By on January 17, 2012

Let’s face it; we Americans have rarely created a small car worth considering, we have also rarely built a small car in our own backyard. Case in point: the former Chevy Aveo. While I wouldn’t say the Aveo was abjectly horrible, there was nothing to excite a shopper and it wasn’t cheap enough to compensate. While the Aveo was born out of old-GM’s need to buy every ailing car company around the world (in this case Daewoo), it’s replacement, the new Chevy Sonic, is the only subcompact car currently sold in the United States that’s actually assembled here as well. The platform used by the Sonic is far better traveled than most Americans. GM’s “Gamma II” architecture was designed by GM Korea with considerable input from Opel (as the Opel Corsa will share the platform soon) and re-skinned by Chevrolet. To make the Sonic LTZ Turbo from this multi-national compact car, Chevy dropped a 1.4L turbocharged engine and six-speed manual tranny under the hood. Unlike the Hertz-ready Sonic hatchback Michael Karesh has last year, the Sonic LTZ Turbo is the top-of-the-line Sonic attempting to please those who want a hair more shove and, paradoxically, better fuel economy. Sound like a good start? Let’s see if GM got it right this time.

On the outside, the Sonic strikes some interesting poses. The side character lines are assertive, and the bold nose worn by this baby-bow-tie might be the best look I’ve ever seen from Chevrolet (I’m glad they didn’t get all Camaro-cartoonish on the Sonic). While it seems that the last decade was marked by compact cars that were egg-shaped contraptions with no pizzazz, the Sonic’s headlamps are the polar opposite with “individual” lamp assemblies instead of a single aerodynamic unit. While the look is both unique and striking, I can’t imagine they are “pedestrian friendly” and they look like they’d be a bear to clean (a problem not lost on a guy that washes his own cars). Out back things get a touch awkward with a stubby trunk, tear-drop shaped tail lamps (side view) and a plain trunk lid. While compact sedans are difficult to style to begin with, Chevrolet’s dramatic schnoz makes the boring booty a bit more pronounced. To soften the blow, the LTZ trim includes well-integrated fog lamps and a bump from the base car’s 15-inch wheels to 17-inch 5-spoke aluminum rollers that fill out the wheel wells better than most in this segment (I’m looking at you, Honda Fit).


The problem with looking at the top trim-levels of a particular car is that the interior can disappoint. The reason of course is a practical one; while you might be paying nearly $20,000 for the top-end model, the same interior is used in the base model costing some 25% less. The Sonic LTZ is no different from the rest with plenty of hard plastic on the dash and doors. Fortunately, the interior styling is modern and fairly unique which helps distract from the parts quality. The dilemma of a fully-loaded sub-compact for $20,000 or a base mid-size sedan like a Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry or VW Passat is not lost on me. For the money, if the interior quality matters to you, jump up a size and you will be far happier with your decision. Within its class however, the Sonic is no longer at the bottom of the pack in terms of interior refinement, instead trailing behind Hyundai and Ford but notably above Chrysler and Nissan’s discount offerings. Yet again, features on the LTZ help to distract from any haptic concerns with standard heated seats, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, leather seating surfaces, and a thick-rimmed leather steering wheel. What isn’t standard is an abundance of rear leg room, a problem common among the majority of the competition (the Nissan Versa is a notable exception). The cargo capacity of 14 cubic feet is very competitive and unlike some of the competition, split folding rear seats are standard on the Sonic.

On the safety front, the Sonic has recently scored an IIHS top safety pick along with the Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte and Ford Focus. All Sonic models come with a bevy of airbags including knee airbags for the driver and front passenger. GM is quick to point out OnStar as a safety feature; however the Sonic only gets a 6-month subscription for free. While I found OnStar handy on my last vehicle that came equipped with it (a 2000 GMC Envoy), the price could be a problem for budget shoppers with the cheapest package costing $199 a year (there are multi-year discounts available). If you want the turn-by-turn navigation feature (GM’s solution to the lack of an in-dash nav system), that’ll set you back $299 a year. Shoppers with smartphones might want to just stick to their Google Maps app and a basic AAA membership. Still, if you are risk averse and want to know that someone hears you when a tree falls in the forest, the Sonic is the only OnStar equipped car in the class.

