When I heard that General Motors was redesigning the Cavalier and Sunfire for the 2000model year, I was optimistic. Although the 1995-1999 J-Bodies are good looking cars,there is always room for improvement, I figured. What GM delivered, though, I among manyothers have mixed feelings about.
Beginning with the exterior, both the Cavalier and Sunfire have new front and rearfascias. Finally the black bumpers that made so many J's look like "rental cars" are nomore. Both front and rear fascias are body color painted on all models. The fascias alsoseem to be a point of controversy. Chevrolet opted to keep the same front and rearfascias on the Z24, simply adding driving lights in the front. This could not have been agood move on their part, as the differences between Z24 and Cavalier are much lessdistinct now. Pontiac opted to keep a more distinct look between the base Sunfire and theGT - the front fascia on the GT is unique.
Moving inside the car, GM has slightly altered the interiors. The position of the radioand the HVAC controls have been swapped - the radio is now mounted up higher for easieraccess. Several additional cup holders have been added in key places, a welcome additionto thirsty passengers. Gauge clusters on all models have been redesigned, making those RKSport white face gauges obsolete for new models. Perhaps the biggest improvement is theradio. Now available are dual cassette and CD player, and an optional Monsoon stereosystem in the Sunfire with 200 watts of power. Not the best money can buy, but a nicesystem for a manufacturer option.
Under the hood is where you will find some big changes on some models. The engines remainmostly unchanged - available with the standard 2.2L 115HP engine, and the 2.4L 150HP isan option on some models. Three and four speed automatic transmissions remain, howeverthe J body now has a new German designed Getrag 5 speed manual transmission. Thistransmission is superior in many ways to the older Isuzu built transmission it replaces.Shifting is now much smoother and tighter, and many annoying problems are a thing of thepast. Many enthusiasts are now drooling to get their hands on this transmission - andthey will not be disappointed.
GM has added many more refinements to these cars, such as available OnStar advancedcommunication system, and others. Though the new look is questionable, other advancementsare very welcome.