Good morning, and happy Monday to you all! Today I’m trying a little experiment. But first, let’s see how Friday’s pickup game went:
Yeah, I figured. That Rampside is pretty damn cool. Lots of love for the Caballero in the comments, too, and honestly, either one would be a fun toy.
A few days ago, young Thomas expressed sympathy for the Aveo, Chevy’s captive import replacement for the generally-well-liked Metro subcompact. The comments were many, vocal, and not positive. So of course, as soon as I read that, I knew that one of today’s cars had to be an Aveo. I almost chose two Aveos, but I thought that might be a shitbox too far. So I found a worthy competitor for the reviled little Chevy, in the form of a captive import from ten years earlier. Let’s see just how much you really dislike the Aveo, shall we?
2005 Chevrolet Aveo – $1,995
Engine/drivetrain: 1.6 liter dual overhead cam inline 4, five-speed manual, FWD
Location: Milwaukie, OR
Odometer reading: 385,000 miles (!!!)
I figured if I was going to do this, I should do it right. This 2005 Aveo has a lot of strikes against it: it has a salvage title, possibly from the rear-end damage visible in the photos; it has an absolute crap-ton of miles on it; and if all that weren’t bad enough, it’s for sale at a buy-here-pay-here used car lot.
It’s not without its positives, however: the transmission is a five-speed stick, and it has that cool checkerboard upholstery, and it’s not in bad shape for its age and mileage. There’s no way to really know its provenance at this point, but my best guess is that it was someone’s long-distance commuter for many years, until it was rear-ended and the insurance company totaled it, after which the sketchy dealership bought it at auction for next to nothing and is trying to make a quick few bucks off it.
One of the complaints leveled at the Aveo is that its 1.6 liter four is neither efficient enough nor powerful enough. But if this one is any indication, it’s certainly a durable little thing. I admit I’m kind of curious how a “throwaway” car like this drives with nearly four hundred thousand miles under its belt. But probably not curious enough to put up with the dealership to find out.
There is the small matter of the salvage title, which if I had to guess has to do with the wrinkle in the left rear. A branded title doesn’t mean much here in Oregon, but your mileage may vary.
1996 Ford Aspire – $2,150
Engine/drivetrain: 1.3 liter overhead cam inline 4, five-speed manual, FWD
Location: Puyallup, WA
Odometer reading: 106,000 miles
Runs/drives? Sure does
Captive imports are nothing new, of course. All of the “Big Three” US automakers have sold imported cars under their own nameplates for decades now, especially at the bottom end of the market. In the 1980s and 90s, Ford’s cheap subcompacts were made by Kia: first the tiny Festiva, replaced in 1994 by this car: the Ford Aspire. The joke wrote itself: it “aspired” to be a real car.
But this car, like the Festiva before it, was a better car than people gave it credit for. It was tough, it got incredible fuel economy, and due to its Mazda-designed roots, it wasn’t terrible to drive. I mean, yeah, it’s tinny, noisy, rough-riding, and slow, but it handles all right, and you can flog it for all it’s worth in a school zone and no one will be the wiser.
This Aspire has low miles, but they were hard miles: this car is being sold by the owner of a body shop, and although it’s not clearly stated, I get the feeling it was used as a courtesy car for the body shop. Yep, if I’m not mistaken, this car has been driven by a bunch of folks who wrecked their own cars. Who knows how many times it has been patched up over the years?
Still, it looks all right at the moment, and the seller says it runs and drives well. Luckily, it’s a simple car, so there’s not much to go wrong.
Honestly, for my money, there’s not much difference between these two. Both are little tin boxes that have led hard lives, non-sporting little hatchbacks that will get the job done joylessly but effectively. The Aveo gets a bad rap, but is it really worse than a similar car? You tell me.
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)
My college kid’s daily is an 07 Aveo, sedan with a stick. It’s a crapcan, but I’ve certainly driven worse. Plus, he learned how to swap an engine.
Used to have a sleeper Aspire that I swapped a 1.8L from a Protege that I later Turboed
OK that sounds legitimately fun.
Neither one thank you. I’ll save my money for the Olds 98 Diesel Jason will be reviewing next week.
Are those wheel covers on the Aspire Plasti-Dipped? Excellent mod!
We had one of these Festivas (Aspire) for a little while when we first moved to Australia. I got rid of it after about 6 months, I didn’t like not having AC in 45degree heat! It was a 1980s car in the 90s. The Aveo (or Daewoo Kalos/Holden Barina) was a 1980s car in the 2000s. I’ll take the Festiva any time
For the imperialists, Drad’s 45 degrees is over 110 in freedom units.
I think the Aveo was sold in Australia as either a Daewoo or Daewoo-rebadged-as-a-Holden. Either way, hard no.
Doesn’t matter though because I do know the Aspire/Festiva. My parents had one with the 1.6L engine and it was one tough little car. It felt nasty and thin and cheap, but it was engaging to drive because you could wring its neck all day. More than a few times I banged it into reverse at speed trying to find a non-existent sixth gear.
