Chevrolet Cavalier


The Chevrolet Cavalier was introduced for 1982 and, as you'll learn in this article, proved that U.S. automakers could build a contemporary small car to compete with the imports on the road and beat many of them in the showroom.

The Cavalier debuted as part of the General Motors J-car family. It was the first basic design to be shared by all five GM divisions -- a good thing for all of them except Cadillac.

The 1982 Chevy Cavalier CL 4-door-sedan, part of the 1982 Chevy Cavalier line.
The 1982 Chevrolet Cavalier lineup included this stolid CL
4-door Sedan. See more pictures of classic cars.


Trying to make the sound but unspectacular J-car into the luxury Cadillac Cimarron proved an image-tarnishing stretch and a classic lesson in tampering with brand identity. This compact front-wheel-drive layout suited the Chevrolet Cavalier perfectly, however.

The four-cylinder engine design was dated upon its introduction, but the rest of the car was right on, with snappy styling, four different body styles, room for four, and low base prices.

Sales were strong from the beginning, and the four-cylinder was soon modernized. A convertible was added for 1983, and V-6 Z24 models injected some good performance for 1985.

The Chevrolet Cavalier soon became Chevy's best-selling car, and the redesigned second-generation Chevrolet Cavalier, which bowed for 1995, continued that standing.

Snappy convertible and Z24 models appealed to those looking for style and fun on a budget, but the secret to success for the Chevrolet Cavalier was that it was at its core, honest, basic transportation. It was a formula that helped the nameplate survive all the way into the 21st century.

The 1996 Chevy Cavalier Z24 Coupe, part of the 1996 Chevy Cavalier line.
The Chevrolet Cavalier eventually offered some fairly sporty choices,
including convertibles and this 1996 Cavalier Z24 coupe.


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  • How Chevrolet Works: Get the inside story of one of America's greatest automotive marques in this lavishly illustrated history of Chevrolet, beginning with its founding in 1911.

1982 Chevrolet Cavalier

The 1982 Chevrolet Cavalier 2-door Hatchback, part of the 1982 Chevrolet Cavalier lineup.
The 1982 Chevrolet Cavalier models included this two-door hatchback.
The 1982 Chevrolet Cavalier debuted to bolster the company's subcompact lineup, which had been represented of late by the antiquated -- but highly popular -- Chevette.

While the Chevette was rear-wheel drive, the new Cavalier bowed with more modern transversely mounted engine and front-wheel drive. As a result, it was more competitive with European and Japanese entries of the day.

Four body styles in three trim levels gave customers a wide choice of Cavaliers. Two-door sedans, three-door hatchbacks, four-door sedans, and five-door wagons were offered in stripper Cadet (except the hatchback), base, and fancier CL trim.

There were a wide range of options available that even included a 6-way power driver's seat and sunroof, in addition to the more expected power windows/locks/mirrors, automatic transmission, and air conditioning.

Styling was from the "three box" school of design, with clean lines incorporating sharp edges, dual square headlights flanking a low rectangular grille, and a tall greenhouse. Siblings at the other GM divisions wore different front and rear fascias all featuring quad rectangular headlights -- which Cavalier would adopt later on.

Initially available only with a 1.8-liter (112-cubic-inch) 88-horsepower four-cylinder engine, midyear brought an optional 2.0-liter (122-cubic-inch) version with 90 horsepower. Also added at that time was a five-speed manual transmission to join the standard four-speed manual and optional three-speed automatic.

Cavalier endured a sibling rivalry with the other members of the J-car family, which included the Buick Skyhawk, Oldsmobile Firenza, and Pontiac J2000. Cadillac also had a version of the J-car, but the Cimarron was in a different price strata entirely.

Cavalier prices ran about $1,500 more than a comparable Chevette, which gave some buyers sticker shock. The most popular Cavalier model, the base four-door sedan, started at $7,137. This was about $500 less than a Honda Accord, but Cavalier couldn't match the Honda's refinement.

Nevertheless, nearly 200,000 copies of Chevy's new subcompact hit the road, though some sales were undoubtedly at the expense of a Chevette or Citation.

1982 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,315-2,432
$6,278-$8,452
195,057


The 1982 Chevrolet Cavalier CL 4-door Sedan, part of the 1982 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
The 1982 Chevy Cavalier CL four-door sedan
appealed as basic transportation.


