For 2009, General Motors is offering an even more fuel-efficient version of their no frills, Chevrolet Cobalt XFE, this car is a step in the right direction for the American automaker, the 9% improvement in fuel economy is also an answer to the upcoming CAFE regulation put in place by the U.S. Senate. Although it is the base model Cobalt, and we do mean base, lacking power assisted creature comforts like windows and door locks, there isn’t even an automatic transmission option.

However, the checkbook friendly Cobalt does come with a air conditioning, an AM/FM/MP3 stereo and a sporty wing on the trunk. The 2.2 Liter ECOTEC four cylinder is up 7 HP from last year’s model, for a maximum output of 155 HP. The added power is necessary in order to turn the more economical 3.74:1 final drive, the extra gearing means that the XFE can run at a lower RPM, and burn less gas, when cruising on the highway in 5th gear. This is only one of the fuel saving features that make the Chevrolet Cobalt XFE a segment best in the fuel mileage category; better than the Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. The $16,000 entry level Chevrolet model gets an EPA estimated 36 MPG on the highway.

  • 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE
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    2.2 Liter L
2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE
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Exterior Impression

2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE
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The Chevrolet Cobalt XFE is what you get when you ask the salesman for a base Cobalt. Despite the low price, the XFE is still the same good looking compact from Chevrolet. The steel wheels are a dead giveaway to the budget minded nature of the XFE, wrapped in low rolling resistance rubber means that although they are unattractive, the rolling adds to the vehicle’s efficiency. Chevrolet’s cost cutting department didn’t take everything away; the XFE has a sporty rear wing that would look good with a set of aftermarket rims. The only other feature that could distinguish this plain Jane Cobalt apart from the rest of the crowd are the XFE specific badges.

Interior Impression

2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE
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The interior of the Chevrolet Cobalt XFE can be described by a few different adjectives; some would call it clean, others would call it bare. The door panels feature window cranks as opposed to switches and locking each individual lock on the four-door could be a pain, but on the coupe it wasn’t such a big deal. The seats are only offered in cloth, but they are covered with an eye pleasing two-tone color scheme. The speedometer and tachometer are easy to read, but the gauges are another area where you can see the cost cutting nature of the XFE, you won’t find a coolant temperature gauge or fancy things like a tire pressure monitoring system; the only extra is the gas gauge. Whereas the majority of the interior is what you can call stripped, the Chevrolet design team didn’t skimp on the radio. The unit receives AM/FM/XM signals and even has MP3 capabilities. Who needs a CD player when you have an iPod?

Why to buy?

2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE
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The Chevrolet Cobalt XFE would make a great first car, a vehicle that any parent should feel comfortable giving their road going teen. The low price and efficient nature of the XFE makes it an economical solution to personal transportation. If you are shopping Corolla, Civic or Focus you might like to know that the XFE gets better gas mileage than all them. According to Chevrolet’s General Manager Ed Pepper, the “Cobalt has always been an efficient performer, but the changes with the new XFE elevate it to a leadership position that will appeal to customers who put fuel economy at the top of their new-car priority list, … better still, the efficiency enhancements don’t come at the price of the safety and convenience features that serve as the foundation of Cobalt’s value story."

2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE
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As I watched the field of the Koni Challenge racing series lap Laguna Seca, I saw something that changed my mind about this low budget Cobalt. With a little over an hour and a half left in the race, the number 138 Chevrolet Cobalt overshot The Corkscrew and plummeted into the gravel covered hillside ripping off the front splitter, and giving the driver an apparent jolt. As the black Cobalt drove into the pits seemingly unscathed, I thought to myself, that’s a pretty strong racecar. So for tuners and racecar builders, the already stripped XFE would be a better starting point for their high performance application, the low purchase price also leaves more money for the final product.

Why not to buy?

2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE
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The Cobalt XFE is anything but a luxury ride. The car’s compact economical nature doesn’t lend itself to being an automobile filled with creature comforts, instead it is a purpose built low budget gas sipper. If you are looking for a vehicle filled with factory options keep shopping, maybe you should check out an Escalade instead.

Top Speed Final Verdict

2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE
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We found the Chevrolet Cobalt XFE to be an enjoyable ride, sure we can’t boast about the heated and cooled seats or the television screens in the headrests, but that’s o.k. The Cobalt XFE reminds us about everyday people looking for a car that fits their budget, something that has never been more important than in today’s fledgling economy. It was the Chevy Manager who said it best, “Any way you look at it, the Cobalt XFE is a smart choice for those looking to maximize their car-buying dollar, … It’s well equipped, efficient and plenty of fun to drive." The Cobalt XFE is a well-styled vehicle that offered a fun to drive 5-speed in a lightweight package. The XFE is the best affordable automobile that we have tested at Top Speed, but the best part of all is that when you decide to drive the Chevrolet, is that you are buying American.

2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE
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  (1022) posted on 12.6.2009

Cobalt is way better than corolla and Honda civic in terms of fuel efficiency, and it has more HP on it.

  (1) posted on 08.5.2009

Everyone that knows about Ford’s business knows that the company took out a HUGH private loan/mortgage just weeks before our economy tanked. Ford had the in site, or some would say, they got lucky. Otherwise they would of been in the same boat as the others.

I just wanted to point out that the 2009 Chevy Cobalt XFE can still be found on lots for around $16,000- and it has $2000 cash back, PLUS many dealers are offering another $1,000 cash back because the cars have sat on their lots over 9 months or so. Then people can get back $3,500 for the Fed’s Cash for Clunkers program ($4,500 for trucks) I also got a gm employee discount, so in the end I used my insurance settlement from a totaled pickup truck (only accident in my life and I’m almost 45) to make a cash buy of $12,6XX and that included ALL taxes, registration etc.. and most important the car currently gets the highest gas mileage of ANY sub-compact (non-hybrid) at 37MPG on the highway. I LOVE this car and am happy to see GM out of bankruptcy and making and import beater that might bring the hybrids down in price.

The 2009 and 2010 Cobalt is sold with new gear ratios, low resistance tires, and a manual transmission which increased the miles per gallon from 33 to 37, and that’s what I am actually getting. It’s a great buy if one gets the incentives on it! Considering it cost me only a little over $12,00 brand new and gets the highest mileage in it’s sub-compact class, I feel this is a better buy than the cool hybrids that sale for twice the price. With the difference in price one could buy A LOT of gas!

But in this worst economy of my entire life, and it becoming very clear how Americans have shot themselves in their own foot for buying so many imported goods, it’s a very nice feeling knowing one is buying an AMERICAN CAR, and not just a transplant either. Americans have finally woken up, along with GM, and more people are test driving American cars that just to not. If Americans give GM another chance I firmly believe they will come back strong. They are very lean now. The UAW has given many drastic cuts, and GM costs are much lower now.

I feel the Colbalt XFE, the 2011 The Cruise, and The Chevy Volt may all come together in a way to save GM. Never in history has this company tried so hard. I feel they are now well on their way to making the highest quality cars and trucks in the word.

  (1024) posted on 05.27.2009

The Corolla and the Civic all have better options and interiors and a far higher resale value, and they do not show their economy car roots.

The Focus is also an American car so why can’t it be an American buy? Is it because Ford is the only US carmaker that refused to ask bail out money from the goverment?

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