They bequeathed it to my sister when her ’64 Superbug needed more care than she could provide.
She drove the ‘Festy’ literally all over Australia, including Corner country (Central Australia – the intersection of QLD, NSW and SA) and it never missed a beat. She returned it to my parents with I think about 400,000kms on it. They only sold it because they didn’t need it any more.
I’ve driven examples of both these, and the Aspire was slightly better about going where pointed. Just looking at year and price I was going to vote Aveo anyway. Any one of the title, milage, damage or BHPH would be enough to tip it Aspire. All together it’s no contest.
The Aspire may not be a particularly good car, but it has good bones. As others have mentioned, the Aspire’s just a fat, blobby Festiva, and there’ve been plenty of turbocharged/engine-swapped Festivas. Adding power would certainly help compensate for the extra weight. (I wonder what the aftermarket has for handling upgrades?) Even stock, though, the rural New England two-lanes I drive between towns/small cities wouldn’t overwhelm it completely – I’d just never take it on the freeway if I could help it.
Anyway, it has half the mileage of my Yaris instead of close to double it somehow, it gets mileage close to said Yaris’s rather than, say, a 3800-powered Buick’s at best, it doesn’t have a big ol’ dent in the rear quarter, and it’s not sitting on a sketchy BHPH lot.
The Aspire is the better vehicle. It’s basically a Mazda 121 built by Kia with a Ford badge. I owned the predecessor to this car, the Ford Festiva.
It’s moments like this that make me glad we have a third car. The old Buick gets so so mileage and is hard to park but by other measures it’s way better than either an Aspire or an Aveo plus it’s paid for a ready to go
The sense of impending doom that is flooring a Ford Aspire onto the freeway in 2023, can only be replicated by jumping out of perfectly good airplane via hang glider while slightly intoxicated. People spend a lot more to find God. And the Chevy Aveo is the single worst vehicle ever conceived on this plane of existence. Three dudes carrying you around for 30 bucks an hour should beat it.
I test drove a same-year Aveo with a third the mileage years ago. While it is technically a usable car, absolutely nothing about it felt well put together or pleasant to drive.
I’d rather have the decade older Kia.
I vote option #3: Bicycle. You could buy an electric cargo bike, have hundreds of dollars left over, and still be more reliably usable than either of these worn-out econoboxes.
No contest, Aspire all the way. Cut the Aveo miles in half and minus the body damage and it would still barely be worth asking price. At 400k and salvage title, that thing should be stripped for parts. Not worth doing anything else with it. The Aspire I have always thought was a pathetic, but sort of cute little thing.
> stripped for parts
That’s a lot of work with very little value produced.
You’ve stacked the deck pretty hard against the Aveo here. I’m gonna sit this one out. If they were in similar condition, the Aveo would be preferable*. But in salvage condition with ~400,000 miles, this one is destined for the scrap yard.
* Source – We’ve had an Aveo in the family for over a decade. Ours has been very reliable and it’s a good ‘appliance’ car. Nothing cool or fancy, it just provides basic transportation for people who don’t care about having a cool or fancy vehicle (I.E., it’s very much NOT an enthusiast car).
Oh these are both bad, but we must choose. I’ll take the Aspire just to avoid the salvage title. Given the size of modern trucks these will both be terrifying to drive.
Years back when Saab was still in business I owned a 9-3 with some factory warranty left. I had it in for some sort of repair, and at that time GM loaners were through Enterprise. Only thing was you had to have a GM car. This particular enterprise had only one GM car on the lot, you guessed it, an Aveo. I said it last week and will say it again, these were not a GM hit, rather a major swing and miss followed by a passed ball. That same day I saw an article that had safety ratings for all new cars. One of the best, Saab 9-3. One of the worst, Chevy Aveo. I was so happy to turn that thing back in.
That is a clean Aspire, but it wouldn’t really fit any passengers. The Aveo is a decent-sized car, but is sold by a sleazy dealer.
When researching my vote, this evaluation of the Aspire caught my admiration.
Capsule Review: 1995 Ford Aspire | The Truth About Cars
I think the Aveo must have been used as a drug mule to pick up that kind of mileage, so I’ll hope that they left some behind to add value to the car.
You can get a lot of nice bikes for $2k. I don’t want either of these fucking turds.
Aveo or not, I was ready to vote for the 10 year newer car and the attractive seats. But you can’t throw a branded title, significant body damage, and an extra trip to the moon in mileage at us and expect it to be a fair fight. I’ll take my chances with the Aspire.
Fuck all of this, my vote is for walking
I’ve always enjoyed how the rear turn signals on Aspires started fading immediately.
Both are bad, but the Aspire is nicer looking*, and I feel like an Aveo with that many miles is going to collapse like it’s in a Buster Keaton movie.
*Okay it’s not winning any beauty contests but the proportions are good and the details are generally pleasant, and neither of those things are true of the Aveo.
I think you’ve found the true essence of Shitbox Showdown with today’s entry Mark.
400,000 miles, body damage, and a salvage title.
…Nahhhh. At least the Aspire will get great mileage.