Car companies equate small car buyers with young car buyers and for good reason; in the US small means cheap and the young buyers typically have little cash. The problem with this segment and the supposed target demographic is that the young demand technology. Unfortunately for Chevrolet (aside from OnStar), the Sonic has little going for it in the cellphone/music device integration department. There is an “OnStar app” which allows you to perform a variety of tasks from your Apple iPhone or Android device including: locking or unlocking the car, getting vehicle service information, setting up service appointments, viewing your tire pressure and finding your car in a parking lot. Two problems exist with this; the yearly fee and the fact that none of those features address the behind-wheel experience. While you can plug your iPod or iPhone into the Sonic, there is no voice command ability for your tunes ala Ford’s SYNC or Kia’s UVO. Adding to the frustration is an incredibly slow interface and tiny screen. I’d say you would be better off unplugging your device, browsing, then plugging it back in – except the system seems to always start at the first tune on your device in alphabetical order. If you’re young and not a Luddite, good luck finding your beat. On the bright side, the Bluetooth system operated flawlessly with above average sound quality.

Ford has been touting their turbocharged engines as the answer to all the world’s ills, so it was only a matter of time before GM hopped on the boosted-bandwagon. Instead of a boring name like Ecoboost, by checking the $700 option box (on LT and above trims) Chevy gives you the “Turbo Sonic” or “Sonic Turbo.” Take your pick. Either way it sounds like something from The Jetsons. For turbo duty, the engineers blessed the 1.4L cast-iron engine with aluminum heads, dual variable valve timing, a suitably small appetite for fuel and a tiny power bump verses the base 1.8L engine. While both engine choices are good for 138HP, the 1.4L turbo delivers peak power 1,400RPM lower than the 1.8 and, typical of turbo engines, it delivers 23 ft-lbs more twist with the peak hitting at 2,500RPM (1,300RPM lower than the 1.8). What does this mean for the driver? As long as you don’t mind the turbo lag, the 1.4L engine will serve up 60MPH about a half second faster than the 1.8L while delivering a 22% improvement in economy (4MPG city and 5MPG highway better). If you are waiting for the Sonic RS, be aware there are no planned power upgrades, just styling and possibly wheel changes.


Due partly to the turbo engine and the 2,850lb curb weight, the Sonic LTZ Turbo is rated for 29 MPG city and 40 MPG highway. Our tester came with the 6-speed manual transmission and, until sometime this spring, this is the only transmission choice for the turbo. I am told however that when the 6-speed automatic does drop, we should expect to see essentially identical EPA numbers. If you live in the mountains as I do, just wait for the automatic. As much as I love a good manual, the tiny engine runs out of steam around 5,000 RPM and as with most small turbocharged engines you don’t just have to downshift to get up a hill, you have to downshift and wait for the turbo to spool-up. When the mountain roads start twisting, the electric power steering is as numb companion, however the chassis is well sorted and grip from the 205-width low-profile Hankook Optimo tires was greater than I had expected. Despite our testing, mountain climbing and plenty of idling at the photo shoot, we averaged 34.6 MPG during 865 miles and easily hit 41 MPG on the open highway.

While the outgoing Aveo was named the Least Satisfying vehicle by Consumer Reports, the new Sonic has a few things going for it. Aside from being the patriot’s choice for being in Michigan, it delivers a competent driving experience with excellent fuel economy. While the $19,420 price tag may seem high, it is less than a Hyundai Elantra Limited and a hair cheaper than a fully loaded Fiesta SEL sedan. The Sonic wins points for being more fun to drive than either, unfortunately it loses more than it gains(in my book) for its poor smartphone integration. Fortunately GM has announced that their new “MyLink” infotainment system is coming to the Sonic in the 2013 model year. While I hesitate to speculate on new products, I have to say the thought of a 2013 Sonic Turbo with the 6-speed automatic and the new MyLink system makes me think GM is finally on to something.

 

Statistics as tested

0-30: 3.0 seconds

0-60: 8.7 seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.6 seconds @ 83 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 34.6 MPG over 865 miles

Chevrolet provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

82 Comments on “Review: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ Turbo...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Good honest review.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      Agreed. Nice.

      For me, I really like the headlight treatment; nice. Different, thank God. The smeared-mascara, ‘headlights up the fender’ look is old-old-old to me. It’s the current era’s equivalent of tailfins.

      It’s also nice to hear the fuel economy is achievable. We’re also in the era of automakers removing one ball bearing from everything to cheat the EPA past the magical 0.50 median to the next higher number. You get 0.49 MPG free!

