Although the Chevrolet Cobalt is the company's best small car in years, it's still well behind the class leaders in terms of handling, seat comfort and overall refinement.
The 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt receives minimal changes. A few new audio systems and wheel styles debut; a 3-spoke steering wheel replaces the former 4-spoker; and GM's remote vehicle start feature joins the options list.Read more
Respectable acceleration from all powertrains, smooth and quiet ride, good crash test scores.
Introduced a few years ago as a replacement to the aged Cavalier, the Chevrolet Cobalt presents a much more modern entry in the economy-car segment. Improvements over the Cavalier in the areas of performance, ride quality, cabin materials and crash tests should have strengthened the position of Chevy's import fighter. And yes, the Cobalt is without question a much better car than the Cavalier. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean it's enough to challenge the front-runners.
Don't get us wrong. The 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt has more than a few things going for it. Even the base model provides peppy performance and a quiet ride. And an extensive roster of dealer-installed options like a performance exhaust system and ground effects allow more personalization than most competitors. But buyers in this class are typically more interested in overall quality and a comfortable cabin than a snarling exhaust or racy body styling. Compared to the interior in the Honda Civic, for instance, the Cobalt's design seems rather bland and its materials low-grade. Seat comfort is another area where the Cobalt falls short -- although they offer some lateral bolstering, the seats are otherwise flat and offer little in the way of lumbar and under-thigh support.
As indicated in a 2005 Edmunds.com economy car comparison test, the Chevy Cobalt excels in acceleration but loses out in the handling area to more responsive and composed rivals such as the Mazda 3, Civic and Ford Focus. Standing apart from the other Cobalts, however, are the SS versions, which have more powerful engines (especially in the case of the Supercharged coupe) as well as tuned suspensions with larger wheels. These SS models are worth checking out, as they promise a more exciting and involving drive.
Examined in isolation, the non-SS versions of the 2007 Cobalt would be a satisfactory choice for most folks shopping for an economy car, but we obviously don't advise buying a car that way. With more than a few competitors offering superior handling dynamics (and hence a higher fun-to-drive factor), greater seat comfort and better build quality, we suggest cross-shopping before making a decision.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt is available as a compact coupe or sedan. Coupes come in LS, LT, SS and SS Supercharged trim, while sedans come in LS, LT, LTZ and SS versions. LS models feature 15-inch wheels, air-conditioning, a driver-seat height adjuster, a split-folding rear seat and a standard CD player. The LT, which is probably a better choice for most shoppers, adds cruise control, full power accessories, keyless entry, upgraded upholstery, alloy wheels and more interior lighting. The top-of-the-line LTZ sedan features leather seating, an upgraded sound system, chrome trim and 16-inch alloys. The sporty SS adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, a more powerful engine, a sport-tuned suspension and unique fascias. The Chevy Cobalt SS Supercharged coupe is the fastest model and features 18-inch alloys, a supercharged engine, an even firmer suspension tune, leather seats with color-keyed inserts and a boost gauge.
Powertrains and Performance
A 2.2-liter inline 4-cylinder engine powers LS, LT and LTZ Cobalt models. With 145 horsepower, 155 pound-feet of torque and a broad powerband, that engine makes the Cobalt one of the faster economy cars available. The SS features an even more potent 2.4-liter version with 171 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque. The SS Supercharged coupe has a supercharged 2.0-liter 4 good for 205 hp, 200 lb-ft of torque and a 7-second 0-60-mph time. The standard transmission is a 5-speed manual, with a 4-speed automatic available as an option. The automatic is standard on the LTZ, and not available on the SS Supercharged.
Antilock brakes are optional on LS models, and standard on all other Cobalts. Full-length side curtain airbags are optional across the board. All but the base LS model can be equipped with OnStar telematics. In side-impact crash testing performed by the IIHS, the Chevy Cobalt earned an "Acceptable" rating (second highest of four) when equipped with side curtain airbags and a "Poor" rating (the lowest possible) without them. Frontal offset testing by the IIHS resulted in a "Good" rating (the highest possible). NHTSA testing resulted in four stars out of five for the driver and a perfect five for the passenger in frontal-impact tests. In side-impact tests, a Cobalt sedan with the side curtain airbags garnered three stars (four for the coupe) up front and four stars in back, while a coupe without the airbags earned four stars for both the front and rear.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, attractive gauges and a full-featured stereo head unit give the 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt a modern feel. Still, the design is plain, unless you upgrade to the LTZ and its leather seats and wood grain trim, or one of the SS models, which have faux aluminum trim. Seat comfort is unimpressive (except in the SS Supercharged coupe), and is especially true in back where the bench is flat and low.
Choose any of the engines and you'll have ample power for just about any situation. Commuters will enjoy the Chevy Cobalt's smooth, quiet ride, but the car's handling is less impressive. The suspension allows too much body roll, and the electric steering is slow, with minimal feedback. The SS models offer tighter handling through the turns and rapid acceleration with the supercharged engine, but still fall short of the class leaders in terms of refinement.