Upside: Low price, height (58.8 inches) allows for excellent headroom, sensible layout of the instrument panel.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Pedestrian in all respects.

Head-turning quotient: Guaranteed anonymity, even in the "victory red" paint of the tested Aveo LS hatchback.

Body style/layout: The Aveo is a front-engine, front-wheel-drive car available as a four-door sedan or five-door hatchback. There are three trim lines, including Special Value (super cheap), Base (very cheap) and LS (cheap).

Engine/transmissions: All Aveo models come with GM's E-TEC II 1.6-liter, inline four-cylinder engine, which develops 103 horsepower at 6,000 revolutions per minute and 107 foot-pounds of torque at 3,600 revolutions per minute. A five-speed manual transmission is standard. A four-speed automatic is optional.

Capacities: All Aveo models have seating for up to five people. Maximum sedan cargo volume is 11.7 cubic feet. Maximum hatchback cargo volume, with rear seats flipped and folded, is 42 cubic feet. All Aveo models have an 11-gallon gasoline tank. Regular unleaded is recommended.

Mileage: I averaged 33 miles per gallon in the tested Aveo LS five-door hatchback with manual transmission (which weighs 11 pounds less than the model with the automatic).

Safety: Four-wheel anti-lock brakes are optional. In this case, buy them.

Price: The base price of the 2004 Aveo LS five-door hatchback is $12,045. Dealer invoice price on that model is $11,262. Price as tested is $13,235, including $650 in options and a $540 destination charge. Rebates are available. Chevy dealers aren't going to the bank on this one.

Purse-strings note: GM views the Scion xA, Toyota Echo, Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent as natural Aveo rivals. In that group, the Aveo rides just above the Kia Rio, which runs at the very bottom of the pack. In order of preference, I recommend the Toyota Echo, Scion xA and Hyundai Accent.