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  • How Chevrolet Works: Get the inside story of one of America's greatest automotive marques in this lavishly illustrated history of Chevrolet, beginning with its founding in 1911.

1983 Chevrolet Cavalier

The 1983 Chevy Cavalier Coupe, part of the 1983 Chevy Cavalier line.
The 1983 Chevy Cavalier lineup included this affordable coupe.

The 1983 Chevrolet Cavalier included a number of changes for its sophomore model year, most notably the addition of a convertible variant. Accomplished with the help of ASC Incorporated, the new droptop unfolded just a year after Chrysler Corporation "reinvented" the convertible by chopping the roofs from its Chrysler LeBaron and Dodge 400.

In response to complaints of poor acceleration, the 2.0-liter four introduced in mid-1982 was made standard for 1983. Yet despite higher compression and a switch to throttle-body fuel injection (to replace a carburetor), horsepower dropped by four to 86, though torque stayed about the same. That engine could be backed by a four- or five-speed manual transmission or a three-speed automatic with lockup torque converter.

In an effort to hold prices down, Chevy stripped some of the Cavalier's standard equipment for 1983 and renamed some models. The no-frills Cadet was dropped, so the line started with the base coupe, sedan, and wagon, all of which listed for about $500 less than the previous year's Cadet.

Top-line CL versions for 1982 were replaced by CS models, which saw even bigger price cuts, averaging about $1,700. The convertible topped the line at $10,990.

Considering the drop in prices, sales didn't increase very much: from 195,000 in 1982 to about 218,500 in 1983 -- only 627 of which were convertibles.

1983 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,374-2,486
$5,888-$10,990
218,587

The 1983 Chevrolet Cavalier 3-door F-41 Hatchback, part of the 1983 Chevy Cavalier line.
This 3-door F-41 hatchback was one of
eight 1983 Chevy Cavalier models.

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  • How Chevrolet Works: Get the inside story of one of America’s greatest automotive marques in this lavishly illustrated history of Chevrolet, beginning with its founding in 1911.

1984 Chevrolet Cavalier

The 1984 Chevrolet Cavalier, part of the 1984 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
The Chevrolet Cavalier convertible, previously configured by
ASC Incorporated, was a full factory-assembled production model for 1984.


The 1984 Chevrolet Cavalier got quad rectangular headlights and a new grille for this model year -- the Cavalier's first appearance change since being introduced. Also, model names were shuffled around, with the sportier "Type 10" designation now applied to coupe and hatchback models along with the convertible (it was previously restricted to the hatchback).

Sedans and wagons now came in base and flashier CS trim. Convertibles, which were released late in the 1983 model year in limited quantities and color choices, were in full-scale production and available in eight different hues.

Sole powerplant on Cavaliers was still the throttle-body-injected 2.0-liter four, rated at 86-horsepower, down somewhat from 1983. Four- and five-speed manual transmissions were offered, as well as a three-speed automatic.

Prices rose a bit this year, and Cavaliers were criticized for being rather expensive once optioned to the level that most buyers wanted them. The cheapest model, the base four-door sedan, now listed at $6,222, and the convertible started at a whopping $11,299.

Yet sales more than doubled from the previous year, reaching an impressive 462,611 units -- making Cavalier the new number-one seller not only at Chevrolet but in the entire United States.

1984 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,367-2,583
$6,222-$11,299
462,611

The 1984 Chevrolet Cavalier Notchback, part of the 1984 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
"Type 10" designation was applied to 1984 mid-level
Cavalier notchbacks (shown here) and coupes.


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  • How Chevrolet Works: Get the inside story of one of America's greatest automotive marques in this lavishly illustrated history of Chevrolet, beginning with its founding in 1911.

1985 Chevrolet Cavalier

The 1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Type 10 Coupe, part of the 1985 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
The 1985 Cavalier sporty "Type 10" appealed to
a broad spectrum of shoppers.

The 1985 Chevrolet Cavalier was introduced with a new optional engine and a few minor changes, following a highly successful year in 1984. The big engine news arrived late in the year in the form of a High-Output (H.O.) 2.8-liter V-6 similar to that found in the Citation X-11 and Celebrity. Here it made 125-horsepower, somewhat less than in Cavalier's siblings.

The H.O. V-6 had port fuel injection, replacing the carburetor used previously on this engine. Continuing as the base powerplant was the 2.0-liter 88-horsepower four with throttle-body injection, now rated at 88 horsepower.