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    This is a not bad looking car and I’d see if I could replace the audio head unit for one that is much better and see if it can integrate with the steering wheel controls as it looks to be a standard DIN unit.

    That is, assuming it isn’t tied into the CAM or body bus to prevent replacement.

    This is so I can retain a CD player for those times when I need to play CD’s as I do want to move to the USB thumb drive for in car music playing.

    Oh, the taillights DO look somewhat similar to the last Aveo’s units and I’d rather take the hatchback any day over the sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      korvetkeith

      Your steering wheel controls do work over CAN. There are aftermarket head units that are compatible with them.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        I thought so and I’ve seen a video where someone had an aftermarket head unit installed in a late model Fiat (professionally done) somewhere in Europe via YouTube and an interface, essentially a control box was connected between the head unit and the steering wheel control harness to retain their functionality.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Has anyone driven both the Sonic and the Veloster? If so, how did they compare?

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I refuse to believe the quality of the radio influences a decision on a new car, even for a young person. If anybody has data to prove it, I would sure like to see it.

    It’s just a radio (albeit, a glorified version), and you can change them to better than OEM pretty easily in most cases.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Wanna bet? SYNC/MyFordTouch is a big reason why I won’t own another Ford product.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Hate to disappoint.

      When Ford first came out with Sync I was working at a certain unnamed company involved with some unnamed technology and Ford shared with us some stats.

      Two Ford Edges sitting side by side. Same equipment, same color, same everything except Edge number one has Sync, Edge number two doesn’t.

      The Edge with Sync inventory turn? 15 days.

      The Edge without Sync inventory turn? 42.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        Not so sorry to disappoint; I speak from experience.

        SYNC was a big selling feature when I bought my Mustang. Too bad the voice recognition blows and the whole system would take a dump and stop recognizing any connected devices at least once a week.

        Granted, most of the factory infotainment systems are crap, but as a general rule I refuse to buy the same crap twice. Since SYNC is pretty much standard now and the desirable models come with the even more ridiculous MyFordTouch, that pretty much rules out Ford.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        The salespeople got a $50 spiff pushing a car with Sync.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    $20k?

    get a cruze with same motor, step up in build quality (yes I know it’s GM), similar mpg…

    don’t know who you’d want this penalty box

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      Just trust GM. They have a plan (not for unbeliever’s eyes). The Sonic is in that plan. A wonderful, magical plan, where in a Powerpoint it all makes sense, and can’t possibly fail.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Exactly. Plus the Cruze subjectively looks better, or at least more like an adult car. Unless there is a big price spread between what dealers ask for the Sonic and what dealers ask for the Cruze I see no good reason to buy a Sonic sedan. Since there is not a Cruze hatch in the US there is an arguement for buying the Sonic hatch.

      People pan the Versa as an outdated, penny-pinched design, but at least it has a point, it’s dirt cheap compared to the Sentra. What has less of a point is a b-segment car built to almost the same standards as a company’s c-segment car, and therefore almost the same price.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    I think the sedan looks better than the hatch. It’s actually a cohesive design (unlike the homely, afterthought Fiesta sedan) and conceals the high belt line better than most small cars.

    But $19,420 as tested? Get real.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Did you see the story on LLN today on the ten cheapest cars you can buy today? $19K doesn’t go nowhere near as far today as it use to in getting a new car.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      Honestly have to say I’m torn over the hatch or the sedan. Love the hatch for its honest practicality and that a hatch generally give you more room for things such as bicycles and small Xmas trees over a trunk. As for the price, does seem a little steep, but then paying the same money for a comparable Hyundai doesn’t thrill me either.

      The big issue as I see it with the small car market is keeping the price, quality, value and warranty to someone rather than them spending that hard earned cash on a 2 yr old leased Toyota.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Man these are great times we live in. Seriously, I think we’re spolied for choice. I’m going to buying a new car toward the end of 2012, spending somewhere around $25,000 and the choices are pretty nice.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Agreed. There are few malaise cars today in any segment.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        Yes the cars are better built today but have lost a lot of character and style/body styles. And years ago you had far more choices of body styles, options, engines and equipment than anything today. 2 door coupes are all but extinct from the big 3. Minivans are only available from Chrysler and the Korean and Asian companies. Looking for a compact performance coupe or sedan from Ford or Chevy or Chrysler. Don’t make those either. How about a true full size RWD sedan? Ford killed those off for 2011. How about a station wagon? Well you can spend a fortune on a CTS or Volvo or Mercedes. Affordable wagons are pretty much the property of Subaru. How about a nice full sized FWD comfort cruiser? Well the Taurus claims to be full size but loses half of it’s front seat space with that ridiculous landing strip over sized center console. Chevy sells it’s current Impala which is more mid size and hard seated compared to the traditional sedans which pretty much leaves the bland Avalon and the new upcoming Azera as the only big FWD choices. The Buick LaCrosse is also available but is more mid size than full, suffers a tiny trunk and is narrower than the other big sedans. Of course there are no end to the number of trucks/SUV’s and CUV’s being offered but everything else has far less choices than ever before.

