Chevrolet’s smallest offering has a model overlap for 2007: the Aveo sedan has been redesigned, while the Aveo5 hatchback model is a carryover from 2006. (GM calls the hatchback a “five-door”, hence the name.)

The Aveo sedan is longer and wider than the model it replaces, and features all-new exterior and interior design, improved suspension tuning, a driver’s seat with fold-down armrest, manual height adjuster and manual lumbar adjuster, lower-profile rear-seat head restraints, a new radio with auxiliary audio input jack, available steering wheel audio controls, and dual power mirrors.

The carryover Aveo5 receives safety enhancements for 2007: there are new advanced two-stage frontal airbags with passenger sensing system, and optional side-impact seat-mounted airbags.

Both models continue to use the 103-hp, 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine with five-speed standard transmission or optional four-speed automatic with hold control mode from 2006. Both are available as the base LS or upgraded LT models. Despite the old-versus-new, Chevrolet continues its tradition of pricing the sedan and hatchback the same.

The LS includes 15-inch steel wheels, five-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, disc-and-drum brakes, power steering, body-coloured mirrors and door handles, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary audio input jack, tilt wheel, tinted windshield and windows, floor mats, 60/40 folding rear seat, and driver’s seat with fold-down armrest, manual height adjuster and manual lumbar adjuster.

The LT adds 15-inch alloy wheels and power locks with keyless entry.

Available options include anti-lock brakes, spoiler and heated mirrors, while both models can be equipped with an RS Special Edition Package, including 15-inch aluminum wheels, rear spoiler, six-speaker premium sound system, wheel-mounted audio controls, and Apple iPod.

The new Aveo sedan has matured in its styling, looking far more expensive than its price-tag, which slots it as Canada’s least-expensive four-door sedan. Features include a V-shaped hood line, distinct Chevrolet face with signature crossbar and gold bowtie, detailed headlamps and jewelled taillight bezels. The radio antenna has also been incorporated into the rear glass for a cleaner look.

Inside, there’s plenty of headroom even for tall adults; the new model has enhanced sound deadening and improved aerodynamics for a quieter ride, and cargo capacity has improved. Handling has also been tuned for a sportier driving experience, along with a wider front and rear tread for improved stability, 17-mm front stabilizer bar, higher-rate front springs and more highly damped front shocks.

The previous Aveo was a pleasant economy car, with peppy engine and good interior space for its size; the new generation adds a more polished look and improved handling, which should trickle down to the Aveo5 next year. Fuel consumption is still slightly heavier than some of the competition, and the interior, while much improved, is a little overwrought in the LT model (although, to their credit, the designers finally fixed the cupholders, which previously blocked the heater controls). Still, the Aveo is justifiably popular, and you certainly can’t go wrong for the price.

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