Standard with either engine was a four-speed manual transmission, but the five-speed manual was only available with the four-cylinder. Both could also get an optional three-speed automatic.

In other 1985 news, all two-door Cavaliers got a revised instrument panel with center console and optional digital instrumentation.

Because GM wanted to boost its 1984 EPA fuel-economy ratings to satisfy CAFE requirements, the Cavalier's 1984 model year extended into the winter. As a result, the 1985's appeared late, which adversely affected that year's production figures.

Yet despite the short model year, more than 383,000 Cavaliers were sold, making Cavalier not only the most popular Chevrolet but also the most popular car in America -- again.

1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,339-2,458
$6,477-$11,693
383,752


The 1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Hatchback, part of the 1985 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
The zesty Z24 Hatchback helped make the
1984
Chevy Cavalier a runaway hit.

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  • How Chevrolet Works: Get the inside story of one of America's greatest automotive marques in this lavishly illustrated history of Chevrolet, beginning with its founding in 1911.

1986 Chevrolet Cavalier

The 1986 Chevy Cavalier Z24, part of the 1986 Chevy Cavalier line.
The sporty Z24 model remained the
top-selling Chevrolet Cavalier for 1986.

The 1986 Chevrolet Cavalier featured two sportier series to complement the V-6 engine introduced in 1985. The pair was topped by the Z24, offered in two-door coupe or three-door hatchback body styles.

For those on a tighter budget, the RS series replaced the previous year's Type 10 and was available in all body styles -- coupe, hatchback, sedan, convertible, and even the wagon.

RS models added black and red exterior trim, wider 13-inch tires, sport suspension, power steering, and a cockpit-styled instrument panel. Standard engine remained the 85-horsepower 2.0-liter four, mated to either a four- or five-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission.

The performance-oriented Z24 brought blackout exterior treatment, F-41 sport suspension, 14-inch tires on aluminum wheels, and, most importantly, the 120-horsepower 2.8-liter V-6 -- which was optional on lesser Cavaliers. The V-6 could only be mated to the four-speed manual or three-speed automatic.

Z24's were priced more than $2,000 above the base coupe, with a starting price of $8,878. Yet they accounted for more than 46,000 orders in 1986, better than 10 percent of total Cavalier sales that reached 432,000 -- enough for another first-place showing.

1986 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,325-2,999
$6,706-$13,140
432,091

The 1986 Chevy Cavalier RS Wagon, part of the 1986 Chevy Cavalier line.
Sales of the 1986 Chevy Cavalier RS wagon
were soft at around 6,200 units.


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  • How Chevrolet Works: Get the inside story of one of America's greatest automotive marques in this lavishly illustrated history of Chevrolet, beginning with its founding in 1911.

1987 Chevrolet Cavalier

The 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier RS convertible, part of the 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
1987 Cavalier models like this RS convertible
had lighter, more sophisticated engines.

The 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier featured several powertrain revisions as the model entered its fifth season, but little else was new.

Changes to the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder earned it a Generation II label. Modifications included lighter pistons, an aluminum head, and GM's Computer Controlled Coil Ignition, resulting in a two horsepower increase to 90.

The 2.8-liter V-6, made optional in 1986, gained similar enhancements, which boosted horsepower from 120 to 130. The changes also trimmed the installed weight by about 35 pounds. Standard transmission with the four-cylinder engine remained a four-speed manual, with a five-speed manual and three-speed automatic optional.

But the V-6 now offered a five-speed as well -- a new Getrag-designed manual that could cope with the V-6's torque. As before, a three-speed automatic was also available with the V-6.

With four body styles (coupe, sedan, wagon, and convertible) available in up to three trim levels (base, RS, and Z24), Cavalier could boast of offering 13 different models for 1987 -- the most in all of autodom. Yet production dipped significantly, from 432,000 to just over 346,000, bumping Cavalier out of first place in the sales standings.

1987 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,300-2,519
$7,255-$14,106
346,254

The 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier RS wagon, part of the 1987 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
The instrument panel in this Cavalier RS wagon
sited major controls at the driver’s fingertips.

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1988 Chevrolet Cavalier

Three 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier models.
The 1988 Chevy Cavaliers traded a blunt
nose and tail for gently curved units.

The 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier offered new styling -- the biggest change since being introduced in 1982. Up front, a rounded fascia held a new grille and composite headlights, as well as restyled fenders, bumper, and hood.

