I agree it must have been a bagged rental. That much wear seems a bit much even for a Cobalt. Trust me, when I get rentals, I'm VERY hard on them... especially the motor, there's not one drive it doesn't see the redline and possibly beyond.
Funny thing is, I bought an '01 Chevy Cavalier from a rental place. In the 7 years I've had it, I put on 100,000 miles, and never had a single problem with it. The most I ever did to it, was have to add power steering fluid every couple of months due to a very slow leak.
My friend insists foreign cars are so much better (she has a Toyota Camry)... I told her, Americans sometimes do stupid things, so American cars are built for stupid things to happen to them.
Then, last week, we had a flash flood in our area while I was out to eat with that same friend. Both our cars were left on the street in areas we know flood easily. Her Toyota only had a few inches get inside, while my Cavalier had several feet of water inside. Her car wouldn't even start, mine started perfectly. I just put it in the shop to clean the interior today.
If Chevy put half the effort into the Cobalt as they did the Z24 Cavaliers, they will be pretty awesome. I think my next one will be a Cobalt if they still make them in 10 years LOL.
I have a 2008 Cobalt LS that I have as a rental after my 2007 Hyundai bumped into a 4x4 at about 8mph and was undrivable.
I will tell you that I am very impressed with the Cobalt. It has a lot more power, way smoother ride, and at idle you cannot tell the engine is still running. I am considering buying one myself. Now I am 6'4" tall, and if I put the seat all the way back, I cannot reach the gas pedal, which I found unbelievable.
The trunk has enough room to fit another three adults; I can throw my golf bag in and drive away no problem.
I have to admit I turned away from GM after owning about 12 of them over the last few years, because of problems with the warranty which is the dealers fault; they took the bought it, you own it attitude when problems arose.
If you want a real piece of crap, buy a Hyundai. I hate the car, it is the worst of everything, I will never drive another one.
Way ta go GM, you may have just won me back for another car.
In late 2009, I rented a 2008 Cobalt LS sedan with about 6000 miles on it from Enterprise. I was very pleased with the car, and it did not have any of the build quality issues of yours. I put 8000 miles on it in 2 months, and it did not deteriorate at all. Mileage remained at 31-33 mph mixed driving, steady 34-35 mpg on the interstate (which was easy to maintain even without cruise control). The car did not make noises, run roughly, or have squeaks. We live on a gravel road, and the roads in our county are not the best, but that Cobalt did quite well.
I can all but guarantee the issues you had with your rental were due to abuse by previous renters. I have test driven other 2007-2008 Cobalts since with MANY more miles that may or may not have been rentals (all LS coupe and sedan models and a couple LT sedans), and even the 80,000 mile one felt as solid as the 6,000 mile one.