The Chevrolet Cavalier is a line of small cars produced for the model years 1982 through 2005 by Chevrolet
, and then later reintroduced in 2016 for the Chinese Market. As a rebadged variant of General Motors
, the Cavalier was manufactured alongside the Cadillac Cimarron
, Buick Skyhawk
, Oldsmobile Firenza
, and Pontiac J2000/2000/Sunbird
at GM's South Gate Assembly
and Janesville Assembly
plants, achieving its highest sales in 1984.
The Cavalier replaced the Monza
in North America. The Monza was available as a 2-door coupe
, a 3-door hatchback
and a 3-door wagon
(using the same body as the discontinued Vega
wagon, the model it replaced). The inexpensive Chevette
was retained even as sales declined, and was formally replaced by even smaller captive import
s. Both previous platforms had rear-drive layouts while the new design followed the front wheel drive trend, as in the Dodge Omni
and Honda Civic
also introduced new front drive compacts. The largely successful mission of capturing the bulk of domestic compact sales would fall on the Cavalier's 2-door coupe
, 4-door sedan
and 4-door station wagon
, the relatively short-lived 3-door hatchback
(which replaced the Monza 2+2
Sport 2-door hatchback) and, in later years, a 2-door convertible
. The small Cavalier even helped fill in lagging sales of the compact Citation
First generation (1982)
The Cavalier first went on sale in May 1981 as a 1982 model with front-wheel-drive, a choice of two carbureted versions of the GM 122
series four-cylinder pushrod
engines, and 2 and 4-door sedan, hatchback, and station wagon body styles. Convertibles were added in 1983, initial production totaling less than 1000. The Cavalier name originated from GM's then-British subsidiary Vauxhall
, who applied it to badge engineered variants of the Opel Ascona
, the third generation of which was the first J-body car to be released.
1983 Cavaliers offered throttle body fuel injection
, and a V6 engine
became available in 1984. The 1984 models received a mild facelift featuring quad headlights. Z24 was introduced in 1985 for 1986 model year coupe and hatchback configurations.
* 1982: 1.8 L ''L46
'' carbureted OHV I4
* 1983-1986: 2.0 L ''LQ5
'' TBI OHV I4
* 1987–1989: 2.0 L ''LL8
'' TBI OHV I4
* 1985–1989: 2.8 L ''LB6
'' MPFI OHV V6
Second generation (1988)
The Cavalier was restyled in 1987 for the 1988 model year. The three-door hatchback was dropped, while the coupe, sedan, wagon and convertible carried over. The sedan and wagon were unchanged from the doors back, while the coupe's exterior was completely redesigned. This resulted in different trunk designs for the coupe and sedan. Three trim levels were available for 1988: VL, RS, and Z24. The convertible was only available as a Z24. The VL and RS came standard with the 2.0 L OHV L4
engine, now upgraded to throttle-body injection, or TBI, producing , while the 2.8 L V6
producing was optional on the RS and standard on the Z24. With two-door models, a 5-speed manual transmission was standard and a 3-speed automatic was optional, however the 3-speed automatic was made standard on sedans and wagons. An electronic dashboard
was available with the RS and Z24 trims.
For 1989, the steering column
was redesigned. The new self-aligning steering wheel was designed so as to reduce injuries in a collision by bending to conform to the driver's chest. Also, rear shoulder belts became standard on all models. RS and Z24 custom cloth seating received a new style of front bucket seats with integral headrests. The optional V6 was retooled to 130 hp.
For 1990, the base engine was enlarged to a 2.2 L OHV L4
, and power increased to . Door-mounted automatic front seatbelts were added due to US passive restraint legislation. The optional V6 engine was also upgraded to the 3.1 L V6
and 140 horsepower. The convertible was dropped from availability to prevent internal competition with a planned Beretta convertible
. However, the Beretta convertible was shelved at the eleventh hour, before a 1990 Cavalier convertible could be prepared.
The 1991 Cavalier got a more extensive restyling that involved a new hood, bumpers, headlights, taillights, wheel covers and a redesigned interior, however with the body style remaining unchanged. Most notably, the cooling system was redesigned to draw air from the bumper, giving it a Ford Taurus
-style bumper and grille-less nose. The new bumpers were unpainted, with the option to have them colored grey, black or white; the latter only available on white-colored models. The RS and the Z24 eschewed this for a color keyed body package. Z24 models also gained the options for a height adjustable driver's seat and a CD player. The platform and trim lines were carried over, while the convertible was brought back mid-year in the RS trim only with the V6 standard.