The rear boasted a different decklid, end panel, bumper, and taillights. Styling changes were most apparent on the coupe, which also got a new roofline with more slanted rear pillars.

Model choices were trimmed, with Cavaliers now coming in a "stripper" VL coupe; base coupe, sedan, and wagon; RS coupe and sedan; and Z24 coupe and convertible. The hatchback body style was deleted. Z24s got a restyled analog instrument cluster with tachometer as standard, while the previous year's electronic dashboard was optional on the Z24 and RS.

Base engine was again a 90-horsepower 2.0-liter four with throttle-body fuel injection. The port-fuel-injected 2.8-liter V-6 standard in the Z24 lost five horsepower to 125 but was now also offered as an option in wagons. With both engines, a five-speed manual transmission was standard, a three-speed automatic optional.

Despite the new look, Cavalier sales dropped somewhat, from about 346,000 to just under 323,000. That put it no better than fourth in industry sales, and it was no longer even Chevy's top seller.

1988 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,359-2,665
$6,995-$15,990
322,939

1988 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24, part of the 1988 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
For 1988, the Cavalier convertible moved up
from the RS trim level to Z24 status.


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1989 Chevrolet Cavalier

The 1989 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Coupe, part of the 1989 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
The 1989 Cavalier Z24 looked good in coupe form
and even better as a Z24 convertible.

The 1989 Chevrolet Cavalier saw several changes as the model soldiered into its eighth season.

Cavalier had already received a styling makeover (it's biggest since being introduced in 1982) for 1988. New features for the 1989 Cavalier included a self-aligning steering wheel designed to reduce injuries in a collision by bending to conform to the driver's chest. In another safety-oriented move, rear shoulder belts became standard on all models.

Z24s gained gas-pressurized shocks and, on coupe versions, a split folding rear seatback -- which was optional on lesser models. Dropped as separate models were the RS coupe and sedan, the equipment they added being grouped into an RS options package that could be ordered on the base coupes, sedans, and wagons.

A stripper coupe, called VL (Value Leader), anchored the line, while the sporty Z24 returned in coupe and convertible guise. Powertrain choices remained the same as before, though the 2.8-liter V-6 that was standard in the Z24 and optional in the Cavalier wagon gained five horsepower to 130.

Both the 130 horsepower and the standard 90-horsepower 2.0-liter four could be paired with either a five-speed manual transmission or three-speed automatic.

1989 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,418-2,729
$7,375-$16,615
376,626

The 1989 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Coupe, part of the 1989 Chevy Cavalier line.
Brisk V-6 performance remained a
commendable positive point of the Z24.

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1990 Chevrolet Cavalier

The 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier RL, part of the 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
Cavalier's sporty entry for 1990 was the Z24;
the mid-level offering was this RL.

The 1990 Chevrolet Cavalier dropped its open-air variant -- a move that was done in anticipation of the introduction of a Beretta convertible. As it turned out, engineers had difficulty finding an economical solution to correct the Beretta's excessive body shake, and the effort was finally aborted. However, it was too late to revive the Cavalier droptop -- at least for this year.

In order to offer low-priced alternatives to the coupe, Chevrolet expanded the VL model line for 1990 to include a sedan and wagon. These slotted in below the base models, which also comprised all three body styles, and added power steering and tinted glass to their list of standard features. With the demise of the convertible, the sporty Z24 now came only in coupe form.

Performance was enhanced across the board by enlarging the Cavalier's two available engines. The 2.0-liter four grew to 2.2 liters, gaining five horsepower in the bargain, now 95. Standard on the Z24 and optional on the wagon was a 3.1-liter V-6 to replace the old 2.8, which likewise provided a power boost; in this case, from 130 to 140 horsepower.

Besides minor trim alterations, Cavalier was otherwise little changed for 1990. Prices rose by about $200, and production dropped by nearly 20 percent to around 311,000 -- though in this slow year for the industry, that was enough to earn Cavalier second place in the sales race behind the Ford Taurus.

1990 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,465-2,529
$7,577-$11,505
310,951

The 2.2-liter inline four engine.
The 1990 Cavalier's 2.2-liter inline four came standard with
an Isuzu-built five-speed stick.

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1991 Chevrolet Cavalier

The 1991 Chevrolet Cavalier VL Coupe, part of the 1991 Chevy Cavalier line.
This VL Coupe was the price leader for the 1991 model year.

