Chevy has a lot riding on their new compact sedan. The Chevy Cobalt replaces the relatively ancient Cavalier in the company's line-up. It's also an attempt to move beyond just the economy car title to something more upscale. The $20,600 price tag on our test LT Sedan certainly makes it seem like we're talking upscale, but the Cobalt probably shouldn't try to aim so high.

Before I get a chance to test out the speed sensitive power steering, four-wheel antilock brakes and traction control (in a fresh batch of snow), I have to sit in the thing. Wearing a winter coat, I feel like I?ve just been wedged into a sub-compact. The seat must need adjusting. Wait?my hand can barely fit between the seat and the door to get to the lever to lower it. OK, now I?m a bit lower and the headroom doesn?t bother me but I am still struggling for hip room here.

This will be one of the few times I bust out statistics to prove my point. Because the space squeeze is so prominent, I have to check the interior space against the competition. The Ford Focus is .2 inches less in front hip room but a half inch better in shoulder room. But I?m still thinking this is too tight a squeeze to be identical to the competition. The Toyota Corolla bests the Cobalt in hip room by 2.3 inches and shoulder room by just .1 inch. Compared to the Mazda 3 the Cobalt has 5.3 inches less front hip room and almost two inches less shoulder room.

Cobalt Interior AG
So I am now satisfied in feeling a bit tight. The interior doesn?t thrill me as much as it does in the SS with all the black and metal highlights. Faux wood just shouldn?t be used in cars of this class. It doesn?t help anything look more expensive. It also takes away from the style of the single bar going across the entire dash. On first look, the vents stick out as the cheapest aspect of the interior and are just flimsy, almost unfinished plastic.

Luckily, the colors are pleasant and all the buttons, steering wheel and other essentials are nice to the touch. I genuinely like the exterior look of the Cobalt, but it is a bit derivative of the Mazda3 and last generation Jetta. We?ll have to see if more time in the Cobalt improves on its first impression.

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