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.
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.
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.
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.