FIRST-CLASS RIDE

If it's luxury you're looking for, you don't have to spring for a Bentley. You can slip into the new $16,000 Chevy Cobalt and get many of the same interior goodies found on that regal $158,000 tourer. Priced to compete with Toyota's Corolla and the Honda Civic, the Cobalt LS is fine basic transportation dolled up to make your commute less painful. Some of the standard features--air conditioning, power windows and locks, keyless entry, audio system with CD and four-wheel antilock brakes--are what make driving enjoyable and safe.

Though I am disappointed in the Cobalt's nondescript exterior design, I like what Chevy did inside. My tester, with the $595 sport package, had a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever. The gauges, with a sporty white background, are more appealing than the standard black. And the brushed aluminum dash is au courant. Door seals are engineered to keep the cabin silent, just like on pricier cars. And when it comes to power, it's good enough for this car's light weight, with a 2.2-liter, four-cylinder, 145-horsepower engine. Little luxuries can come cheap.

Tip: For $6,000 more, get an upgrade with 205 horses and 18-inch wheels.

FIRST-CLASS RIDE | News