2017 Chevrolet Sonic: Makeover in the Shadows

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Storz Storz on Mar 20, 2016

    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!

  • John John on Mar 20, 2016

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

  • Ajla Nice car.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Not at all.
  • Verbal Here's a little tale about long-term Tesla ownership.In 2017 my buddy bought a three year-old Model S for $68k, which was the going rate at the time. He kept it garaged and treated it with kid gloves. It looked and ran virtually like new. The only problem he ever had with it was some kind of recurring issue with the driver's door handle. He never had to replace the brakes.A couple months ago, at ten years of age, the original battery finally bricked. Tesla quoted him $17k to do a battery replacement. But! If he replaced the battery, they would give him $11k in trade on a new Tesla!!! You don't have to be a math genius to see that those are crooked numbers.Using aftermarket parts is a non starter. Rebuilt batteries can be sketch. And the cap that goes on the battery is a Tesla-only part.Most people don't have $17k burning a hole in their pocket for a car repair. What are you going to do? Ask your credit union for a $17k loan to put a new battery in your ten year-old car? Good luck with that.A local auto recycler quoted him $1000. The recycler said that if he replaced the battery, the car would have a resale value in the low $20k's. That wouldn't give him enough headroom to make it worth his while. He said there are 150,000 dead Teslas in the national inventory (don't know where he gets this figure). And there's no demand for used Tesla parts, since most Tesla owners seem to treat their cars well. So Teslas with dead batteries have marginal scrap value.Thus, my friend's Tesla, with 80k miles on the clock and in excellent condition, with a dead battery, was scrapped. During his ownership, the car depreciated by around $800 a month.He saved a lot of money by not paying for gas, oil changes, tune ups, and consumables. But in the end, all those saving were erased by huge depreciation.Welcome to long term Tesla ownership, folks.(Cue the wailing and rending of garments from the Tesla fanboyz.)
  • Aja8888 My BIL had one of these years ago. great car!
  • Wjtinfwb Job cuts and EV's... is that a winning strategy? You're locked in to substantial labor expense after the UAW agreement signed a few months ago. And EV's ain't exactly flying off the shelves en masse. Get the new Charger out already, it's been teased more than the Bronco and Supra were combined. Get a real Hybrid option out for the RAM trucks and big Jeeps that consumers will buy. Consider bringing back a Gen 3 Hemi with an aluminum block, direct injection and perhaps a Hybrid option to counter the Toyota debacle and get a jump on GM. Dump the Hornet and build Dodge a version of the Jeep Compass they can actually sell. A Dodge with Alfa bones isn't compelling to either brands fans. Fix the Durango's oil cooler problems to avoid alienating police departments nationwide. Do you want every cop in the US driving an Explorer? Freshen up the Pacifica and get Chrysler a cool sedan or wagon that can create a buzz like the 300 did more than a decade ago. And fix your dealers, they are by a large jackasses. Plenty of opportunity for improvement.