Compact car; Built in USA
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,200*


1994 Chevrolet Cavalier 4-door sedan


1993 Chevrolet Cavalier RS 4-door wagon


1994 Chevrolet Cavalier RS 2-door convertible


1990 Chevrolet Cavalier RS interior


1993 Chevrolet Cavalier Z-24 engine

Pros:
  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Antilock brakes
  • Fuel economy (4-cylinder)
  • Handling/roadholding (Z24)
  • Price
Cons:
  • Acceleration (4-cylinder)
  • Engine noise (4-cylinder)
  • Rear-seat comfort

Neither as roomy nor as technically sophisticated as Japanese subcompacts of the same period, Cavaliers have always offered good value. Convertibles add some flair, but also cost far more than their solid-topped mates.

Overview

Introduced in 1982, the subcompact front-drive Cavalier was a top seller for Chevrolet through its early years. Pontiac’s Sunbird was similar. New sheetmetal had been added in a 1988 restyle. Cavaliers came in three body styles for 1990: notchback coupe, sedan, and station wagon. No convertible was available this season, but it would be back soon. A sporty Z24 coupe with V6 power targeted the youth market. Engines grew in size for 1990. A 2.2-liter four became the base engine, while a 3.1-liter V6 replaced the prior 2.8-liter as an option in wagons. Cavaliers got new seats for 1990, as well as passive front seatbelts and a stainless-steel exhaust system.

Yearly Updates

1991 Cavalier
Cavaliers earned a subtle facelift outside, plus reworking of the cabin. A
convertible returned to the lineup in RS trim. Front and rear fascias were new; so were headlamps and taillamps. The Z24 added aero rocker panels and a decklid spoiler. Instrument panels gained temperature and oil-pressure gauges. Tires expanded from 13- to 14-inch, while the Z24 went from 14-inch to 15-inch rubber. Rotary knobs replaced buttons and levers for the headlamps and wiper/washer. Coupes added door map pockets and could get a removable sunroof.
1992 Cavalier
Antilock braking became standard for ’92, and the 4-cylinder engine gained 15 horsepower, courtesy of a new fuel-injection system. The Z24 convertible returned after a 2-year absence, joining the RS ragtop.
1993 Cavalier
Convertibles switched from plastic to glass for their back windows, and could now have a rear defogger installed. Previously optional only in station wagons, the V6 engine could now go into any RS model.
1994 Cavalier
A stronger (120-horsepower) base engine went into 1994 models–ten more than before. Wagons now came in just one (unnamed) trim level. Cavaliers then earned a total redesign, as a 1995 model.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Most Cavaliers in 1990 contained a 2.2-liter base engine with throttle-body fuel injection, which made 95 horsepower. Standard in the Z24 and optional in the station wagon was a 3.1-liter V6 that whipped up 135 horses and 180 pound-feet of torque. Both engines came with a standard 5-speed manual transmission. With the base engine, that gearbox was made by Isuzu; for the V6, it was a Muncie Getrag unit. A 3-speed automatic transmission was optional with either engine. Base engines gained 15 horsepower in 1992, with a new fuel-injection system; then 10 more horses in ’94.

ohv V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.1/191
Engine HP 135-140
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 180-185
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
19/28
20/28
ohv I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/133
Engine HP 95-120
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 120-130
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
25/36
23/33
23.1
25.3

Road Test

Early 4-cylinder engines give only adequate performance, but decent mileage. However, the automatic transmission eats sharply into acceleration figures. Later fours, with extra horsepower, perform a bit better. The 3-speed automatic also trails 4-speed units, used by some Cavalier competitors, in fuel economy and quiet running. The Z24 with V6 power ranks as a minimuscle car, exhibiting brisk performance as well as styling flair. The 3.1-liter V6 also is a sensible choice for a station wagon.

Gas mileage is great with the 4-cylinder, but those engines sound harsh and crude during hard acceleration. A 5-speed VL averaged 23.1 mpg in rush-hour commuting, hitting 33.8 mpg on the highway.

Cavaliers ride reasonably comfortably. Capable handling/roadholding grows more athletic with an optional sport suspension. For truly spirited cornering, search for a Z24 coupe or convertible.

Updating of the dashboard for 1991 made controls easier to see and reach, though the turn-signal lever is still too short. Lack of an airbag is a drawback, especially since many rivals had one sometime in this period.

Coupes and sedans offer adequate space up front, but rear compartments are cramped. Convertibles offer decent rear space for two, as well as a convenient power top.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Chevrolet Cavalier VL 2-door

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 5
50%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 4
40%
Quietness - 4
40%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
30%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 44

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.3 182.3 66.3 52.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
10.7 15.2 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.8 37.3 42.2 32.0
2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.3 182.3 66.3 52.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.2 15.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.8 36.1 42.6 31.2
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.3 182.3 66.3 53.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.0 15.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.1 37.4 42.1 32.0
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.3 181.1 66.3 52.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
64.4 15.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.9 38.5 42.1 32.5
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Cavalier 2-door coupe

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 118
Injury 125
Theft 53

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: TH-125 automatic transmissions may shift late or not upshift at all. The problem is a stuck throttle valve inside the transmission. (1990-94)
Ignition switch
Description: The ignition switch may not return from the start to the run position and the accessories may not work because the screws that hold the switch in place were overtightened. (1991-94)
Transaxle leak
Description: The right front axle seal at the automatic transaxle is prone to leak. GM issued a revised seal to correct the problem. (1992-94)

Recall History

1991
Description: Front door interlock striker may fail, causing door frame collapse and insufficient strength for shoulder-belt anchorage.
1991
Description: Front door shoulder-belt guide loops may be cracked; occupant faces increased risk of injury in sudden stop or accident.
1992
Description: Secondary hood-latch spring in some cars is improperly installed or missing.
1993
Description: Rear brake hoses on some cars are improperly manufactured and can cause reduced brake effectiveness.
1994
Description: On small number of cars, drive-axle spindle nuts may be overtorqued; can result in separation of steering knuckle tire-wheel assembly from axle.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.