        And now it looks like mid price mid size sedan shoppers will not even have a choice of V6 engines and are confined to noisier 4 cylinder only motors unless you buy a Camry or Accord. And just try getting certain options on today’s cars. Most of the time you are either forced into a high end trim level such as wanting fog lamps on a Cruze or Impala or pricey option packages that bundle things many shopper don’t want like over sized moonroof, sound system and Navigation for 4-5 grand when all they want is the roof or Nav.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Good report, nice photography.

    I like the looks of this sedan much more than the hatchback, but that rear seat is a bad joke.

    Fuel economy is excellent, although it looks like you only went by the dashboard computer; these things are notoriously optimistic. Did you actually calculate the mpg?

    I’m shocked at the 2850-lb curb weight, but this is a GM car and they excel at sound deadening. My much-larger-inside 05 xB1 weighs 450 lbs less, is louder, slower, and gets worse fuel economy (but I love it). My, how far we’ve come in less than a decade.

    For a little more money, I agree with TonyJZX that the Cruze may have more value than the Sonic Turbo.

    Personally, I’m tempted lately by the 2013 Dodge Dart.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      I expect the extra weight has to do with the good safety ratings. IIHS demands more structural integrity.

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        the cruze in the higher trim settings i think pushes 3,100-3,200lbs

        that’s pretty hefty for a C segment

        however it tends to blitz safety ratings and i would imagine it has all the hangups of a global car (ie. RHD stuff?)

        and you guys haven’t got the diesel yet… it will push 3,300lb no doubt

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        So nearly the same weight as a first gen AWD CR-V.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I agree about the rear seats.

      Nissan hit this out of the park in the (old) Versa and reaped the sales rewards, and the Fit has decent space even with tall drivers in front. Hell, even the Yaris is acceptable. Why the Fiesta and Sonic’s rear quarters are so tiny is beyond me.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        Nice to hear from you, psar. Seems you fell off the radar for a while; I was hoping you weren’t mad at us, or sick.

        Tiny rear seats make better-looking cars. Nice-looking cars sell better than ugly ones, but that recipe is self-limiting when some buyers (taller ones like you and me) are seeking a measure of utility in their purchase. Our xb1s take the prize for rear seat room; few ‘larger’ vehicles even come close.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      I always verify the trip computer’s judgements, I only mention if I notice a difference. There was a 5% variance which is insignificant.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    I wouldn’t assume that being LTZ is going to keep it out of a rental fleet, I’ve rented both a turboed Cruze LTZ and a V6 Malibu LTZ before. Both were obviously way nicer cars than the HHR’s I’ve also had to suffer through but even with the HHR’s I ended up getting a 2LT replete with remote start one out of the two times I’ve ended up with an HHR (which is basically only when hey’re out other cars…lord I hate the HHR.
    Actually enjoyed the Cruze a decent amount in turboed LTZ form though I’m guessing the baser engine would have made me quite sad, but I really wish GM thought over how you’d pop the hood on the car after a spirited drive since the stupid turbo throws off a ton of heat but they didn’t bother to insulate the hood opening latch. Finger burning good.

  • avatar
    enzl

    You can pick up a decent Focus for $19k nowadays*…the Cruze is, to me, also a better choice at this price point. According to a fleet mgr I know, the base Sonic has a $165 spread between inv and msrp…so these will not be discounted much, either. I love that it’s so much better than the Aveo, I’m just not sure how many will retail.

    *full disclosure: my parents just picked up a 2012 Focus SFE for $18k. It’s a lot of car for 18k.

  • avatar
    Nooly

    Yet another reason not to buy the Fiat 500…

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      What do you mean by that?!

