The Chevrolet Cobalt arose from the need to combat the ever-increasing popularity of import cars in the United States. These import cars were tough to beat simply because they were great rides with amazing performance that were also much more affordable than their American counterparts. The Cobalt had a short but nonetheless impressive 4-year run where it did indeed manage shunt profit into the coffers of its American manufacturer, as well as present a strong challenge to foreign automotive brands.
2005: The first blows
Import cars became popular because of the balance they offered between performance and price—these were the first obstacles that Chevrolet had to overcome if their Cobalt was to be a contender. The result was actually very impressive. With 2.0-L Turbo inline-4 engine under the hood, consumers got that perfect balance of power output and fuel economy—at 155 horsepower and an average of 24 miles to the gallon. It also had a longer wheelbase than its competitors, giving it increased balance and stability.
2006: Low-key and Earth-conscious
With an eye towards being more environmentally conscious, a non-supercharged Cobalt was released. This carried a 2.4-L, naturally aspirated Ecotec inline-4. This “downgrade” actually gave comparable horsepower output with the added bonus of lowered harmful emissions. Other than that, this year saw mostly naming changes—the base model adopting the LS marquee, the LT being the mid-range, and the absolute top level trim getting marked as LTZ.
2007: Upping the power play
As import cars started to up the ante on their own designs, Chevy also tweaked their engines to give out more power while retaining the same fuel economy that made the Cobalt very successful to begin with—the 2.4-L inline-4 got a rating bumped up to 173 hp. More significant and noticable, however was the restyling of the console, the steering wheel, as well as the radio unit—finally integrating an audio input jack for portable music players.
2008-2009: Paving the way
The last two years of the Cobalt saw several amazing improvements that would prove to be the foundation upon which later Chevrolet models would be based on. The 2.2 LAP engine replaced all other engines on all of the Cobalt variants released. This gave another significant boost to the power output while also bettering fuel economy to a significant degree. Additionally, these last outings saw the introduction of amazing technology into the Cobalt.
Bluetooth integration for the radio deck became standard — allowing users to wirelessly connect their music players and smartphones. StabiliTrak was also included to electronically boost stability and balance. XM radio, side-impact air bags, and a vibrant new range of colors rounded out the list. Perhaps most impressive was the RPD, or Reconfigurable Performance Display. This digitized engine output data and allowed alteration of performance settings from a high-tech hub! Indeed, the Cobalt didn’t so much get discontinued as it set the stage from which its successors could launch.