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Chevrolet Cavalier
1995-1999 Chevrolet Cavalier sedan
Manufacturer General Motors
Production 1982–2005
Predecessor Chevrolet Monza
Successor Chevrolet Cobalt (For United States and Canada)
Chevrolet Optra (For Mexico)
Class Compact
Layout FF layout
Platform J-body

The Chevrolet Cavalier was a compact automobile produced from 1982 to 2005 by General Motors. Built on the company's J platform, the Cavalier was one of the best-selling cars in the United States throughout its life.[1]



The Cavalier replaced the Monza, which 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 imports. 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. Ford and Chrysler 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 4-door hatchback) and, in later years, a 2-door convertible. The small Cavalier even helped fill in lagging sales of the compact Citation (a Nova replacement).

First generation

First generation
1985-87 Chevrolet Cavalier sedan
Model year(s) 1982–1987
Assembly Lordstown, Ohio
Lansing, Michigan
Janesville, Wisconsin
Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila, Mexico
South Gate, California (1982 only)
Kansas City, Missouri
Body style(s) 2-door convertible
2-door sedan
3-door hatchback
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
Engine(s) 1.8 L 122 I4
2.0 L 122 I4
2.8 L 60-degree V6
Transmission(s) 4-speed manual
5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Wheelbase 101.2 in (2570 mm)
Length Sedan: 174.5 in (4432 mm)
Coupe: 173.5 in (4407 mm)
Wagon: 177.9 in (4519 mm)
Width Sedan & Coupe: 66.0 in (1676 mm)
Wagon: 66.3 in (1684 mm)
Height Sedan & Coupe: 52.0 in (1321 mm)
Wagon: 54.2 in (1377 mm)
Fuel capacity 13.6 US gal
Related Buick Skyhawk
Cadillac Cimarron
Oldsmobile Firenza
Pontiac Sunbird
Vauxhall Cavalier

The Cavalier first went on sale in early 1981 as a 1982 model with front-wheel-drive, a choice of two four-cylinder pushrod engines, and 2 and 4-door sedan, hatchback, and station wagon body styles.

1983 Cavaliers offered electronic fuel injection, and a V6 engine became available in 1985, uncommon for a compact car. 1984 brought modest changes to the front fascia.

The Cavalier was largely identical to the Pontiac Sunbird. Before the Pontiac brand was officially introduced in Mexico in 1992, Cavaliers sold there featured Sunbird body panels, as opposed to US-spec Cavalier panels. From 1993 on, the sibling marques were both offered, as in the United States.

1985-1987 Chevrolet Cavalier coupe
1985-1987 Chevrolet Cavalier wagon
1982-1985 Chevrolet Cavalier Type 10 Hatchback

Second generation

Second generation
1988-1990 Cavalier sedan
Model year(s) 1988–1994
Assembly Lordstown, Ohio
Lansing, Michigan
Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila, Mexico
Body style(s) 2-door convertible
2-door coupe
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
Engine(s) 2.0 L 122 I4
2.2 L 122 I4
2.8 L 60-degree V6
3.1 L 60-degree V6
Transmission(s) 5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Wheelbase 1988-89: 101.2 in (2570 mm)
1990-94: 101.3 in (2573 mm)
Length 1988-89: 178.6 in (4536 mm)
1988-89 Wagon: 178.8 in (4542 mm)
1990-94: 182.3 in (4630 mm)
1990-94 Wagon: 181.1 in (4600 mm)
Width 66.3 in (1684 mm)
1988-89 Sedan/Coupe/Wagon: 66.0 in (1676 mm)
Height 1988-1991 Coupe & 1990-91 Convertible: 52.0 in (1321 mm)
1988-1991 Sedan: 53.6 in (1361 mm)
1988-89 & 1992-94 Convertible: 52.2 in (1326 mm)
1988-89 Wagon: 54.3 in (1379 mm)
1990-91 Wagon: 54.1 in (1374 mm)
1992-94 Wagon: 53.8 in (1367 mm)
1992-94 Coupe: 51.9 in (1318 mm)
1992-94 Sedan: 53.5 in (1359 mm)
Curb weight 2,359 lb (1,070 kg) (coupe)
2,363 lb (1,072 kg) (sedan)
2,271 lb (1,030 kg) (RS coupe)
2,414 lb (1,095 kg) (RS sedan)
2,558 lb (1,160 kg) (Z24 coupe)
2,665 lb (1,209 kg) (Z24 convertible)
Fuel capacity 15.2-18 US gal
Related Buick Skyhawk
Cadillac Cimarron
Oldsmobile Firenza
Pontiac Sunbird
Vauxhall Cavalier