      I’m still hoping to buy a Fiat…

      • 0 avatar
        Nooly

        ciddyguy,

        I’m glad you like the 500. I actually own a couple of Fiat 124 Spiders myself. Although I love the handling, styling, and performance of my Spiders, I’d probably never buy the 500. My point is the Sonic is yet another option in the 500 price range with better looks, more room, and better performance.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    “… fairly unique…”

    Seriously? How can anything be “fairly unique”. That’s like a “little pregnant” or “slightly dead”.

    Other than that, interesting review. Goofy gauge cluster.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    (Psst–That’s not real leather.)

    • 0 avatar
      Spencer Williams

      If it’s like other cars (for example, my Mustang), the seating surfaces are leather, the outer areas are vinyl. The weird dotted/perforated middle pieces should be leather.

      Though, granted, even if it is leather, it’s terrible quality leather.

    • 0 avatar

      To be fair, a large number of $40,000+ Mercedes and BMWs are sold with leatherette. Perhaps even the majority of sub-$70k Mercedes.

      At NAIAS last year, I had a hard time figuring out if the X5 on display had leather or not. One self-professed expert declared the material to be leatherette. It turned out to be leather. So unless you spring for the premium leather (where it’s offered) the difference is not obvious.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Thanks for the info… I was like: “leather in Chevy’s cheapest offering??? WTF!!!” – it made no sense, but since its really vinyl that is understandable.

  • avatar
    amca

    No snippy remarks about GM buying Daewoo. It was the bargain of the century in the car business.

    Daewoo had built two, I believe, completely and totally state-of-the-art factories, but nobody wanted the cars that were coming out of them. And GM bought ‘em for pennies on the dollar, and proceeded to use them to supply up-to-date very well built Chevrolets all over the world.

    They didn’t buy Daewoo for the name. It’s gone now, I believe. They bought it for the factories, and it was one of the best deals GM ever did.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Surprised at the comments on the number steering and the 6-speed being a bad match for the turbo. I thought most other reviews praised the steering?

    I’ve also been led to believe that manual transmissions are traditionally better matches for smaller turbos with lag. This comes up a lot with regard to Subaru products. Apples to oranges?

    I think almost all sub-compacts are questionable values. Cars like the Cruze and Focus are larger and more comfortable and get similar to nearly equal gas mileage, while costing the same as higher trim levels of sub-compacts. You can try arguing a smaller footprint is best in a dense urban environment, but in that case ride your bike or take public transport.

    Unless there is a noticeable performance advantage with the sub-compact, I don’t see the point. For example, is a Fiesta that much more agile, or faster, than a Focus? I guess the only upside is in base trim, sub-compacts are the cheapest way into new car ownership for people without a lot of money that absolutely have to have something new.

    I will give the Sonic credit though: at least within the Chevy lineup it seems like it has a different enough character from the Cruze to make it worth a look. It sounds like the Sonic can be a fun drive while the Cruze is more of a highway cruiser. Are the Mazda2 and Fiesta anything but smaller versions of the Mazda3 and Focus?

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      the argument is some subcompacts have clever packaging that makes them perhaps even more practical that a C segment like a Cruze

      the example out there are the Honda Fit and the Kia Soul which offer more space and more creative use of that space in a smaller footprint than a Cruze/Focus

      I perhaps hate the Fit and Soul though… so would never contemplate it. You can fit say a 50″ LCD TV or a washing machine in a Fit… you won’t in a Focus.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      The 6MT probably isn’t a good match, as far as driver experience, because it probably has 2 (or even 3, like the Cruze Eco) overdrive gears and a tall final drive. It is great for gas mileage in flat country, but you can’t just lay into the gas like a relatively short geared WRX. For the past decade or so, MT drivers were well in the power band at cruising speeds. Having the engine just off idle at highway speeds is becoming more common in manual transmission vehicles looking for the magic 40 mpg.

      • 0 avatar

        Gearing is relatively tall, but not to the same extent as in the Cruze ECO. This engine is tuned to optimize the midrange.

      • 0 avatar
        bludragon

        longer gearing with 6 gears should be a good thing. If I’m on a flat highway, just stick it in 6th and enjoy the Economny. On a mountain road? Well then leave it in 3rd. Not having the long 6th gear annoys me on many manuals which sacrifices economy and noise to the auto at hwy speeds.

