By on March 18, 2016

2017 Chevrolet Sonic

Its bigger brother is getting a whole new body, but the Chevrolet Sonic isn’t going into 2017 without some changes of its own.

The subcompact hatchback and sedan will get its first facelift since debuting alongside its compact sibling for the 2011 model year, swapping its aggressive grille and headlamps for a toned-down, corporate face reminiscent of the upcoming Bolt.

2017 Chevrolet Sonic

Optional LED running lights round out the changes up front, while redesigned taillights and a remolded rear bumper ensure that someone with good eyes can pick the new model out of a crowd.

The Sonic’s interior upgrades include a seven-inch display screen and all the connectivity a group of teenagers driving to the mall social justice rally could want. Designed to accommodate both Apple and Android groupies, the infotainment system features a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot.

2017 Chevrolet Sonic

Seven compatible devices can be supported at one time, Chevrolet boasts, meaning two of the Sonic’s passengers are being very anti-social. If one gets bored, a back-up camera is now standard.

Chevrolet’s tease of the 2017 Sonic mentions the return of the 138 horsepower 1.8-liter base four-cylinder engine, as well as the optional 1.4-liter turbo four upgrade that buyers have become used to. Like before, both engines will be offered with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

2017 Chevrolet Sonic

In the Cruze and Trax, the 1.4-liter will adopt direct injection for the 2017 model year, boosting horsepower to 153 from the previous 138, and torque from 148 pounds-feet to 177. Chevrolet’s literature doesn’t mention this engine for the Sonic, however, instead giving the horsepower rating for the existing 1.4-liter.

From day one, the Sonic has existed in the shadow of the Cruze. Not too different in price, and with the same drivetrain choices, the Sonic’s sales reflected the greater popularity of the Cruze.

In 2015, Chevrolet posted 64,775 sales for the aging Sonic, while the similarly dusty Cruze offloaded 226,602, according to GoodCarBadCar.

While it isn’t the most popular model in the Chevrolet stable, it has one very important purpose — luring new and young buyers into the brand. The Sonic is the most popular Chevrolet vehicle for first-time buyers, and 20 percent of its buyers are under 35.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

36 Comments on “2017 Chevrolet Sonic: Makeover in the Shadows...”


  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    That’s a handsome little car. Hopefully it does have the 153 hp motor because that would make it the second most powerful car of its size after the FiST, right?

    • 0 avatar
      TonyJZX

      I’d never call it handsome but the Sonic has always struck me as a small car that has all the design cues from the large GM saloons so it always looked like a bulldog with too large a head.

      I hate the Malibu but I think the Impala is one fine looking car if 4,000lb FWD things is your fetish. The Sonic felt like a Malibu that has shrunk the wash in a bad way. GM still doesnt know how to design small cars IMO.

      Credit where credit is due, companies like Volkswagen can and so can Ford. Is it because they have significant experience in the EU and India etc.? And Ford used to share beds with Mazda?

      The Polo to be a fine car as is the Fiesta. I personally would never buy one as I dont believe one needs to go smaller than a Cruze/Focus/Civic on most Western roads.

      I drove the competition the Kia Rio a while back and I was generally impressed but really, its not even good for under 10 y.o. kids in the back there so IMO even as a small family car, they dont work but I wasnt impressed with the Cruze for space either. Btw. I’d take a Hyundai Kia over the Sonic any day of the week, if you’re buying Korean design you may as well go with the leading Koreans who are actually a generation ahead.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        If you look carefully, I believe one can see that the Sonic is a car designed for the Orient. Look at the competing cars that are sold in India, Pakistan and many of the island nations (i.e. Philippines, etc.) with their high, short trunks and large-ish passenger compartments. GM has facilities all over world much like all the other majors that design cars for local conditions.

        IMO, the problem with the Sonic here in USDM is positioning. Several years back, when fuel prices were above $4/gal., and the economy was hosed, people were demanding that GM be more like Toyota. Small cars, hybrids, etc., so GM did just that. I’m not sure why the Sonic AND the Spark were decided to be sold here, exactly. The hatch Sonic and the hatch Spark seem to have some overlap in terms of capacity and pricing. The sedan Sonic is somewhat unique at least, but still too close to the Cruze. I’ve wondered if both Sonics were to disappear (and the Cruze hatch were to appear) that the Spark would do better as the entry level car and the Cruze would do better as the “step up”. Although, the Cruze is doing just fine all by itself.

        But, that’s a problem for USDM Chevrolet, not me.

      • 0 avatar

        Here’s my thoughts on buying the Sonic vs the Korean brands.

