2009 Chevrolet Cobalt Expert Review

You'll Like The 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt If...

If you're looking for a small car with an upscale interior, a smooth ride and an All-American nameplate, the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt is a worthy alternative to the Ford Focus. The Cobalt is also easy on gas, a key point of interest for many new car shoppers.

You May Not Like The 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt If...

If you're looking for a small car with a big back seat, the Cobalt can't compare to the Dodge Caliber or Scion xB. The Cobalt's engine is a bit coarse and its exhaust note is even louder.

What's New

For 2009 the Cobalt has a number of improvements. They include a revised 2.2-liter Ecotec engine delivering more power and better fuel economy, 15-inch low-rolling-resistance tires, a USB port added to the radio, standard OnStar and available Bluetooth phone connectivity, new 15- and 16-inch wheel options and a tire inflation kit as standard equipment. The Sport trim and 2.4-liter engine have been dropped.

Interior Features

The 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt sedans have a high seating position for a more commanding view of the road, and all-around visibility is impressive. The interiors, crafted to offer five-passenger seating, are attractive, if rather basic. The only gauge on the instrument panel is for fuel level, but digital readouts deliver other data. Front passengers enjoy good head, leg and elbow space, but rear-seat passengers must accept a somewhat confined space and an average-size person may have trouble getting in and out of the rear of the coupe. The 60/40-split rear seatback includes a pass-through to the trunk, which holds 13.9 cubic feet of luggage.

Exterior Features

Chevrolet claims the 2009 Cobalt's rigid body structure contributes to benefits in quality, ride and handling. Based on GM's global Delta architecture, its dimensions are comparable to the former Cavalier's, except that the Cobalt is more than two inches taller. Each trim level has specific 15-, 16- or 17-inch wheels and appearance touches. Coupes mimic the sedan's profile from the A-pillar forward, but a tapered reverse C-pillar leads back to Chevrolet's signature quartet of round taillamps. Chevrolet claims a turning radius, curb-to-curb, of just 37.4 feet, handy for dealing with tight spots.

Driving Impressions

Clearly a cut above previous-generation GM smaller cars, the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt delivers reasonably spirited performance and a surprisingly good ride for a generally enjoyable driving experience – apart from the exhaust noise. Suspension is more effective than in some other GM automobiles, with a firm, direct feel. Only the nastier bumps and potholes are likely to be bothersome. With the easy-shifting automatic transmission, this sedan accelerates enthusiastically enough for its class. Nimble handling is accompanied by well-assisted, confident steering, which enhances agility in around-town driving, and the Cobalt is stable on the highway.

Pricing Notes

The 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt LS Coupe and Sedan have a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $15,500, the Cobalt LT adds another $700 and the SS starts around the $23,000 mark. To get your best price, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price; it shows the typical transaction price being paid in your area. As for resale, the Cobalt holds an average five-year projected residual value, falling far below such competitors as the Honda Civic, Scion tC, Mazda MAZDA3 and Hyundai Elantra. The Kia Spectra also has a lower-than-average projected residual and falls just below the Cobalt.

Notable Equipment

The base LS Cobalt comes equipped with air conditioning, a CD audio system with USB and auxiliary input jack, a tilt steering column, head-curtain side airbags, GM's OnStar communications system, XM Satellite Radio, driver information center, traction control (models with automatic transmission and ABS only) and electric rear-window defroster. Speed-sensitive electric power steering is tuned to match the tires and suspension. Brakes are front discs and rear drums. Stepping up to the 2LT adds anti-lock braking (ABS), StabiliTrak stability control, keyless entry system, cruise control and power windows and mirrors.

Notable Options

The Cobalt offers a number of nice optional features, including AM/FM stereo with six-disc MP3-compatible CD player, remote start, a four-speed automatic transmission, heated leather seats, power glass sunroof, Bluetooth hands-free communication, cruise control, rear spoiler and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Favorite Features

XM Satellite Radio
Standard XM Satellite Radio is rare in this price range. Once you've tried it on a long trip, you're likely to become a satisfied customer.