        “just wait for the automatic…you have to downshift and wait for the turbo to spool-up” I would expect the auto to make this even worse. Wait for downshift, then wait for spool up… In a manual you can downshift before it is time to get on the gas and eliminate at least that part of the delay.

  • avatar
    damikco

    Finally an honest report on a GM vehicle without the author going out of his way to bash GM on things most automakers get wrong.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Wow, it actually looks handsome in dark colors. Avoid lighter colors when buying this one!

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    I can’t stomach the dashboard in the Sonic, although I understand it from a business and engineering perspective. For that matter, I can’t stomach the Megazord-inspired center stack in the Fiesta, either.

    Both of those dashboards might be okay to look at for 12,000 miles. But I think in three years, they’ll be nasty reminders that make these cars seem way out of date.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    20K? How much money will be on the hood in real life?

    GM definitely is making progress – they have to if they are going to survive. Would I consider one of these? Probably not, as I need more comfort for my commute, but 40 mpg is quite a draw. Perhaps this and other new small cars will be on display at our car show next month.

    Hard plastic interior surfaces? Who cares? Our 2007 MX5 is all hard plasic except for basement-stairway-rubber-edge molding for armrest padding! Our 2002 CR-V – the same.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Just stating the obvious, but I doubt anybody is going to pay $19k sticker on these. There will be cash on the hood. Just how much cash will determine how the Sonic stacks up to the competition. At least for me. I think it has a lot of things going for it.

    Mini rant: Every car review I’ve read in recent memory gripes about the numb steering. So what car with this magical steering feel are we comparing every other car to? It would be nice if testers would say something like, “The steering was numb, but better than a XXXX, but not as good as a YYYY”.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      I agree. We don’t exactly drive the Gran Prix every day. I certainly don’t want my Impala to have touchy steering like my MX5 – that’s not what I bought it for.

      I’ve been hearing “complaints” like this for over 40 years. I didn’t care then, I don’t care now, I just want to get to and form work as stress-free and comfortable as possible.

      Driving my MX5 every day on my 100-mile R/T commute would put me in the nut house at my age. Probably would ‘way back when, too.

    • 0 avatar
      chaparral

      That’s because nearly every car’s steering SUCKS nowadays.

      Steering feel is one of the great pleasures of driving. Knowing what the tires are doing, being able to place the car on the road with machine-tool accuracy, feeling the vibration of the road surface, all connect you to what you’re doing behind the wheel and allow you to do a better job at driving.

      Mazda manual steering is great, same goes for Subaru and Honda. Mazda and Subaru have good power steering. The kings of steering feel are Mitsubishi and Lotus. Drive a car from any of those brands for a long trip, then drive a comparable car with slack, numb, boosted steering over the same distance, and you will be a lot less worn out knowing rather than guessing what the tires are up to.

      • 0 avatar
        ringomon

        Steering feel is pretty much what keeps me in Mazdas. It’s ruined me a bit for other cars (although I’ve never driven a Mitsubishi or Lotus). I don’t drive that fast, but I do like to carve corners…

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Steering sucks lately because manufacturers are struggling with the transition to electric power steering.

        Mazdas had excellent steering when they were using hydraulic systems, and now it sounds like they might be the only company to get EPS right. I also asked “well who actually does this right?” in Karesh’s review of the new Z4, and the Mazda2 seems to be the benchmark. That’s one man’s opinion, but I haven’t read anything contradicting it anywhere else.

        Lotus is known for steering feel because cars like the Elise don’t even have power steering, so that one is a bit unfair.

        BMW used to be known for steering, but by all accounts they are struggling with EPS.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Not a fan of the sedan, but I think it looks tidy in hatch form. Sometimes GM parts bin raiding can be ugly, but in this case, you’re getting a steering wheel out of a Camaro!

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’m glad to see this car is a big improvement over the Aveo. I like the sedan better than the hatch, in terms of styling. I guess the downside to Chevy having higher average transaction prices is there’s no inexpensive way to get into the higher trim lines anymore.

    One thing I wanted to complement Mr. Dykes on, was the photography. It was nice to see the smartphone and the backpacks used as something to get an idea of how large the glovebox and trunk spaces are. Many times these things are photographed without any kind of reference, and you have no idea how big/small they are until you see them in the flesh.

  • avatar
    rem83

    “If you are waiting for the Sonic RS, be aware there are no planned power upgrades, just styling and possibly wheel changes.”

