I admit it; being on the Auto Tour has its perks ó like receiving a new vehicle every week to test drive.

Most of the vehicles in the media fleet are fully loaded with all the options ó just so the auto writers have a chance to test them out and include a mention in our reviews.

Iíve really enjoyed covering the new developments in automotive technology. Many of todayís model include sophisticated, high-tech features that literally park the car for you, voice-activated commands for placing phone calls and changing the radio station and keyless entry/start systems that allow you to enter and start the vehicle without having to take the key out of your pocket.

Yes, Iíve gotten spoiled because I looked like an idiot this week standing in the parking lot pushing on the key in an attempt to unlock the door to this weekís test vehicle.

Then I realized there were no buttons to push ó it was just a key. For a split-second, I actually had to think about how to unlock the door with just a key.

I know, bring out the violins. But everyone at the office got a big chuckle out of it.

I mention this to not only bring a laugh at my expense, but to help highlight the extraordinary value of the 2008 Chevrolet Aveo subcompact.

Honestly, Iím glad Chevrolet provided me with the chance to test-drive a base model with very few optional features (the only optional feature was the four-speed automatic transmission).

I have to say, I was extremely impressed with this front-wheel drive, five-passenger sedan (the Aveo is also available in a hatchback body style) that has a base price starting below $13,000.

For a small car, it has a lot of big car attributes ó although I would recommend adding the optional remote keyless entry feature.

Manufactured in South Korea, the Aveo is powered by a peppy 1.6-liter I-4 engine that delivers solid performance and impressive fuel economy numbers.

Requiring regular unleaded gasoline, the Aveo has an EPA fuel economy rating of 24 mpg city, 34 mpg highway for models equipped with the five-speed manual transmission (23 city, 32 highway when equipped with automatic).

Ride and handling characteristics are equally impressive. I found my Aveo sedan test vehicle a nimble, responsive and practical, economical mode of transportation for budget-minded consumers.

Remote keyless entry aside, itís also loaded with a lot of standard features, such as: intermittent wipers, dual-stage front airbags and seat-mounted side-impact airbags, basic stereo with auxiliary jack for iPods, tilt steering wheel, front head restraints, rear window defogger, sunglass holder, remote fuel door and trunk release and air conditioning with cabin filtration system.

Even fully loaded with all the options, the Aveo still comes in below $15,000.

For those in the market for a small car, the 2008 Chevrolet Aveo is worthy of a test drive.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 15 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. Comments may be sent to Neal at neal.white@waxahachiedailylight.com.