By on February 12, 2012

My intial review of the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic was less than stellar. Considerably less. But, as noted, that reviewed covered the LT trim level with the normally-aspirated 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission. Everyone else (aside from our own Steve Lang) has been reviewing the LTZ trim level with the 1.4-liter turbocharged four and six-speed manual transmission. They’ve been much more positive about the car. How much difference can an engine, transmission, and tires make?

The differences begin with exterior appearance. Car companies frequently fit cars with a smaller wheel than they were designed for, but how they expect this to help sell cars escapes me. Even if some people buy the aesthetically afflicted car, others will see it on the road and form their initial impressions accordingly. Though not a beauty in any configuration, the Sonic looks much better with the LTZ’s 17-inch alloys than the LT’s 15s. The aggressively styled front end and chunky fenders were clearly penned with the larger wheels (or perhaps even larger ones) in mind. Especially when the car is painted orange, as both tested cars were, the 17s should be mandatory. Both of the tested cars were also hatchbacks, but unlike with other B-segment cars the Sonic sedan is equally attractive.

The interior plastics didn’t seem any nicer after a week than they did during my earlier test drive. Even in the LTZ they’re competitive with other cars in the segment but a clear step down from the fabric trim (on the instrument panel!) and soft-touch polymers of the C-segment Chevrolet Cruze. My fondness for the motorcycle-inspired gauge cluster did grow with familiarity. Unlike the oddball digital instruments of decades past, those in the Sonic actually work well, clearly and entertainingly presenting essential information.

The driving position and interior dimensions are of course unchanged from the LT to the LTZ. In either trim the Sonic feels larger than its direct competitors, and more like cars from a size class up, thanks to a high beltline and distant windshield. Whether this is a plus or a minus depends on whether you prefer your small cars to actually seem small. Chevrolet’s bet, is no doubt a sound one: most people buying a B-segment car would get something larger if they could afford it. Actual interior room is among the best in the segment, so the average adult will just fit without scrunching. The front seats are comfortable, but those seeking much lateral support will be much happier in the upcoming 2013 Sonic RS. Oddly, the heated seats only have one level of adjustment.

The 1.4-liter engine might be turbocharged, but with the same peak horsepower rating as the normally-aspirated 1.8 it’s not a screamer. In fact, it’s the opposite. Where the 1.8 lugs, gargles, buzzes, and roars in the process of motivating the Sonic’s 2,600 pounds (which shouldn’t actually be a tall order for a 138-horsepower 1.8), the 1.4T effectively accomplishes this task. The difference: a much plumper midrange (indicated by 148 pound-feet of torque vs. 125) and much more refinement from idle to redline. In fact, the 1.4T isn’t only smoother and stronger than the Sonic’s other engine, but better than the segment’s other powerplants. If you’re seeking a B-segment car that provides effortless acceleration in typical suburban driving, the Sonic with the 1.4T engine is your only option in North America.

Given the engine’s plump midrange and less stout top end—it was clearly optimized for the former—there’s little joy in and even less justification for making runs to the redline. But the six-speed manual transmission is still the way to go. The stick feels slicker and more solid than past GM efforts—and than Hyundai’s current effort in the Accent. Aside from the more direct connection with the car a manual transmission always provides, this one provides the additional benefit of avoiding the unrefined, poorly programmed six-speed automatic. Then again, the automatic isn’t yet available with the 1.4T (though this combo has been offered since launch in the Cruze.) The EPA ratings: 29 city, 40 highway. In suburban driving with a light foot the trip computer reported from 34.5 to 37.5. With a heavier foot it reported 27 to 30.

Already noted: the Sonic feels like a larger car from the driver seat. Aside from this, it handles quite well in LTZ trim, where the 205/50HR17 Hankook Optimo H428 tires actually provide enough grip to exercise the suspension (if still much less than the suspension could handle). There’s even some communication from the steering, though a smaller diameter wheel than the GM standard unit would be welcome. Likely tuned with young, inexperienced drivers in mind, the Sonic feels very stable and controllable even as the front tires begin their progressive slide into moderate understeer. For all but the least skilled drivers the Sonic LTZ 1.4T should be an easy and enjoyable (if not quite engaging) car to drive quickly along a curvy road.

Given this safe, predictable handling, a stability control system that cuts in much earlier and more aggressively than the typical GM system is overkill. Holding down the button to turn the system off doesn’t actually turn it off, only bumps the intervention threshold. And even then the system cuts in a little early. If you can’t safely exercise the Sonic even without the aid of a stability control system, you probably shouldn’t be driving.

Though the Sonic’s handling borders on crisp and its body motions are better controlled than those of more softly-sprung Cruze, its ride is about as smooth and quiet as it gets in this class. The Ford Fiesta feels more Euro taut and solid, but the Chevrolet feels larger and steadier.

The big disadvantage of the 1.4T engine: it adds $700 to the Sonic’s price, a significant sum in this most price-sensitive segment. Go with the LTZ to get suitably-sized rims, and the sticker comes to $18,695. A Hyundai Accent SE with an equally powerful but not nearly as torquey 1.6-liter four is $2,000 less. The Sonic does include quite a few additional features, among them four additional airbags, a telescoping steering wheel, automatic headlights, heated seats, and OnStar. (But if you want rear disc brakes like those standard on the Hyundai, you’ll need to wait for the even pricier 2013 Sonic RS.) Adjust for these feature differences using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool, and the Accent retains a $600 advantage. Which is essentially how much the 1.4T engine costs. Consider this the price of midrange torque and, once feature differences are adjusted for, the two cars are close in price. And the Ford Fiesta? Topping $19,000 when similarly equipped, it’s clearly the priciest of the three.

Longish story short, the Sonic is a much better car with the 1.4T engine and the LTZ’s larger wheels. Unfortunately, these features also bump the price considerably. For price-sensitive folk GM needs a more refined base engine and a 17-inch wheel option for the LT. For enthusiasts, an RS is on the way with sport buckets and sport suspension. What the RS won’t have: a stronger engine. This is a shame. While the 1.4T is the best engine in the segment for the typical driver, it’s strength—a strong midrange—makes it less suitable for enthusiasts seeking a payoff north of 4,000 rpm. The Opel Corsa is available with a 189-horsepower 1.6-liter engine. If GM were truly swinging for the fences, this would be the engine in the Sonic RS.

Chevrolet provided the car with insurance and a full tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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86 Comments on “Review: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ Turbo Take Two...”


  • avatar
    Dynasty

    I’ll just say: I am so glad I am not in the market for an econo-car.

    Save your money folks, and save up for something nice.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      And save it for something that dosen’t look like a fish!

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      What’s wrong with the (manual) Fiesta or the Mazda 2?

      • 0 avatar
        TonyJZX

        What’s wrong with the Cruze 1.4 turbo? This thing is $18.5k… its probably $20 more per month for the Cruze with much higher interior build and utility… I can’t see a logical reason to buy this… maybe in certain parts of the EU where subcompacts suit the cityscape… but the US?

      • 0 avatar
        Patrickj

        @Tony
        A hatchback in a compact (or smaller) car has infinitely more utility than a sedan. Millenials, the likely young buyers, are also very likely to be living in the urban settings where the shorter car will be useful, and the Cruze’s styling (like the Corolla’s) is unlikely to appeal to anyone much under 40.

        The 300 extra pounds (with the same engine) in a Cruze will also make a difference in acceleration. I also suspect the real-world price difference nay be larger than sticker prices indicate, as discounts may be larger on the niche market Sonic.

        Carried to its extreme, $20 a month more than the Cruze will buy a stripper F-150.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        >> maybe in certain parts of the EU where subcompacts suit the cityscape… but the US?

        Plenty of EU-like roads and cities in some regions of the US where a subcompact fits well.

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        both are fine for the segment. my personal experience with the fiesta (albeit with the powershit tranny) is that its quality, fit and finish, and handling are abysmal. the mazda2 has a terribly anemic 99hp engine, and most dealers will sell you a mazda3 sedan for the price of the 2.

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      What do you mean? The choices for econo-cars is better and more competitive than ever.

      • 0 avatar
        Dynasty

        That may be. But I still would not want to be in the market for one…

        The one good thing is they will theoretically take the pressure off of the used car market and drive prices down.

    • 0 avatar

      In the Detroit Free Press, it was announced that this Vehicle has another problem, in that the Windshield Wipers can’t clear the Glass because the tube from washer supply bottle is pinched or what? and this from a vehicle with only one coat of Paint eh!

    • 0 avatar
      acura9927

      I drive a 2012 Accent SE and recently took the 1.4 Turbo Sonic for a short drive. I really enjoy the Turbo Sonic’s engine. It is great torque feel that has zero need to be revved high like my car and many sub compacts out there. It is not a free revvving motor at all. My Accent revs easier than the Sonic Turbo. Depends on what you like to drive.
      The interior is so so in the Sonic, terrible blind spots and the beltine is a little too high which makes the car feel kind of funny to me, too squarish inside. I like my Accent’s interor better.
      As for materials, the Sonic has slightly better marterials and fit and finish is the same.
      As far as noise and comfort goes the Sonic wins by a mile. Much more quiet.
      If I had to do it all over again, I would get the Sonic for a more comfortable ride and would give up a nicer feeling interior.

  • avatar
    22_RE_Speedwagon

    When insideline did a head-to-head test with the sonic LTZ vs. the mazda2 they complained about torque-limiting software that got in the way of hard launches, etc. Did you notice this is your test?

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    Two things: one, it’s funny that you’re bellyaching about the standard 15″ wheels on a 170″, 2600lb. car. My first hand-me-down car, a 1966 Pontiac Catalina, had 14″ wheels. 14×6, if I’m not mistaken. Two, and this is for Dynasty, who says this is not a nice car? It even has a compass! Sounds like it’s peppy enough, too. Not nice? Rethink.
    Wait, there’s a third thing…Did this one include front brake pads and a non-detatchable steering wheel as standard equipment along with that compass? We are dealing with GM here, but if I’m not mistaken, all you “buy ‘Murracans” out there, it’s a Korean Kar, right?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I remember when subcompacts came on 12 and 13 inch wheels. Styling the car to only look right on 17s was an intellectual failure. Smaller wheels will lead to better performance in all the areas that matter for a car like this. Fuel economy, ride, maintenance costs, handling on imperfect roads and in imperfect conditions will all be superior with a lighter, narrower wheel and tire package.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        The whole big wheel styling is just from todays “big wheel, little window” obsessed stylists.

      • 0 avatar
        word is bond

        @Ryoku
        I lament the rising beltlines and shrinking greenhouses, the blunt-nose pedestrian impact laws make it hard to imagine a car that wouldn’t look silly with a big fat face and small wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        My ’93 Festiva L had 12″ wheels all around. You know when you look in the paper and see the special from the tire store for $29.99 tires for sale (certain vehicles only) when your car needed the $69.99 tires? The Festiva L was the car for those cheapy tires.

    • 0 avatar
      vent-L-8

      the “buy murracans” lot has overdosed on corporate KoolAid to the point of lunacy. Better to buy a Mexican made GM car than a Nissan from Tennessee, Toyota from Kentucky, Honda from Ohio, Subaru from Indiana, BMW from South Carolina, Mercedes from Alabama, Kia from Georgia … Honestly, which employes more Americans: A VW made in Tennessee from Alabama Steel or a Mexican Ford Fusion?

      • 0 avatar
        johnsha

        Vent-L-8 obviously you don’t let the facts get in the way of your bias. You realize the Sonic is the only Subcompact that is manufactured in the US (Lake Orion, MI) not Mexico.

        When a car is sold most of the profit/revenue of goes to the shareholders of the Auto Maker. So when you buy and Honda or BMW the profits are leaving the USA and going to Japan or Germany.

        Auto Assembly is a very low value add in the overall cost a vehicle.

        Go take an economics course, genius!)

      • 0 avatar
        MrIncognito

        Just pulling a random quarter, in the 2nd quarter of fiscal 2011 Honda had a net income of $1.6 billion on almost $27 billion in revenue. Even in a good quarter, over 94% of the money made from a car sale go to pay for costs during the manufacturing process. To say that the site a car is manufactured and assembled doesn’t matter is completely incorrect. Likewise, those profits go to the shareholders; in many cases shareholders are not from the country in which the company is based. Many Americans own Honda stock, and many non-Americans own Ford or GM. Before you make a condescending remark mockingly encouraging others to take economics, I suggest you blow the dust of the books yourself.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        johnsha,

        Most of the profit goes to shareholders (well, perhaps not for much longer, with confiscatory taxation being the fad it currently is); but, even at Porsche, not most of revenue.

        More revenue generally gets paid to those who assemble the car than goes to profit, particularly if you include all the ancillary suppliers and service renderers that, in practice, needs to set up shop geographically close to assembly plants.

        Also, remember that the more profitable for a foreign corp a US plant is, the greater the likelihood much of that profit gets put right back into more US activities. While salaries are much more likely to get spent in the country they are earned.

        • 0 avatar

          “Chrysler, Ford and GM are just three of 16 major global automakers competing in the U.S., but they employ two-thirds of America’s autoworkers, purchase nearly two-thirds of the auto parts manufactured here, produce 55 percent of the autos assembled here and conduct most of America’s auto research and development.”

          “Why do Chrylser, Ford and GM contribute so much more to our economy? Because they conduct the bulk of their engineering, manufacturing, marketing and finance work here. Four out of 10 Chrysler, Ford and GM employees are based in the U.S. At Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai/Kia, BMW, Mercedes and VW (the seven largest foreign automakers), only five in 100 employees are based here. That eight-fold difference translates into millions of U.S. jobs and tens of billions of dollars in parts sales, R&D and capital investment each year.”

          http://www.americanautocouncil.org/job-creation

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Thing is, most people just don’t care, or justify their purchases some other way.

            Personally, I had the option to buy a top notch car that met all my needs and wants, designed by a domestic manufacturer and assembled by people that live within a few hours of my town. So I did.

    • 0 avatar
      eggsalad

      Also… presumably, both wheel/tire combos are about the same overall height/diameter. So both fill the wheel wells equally. What makes one bigger and one smaller?

      • 0 avatar

        The eye doesn’t see the black tire as filling the black opening.

        Cars can be designed to look right with smaller wheels. The problem is that they rarely are these days.

        The Chevrolet Spark is designed around a smaller wheel, though.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Whitewalls, anyone? Or is that not sufficiently hip for the Urbanos this thing is aimed at?

        For almost anything other than dedicated gofast cars, the smallest rims that clear the rotors are preferable, at least in my mind. Giant rims simply look silly, and with the deplorable condition most US roads are in, a bit of sidewall flex is a good thing.

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        Whitewalls won’t get rid of the incredibly tall and flexy sidewalls.

        Now if they made that thing to take 195-50R15s instead of 195-50R17s… that would be better… but then the public would hate the fact that it will look like a bread-van on casters.

        -

        Honda resisted the urge to do this with the relatively demure wheel-openings on the first-generation Fit. The second generation has enormous wheel-arches. Only the Mazda2 seems right on anything smaller than 16′s nowadays.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        I believe its the designer being told that the company wants to beef the image of the subcompact so its more palletable for American tastes. Add to that they can charge the customer a lot of extra money for the wheels that look best.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I think it is a function of the high belt-lines. If the windows were bigger, the wheels and tires wouldn’t be lost in a sea of sheet-metal.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    The hatch still looks like a silly little car to me, regardless of wheel size, but I can see the appeal to its intended audience, I guess. At least Chevy had the sense to style the sedan like a real car. The Fiesta sedan is an embarrassment.

    All of these high-content subcompacts are one of the best arguments for used cars I’ve ever seen.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      On the other hand, people like me who actually like and prefer to drive a very small car are overjoyed that we can finally own something that isn’t a four-wheeled ‘look at the cheap bastard’ penalty box.

      I don’t care if I can buy something bigger a couple of years old for the same money. I don’t want the bigger car.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    With a turbo I’d be interested in this car, I could do without the Aveo-ish nose though, ditto for the stupid instrument cluster, ditto for the mohawk shape of the car, ditto for the…

    Okay okay, its a nice car until you look at it.

  • avatar
    ajla

    You can kill the Stabilitrak, traction control, and ABS by pulling the ABS fuse. I’m guessing that’s something you aren’t supposed to do on fleet cars though.

    If GM doesn’t come through with more power in the future, hopefully there will be enough demand that the aftermarket will step in. There are a few options available right now (including adding a no-lift shift feature), but I don’t know of their quality.

    • 0 avatar
      chris724

      I was thinking the same thing regarding the power dropoff at the top end. Surely this is all from the factory tuning, and is designed to maximize longevity. An aftermarket chip should give large power gains with the turbo. Is the 1.6 in the Opel the same engine family? GM will probably offer the 1.6 in a few years. Gotta leave some room to grow. I’m more of a Ford guy, but it’s good to see a solid effort coming from GM.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Isn’t this a part of what caused old GM’s problems; having two variants, one of which had all the faults of being an econobox which sold the most and the ‘good’ version which nobody bought because of cost.

  • avatar
    Reptarcar

    As part of this car’s target audience, I definitely see the Sonic as a big enough improvement over the Aveo. Deserving of a test drive and strong consideration. Granted, GM does not just want my consideration but my money as well.

    Looking forward to the RS version and what it will bring to the table as well as the Cruze hatch.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      If there were no Fits, Rios,(Accents), Fiestas(Mazda2′s) then these Sonics may sell ok, BUT………….

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        The Sonic is selling quite well actually.

        Ford only sold 68K Fiestas last year with inventory bloated to 126 days at the end of 2011.

        GM is selling about 5.8K Sonics per month with a 17 day inventory supply.

        Honda moves about 5K Fits per month.

        GM is on track to crush Fiesta sales, which are disappointing and run with Honda on the Fit.

        Mazda2? Are you kidding? Mazda set a sales record in December of 2011 with Mazda2 sales. 1,342 units sold, a 60.9% increase.

        Before you play the fleet card, Ford led all automakers in 2011 with fleet sales, right under 33% total fleet, with 45% of Focus sales going to fleet buyers.

        Sources:

        GM Data – GM Sales Data
        Ford Data – Ford USA Sales Data
        Mazda Data – Mazda USA Sales Data
        Honda Data – Honda USA Sales Data
        Fleet Information and Ford inventory turn – Forbes Magazine and AutoTribute
        Chevy Sonic Inventory Level – AutoBlog 12/21/2011

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Fits, Rios, and all of those cars come with 4 brake pads standard too. The Sonic? I’m not so sure.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        Exactly.

        This car is so unaesthetic. Those recessed door handles are so pointless in this car. Such a “trendoid” move. They aren’t blended into anything. Why are they there? In the Giulietta, or the Juke, or the Citröen DS4, or the Veloster, they’re so well blended-in, you don’t even really see them, until you try. Here, there’s no “vanishing point” to justify their existence, and no reason why they couldn’t have been mounted in the usual spot.

        The interior is also a Hodge-podge of various bits, with no purpose (similar to Saturn Ion’s central instrument cluster, when the car was never sold to RHD countries). “Motorcycle Instrument Clusters” are only cool on motorcycles, and my last bike’s cluster was vastly more cool than this cheap-looking one, which looks ridiculous in a car. Motorcycles have space limitations and need a “cluster”. Cars have no such requirements. Hyundai interiors haven’t looked this cheap in over 12 years at least, and yet GM thinks we ought to be impressed with this garbage?

        All the reviews for this car seem to amount to the same thing: “Look GM made a ‘small car’, and it isn’t entirely horrible, albeit very cheaply built compared to every other car in its class”. Um… okay. What a selling point! ;-)

        I just cannot see why anyone would deliberately pick this car over ANY of the competition at this point. It’s deficient in just about every measure, and it ain’t a pretty sight, either.

      • 0 avatar
        darex

        The Aveo also sold well. It means nothing. Some people only buy GM, regardless of GM’s worthiness to sell. They don’t see beyond the badge and the dealership and GM’s fortunes ride on that, because they’re not winning too many old fans back.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I don’t like the pillar mounted door handles on anything, but without them and the round headlights the Sonic would look exactly like the Aveo we’re supposed to pretend it isn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      alluster

      @Apagtth : “The Sonic is selling quite well actually.”

      I am glad the Sonic is selling so well though it makes no sense why people are willing to fork so much money for these little buggers. According to truecar the top of the line retail Sonics are selling on average for $19,500 !! Which is 2 grand more than the top end fiesta or 3 grand more than the top of the line Yaris. I would rather spend the same money on a mid level Cruze or a base Malibu and get a much safer, spacious car without sacrificing much in fuel economy. You can’t put a price tag on safety with so many distracted drivers on the road driving 6K pound SUV’s.

      The entire sub compact segment makes little sense and the market share shows it. GM didn’t have to compete for every sale. Could/Should have used the time, resources and production capacity to build a Cruze Hatch instead. I am pretty sure a Cruze hatch by itself would sell as many as the Sonic HB and Sedan combined (around 6000 units a month) and more importantly at higher margins. The Cruze has 200 pounds more of steel, plastic and rubber while costing $2000 more. Wholesale steel is only like 20 cents a pound. you do the math. And now they want to sell the spark stateside ? Great Idea. Lets throw a bunch of money and time on a car that sells less than 10,000 units a year while letting the impala die a slow death. *facepalm*

  • avatar
    zuph

    I’ve been looking at everything in the B-segment lately, and this is the only car that’s been able to really hold my attention. I’m going to give it another drive before I pull the trigger, but I really like this car. I found the Fiesta to be too cramped, the Accent felt cheaper in a lot of respects, and the seats were downright uncomfortable, the mazda2 was fun, but felt strung out on the highway, and the Versa was boring. For me, the Sonic has been the only fair compromise is a segment full of them. If you had told me a year ago that I’d be considering buying a Chevrolet, I’d have told you that you were insane.

  • avatar
    catdaddy

    my first car was a 1980 chevy monza.

    i’ve hated GM products and have been more or less driving hondas ever since.

    i could honestly afford just about anything, but am interested in a sportyish hatchback.

    i think GM should be commended for actually trying lately, and the sonic is on my short list.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Worst to first in one redesign. Goodbye and good riddance Aveo.

    GM should just make the 1.4T standard on the Cruze and Sonic and be done with it. The 1.8L is too weak and too unrefined and hurts the rest of the product line.

    Disappointing to learn that GM has Stabilitrak turned up so high, very uncharacteristic. One thing I’ve read on GM reviews is how Stabilitrak generally doesn’t kick in until the fun is no longer fun (and that’s been my experience). I hope they update programming for future model years.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The sedan isn’t equally attractive, it’s much more attractive. The hatchback looks like it was chopped off by a knife.

    The reason the Opel 189-HP engine isn’t available is that it won’t get 40 mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      I have to say I have a strange love for the chopped look on wagons and hatches, which probably explains my love for old Volvos.

    • 0 avatar

      I wasn’t suggesting that the 1.6 be offered in all Sonics, only the RS, where 40 MPG shouldn’t be the top priority.

      The hatch isn’t a beauty no matter what wheels are on it, but I must grant that it has a distinctive, interesting appearance. Also, I can see why the designers did what they did, and feel they did quite well given the dimensions they had to work with.

  • avatar

    This is really good and competitive car. It’s very fuel efficient and very practical. The Sonic is no sports car, but rather a competent economy car. The steering was easy when stopped and relaxed enough at speed. Indeed, very comfortable to use.

    Cheers

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Michael,

    When is Chevy going to get you a Sonic to review that hasn’t been rear ended?

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    I can’t imagine the new drivers this car targets would enjoy the high cowl, giant pillars, and faraway windshield. One of the best things about running an ’80s car as a teenager was the amazing visibility and being able to see the car’s edges for parking, and I recall friends saying the same.

    Oh well, I suppose Mom or Dad’s probably cutting the check anyway, and they’re probably more concerned with whether the car “feels safe” from inside.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    This car is ugly, but the sedan is more beautiful? Small sedans screams “Senior Citizen” a mile away. GM should scrap this bastard and sell Opel Corsa instead.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    http://www.carsbase.com/photo/photo_full.php?id=80514

  • avatar
    shaker

    Though I’ve only seen photos of both, the Kia Rio 5 SX is a much more attractive car than this – I really wanted to like this car (being built in the USA is a plus), but it’s just not a cohesive design. From any angle that doesn’t include the oversize mug, it could be an Aveo.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Model naming cries out for the Sub-Sonic, Sonic and the Super-Sonic; named from low-cost stripper to most expensive deluxe look-at-me version.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Since you wrote the original review back in September, I managed to get a rental Cruze to drive around for a couple of days. It had the 1.8 and the 6 speed autobox. While it’s no barn burner, it was nowhere near as bad as I had read online. It was good to have this experience of what the motor might feel like in the Sonic.

    I see that the 1.4 turbo seems to make a difference in both the Cruze and the Sonic, at least in terms of how people like them. But by the time you option up a Sonic to LTZ levels, you may as well buy a Cruze instead. I have to believe that the 1.8 in this car would actually be OK to drive. Maybe the NVH factor might convince me otherwise. But in the Cruze, I thought any harshness from the motor was well damped.

    I will stick with my earlier assessment that the LT trim level is the way to go, especially for commuter duty. If the looks of the 15″ wheels are just too poverty-like, Discount Tire has a nice selection of 17″ wheels and tires. Unless the LTZ package is like sex on wheels and it doesn’t seem that way, I think I’d go with the LT, turbo and some aftermarket wheels/tires.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      The only problem is that the Sonic inherited the Cruze’s stupid 5×105 bolt pattern, which I don’t believe is used on too many other cars. Why they didn’t just go with 5×100 or 5×114.3 I’ll never know.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    I like the styling of the htach. When is GM going to catch up with the rest of the world and start losing weight? This is a great car that’s been saddled with 200lbs of unnecessary weight.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Finally, I won’t have to dread Aveo rentals!

    As with others here, I much prefer the sedan’s styling. The hatch looks too stubby, and the rear door handles and window angles give it a strange “doorstop” effect.

    I’m not sure how well it will age. It might join “stretched” headlights (think early Lincoln Mark VIII, Chrysler LH cars, and various 1990s Oldsmobiles) and “Altezza” taillights as something that was once supposed to be “cool” but ended up looking dated after the “fad” had run its course.

    The Fiesta is the other way around.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    The back end of this thing is so ill-conceived and ugly. Why they copied a Toyota by sticking the door handles up into the pillar makes zero sense and the comical stubby rear end that leaves about 3 centimeters between the rear of the tire and the bumper spell disaster for a rear end collision let alone leaving a very small amount of luggage space. I can think of 10 mildly used cars for 18 large that I would much rather buy than this penalty box on over sized wheels!

