Auto analysts are jazzed about General Motors' turnaround. The automaker has done an excellent job transitioning from crisis to building mode, and analysts including Dan Montague, North American lead analyst for

PwC Autofacts in Detroit, expect the automaker's growth to build in 2011.

In their journey to regain consumers' trust, GM's standout models include the 2011 Aveo, which is estimated at 35 mpg for manual transmission models. This year the automaker has given customers' two new exterior color choices -- Silver Ice Metallic and Summer White -- and boosted air filtration, but otherwise left the model basically unchanged.

Great call.

In recent years, the Aveo -- first introduced to the United States in 2004 -- won fans for its "tall car" design that accommodates those in the 6-foot-and-taller range. High-end features including OnStar with Turn-by-Turn Navigation, GM oil life monitoring system and XM Satellite Radio has won the Aveo a host of tech-hungry fans.

Specs: 2011 Chevrolet Aveo Sedan
» Engine: Ecotec 1.6-liter inline-4 with variable valve timing
» Transmission: Five-speed manual transmission (as tested)
» Gas mileage: 27 mpg city/ 35 mpg highay
» MSRP: From 12,115

Now there are plenty of auto aficionados that will tell you that the Aveo doesn't have strong handling characteristics. They may be right in some instances, but I didn't find that in the test car I drove.

The model I drove gave a comfortable, quiet ride with plenty of acceleration strength. Plus, I appreciated the car's quiet, stable ride, especially on not-spring-friendly side roads. GM credits the MacPherson strut front suspension with coil springs and a stabilizer bar -- among other engineering tweaks -- for the comfortable ride.

The four-sensor brake system gave steady, smooth performance on wet and dry roads.

Yes, the car could be peppier. If you're looking for sports car performance, though, look elsewhere and don't expect 35 mpg fuel economy. Sure, there are other subcompacts that are a bit more responsive, but the Aveo I drove was more than respectable.

What I was looking for in this run-around-town car was plenty of interior space.

I loved the theater-style rear seating that offers a 60/40 split. The car's design allows you to carry long cargo -- think skies or an oversized box -- and also make great use of the flat space.

The Aveo's maximum 37.2 cubic feet of cargo space doesn't match other subcompacts (the Honda Fit has 57.3 cubic feet, for example), but there are other pluses, including rear seats that fold very flat.

Although the car's interior is comfortable, it's certainly not high-end. Hard plastic abounds.

Still, for a starting price of just about $12,000, the Aveo is clearly a subcompact contender, especially for taller drivers who want headroom.