Minor changes for 1991 also included the Alpha Tech ignition lock cylinder, which incorporated a dual-bit key that was larger and thicker in size in comparison to the old single-bit lock cylinder system that had been used for years. The lock system was intended to be a stronger deterrent to vehicle theft, but constant problems were reported with the lock jamming. It was dropped after an improved dual-bit single key system was introduced for the 1995 model year and redesign.
For 1992, the 2.2 L OHV standard engine adopted multi-point fuel injection
, or MPFI to improve output to , however unlike the SFI version of the 2.2L in the Chevrolet Corsica. The convertible was now available in both RS and Z24 trims, with the V6 standard in the Z24 and optional with the RS. Antilock brakes
were added as a standard feature, as Delco Moraine
had managed to develop a low-cost system. Power locks were also standard, and were designed to automatically lock when the car is shifted out of park, or if the car is traveling at least 8 miles per hour in manual transmission equipped Coupe models.
Model year 1993 brought minimal changes to the Cavalier line. The convertibles receive a glass rear window, allowing rear window defrost as an option. Also, General Motors received a new grille for the final time in this generation of the Chevrolet Cavalier.
1994 models were also carryovers, as a redesign of the Cavalier was in development. The VL trim was dropped on the wagon, while the 2.2 L OHV L4
was now converted to the SFI version found in the Corsica, which delivered an output of 120 horsepower. Additional changes included a slightly redesigned climate control interface and the power locking system being again redesigned: the doors would still lock automatically when put into gear, but they would also unlock automatically when the ignition was switched off.
The Chevrolet Cavalier was introduced in Mexico
in model year 1990 to replace the Chevrolet Celebrity, which had been until then the entry point to the Mexican GM lineup. The initial offering consisted only of a 4 door sedan with a 2.8 L MPFI V6 with a 5 speed manual gearbox, or a 3 speed automatic as an option.
For 1991, it got the same redesign as in the United States and was now also offered as a coupé. The coupé Cavalier Z24 was also introduced in Mexico with a 3.1 L V6, with both manual or automatic transmissions. For 1992 the Mexican Cavalier continued unchanged.
For 1993, the Mexican Chevrolet Cavalier adopted the aesthetics from the Pontiac Sunbird
. For 1993 and 1994, the Cavaliers sold there featured Sunbird body panels, as opposed to US-spec Cavalier panels and the Mexican Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 took on the appearance of the Pontiac Sunbird GT sold in the United States. No wagons and convertibles were offered in Mexico.
Third generation (1995)
thumb|left|2003-2005 Chevrolet Cavalier coupe
The Cavalier received its first total redesign for 1995, with expanded dimensions and more aerodynamic styling, taking minor design cues from the 4th generation Chevrolet Camaro. Some of the basic styling cues remained however, such as the bumper-integrated grille, the coupes' dipped beltline, and the charcoal-colored bumpers on some base model cars. Coupe, sedan, and convertible options were offered, however the wagon model was discontinued. The car now had the available option of 15 and 16 inch wheels. By 1997, the Cavalier became the best selling car within the entire GM lineup.
For the 3rd generation, powertrain options were limited to inline-four engines. The option for a V6 engine
, which had been available in the first and second generation, was dropped and replaced by a new four-cylinder of similar power output. Base and RS models still retained the 2.2L pushrod four-cylinder engine (2.2 L OHV) of the previous models, which was primarily mated to a 3-speed automatic, but was available with 5-speed Manual in the two-door models, in particular the RS models. As of 1996 a new 4-speed automatic became available in any trim. The Z24 and LS convertible used the 2.3 L LD2 Quad-4 engine in 1995, but they received a new engine in 1996, the 2.4 liter DOHC LD9
. This engine could also be special ordered on a 4 door LS model. This engine produced and of torque and was used until 2002.