The Cavalier got redesigned for 1988; however, the redesign was merely cosmetic, as it used the same platform as the previous generation. The two door hatchback was dropped, while the coupe, sedan, wagon and convertible carried over. The sedan and wagon were mostly carried over from the B-pillar 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 in 1988: VL, RS, and Z24. The VL and RS came standard with the 2.2 L OHV L4 engine, while the 2.8 L V6 was optional on the RS and standard on the Z24.

In 1989, the steering column was redesigned to be collapsible, as well as the addition of 3-point seat belts and outboard seats in the rear. In 1990, the optional V6 engine was upgraded to 3.1 liters and 140 horsepower. The convertible was also dropped 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.

1991-1994 Cavalier coupe

The Cavalier got a cosmetic update in 1991 that involved a new hood, bumpers, headlights, taillights, wheel covers and a redesigned interior. Most notably, the cooling system was redesigned to draw air from the bumper, giving it a Ford Taurus-style bumper and grille design. 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 Z24 eschewed this for a color keyed body kit. 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 reintroduced, and was offered in both RS and Z24 trim.

In 1992, the 2.2 L OHV L4 was upgraded to produce 110 horsepower. 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 models. 1994 models were also carryovers, as a new model of Cavalier was in development. The VL trim was dropped on the wagon, while the 2.2 L OHV L4 adopted sequential fuel injection, increasing its output to 120 horsepower. Additional changes included a slightly redesigned climate control interface and the power locking system being again redesigned, so that the doors lock automatically when put into gear, and unlock automatically when the ignition is switched off.

Third generation

Third generation
2000-2002 Chevrolet Cavalier sedan
Also called Toyota Cavalier (Japan)
Model year(s) 1995–2005
Assembly Lordstown, Ohio
Lansing, Michigan
Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila, Mexico
Body style(s) 2-door convertible
2-door coupe
4-door sedan
Engine(s) 2.2 L 122 (2200) I4
2.2 L Ecotec I4
2.3 L Twin Cam (LD2) I4
2.4 L Twin Cam (LD9) I4
Transmission(s) 5-speed Getrag F23 manual
5-speed Getrag 282 manual
5-speed Isuzu manual
4-speed automatic (GM 4T40)
3-speed automatic (GM 3T40)
Wheelbase 104.1 in (2644 mm)
Length 1995-97: 180.3 in (4580 mm)
1998-2002: 180.7 in (4590 mm)
2003-05: 180.9 in (4595 mm)
Width 2-Door: 68.7 in (1745 mm)
4-Door: 67.9 in (1725 mm)
Height 1995-97 Coupe: 53.2 in (1351 mm)
1995-97 Sedan: 54.8 in (1392 mm)
1995-97 Convertible: 53.9 in (1369 mm)
1998-2005 Coupe: 53.0 in (1346 mm)
1998-99 Convertible: 54.1 in (1374 mm)
1998-2005 Sedan: 54.7 in (1389 mm)
2000-02 Convertible: 53.7 in (1364 mm)
Curb weight 2,562 lb (1,162 kg) - 2,784 lb (1,263 kg)
Fuel capacity 15.2-18 US gal (58-69 litres)
Related Pontiac Sunfire

The Cavalier was redesigned for 1995 with expanded dimensions and styling that was a departure from the two boxier previous generations. The wagon was discontinued, but the coupe, sedan, and convertible body styles returned. This Chevrolet Cavalier generation lost the V6 engine entirely. It is the only Chevrolet Cavalier generation with only a four-cylinder engine.