    Not quite, the MyLink touch screen is standard on the RS, it’s getting an upgraded interior AND, most importantly, it’s getting the non-eco Cruze 1.4t gear ratios / final drive. This actually results in a 17-27% increaes in wheel torque, depending on the gear (17% in 1st, 27% in 6th, and a variation in between). You are correct in that engine output at the crank will remain the same, however, there are quite a few fixes available for that already…

  • avatar
    obbop

    Drove the Sonic to the Sonic for a burger to buy.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “Drove the Sonic to the Sonic for a burger…”

      How? Judging by your comments, you can’t afford one!

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        Well, due to DWI laws, he can no longer drive the Chevy to the levee for a whiskey and rye…

        I’d go for a burger, too!

        EDIT: I didn’t remember the song correctly… It’s been a while since I’ve heard it…

        Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry…

        Oh, that really sucks!

  • avatar
    JCraig

    This needs to be compared to the Accent, not the Elantra. Mentioning the Elantra Limited is more expensive is irrelevant. Where does it stand in price and features next to an Accent, Fiesta, Fit, Yaris and Versa? You make a few references to these but it’d be nice to get a firm idea about where you think this stands.

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    “While I wouldn’t say the Aveo was abjectly horrible…”

    Oh, it was.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    The Sedan Sonic is a little more bearable than the bizzarro hatch (and the door handles aren’t hidden!), but if Chevy wants to shave any Aveo vibes they should have re-styled the front ends a bit, instead they’ve aped the Dodge Charger.

    Seems like we’re going to have another 80′s era where Ford, Dodge, and Chevy put-out econo boxes that’re all identical, get decent gas mileage, are boring to drive, but aren’t so cheap anymore.

    Lets just hope that future Sonic buyers remember to check the box that says “4 GM certified Brake Pads”.

  • avatar
    Advance_92

    Ten years ago when the WRX started picking up there were a number of aftermarket parts and software that came along for it. I’ve heard there are similar hardware and software pieces being developed for this new 1.4. As someone with an eight year old Subaru with a few software changes the Sonic could be an interesting car if I had to get something new. Though I’m still not sold on the small windows and an overall design that needs 17 inch wheels to look decent.

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      You can get a Trifecta tuner chip I bet.. here is a thread on a blown 1.4L Cruze engine with the tune.. GM paid for the repairs:

      http://www.cruzetalk.com/forum/34-1-4l-turbo/4806-turbocharger-failure-14.html

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    Where’s the comment, “don’t people like to be able to see out of their cars?” I’m kind of disappointed.

    This car looks interesting in black, much as I like the blaze orange featured in a Sonic review a couple days ago (on other cars perhaps), it doesn’t look right here. Then again I really like the radioactive green from the first reviews of the new Focus.

    How was it to try and drive with the instrument cluster? Is it easy enough to try to figure out what everything is doing? Those guages look pretty tiny and would not be something I could live with for too long.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      It really wasn’t bad. I don’t stare at my cluster while driving, and all the pertinent information is easily read at a glance.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      The guage looks a bit confusing to me, and if I were to glance at it while driving I wouldn’t know where to put my eyes with an analogue and didgital cluster mashed into one thing.

      The blindspots don’t look terrible bad on this, but the whole “big huge behindsleek beltine” fad just looks even sillier on compacts.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    Who should buy this car? Small sedans is the choice of senior citizens. Are their many senior citizens in Usa that wants a car with a 6 speed manual gearbox? I think not.

  • avatar
    threeer

    The problem I see for the Sonic (at least immediately) was made apparent when I stopped by ye old Chevy dealership yesterday. They had about 7 LT-equipped Sonics out there for a little over $17k…and sitting right across from them were about 20 2012 Malibus for a little over $18k. As good as the Sonic might be, I’d think it’d be a hard sell to convince somebody to go two classes down for only $1500 less. Granted, they are more than likely trying to clear the lot of the last gen ‘Bu to make room for the 2013…but still…

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Reminds me of visiting a Saturn dealer during the 2008 fuel crunch. The were pushing left over loaded Aura V6s. Not only did we not want an Aura V6, they made us not want anything else from Saturn, since it seemed ridiculous to pay more for a car with an MSRP %5,000 less that had fewer cylinders and features. The Aura V6 would be cheap up front, but it would then require 18 inch tires and plenty of gasoline in city driving plus it was within a year or two of worthless orphan status, not that they were advertising the fact. Could GM marketing and their shrinking market share be related?


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States