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Car and Driver: Renegade Steer Clear: Chevy Revives Cavalier Nameplate

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1998 Cavalier Z24 Convertible


Americans of the 1980s were forced to contend with GM’s J-platform cars. While Cadillac’s Cimarron slouches most memorably due to its tarring and feathering of the venerable wreath and crest, and Oldsmobile’s Firenza is perhaps the most-often forgotten, Chevy’s once thick-on-the-ground Cavalier is the model we showed up today to discuss. Why? Well, it seems as if enough Hell Bank Notes were burned in the ol’ Cav’s memory that GM has decided to bring back the nameplate for the Chinese market, presumably because Ford of China has gone and unearthed the Escort badge.


2017 Chevrolet Cavalier


Set to slot in below the Cruze, the new Cavalier gives up 4.5 inches in length, is fractionally taller, and features a 3.9-inch shorter wheelbase than a U.S.-spec Cruze. Styling cues, obviously, are cribbed from Chevy’s latest U.S.-market sedans. In fact, its trunk-truncated taillights are the only broad visual cue that the new Cav isn’t one of your workaday USDM Chevys. Power comes courtesy of a 107-hp, 1.5-liter naturally aspirated four-banger, with a manual transmission sending power to the front wheels. Expect an automatic to be an option.


We’ve got mixed feelings about seeing the Cavalier nameplate return. On one hand, it’s a memory of younger days, brought to life elsewhere on the globe, some sort of alt-reality commercial time warp. Conversely, it was a product of GM’s nadir as an automobile-manufacturing concern. To put it bluntly, the Chevy Cavalier was a real heap. Why not split the difference, GM? Give us a monochromed-out, red-badged Cavalier Sinosport, and we’ll verily champ at the bit to take one for a spin. Sometimes, after all, cynical ploys manage to evoke nostalgia despite our best efforts to remain jaded. And if you’ll just go ahead and revive the Beretta GTU, we’ll hop the next slow boat to China.


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