrolet Cobalt LT1 4dr 2.2L 4 cylinder 148 hp from North America


A great little car despite the hard plastic used inside!


I've had the car for one month. Not one thing has gone wrong since I drove it off the lot.

The driver side rear plastic covering over the door looked out of place, but I managed to put it back in place like it's supposed to be.

Sometimes the rear power windows don't work, but I'm not worried about it because I rarely use them.

It's been a comfortable car to drive, but I gave comfort marks a 7 instead of 10 because of the rather hard plastic on the center panel. I've had my right leg kinda pressed against it and I've hated it. I put something soft between the leg and the panel, like a washrag, and it helped, but this contact issue is all but gone since I moved the seat back another notch. I prefer to be closer for better comfort and control of the car, but I'm learning to get used to it from... afar, so to speak.

General Comments:

Aside from the leg contact issue, which many might find silly, the car has been great to drive. The seat has been very comfortable, more so than that of my old car, the '98 Malibu. I said in my Malibu review that its driver seat's lumbar support was fixed and not adjustable at all, but the Cobalt's is indeed adjustable, with a notched knob below the seat on front right side. The Cobalt's color is Sport Red Tintcoat, a shade I understand was extra cost according to Chevy's literature.

I'm back to 4-cylinder after having driven (and enjoyed too, of course) a V6. The Cobalt's 2.2L has been very economical I'd say, but I've found it isn't quite as spirited as I thought it'd be given my previous 4-cylinder experiences. I'm not one to put it down as long as it works for me.

Gas mileage has been great, approx. 28 mpg combined. I averaged 32 on an interstate highway trip. Its average mpg on its Driver Information Center showed 21.x when I took delivery of it last month. I'd say it's appalling, but it's gone up. Now it shows around 26. This car was a rental, so that probably explains its low mpg figure.

The Cobalt, being an LT1 model, has more standard stuff I like, like power windows, locks, cruise control, keyless, etc. I also like its Driver Information Center which shows its tires' air pressure, mpg info, to list some. I admit its fuel range has tempted me to go farther before my next fillup! Great stereo too, except it's a bit strong for my taste. Hopefully I can adjust it when I review the manual to figure out how.

If the leg contact with the center plastic panel hits a bit close to home for you when you're looking for a new car, keep on looking. Otherwise, I definitely recommend this car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 7th March, 2009

7th Mar 2009, 08:54

I used to own a 2004 Honda Civic EX. It also had a hard plastic dash and center console. There were a FEW pieces of soft plastic on the door armrest and a swath across the dash where a person might contact it. But other than that, the entire interior was nice but hard plastic. I've seen the Cobalt interior and thought it was comparable.

14th Apr 2016, 07:08

Update: I posted the review here. I traded in the Cobalt after 3 years for a Chevy Malibu, an '11. The Cobalt was very good and gave me very little trouble save for having the power windows fixed. I'd keep it for a few more years, but the lack of driving comfort bugged me so much I decided to go for a bigger car once it's paid off. I felt much better with the Malibu (will review it here also).