In 2000, the car gained a minor facelift consisting of bigger headlights and an improved grille, lost the "CHEVROLET" text badge at the trunklid and gained a new "CAVALIER" badge along with new "five spoke" hubcaps. The 2.4-litre engine came mated standard with the Getrag F23
5-speed manual transmission
on the Z24 models, or with the optional 4-speed automatic on both the Z24 and the LS models. The Z24 only came in two-door coupe models until 2001 and featured a sport-tuned suspension, 16-inch tires, alloy wheels and improved interior electronics. Aesthetically little changed from the other models other than a ground effects kit and taller rear spoiler. In 2000 a 4-door Z24 Sedan debuted, featuring the same mechanics but having a less sporty body. The Z24 trim also received several other upgrades including a wider front sway bar and FE2 Sports Suspension for better handling characteristics, and less aggressive ABS anti-lock braking system.
In 2002, the 3-speed automatic was dropped from the base models equipped with the 2.2-L, and the 4-speed automatic became the main offering across the entire lineup, with 5-speed still available in the 2-door cars. Also, the RS was replaced by the LS Sport line, which featured the new Ecotec
L61 motors ( and torque). These engines improved fuel economy, featuring the same displacement as the GM 122 Pushrod Engine (2.2 L OHV) while maintaining most of the power of the older LD9 motors. The new Ecotec motors replaced the GM 122 Pushrod Engine (2.2 L OHV) in base models in 2003, and became the sole engine choice in the entire Cavalier line-up until 2005 when the Chevrolet Cavalier was replaced by the Chevrolet Cobalt
A GM Eaton M45 Supercharger
kit was also offered for the Z24 trim as well. The supercharger kit was developed and tested by General Motors and could only be installed at a GM dealer. This upgrade increased performance considerably due to a pressure of 4.7 PSI which in turn added approximately and of torque increase; raising the Z24's ratings to approximately and of torque.
The third generation Cavalier had two facelifts. There was a minor one in 1999 with new front and rear bumper fascias which included revised headlamps and taillamps for 2000 models. There was a more extensive refresh in 2002 for the 2003 model year, which included a complete new front end design, revised taillamps with a full-width rear reflector, a new rear spoiler and rear bumper fascia.
The third-generation Cavalier earned several low scores in crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
. Also, IIHS fatality risks statistics rated the Cavalier among the "highest rates of driver deaths", with 150 (four-door) to 171 (two-door) driver deaths per million registered vehicle years. Average for the Cavalier class (small) was 103 (four-door) to 134 (two-door) driver deaths per million registered vehicle years.
The IIHS gave the 1995-2005 Cavalier a "poor" overall score in their frontal offset collision test.
2005 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) Crash Test Ratings (coupe):
*Side rear driver: *safety concern*
*Side rear passenger:
2002 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Crash Test Ratings (sedan):
*Side rear driver: *safety concern*
*Side rear passenger:
As part of a wider effort to avoid additional restrictions on exports to the US, the third generation model was briefly sold in Japan by Toyota
under an agreement with GM, badged
as the .
Aside from the fact that it was right hand drive, the Toyota Cavalier also featured a leather-wrapped shift knob, steering wheel and park brake lever, wider front fenders, amber
turn signals for Japanese regulations, power folding side mirrors, side turn signal repeater lights on the front fenders, and carpeting on the inside of the trunk lid. Interior seats were often flecked with color, and the rear seat had a fold-down armrest. Vehicles produced from February through December 1998 were available with a leather interior equipped with an automatic transmission only.
All models featured wheels borrowed from the Pontiac Sunfire
. The Toyota Cavalier was available in 2.4G and 2.4Z trim levels. While all Chevrolet-badged Cavaliers received a facelift for 2000, the Toyota did as well with the updated center console, head-lights/hood/front bumper, tail-lights, and colors available. TRD
made a body kit and rear wing for the Cavalier, available exclusively in Japan. The car was sold only at Toyota Store
The Cavalier was not the only GM product sold in Japan; the Saturn S-series
was sold at Saturn dealerships (some former Isuzu
dealerships) from 1996 until 2003, and some Toyota Vista Stores also retailed Saturns.
The Cavalier was entirely produced by GM in the USA at the Lordstown Assembly
location, and sold from 1995–2000. The 1996-2000 Toyota Cavaliers came equipped with the 2.4 L LD9 engine, while the 1995 used the 2.3 L Quad 4. Due to the engine displacement and width dimensions ( for the coupe, for the sedan) exceeding Japanese government regulations
concerning exterior dimensions and maximum engine displacement, it was not considered a "compact" so it was sold as a "normal-class car" like the Toyota Mark II
and Nissan Skyline
. Prices for the coupe started at 2 million yen for the coupe, and 1.81 million yen for the sedan. the final Toyota Cavalier was imported in 2000.
