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The Chevy Cobalt Was the Most Shockingly Average Car of All Time

There are some cars that you can instantly pick apart from a crowd, like a Chevy Corvette or a Mini Cooper. However, the majority of cars in any given segment tend to have the same design with minor differences. What really sets them apart is each car’s performance. Then there are the cars that have both forgettable designs and average specifications. One of those cars was the Chevrolet Cobalt.

This sedan was only produced in America for five years before being discontinued. Unlike the Chevy Impala or the Volkswagen Beetle, you won’t find many fans who were sad to see the Cobalt go.

The history of the Chevy Cobalt

The Chevy Cobalt was initially released for the 2005 model year. Drivers could purchase it in either sedan or coupe body styles with standard front-wheel drive. It was available with a few different four-cylinder engine options, one of which was turbocharged for the Cobalt SS. The SS also had a stylish rear spoiler.

While the Cobalt returned average sales, it was also plagued with problems. Just three years after its release, 100,000 Cobalt models were recalled for a roof structure issue. Even more Cobalt models would be recalled for a hazardous power steering failure. Its sales dropped substantially during its final year.

The Chevy Cavalier

The Cobalt was actually built to replace an older car, the Cavalier. Unlike its successor, the Cavalier was produced for over 20 years before it was discontinued. It was also available in more body styles than the Cobalt. In 1995, the car got a major redesign, with a facelift and an upgraded 4-speed automatic transmission.

Unfortunately, this redesigned model would gain the worst reputation. It received terrible safety scores from the IIHS and the NHTSA. According to a report about 2004 models, the Cavalier also has one of the highest rates of driver fatality.

The Chevy Cobalt was nothing special

Even in the sporty editions, there’s nothing unique under the Cobalt’s hood. It was first produced with a 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine capable of 145 hp. The SS version had a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with 203 hp. The Cobalt SS also got a significant upgrade in 2008 – a 2.0-liter engine that could put out 260 hp.

The Cobalt has good handling and high safety scores, making it an excellent pick for a teen’s first car. However, it doesn’t capture the eye nor does it have many fancy features. The car wasn’t even available with standard air conditioning until its final year of production.

The Chevy Cruze

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After the Cobalt was phased out, the Chevrolet Cruze was released. It doesn’t have as powerful of an engine as the Cobalt, but it does retain the same easy handling. It’s also known for its impressive gas mileage: 30 mpg on city roads and 38 mpg on the highway.

The interior is also very roomy by sedan standards and comes with a lot of useful technology. The Cruze was discontinued in 2019, but not because of performance issues or low sales. GM announced that it was shifting its production efforts to EVs, trucks, crossovers, and SUVs.

Why did the Chevy Cobalt die?

Chevrolet Cobalt is displayed at the Sierra Chevrolet auto dealership
The Chevy Cobalt | David McNew/Getty Images

Declining sales were definitely a huge factor in the Chevy Cobalt’s demise. However, it was also just an underwhelming car to begin with. Its standard engine was very fuel-efficient, but that was one of the only things that made it stand out.

The Chevrolet Cobalt may not have exceptional performance, but it’s fairly reliable and often doesn’t cost more than $5,000. The high-powered SS is a little more expensive at around $7,000.