Compact car; Built in USA
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door coupe
  • 4-door sedan
  • transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,300 – $4,800*


1995 Chevrolet Cavalier LS 4-door sedan


1995 Chevrolet Cavalier LS 2-door convertible


1995 Chevrolet Cavalier 4-door sedan


1995 Chevrolet Cavalier LS interior


1995 Chevrolet Cavalier LS interior

Pros:
  • Acceleration (Twin Cam engine)
  • Airbags
  • Standard antilock brakes
  • Fuel economy
  • Instruments/controls
  • Visibility
Cons:
  • Entry/exit (2-door models)
  • Rear-seat head room
  • Seat comfort

Compared with its most natural rival, the sportier-natured Dodge/Plymouth Neon, the refined Cavalier puts comfort and utility ahead of performance and style. All told, however, it doesn’t match the refinement of the Toyota Corolla. For a reasonable sum, however, you get a car with dual airbags and antilock braking, even if it isn’t quite as much fun to drive as a Neon.

Overview

Chevrolet redesigned its best-seller in 1995 for the first time in 13 years. Changes included a longer wheelbase, fresh styling, and a new interior with dual airbags. Antilock braking also was standard. Gone was the station wagon, but the coupe and sedan returned. Initial offerings consisted of a base coupe and sedan, plus an LS sedan. A convertible and a Z24 coupe arrived in spring 1995. By spring 1995, the lineup expanded to five models: a coupe in base or sporty Z24 form, a convertible in LS trim only, and a sedan (base or LS guise). Wheelbases were 2.8 inches longer, but bodies were shorter by two inches. These Cavaliers are slightly wider and taller than their predecessors. Rear leg room is two inches greater in the coupe, 1.3 inches in the sedan. Pontiac’s Sunfire has different styling, but is built from the same basic design.

Yearly Updates

1996 Cavalier
Traction control became standard for ’96 on the LS sedan and convertible when equipped with automatic transmission. A new dual-camshaft (Twin Cam) 4-cylinder engine went into the Z24, and was optional in LS Cavaliers. Daytime running lights were installed on all Cavaliers, illuminating whenever the ignition is switched on.
1997 Cavalier
The addition of new RS (Rally Sport) version of the coupe topped the short list of changes for 1997. The RS included several Z24 styling cues, including a rear spoiler, bodyside moldings, body-color fascias, wider tires, and decals.
1998 Cavalier
For 1998, the base engine is revised for smoother running and loses five horsepower in the process. Also, the convertible moves from sedate LS trim to sporty Z24 trim.
1999 Cavalier
The addition of remote keyless entry as standard equipment on the Z24 was the only change of note to the ’99 Cavalier.
2000 Cavalier
Front/rear styling was slightly revised for 2000, and the Z24 got an exclusive new rear spoiler. Inside, the dashboard and console were revamped, uplevel radios gained Radio Display System (RDS) capability, more cupholders were installed, and child-seat top anchors were added to all three rear positions. All models now had standard air conditioning and a rear defroster.
2001 Cavalier
Convertible versions were dropped for 2001, but a Z24 sedan was added that summer as an early ’02 model. It mirrored the Z24 coupe’s equipment, and added a bright exhaust tip, upgraded audio system, and chrome alloy wheels.
2002 Cavalier
The LS Sport replaced the Z24 model shortly after the start of the 2002 model year. It came with a new 140-hp dual overhead-cam 2.2 that replaced the Z24’s 150-hp dohc 2.4. New standard features for 2002 included tilt steering wheel, CD player, tachometer, and power trunk release. New chrome 16-inch wheels were standard on the LS Sport.
2003 Cavalier
Revised front and rear styling and optional side aidbags highlight changes for ’03. The 2.2-liter engine was now standard on all models. Antilock brakes, On-Star, and XM radio were options.
2004 Cavalier
A less-expensive coupe model, the 1SV, was added for 2004.
2005 Cavalier
Cavalier is unchanged for a brief 2005 finale. It will be replaced by Cobalt this year.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front-wheel drive

Base models and the LS sedan hold a 120-horsepower (115 after 1998), 2.2-liter overhead-valve 4 cylinder engine, with new long-lasting, platinum-tipped spark plugs. A 5-speed manual transmission was standard on base models; 3-speed automatic optional. Four-speed overdrive automatic was standard on the LS sedan and convertible, and optional on base Cavaliers. Automatic-transmission fluid never needs replacement, under normal operating conditions. A 150-horsepower, dual-cam 2.3-liter 4-cylinder engine became available during 1995, with manual shift or the 4-speed automatic. A Twin Cam 2.4 engine, with the same output, arrived for 1996. Derived from GM’s discontinued 2.3-liter Quad 4, the Twin Cam engine was standard in the Z24 coupe and optional in the LS sedan and convertible. It developed the same 150 horsepower as the previous Quad 4. A 140-hp dual overhead-cam 2.2-liter engine was introduced in 2002 and made standard in ’03.