The 1991 Chevrolet Cavalier featured mild restyling along with revised instruments and controls as the car entered its tenth model year. Up front, the traditional grille was replaced by a solid panel, while in back, the taillamps extended all the way from the license plate to the fender edges.

Inside, rotary knobs were used in lieu of buttons and slide levers for the headlight and wiper controls. A restyled dash with built-in shelf added dual slide-out cup holders, while the instrument panel added coolant temperature and oil pressure gauges. Z24s got a new four-way adjustable driver's seat and optional CD player.

The usual three body styles were offered at the start of the year -- coupe, sedan, and wagon -- but midyear saw the return of the Cavalier convertible. Three trim levels were available. The VL carried over as a price leader, while the base models were renamed RS. Z24 returned as the sporting alternative. The revived convertible was offered only in RS guise this time around; previously, it came only in Z24 trim.

Powertrains were unchanged, with a 95-horsepower 2.2-liter four standard in VL and RS models (except the convertible), and a 140-horsepower 3.1-liter V-6 standard in RS convertibles and Z24s, and optional in RS wagons.

1991 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,436-2,757
$7,995-$15,214
326,847

The 1991 Chevrolet Cavalier RS Convertible, part of the 1991 Chevy Cavalier line.
At $15, 214, this Chevy Cavalier RS convertible
was the priciest 1991 model.

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1992 Chevrolet Cavalier

The 1992 Chevy Cavalier RS sedan, part of the 1992 Chevy Cavalier line.
Fresh-looking 1992 Cavalier models included this RS sedan.

The 1992 Chevrolet Cavalier got a more powerful base engine and added anti-lock brakes as a standard feature in the car's eleventh model year. The model line was expanded by one, with a Z24 convertible returning after a two-year hiatus. The lineup now included coupes in VL, RS, and Z28 trim; sedans and wagons in VL and RS guise; and convertibles in RS and Z24 persuasions.

A new fuel-injection system boosted the base 2.2-liter four to 110-horsepower (from 95), while the 3.1-liter V-6 that was standard in the Z24 and optional in RS convertibles and wagons remained at 140 horsepower. Both engines came standard with a five-speed manual, offering a three-speed automatic as an option.

New features on all Cavaliers included a shift interlock on automatic-equipped models that prevented the gearshift from going into Reverse or Drive unless the brake pedal was depressed, and an innovative power locking system that automatically locked all the doors when the transmission was shifted into Drive, or with manual transmission, when the car reached eight mph. VL and RS models also got new wheel covers.

Total sales slipped to about 225,000 for 1992, though that was enough for a third-place finish behind the Ford Taurus and Honda Accord.

1992 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,509-2,689
$8,899-$18,305
225,633

1992 Chevrolet Cavalier “Stripper” VL Coupe, part of the 1992 Chevy Cavalier line.
1992 Cavalier models like this stripper VL coupe
were considered a good value.

For more picture-packed articles about Chevys and other great cars, see:
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  • How Chevrolet Works: Get the inside story of one of America’s greatest automotive marques in this lavishly illustrated history of Chevrolet, beginning with its founding in 1911.

1993 Chevrolet Cavalier

The 1993 Chevrolet Cavalier RS Convertible, part of the 1993 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
The 1993 Chevrolet Cavalier line included this RS convertible.

The 1993 Chevrolet Cavalier saw only minor changes for this model year, but they made Chevy's aging subcompact a more flexible offering. Model choices remained the same: stripper VL coupe, sedan, and wagon; mid-level RS in those body styles plus a convertible; and sporty Z28 in coupe and convertible only.

Both the RS and Z28 convertibles gained a glass rear window for 1993, which allowed a rear defroster to join the ragtops' list of options. All RS models could now be ordered with the Z24's 140-horsepower 3.1-liter V-6, which was formerly optional only on the wagon.

Standard on RS models was again a 110-horsepower 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine, which was the only powerplant offered in the stripper VL series. Both engines came standard with a five-speed manual transmission; a three-speed automatic was optional.

Also for 1993, RS Cavaliers wore Z24-level cloth interior trim, RS wagons got a split-folding rear seat, and a low-oil-level warning light was added to cars equipped with the V-6 engine.

The availability of the optional CD player was also expanded to include the budget VL models. Sales increased over the uninspiring 1992 total, enough to return Cavalier to the number-one spot in Chevrolet's line.