The Cavalier was facelifted in 2000 and in 2003. The convertible disappeared after 2000.

The Cavalier was replaced by the Chevrolet Cobalt in 2005.

1995-1999 Chevrolet Cavalier convertible
1995-1999 Chevrolet Cavalier coupe
2000-2002 Chevrolet Cavalier coupe
2003-2005 Chevrolet Cavalier coupe

Toyota Cavalier

1998 Toyota Cavalier coupé (Japanese export model with amber rear turn signals, right hand drive and flecked red/grey interior)

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 Toyota Cavalier as in return for the Geo/Chevrolet Prizm. Aside from the fact that it was right hand drive, the Toyota Cavalier also featured a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, 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. The Toyota Cavalier was entirely produced by GM in the USA and sold from 1995–2000. 1996-2000 Toyota Cavaliers came equipped with the 2.4 L LD9 engine, while the 1995 used the 2.3 L Quad 4.

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.

A fair number of these vehicles are re-exported as Japanese used cars, most notably to New Zealand. Production of the Toyota Cavalier ceased in June 2000.

TRD made a body kit and rear wing for the Cavalier, available exclusively in Japan.


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 (4 door) to 171 (2 door) driver deaths per million registered vehicle years. Average for the Cavalier class (small) was 103 (4 door) to 134 (2 door) driver deaths per million registered vehicle years.[1]

The IIHS gave the 1995-2005 Cavalier a "Poor" overall score in their frontal offset collision test.[2]

2005 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Crash Test Ratings (coupe):[3]

  • Frontal Driver: 4/5 stars
  • Frontal Passenger: 4/5 stars
  • Side Driver: 1/5 stars *safety concern*
  • Side Rear Passenger: 2/5 stars
  • Rollover: 4/5 stars

2002 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Crash Test Ratings (sedan):[4]

  • Frontal Driver: 4/5 stars
  • Frontal Passenger: 4/5 stars
  • Side Driver: 1/5 stars *safety concern*
  • Side Rear Passenger: 3/5 stars
  • Rollover: 4/5 stars


Most Cavaliers were built at Lordstown Assembly, although they have also been produced in South Gate, California (1982 model year only), Lansing Car Assembly (1996-1998 coupes), Lansing Craft Centre (1996-2000 convertibles), Janesville Assembly, Ramos Arizpe, and Leeds Assembly.

United States sales figures

  • 58,904 - 1982
  • 268,587 - 1983
  • 462,611 - 1984
  • 383,752 - 1985
  • 432,101 - 1986
  • 346,254 - 1987
  • 322,939 - 1988
  • 376,626 - 1989
  • 310,501 - 1990
  • 326,847 - 1991
  • 225,633 - 1992
  • 251,590 - 1993
  • 254,426 - 1994
  • 151,669 - 1995
  • 261,686 - 1996
  • 315,136 - 1997
  • 238,861 - 1998

Sources: (1992-98), (1999 estimate)[2]

Engines used

  • 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, 130 horsepower
  • 1990–1994 — 2.8 L OHV MPFI V6, 130 horsepower (Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela only)
  • 1990–1991 — 2.2 L OHV TBI inline-4, 95 horsepower
  • 1990–1994 — 3.1 L OHV MPFI V6, 140 horsepower
  • 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, 150 horsepower
  • 1996–2001 — 2.4 L DOHC SFI L4, 150 horsepower
  • 2002–2005 — 2.2 L DOHC Ecotec SFI L4, 140 horsepower


External links



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