ohv I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/132
Engine HP 115-120
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 130-135
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
25/37
24/31
23.8
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/134
Engine HP 140
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 150
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
24/33
24/32
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.3/138
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 145
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
22/32
21/31
25.7

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/146
Engine HP 150
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 150
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
23/33
22/32
20.4
23.4

Road Test

An improved suspension, lengthened wheelbase, and stiffer structure combine to furnish a comfortable ride that absorbs most bumps easily, without floating or wallowing on wavy surfaces. Base and LS models lean considerably in turns, however, and respond lazily to quick steering changes. For tight control, look into the Z24, which also rides quite well on most pavement surfaces.

Early model base-engine acceleration is adequate with either transmission, but the engine feels coarse under hard throttle. Fortunately, that engine noise settles down to a peaceful level at cruising speed. The 2.4-liter Twin Cam unit is a better match to the automatic transmission than are some rival dual-cam engines because it produces slightly more torque over a broader range of engine speeds. Improved 2.2-liter 4-cylinder in ’02 was smoother and most responsive engine yet. As for economy, we averaged 23.8 mpg with a base Cavalier sedan with the automatic transmission. We’d expect more than 30 mpg on the highway. The new 2.2-liter engine rates 1 mpg higher than the 2.4 in EPA fuel-economy estimates. Wind and road noise are moderate.

Gauges are clear and controls easy to reach and use, in a well-designed dashboard. Visibility is good to all angles. Six-footers have adequate room in front, though seats lack lower-back support. Rear leg room is okay, but head room suffices only for shorter folks. Getting in and out of the rear on 2-doors is tough. Trunk space is ample, but a small opening makes it difficult to load bulky items. A one-piece folding rear seatback is standard.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 coupe

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 - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 3
30%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 3
30%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 4
40%
Room/Comfort Front - 3
30%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 3
30%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 37

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.1 180.3 67.4 53.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.2 15.2 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.8 38.5 42.4 32.8
2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.1 180.3 67.4 53.2
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.2 15.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.6 36.6 42.3 33.2
4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
104.1 180.3 67.4 54.8
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.2 15.2 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.0 37.2 42.3 34.6
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 Cavalier 2-door coupe

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 1
20%
Rear Passenger Injury - 2
40%

HLDI

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

Collision 112
Injury 129
Theft 53

Trouble Spots

Brake wear
Description: The front brakes wear out prematurely because of the friction compound. GM and several aftermarket companies have brakes with lining that will last longer. (1995)
Engine temperature
Description: Overheating and coolant loss may be due to rough surface on radiator filler neck. Neck should be sanded smooth and cap replaced. (1999-2000)
Oil consumption
Description: High oil consumption on 2.2-liter engine may be due to a loose baffle in the valve cover. (1998-2000)
Traction control indicator light
Description: The ETC warning light may glow and the cruise control stops working, but there is no problem with the systems. No current fix. (1996)

Recall History

1995
Description: Missing welds in lower front-suspension control-arm assemblies can result in separation of front bushing-sleeve subassembly from control arm, resulting in loss of vehicle control.
1995-96
Description: Front and/or rear hazard-warning lamps might not work.
1996
Description: Accelerator cable in a few cars could be kinked, causing high pedal effort, or sticking or broken cable.
1996
Description: Interior lamps might come on unexpectedly while vehicle is being driven.
1996
Description: If the key is held in the “start” position for an extended period, high current flowing through the ignition switch can melt internal switch parts.
1996-97
Description: Airbag could deploy inadvertently during low-speed crash or when an object strikes the floorpan.
1996-97
Description: Rear-suspension trailing-arm bolts can fatigue and break.
1996-98
Description: Faulty power steering bearings may have been installed on certain vehicles, resulting in difficulty turning the steering wheel. Dealers will inspect and replace all affected parts.
1997
Description: Driver’s wiper blades on a few cars are 17 inches long instead of the required 22 inches.
1997
Description: Spare tire on small number of cars may have incorrect rim.
1999
Description: Instrument-panel backlighting on some cars may not function after driver adjusts interior-light intensity.
2000
Description: Instrument-panel lights have only one illumination level–not the two or more required–and could make it difficult to see objects outside the vehicle at night.
2003
Description: Due to inadequate contact, rear lamps that provide stop, turn-signal and taillamp functions could stop working; could also prevent cruise control from engaging.
2004
Description: In a severe crash, upper seat belt anchorage may separate, reducing effectiveness of the belt.

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.