1993 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,509-2,695
$8,520-$18,305
250,728

The 1993 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Coupe, part of the 1993 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
This 1993 Chevy Cavalier Z24 Coupe was among
the priciest models for this year.

For more picture-packed articles about Chevys and other great cars, see:
  • Classic Cars: Learn about more than 400 of the world's finest classic and collectible automobiles.
  • Muscle Cars: Look back at tire-smoking Chevys and scores of other machines from the golden age of American high performance.
  • Sports Cars: Discover the pleasure of sports motoring at its purest in these captivating articles on the best sports cars from around the world.
  • Consumer Guide Automotive: Here's your source for news, reviews, prices, fuel-economy and safety information on today's cars, minivans, SUVs, and pickups.
  • Consumer Guide Used Car Search: In the market for a used Chevy or virtually any other pre-owned vehicle? Check out these reports, which include safety recalls and trouble spots.
  • How Chevrolet Works: Get the inside story of one of America’s greatest automotive marques in this lavishly illustrated history of Chevrolet, beginning with its founding in 1911.

1994 Chevrolet Cavalier

The 1994 Chevrolet Cavalier mid-level RS Series Coupe, part of the 1994 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
The mid-level RS series was offered as a
sedan, convertible, and this coupe.

The 1994 Chevy Cavalier had a stronger base engine and a new unlock feature for its standard automatic door locks as the car entered its 13th model year. Otherwise, in what would turn out to be its final showing in this form, the Cavalier continued much as before, though model choices were trimmed somewhat.

The stripper VL was now offered only in coupe and sedan body styles, losing its wagon variant. Likewise the mid-range RS, though it continued to also offer a convertible.

Z24s once again came in coupe and convertible form. That left the wagon -- which now came in only one unnamed trim level, though its list of standard equipment mimicked the RS line.

Base engine was again a 2.2-liter four, but it gained 10 horsepower, now rated at 120. A five-speed manual was standard on most models, but some RS versions came standard with the available three-speed automatic.

Standard on Z24s and optional on RSs was a 3.1-liter V-6, still putting out 140 horsepower. It could again be mated to either a five-speed manual or the three-speed automatic.

Cavalier never did adopt air bags in this generation, relying instead on door-mounted safety belts that could be left buckled to automatically deploy when the doors were opened. It did have anti-lock brakes, however -- as standard equipment -- something most other small cars offered only as an expensive option if at all.

1994 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,509-2,695
$8,845-$19,995
273,626

The 1994 Chevrolet Cavalier RS Series Convertible, part of the 1994 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
This mid-level Cavalier RS series
convertible was priced at $16,995.

For more picture-packed articles about Chevys and other great cars, see:
  • Classic Cars: Learn about more than 400 of the world's finest classic and collectible automobiles.
  • Muscle Cars: Look back at tire-smoking Chevys and scores of other machines from the golden age of American high performance.
  • Sports Cars: Discover the pleasure of sports motoring at its purest in these captivating articles on the best sports cars from around the world.
  • Consumer Guide Automotive: Here's your source for news, reviews, prices, fuel-economy and safety information on today's cars, minivans, SUVs, and pickups.
  • Consumer Guide Used Car Search: In the market for a used Chevy or virtually any other pre-owned vehicle? Check out these reports, which include safety recalls and trouble spots.
  • How Chevrolet Works: Get the inside story of one of America's greatest automotive marques in this lavishly illustrated history of Chevrolet, beginning with its founding in 1911.

1995 Chevrolet Cavalier

The 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier mid-level LS Convertible, part of the 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
This attractive mid-level Cavalier LS convertible
appeared in the spring of 1995.

The 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier, after 13 years in the same basic form, offered up a redesign. Though the base engine carried over from before, just about everything else was new.

Foremost among the changes was a sleek new body wrapped around a revised interior sporting standard dual air bags. Wheelbase was stretched nearly three inches to 104.1, allowing for more rear leg room, while overall length was cut by a couple of inches.

Coupe and sedan body styles debuted in the fall, followed by a convertible in the spring. But the station wagon didn't return as sales hadn't warranted a replacement.

At first, the only versions offered were a base coupe and sedan along with a fancier LS sedan, but both an LS convertible and Z24 coupe bowed in the spring. All carried four-cylinder engines, as the previous 3.1-liter V-6 was replaced by a revised 2.3-liter double-overhead-cam Quad 4, which made its debut in the Z24.