The introduction of the Toyota Cavalier was not the first time the Cavalier was sold in Japan. Yanase Co., Ltd.
, a Japanese retail dealership that started importing European and North American vehicles soon after the end of World War II, sold various GM products including the Cavalier. When the decision was made to sell the Cavalier as a Toyota, this disrupted operations at Yanase. When the Toyota Cavalier was cancelled, Yanase continued to sell Chevrolet and other GM products. Yanase also provides complete maintenance services for all vehicles sold.
Due to higher than typically average vehicle inspection
costs, a fair number of these vehicles are re-exported as Japanese used cars, most notably to Australia and New Zealand. Production of the Toyota Cavalier ceased in June 2000. Despite Toyota making considerable efforts to sell the Cavalier on the domestic market, the Japanese public perceived the quality of workmanship to not be up to the standard typically expected of locally built cars. The car was also introduced while Japan was in a recession
following the 1991 collapse of the Japanese asset price bubble
or "bubble economy."
Most Cavaliers were built at Lordstown Assembly
, although they have also been produced at South Gate Assembly
(1982 model year only), Lansing Car Assembly
(1996-1998 coupes), Lansing Craft Centre
(1996-2000 convertibles), Janesville Assembly
, Ramos Arizpe
, and Leeds Assembly
. This car was discontinued in 2005, the last Cavalier rolled off the assembly line on October 6, 2005.
Fourth generation (2016)
reintroduced the Cavalier name on a new China-only compact sedan below the Cruze
, with the Chinese name being Chevrolet Kewozi (科沃兹). The Cavalier was introduced at the 2016 Chengdu Auto Show on September 2, 2016. It was developed on the same platform as the first generation Cruze, the Delta II platform
, and uses the 1.5 liter four-cylinder engine that powers many compact GM models in China, including the Chevrolet Sail
. Its pricing sets the Cavalier exactly between the smaller Sail and the more modern second generation Cruze. Deliveries started in September, with almost 10,000 units sold in its first month, but there are indications the Cavalier cannibalizes sales of the similarly priced first generation Cruze, which continues to be sold in China. As of 2018, the fourth generation Cavalier is also sold in Mexico with the same name, replacing the Chevrolet Sonic
There, the 1.5 L engine produces and torque.
The Cavalier was updated for the 2020 model year for Mexico with minor changes, adding three new colors, new alloy design, four airbags and ABS brakes, three-point seatbelts, and stability control as well as minor changes to the interior for the LT trim line including a 7" with Chevrolet myLink and Smartphone Integration for Apple CarPlay. The 2020 Cavalier went on sale on 23 September 2019.
In 2019, the car was discontinued in the Chinese domestic market after being replaced by the Chevrolet Monza
, while it continued to be exported.
* 1982 — 1.8 L OHV
2-barrel inline-4, 88 horsepower
* mid 1982–1984 — 2.0 L OHV 2-barrel inline-4, 90 horsepower
* 1983–1989 — 2.0 L OHV TBI inline-4, 86 horsepower (1983–1984), 88 horsepower (1985–1986), 90 horsepower (1987–89)
* 1985–1989 — 2.8 L OHV MPFI V6, 120-130 horsepower (125 in 1985, 120 in 1986, 130 in 1987, 125 in 1988, and 130 in 1989)
* 1990–1994 — 2.8 L OHV MPFI V6, 130 horsepower (Mexico and Venezuela only, *Colombia used a version of 116 hp.
* 1990–1991 — 2.2 L OHV TBI inline-4,
* 1990–1994 — 3.1 L OHV MPFI V6,
* 1992–2002 — 2.2 L OHV MPFI L4, 110 horsepower (1992–93), 120 horsepower (1994–97, 1994 upgrade to SFI), 115 horsepower (1998–2002)
* 1995 — 2.3 L DOHC MPFI Quad 4
* 1996–2002 — 2.4 L DOHC SFI L4,
* 2002–2005 — 2.2 L DOHC Ecotec SFI L4,
Category:Vehicles built in Lansing, Michigan
Category:Cars introduced in 1981
Category:Motor vehicles manufactured in the United States