        I cross shopped the Rio and Accent when I eventually bought the Sonic. It was a difficult decision, especially choosing it over the Accent in particular. All of them are competent little cars, and Korean brands have a long warranty. But here is my reasoning behind the decision:

        – Neither the Kia or Hyundai have a spare tire. This was essentially an automatic deal breaker. Traveling in remote areas with minimal cell coverage, it could become a dangerous situation without a spare.
        – Aside from the pricey SX, there is not a Rio that has a manual transmission and cruise control. They don’t exist. The Accent does have the combo available, but finding one is next to impossible. The closest one I could find was over 300 miles away.
        – I found the interior of the Rio to be incredibly bland. No character, no personality. Lots of black, hard plastic with no imagination to the design
        -The rear visibility on the Accent was atrocious
        -Insurance costs on both were ridiculous
        -The nearest Chevy dealer is 1/2 mile from home. The nearest Kia dealer; 16 miles
        – GM was much more aggressive with the rebates
        -The Sonic just felt more well-planted and not as tinny. I like the unique styling of the Sonic more too

        I liked the Korean twins, but there were so many more things I like about the Sonic. I lose out on the warranty, but am extremely content with my decision

        • 0 avatar
          boozysmurf

          http://www.kia.ca/general-faqs

          “Kia has introduced the Tire Mobility Kit (TMK) in lieu of the traditional temporary spare tire in some of its newer models. This is a trend in the automotive industry to improve fuel efficiency by lessening vehicle weight. In addition to reducing weight, this also increases the rear cargo space area of the vehicle. Your Tire Mobility Kit is located in the trunk under the floorboard cover. Please refer to your Owner’s Manual for specific directions. In the event of an untimely tire issue, Kia Roadside Assistance can also provide service if there are any issues in using your Tire Mobility Kit. Kia recognizes that some customers may prefer the compact spare tire in their vehicle. A compact spare tire kit (which will include a tire jack) is available for purchase as an accessory on some Kia models. To find information on how to purchase Kia genuine parts and accessories, please contact your local Authorized Kia for pricing and availability information.”

          I’m pretty sure, if it’s a deal-breaker for you, you can get the dealer to throw that in, as a condition of sale (for free, obviously). SO, they DO have one, it’s just extra/on-request.

          Which is intriguing to me. I didn’t know that was a thing, but given the quest for space and/or fuel economy, it kinda makes sense.

          Which begs the question, how many other (especially small) cars are set up like this, now?

          I’m not entirely against it: I’ve stopped to help people change tires two or three times in the last couple of years, and there is always one unifying factor: the spare is flat. If I didn’t keep a 12v electric pump in the car, they’d have been fully stuck. No one ever checks the tire pressure on the spare, and if it’s going to be useless then I can see another reason for the delete-and-goo-and-inflate-can-replacement. Save weight, gain a cubic foot of storage, and still provide more than most people get from their spare, anyway. (Most is the caveat, I would expect that anyone on here checks their spare tire’s pressure regularly).

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      It definitely looks better than it did, as those headlamps were ridiculous. The sedan is still awkward though, so I’d go hatchback here.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Cruze has been acclaimed and AFAIK neither Sonic or Spark have been. I’ve argued this before but any model below Cruze is not helping the brand overall. The fact Cruze outsells it around 4:1 speaks volumes, I believe probably half of those Sonic sales could have been converted into Cruze sales given different financing/deals/credit scores.

    “The Sonic is the most popular Chevrolet vehicle for first-time buyers, and 20 percent of its buyers are under 35.”

    Who are the other 80%? 20% broke millennials of 66K buying a near poverty spec model isn’t too encouraging nor do I believe will it make them traditional GM ladder customers (moving up models and brands as they age). This generation wants cheap BMW leases, not GEO level product as some of Gen X put up with in their time. Unless this is a switch car, drop the model GM (or drop Spark), a Cruze branded hatch makes much more sense if that’s what you’re looking to offer. GM would be better off making Cadillac not a joke and putting out a Cimmaron 2.0 with the brand equity on lease than trying to build 21st Century Geos to attract <35 buyers (or as Pch has suggested, turn Opel into the "luxury" brand and whore it out stateside).

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I don’t understand why the Sonic and the Spark both need to exist. I really don’t.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Neither really does, but we’ve got Daewoo stuff to sell so GEO is back.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          I figure the reason the Sonic/Spark exist is to lure people into the showroom. 20 year old comes into the showroom with Dad, who looks at how small the Sonic/Spark is and decides to subsidize Junior into a safer Cruze.

          Essentially, a reverse halo.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Oh God, dad takes me to the Chevy dealer (problem #1*) and shows me a new Spark in lime green (problem #2-35).

            Please can we go to a used car lot, please?

            Never mind that I bought all my own cars anyway, so this is pure fantasia.