  • avatar
    mjz

    Michael Karesh:

    If I’m not mistaken (and I’m frankly too lazy to look it up), the LT offers an optional appearance package for around $400 that bumps up the wheels to 16 inchers.

  • avatar
    HollisJoi

    I was a loyal ChevyMan, I’ve logged over 604,000 miles in 3 different GM trucks (El Camino, S10, & Sonoma). I just bought a VW Golf.
    I could not be happier. 3042 miles into the Golf & all I can say is I luv my VDub.

    I test drove a Cruze & was bored to tears by it. I couldn’t even bring myself to test drive the Sonic, it looks too much like an Aveo. The Aveo is the crappiest car my sister ever bought & she’s owned 2 Chevette’s and a Plymouth Sundance.

  • avatar
    jayzwhiterabbit

    I love the look of the sedan. The interior is nice in person…with better materials than the Honda Fit. How refreshing the styling is compared to the funny-car details of most of the competition. Aapparently right now these are selling very well.

  • avatar
    edisto

    My wife and I live downtown in a large city and just unloaded 2 2010 B200′s, replacing them with another sweet German import plus a more humble Chevy Sonic LT. I have some quibbles with the Sonic but overall, considering I paid $15,000+tax for a pretty loaded LT (less than half the price of the B200). Dealer threw in the entertainment upgrades, air, power package, wheels upgrade, blue tooth, a year of Onstar and some other stuff I don’t even care about. I am very pleased with its handling, its interior, features and even exterior looks. It is what it is and no worse looking than a Fit, Yaris, Rio, Fiesta or whatever other similar cars there are out there. They are all geeky and at least they don’t look like a Bug. I love driving this thing so much that I regret not buying the Turbo LTZ. Next time. I may replace the drivers seat with a more ergonomic aftermarket one but otherwise this is the deal of the century.

  • avatar
    senn590

    I don’t think the Sonic is designed for larger wheels or looks bad without them. No more than any other car, I mean. All cars look better with the wheel wells filled, obviously. They can’t design smaller wheel wells or larger wheels wouldn’t fit. Not rocket science. Yes, smaller cars like the Spark will be less aesthetically compromised by smaller wheels, it’s just relative proportions. But I don’t see where the Sonic’s looks are especially degraded by 15″ wheels, and the fixation on wheel aesthetics ignores the fact that for the average driver, smaller wheels have at least as many pros as cons: cheaper tires, less brake wear, better mileage. If you drive on really bad roads, you might be well served by higher clearance with larger tires.

    I lean more toward the LT turbo. At the LTZ price point, I’d probably switch to the Accent SE on a value basis… rear disc brakes for one thing.

  • avatar
    swe007

    I just purchased a 2013 LTZ 1.4t 6-spd manual myself.

    A few people have already mentioned that for the same price I could have purchased a Cruze.

    Gas mileage is key for me as I drive upwards of 500 miles a week simply to work and back. The Sonic has the Cruze beaten on gas mileage and if I were to purchase the ECO model it would now be more expensive than the Sonic.

    I felt that the Sonic was a more interesting car to drive and a better handler than the Cruze Eco with its fatter tires and shorter wheelbase. I do prefer the nice cloth dashboard fabrics in the Cruze, however I also have a thing for digital speedometers which the Sonic addresses for me.

    As far as comparing the Sonic to the competition, I drove the Rio/Accent, Mazda2/Fiesta, and the Yaris in comparison. The Yaris finished at the back of the pack with its cheap utilitarian interior. Mazda2/Fiesta felt cramped to me and the Rio/Accent were not as fun to drive.

    I’m willing to pay a premium for a car the ‘feels’ good because I take a lot of joy in driving. Out of all the subcompact cars I drove, this one was the only one I felt I could live with as a daily driver for the next five years.

  • avatar
    vistria

    Sadly I drive a 1.4T Automatic and must live with the jittery transmission.


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