Glovebox Size
In many recent vehicles, a large glovebox door opens onto a constricted storage space, but the Cobalt's glovebox is ample in size.

Under the Hood

The newly-improved 2.2-liter engine still lacks the refinement and quiet operation that has become the trademark of the Honda and Toyota powerplants, but it is not so raw as to be unlivable. On the positive side, the 2.2-liter engine is a strong performer, offering good acceleration and passing power while returning better-than-average fuel economy.

2.2-liter in-line 4
155 horsepower @ 6100 rpm
150 lb.-ft. of torque @4900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/37 (XFE, manual), 24/33 (automatic)

Editors' Notes

Soaring fuel costs have changed the mix of compact-car customers. First-time buyers and budget-conscious consumers are no longer the only potential owners for small cars – SUV drivers looking for an economical second car are also flooding showrooms. But these people have a bit more cash on hand and, although they want something that's good on gas, they also want more than bare-bones transportation. Enter the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt, an attractive small car with a bit more size, style and equipment than its entry-level competitors, but with a reasonable price tag and good gas mileage. Available as either a coupe or sedan and in a number of trims including the super fuel-efficient XFE and spicy SS models, the Cobalt definitely merits a test drive.

Road Test Video Reviews

  • 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt LT Startup Engine & In Depth Tour
  • Regular Car Reviews: 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE
  • 2009 Chevy cobalt LT review and in depth look
  • 5 Things I Hate About My Chevy Cobalt
  • 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt LS Sedan XFE Review
  • 2010 Chevy Cobalt LT Review

Owner Reviews


250 Reviews

32% 40% 23% 4% 1%

Owner reviews are verified by our team and cannot be altered or removed.

My experience with the 2009 Chevy cobalt lt.

I bought this car used from a car lot in 2018. The person who originally owned it was a college student, and the vehicle itself originally had 150k miles on it. I have never had any issues with it and I immediately fell in love with the car. I mostly fell in love with the feature that shows if your oil is low, and it comes with sensors to show your tire pressure on all sides. It also shows how many miles you can go on a full tank of gas and what your average mph is. The front seats can raise due to your height and you can recline comfortably. I do not recommend this vehicle for people who have long legs, though as it is a small car. The trunk is very spacious and I have been able to haul most of my belongings with no issues. I originally got my car for $3k at the car lot and I honestly feel like it was money well spent. It also handles collision pretty well, also. I got into an accident where I rear-ended someone and the only thing that mainly got damaged was the hood of my vehicle, no damage to the inside beside my hood latch.

- Elizabeth C

I like the car for gas mileage but not for how small it is and recalls on it.

I have ran into a lot of issues with this car, but once I have fixed them then I love the car. Since it is 10 years old I would assume there would be some issues. However, there are several things that have been recalled and fixed like the key fob. It does have a little louder of a sound than some cars, like you can hear it running. There is a clicking noise in it that we are having to figure out what it is and replace the fuel pump because we had been smelling gas inside the car for a few months. Other than the issues like that I like that it gets good gas mileage and is a smooth ride. I hate how small it is but I guess that is my fault for buying a 2 door car. There's very limited room in the backseat, but if you do not need the back seat it is not a huge deal.

- Patience D

Dependable and value plus plus plus love my Cobalt

Low low problems has 75000 mile and have regular oil changes the factory tires are still good have had no breakdowns it rides nice has a sporty car feeling Love the back seat folds down and the trunk size is expanded the trunk is already decent sized. Steering is nice and comfortable tight and accurate good value to the dollar gas mileage maintenance and original purchase price bought it new off the showroom floor If have to choose what could be a negative is low front when parkinking in a lot if pull up to sidewalk will at time hit the concrete make noise from brushing over it when parking and some parking lot dividers are a bit higher concern could damage my car if pull up too far

- Renee B