Consumer Reports Gives the Chevrolet Cobalt Low Rank

by : Noah Scott

General Motors-world's largest automaker and maker of the popular --- has recently issued a statement against the Consumer Reports' below-average ranking of the Chevrolet Cobalt saying that the magazine has based its findings on old tests results and does not in any way reflect the current models.

It should be noted that the magazine has ranked the Chevrolet Cobalt 11th out of 16 small cars with automatic transmissions. Consumer Reports' Winter/Spring 2007 Superchart has not included the Lordstown-built car among the eight cars listed on the magazine's "recommended buys". The information was released ahead of its annual issue which will come out on March 6.

The Cobalt ranking that was released by Consumer Reports was based on the performance test done by the magazine in 2005, in short it doesn't reflect the improvements done to the car since then, said Janine Froehan, spokeswoman for General Motors on quality issues. The Chevrolet Cobalt was released in fall of 2004.

Starting from the time the magazine tested the Cobalt, Lordstown plant has already added a new paint shop which has greatly improved the finish quality and reduced the noise by enhancing the sealing of the car's body, explained Froehan. There are also added features included in the 2007 models such as a remote start and upgraded radio. Froehan has expressed her observation regarding the magazine's quality rankings saying that it's not accurate and are based on a three year average test plus it does not include updates on innovation or developments that the vehicles included in the ranking tests have undergone.

Froehan further stated that GM's internal monitoring reveals that the car improved significantly in terms of reliability and performance. "Is the car where it needs to be? No. But we are making improvements, and they are significant."

Jim Graham, President of United Auto Workers Local 1112 commented that the magazine's ranking doesn't match any of the research being conducted at the Lordstown plant. He also said that Lordstown workers for the past couple of months have been calling Cobalt buyers and personally asking them for any problems that they are encountering with the brand. The workers are also asking these same buyers what they like and do not about their cars. "The percentage of positive calls is much, much more than the percentage of negative calls." Graham did not divulge the specific numbers.

Consumer Reports' Magazine has given the Cobalt with a below-average score in terms of reliability and overall satisfaction. The magazine has also given the Cobalt with an average rating in the area of accident avoidance. But in fairness to the Cobalt it has scored above average in crash protection with its side airbags and received an average score without the airbags.

The magazine also highlighted the good points of the Cobalt like for its acceleration and ride. But unfortunately scored low for steering, engine noise, fuel economy, seat comfort and side crash protection without the curtain airbags.

All the other top-rated cars included in the Consumer Reports' Winter/Spring 2007 Superchart were by far more expensive than the Cobalt. The Cobalt tested by the magazine only cost $16,350 while the prices of the top six cars ranged from $18,190 to $23,780. General Motors has scheduled the production of Cobalt in Lordstown through summer of 2009. Union officials are also hopeful that the plant will receive another model to build.