Previously offered by Chevrolet only in the sportiest version of the Beretta coupe, the Quad 4 had seen heavy revisions to cut vibration and provide a more useful power curve. Standard in the Z24 and optional on LSs, it was rated at 150-horsepower, while the returning 2.2-liter four that was standard in base and LS models produced 120 horsepower.

Both engines came standard with a five-speed manual transmission, but the 2.2 got an optional three-speed automatic while the Quad 4 offered a four-speed automatic.

Though still no paragon of refinement, the new Cavalier bested the old in every way. The ride was quieter, the interior roomier, the styling more modern, and the dual air bags brought it on par with others in the class.

Anti-lock brakes remained standard, still a rarity in the subcompact class. Prices started at just over $10,000 for a base coupe, and though that represented a hike of better than 10 percent over the previous VL coupe, the new Cavalier was a lot more car.

1995 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,617-2,838
$10,060-$17,210
N/A

The 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Coupe, part of the 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier line.
Spring of 1995 also brought a new Z24 coupe with oomph.

For more picture-packed articles about Chevys and other great cars, see:
  • Classic Cars: Learn about more than 400 of the world's finest classic and collectible automobiles.
  • Muscle Cars: Look back at tire-smoking Chevys and scores of other machines from the golden age of American high performance.
  • Sports Cars: Discover the pleasure of sports motoring at its purest in these captivating articles on the best sports cars from around the world.
  • Consumer Guide Automotive: Here's your source for news, reviews, prices, fuel-economy and safety information on today's cars, minivans, SUVs, and pickups.
  • Consumer Guide Used Car Search: In the market for a used Chevy or virtually any other pre-owned vehicle? Check out these reports, which include safety recalls and trouble spots.
  • How Chevrolet Works: Get the inside story of one of America’s greatest automotive marques in this lavishly illustrated history of Chevrolet, beginning with its founding in 1911.

1996 Chevrolet Cavalier

The 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 Coupe, part of the 1996 Chevy Cavalier line.
This Z24 coupe was the 1996 Cavalier's muscle.

The 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier gained a revised double-overhead-cam engine, available traction control, and daytime running lights for this model year. The mid-1995 debut of the Z24 reintroduced GM's Quad 4 engine to Chevrolet, which had previously been used in the sportiest versions of the Beretta. It didn't last long, however, at least not under that name.

A new version called the Twin Cam took its place for 1996, with a bit more displacement (2.4 liters versus 2.3) but the same 150 horsepower. The Twin Cam could be paired with either a five-speed manual transmission or four-speed automatic.

All other Cavaliers came standard with a 120-horsepower 2.2-liter four; that included a base coupe, LS convertible, and base and LS sedans. Base models came standard with a five-speed manual, offering a three-speed automatic as an option.

LS models came standard with a four-speed automatic, though the convertible could also get a five-speed manual if the Twin Cam engine was ordered. A new traction control system was included with the four-speed automatic, and both engines had new 5-year/100,000-mile coolant and 100,000-mile spark plugs.

An anti-theft system was newly standard on all models, as were daytime running lights. A remote keyless entry system was a new option for all Cavaliers except the base sedan.

1996 Chevrolet Cavalier Facts

Model
Weight range (lbs.)
Price range (new)
Number built
Cavalier
2,617-2,838
$10,500-$17,500
N/A

The 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier LS Convertible, part of the 1996 Chevy Cavalier line.
At $17, 500, this LS convertible was the priciest
Cavalier for the 1996 model year.

For more picture-packed articles about Chevys and other great cars, see:
  • Classic Cars: Learn about more than 400 of the world's finest classic and collectible automobiles.
  • Muscle Cars: Look back at tire-smoking Chevys and scores of other machines from the golden age of American high performance.
  • Sports Cars: Discover the pleasure of sports motoring at its purest in these captivating articles on the best sports cars from around the world.
  • Consumer Guide Automotive: Here's your source for news, reviews, prices, fuel-economy and safety information on today's cars, minivans, SUVs, and pickups.
  • Consumer Guide Used Car Search: In the market for a used Chevy or virtually any other pre-owned vehicle? Check out these reports, which include safety recalls and trouble spots.
  • How Chevrolet Works: Get the inside story of one of America’s greatest automotive marques in this lavishly illustrated history of Chevrolet, beginning with its founding in 1911.