2009 Cobalt New Car Test Drive
The Chevrolet Cobalt is a good option for inexpensive, high-value transportation. The Cobalt is quiet and refined for a small car and it delivers crisp handling and a smooth ride, all benefits of its strong, rigid platform. With its all-around competence, the Cobalt compares well with the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Ford Focus. That's an impressive achievement, considering how long those three have dominated the compact car market.
For 2009, Cobalt's standard 2.2-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine has been upgraded with variable valve timing, for about 5 percent more power along with improved fuel efficiency. This engine when equipped with the five-speed manual is being marketed as the Cobalt XFE for 2009. Economy is further enhanced by new 15-inch low rolling resistance tires, and by a longer-legged (3.63:1, vs. 3.84) final drive ratio on manual transmission models. The Cobalt LS is EPA-rated at 37 mpg on the highway when equipped with a manual transmission, beating comparable Civic, Corolla, and Focus models.
Cobalt earned Best Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Premium features such as heated leather seats, a sunroof, a seven-speaker Pioneer sound system, and a remote vehicle starter are available.
The 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt is available in two body styles: a two-door coupe and a four-door sedan. All three come in LS, LT, and SS trim levels. The base engine, which comes in LS and LT models, produces 155 horsepower and qualifies the Cobalt as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle; these models come standard with a five-speed manual transmission and offer a four-speed automatic as an option. The new SS coupe and sedan are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four rated 260 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. A heavy-duty five-speed manual is the only transmission available.
We find these cars enjoyable to drive and their economy makes for a compelling package.
The Chevrolet Cobalt LS sedan and coupe ($15,660) come standard with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, height-adjustable driver's seat, 60/40 split fold-down rear seat, automatic headlights, electric rear defogger, tilt steering column, PASS-Key III Plus theft deterrence, driver information center, two 12-volt power outlets, and a four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with a new USB input jack and XM Satellite Radio. These are basic models with wind-up windows and manually operated mirrors. Tires are low-rolling-resistance 195/60R15s on 15-inch steel wheels. Options are limited, but include an automatic transmission ($925).
Cobalt LT ($16,460) sedan and coupe get upgraded upholstery, adjustable lumbar support for the driver, power windows and door locks, and other amenities, including woodgrain trim. Options include cruise control ($275), sunroof ($750), seven-speaker Pioneer audio ($295), remote vehicle starter ($190) for automatic models, heated leather seats ($795), and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls and Bluetooth wireless connectivity ($245).
The 2LT option package ($2,500) bundles ABS; StabiliTrak; the automatic transmission; color-keyed bodyside moldings; 205/55R16 tires on more stylish, plastic-faced wheels; cruise control; and a trunk cargo net. The Sport Appearance Package ($995) includes a rear spoiler, larger body-color fascias and rocker moldings; 17-inch polished aluminum wheels with performance tires; chrome exhaust tip; fog lamps; white-face sport gauges; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob; and steering wheel audio controls. A Chrome Exterior Package ($395) includes a chrome grille, bodyside moldings and door handles.
Cobalt SS coupe and sedan ($23,425) are powered by a 260-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and come with upgraded suspension and brakes, sport seats with suede-like inserts, additional gauges, fog lamps, and spoilers and air dams all around. A heavy-duty five-speed is the only transmission offered. Tires are 225/40R18 summer-performance Continentals on 18-inch forged aluminum wheels. A configurable LCD display ($295) for the SS Coupe allows the driver to select from a variety of performance measurements, including 0-60 mph and quarter-mile acceleration, braking performance and cornering grip (g load).
OnStar comes standard on all models. It's a good safety feature because operators will direct emergency crews to your exact location should your airbag go off and you fail to respond. It also includes the General Motors Advanced Automatic Crash Notification (AACN) system, making crash data available to participating 911 centers to help them dispatch the appropriate live-saving personnel and equipment.
Safety features include dual-stage front air bags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners, rear center shoulder belts, and the LATCH child seat retention system. Head-curtain side airbags are standard on all models, as is a tire pressure monitor. SS and 2LT come with StabiliTrak electronic stability control. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) are standard on SS and 2LT, optional ($400) on LT and LS; the system includes traction control on Cobalts with automatic transmission.