            *Cruze is exempted because it’s a good small car.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          All these damn Matiz models, what we gonna do with em?

          “Sell em to America!”

          For probably less than what the Koreans are paying, with their high taxes.

  • avatar

    I own a 2015 Chevy Sonic hatchback and love it! However, I’m not feeling this new design.

    There were many reasons I chose the Sonic over the competition; it was an overall balance of comfort, versatility, such a refined ride for a small car, fun handling, value, and that it’s made in the US.

    However, the aggressive styling is what got me the most. The quad-exposed headlights are unique (we liken it to an “angry bird”) and unlike anything else on the market, the overall design stands out, and I love the digital, motorcycle-inspired gauges. They are legible, clear, and just look cool.

    This new Sonic appears so generic. Gone are the details that made it stand out from a crowded subcompact field. It looks like a mix of the new Spark, Fiesta, and foreign EcoSport. In the press release, the gauges are now the traditional analog as opossed to the funky digital. It’s still probably a good car, but the reasons that made it stand apart are gone.

    Lastly, why is the hatch only available in the higher trim? My mid-range LT hatch has everything I need and nothing I don’t. Not all of us want a sedan

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. I like hatches too. But I also like the option of a lower trim line. Why no LS trim for the hatch?

    • 0 avatar
      tmport

      I agree. When I was car shopping last year, I considered the Sonic, and its exterior look was one of the big draws. I thought the front and rear ends were both stylish for a blunt little car, and the interior was quirky if not exactly luxurious. The redesign loses everything that made the old Sonic interesting and fun. The front end is inoffensive but blah, and those rear lights are hideous.

  • avatar
    wmba

    That new 153 hp turbo four for the Cruze is not the old iron lump. It’s a brand new DI aluminum four.

    http://media.gm.ca/media/ca/en/gm/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2015/jun/innovation/powertrain/0624-cruze-powertrain.html

    Perhaps the Sonic, made in S Korea, will keep the old Opel engines as you say.

  • avatar
    Snail Kite

    That’s a lot of power for a tiny car. I agree that the styling is a downgrade.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Boring front end! The old one added a little edge without losing any cohesiveness. Shame it (apparently) won’t get the new 1.4T, which would make it an entertaining little skate.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    “The Sonic is the most popular Chevrolet vehicle for first-time buyers..”

    Wouldn’t that be due to their utter inability to finance a truck or SUV?
    Teensy cars like this say you’re poor, weird or both. But at least they’re new cars.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    How much for the pizza oven option?

  • avatar
    Hummer

    It looks more like the Aveo is replaced, quite a downgrade imo.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I think this is a step above Aveo, the Aveo was crap on four wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        "scarey"

        I was an Aveo owner for 5 years. It was an OK car, not outstanding in any way, with one exception. It got horrible gas mileage for such a small car. The Sonic was a visual improvement, and from all reports was an improvement in many ways. But the styling here is a small step backwards. I hope it is the ONLY one.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    Not bad. I like the current Sonic’s styling okay but this one is okay as well. Neither are what I’d call “striking”, but I don’t think that’s their mission.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Can this whole fascination with black painted alloy wheels just stop now? Unless it’s a really glossy finish, it just seems so “redneck”…

  • avatar
    anomaly149

    Man, that belt-line is geriatric-level high.

    Then again, aren’t super high waist jeans hip now?

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    Significantly improved rear styling for the sedan, look at the lousy current rump:

    http://tinyurl.com/h3cdjol

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “reminiscent of the upcoming Bolt”

    Maybe too reminiscent, so much so that customers and onlookers can’t even tell them apart.

    http://o.aolcdn.com/dims-shared/dims3/GLOB/crop/1156×650+430+918/resize/800×450!/format/jpg/quality/85/http://o.aolcdn.com/hss/storage/midas/ce8db981eb4869de252a88096e6debf4/203222090/2017-Chevrolet-BoltEV-002.jpg

  • avatar
    Joss

    Lets hope they do something about Sonic’s turbo lag. I’ve read
    Its a matter of optioning right. The SR’s sport tuned suspension is a pass due to harshness. I think I’d go for a base Golf with 32 more HP. Less Sonics automatic is smoother than VW DSG.

  • avatar
    Storz

    Chevrolet has nothing to compete with the ST and RS cars of Ford, they need to make an SS version of this and the Cruz. Stuff the 250+hp 2.0t under the hood and a Haldex axle out back, you’d have one mean little hatchback!

  • avatar
    John

    “Aggressive grilles” are the silicone breasts of the day – ridiculously big, phony, and mostly non-functional.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Bark M., United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic

Get No-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners Automotive News in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked