By on January 4, 2019

2017 Chevrolet Sonic - Image: Chevrolet

As our previous story detailed, new car buyers are leaving the passenger car market in droves, so it’s not surprising to see automakers getting up and leaving the party. General Motors capped off 2018 by announcing its intention to drop six car models, leaving the fate of its remaining sedans and hatches in question.

North of the border, it seems a seventh model has disappeared before the other six even got a chance to get their coats and boots on. According to GM Authority, citing multiple sources familiar with GM’s operations, the Chevrolet Sonic’s life has come to an end in Canada. How long will it last in its home country of the United States?

Built at GM’s Orion, Michigan assembly plant alongside the electric Bolt, the Sonic always stood in the sales shadow of its larger sibling, the Cruze. New models shun the ballsier, second-generation 1.4-liter turbo inline-four found in the Cruze, preferring to stick with a naturally aspirated 1.8-liter and first-gen 1.4L. Offered as a rarely-seen sedan or a hatch, the car appeared in 2011 as a 2012 model.

2017 Chevrolet Sonic, Image: General Motors

GM Authority claims the model’s discontinuation in Canada isn’t just a rumor (GM Canada has not yet confirmed it), as the model’s sales show a steep decline in the latter months of 2018. November sales north of the border totalled 12. The month before, 37. As well, the company’s Canadian consumer webpage shows no 2019 model, while the American page shows the 2019 model and its modest price increase compared to last year’s model.

It’s worth noting there’s no 2019 Cruze sedan or Malibu found on the Canuck page, either, though buyers can apparently find $3,000 in incentives for the latter model. We’ll update this post if and when we hear back from GM.

Reports last year suggested the Sonic would soon leave Chevy’s lineup, but the appearance of a 2019 U.S. model poured cold water on the issue. While a 2019 model lives on in America, GM’s decision to scrap car nameplates and the overall market trend towards crossovers and trucks leaves its future in serious doubt. Orion’s valuable American plant space is wasted on the Sonic; the facility will likely become home to GM’s future electric car models.

Yesterday’s reporting of fourth-quarter 2018 sales saw the Sonic fell 55.7 percent in the U.S. compared to a year earlier. The model’s 2017 sales were just a third of what they’d been just a few years earlier, and 2018 brought the tally even lower.

Update: Ester Bucci, senior communications manager for GM Canada, confirmed in an email to TTAC that the Sonic will indeed bow out of the Canadian market once 2018 models dry up on lots. “This change will allow Chevrolet to focus our car strategy in areas where there is more customer interest, specifically the Spark in the Small Car segment where we see volume and market share opportunities moving forward,” Bucci wrote.

[Image: General Motors]

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47 Comments on “UPDATED: Chevrolet Sonic Dead In Canada, Report Claims...”


  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    The 1.8 is no longer available in 2019 Sonics. A turbo charged 1.4 is standard.

  • avatar
    Jessie Pinkman

    Where will everyone run to not if but WHEN fuel prices rise back up and the wise American GM will no longer making small efficient cars?

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Short sighted people traded there 15MPG SUVs for 18MPG SUVs 10 years ago, I doubt people will make the same dumb mistake if fuel goes back up. They will keep their 19MPG vehicles and spend less money as restaurants and bussineses just like last time.

      Let’s stop acting like people didn’t learn from last time.

      No one went from a fullsize truck to some crappy econobox.

      • 0 avatar
        vehic1

        Hummer: When people lose higher-paying jobs, and must settle for whatever they can get – I doubt that all of them will insist on keeping a large, thirsty auto (whether you choose to frame it as “fullsize truck vs. crappy econobox” or “gas-guzzler vs. making ends meet”).

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Your comment doesn’t add anything to what I already said, no one went from fullsize truck to crappy econobox, worst case scenario a fullsize truck to used w-body Impala.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            Sure they did, they lost thousands of dollars on the trade for a Corolla they hated, saved $17 a week in gas, and should make up the difference in about 2035. Wait. They already traded back for a Tahoe and lost thousands of more dollars trying to save some pennies. They will look at the math and what happened last time and wont make the mistake again.

          • 0 avatar
            pdog_phatpat

            “to crappy econobox” “to used w-body Impala”
            Whats the difference?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            One comes with a V6.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            “to crappy econobox” “to used w-body Impala”

            Back in ’08 you could get an Impala with a front bench…

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          Typically when one looses their job and the ol’ debt to income ratio goes to crap finance companies and banks are leery to loan them the money to cover a trade (and likely the negative equity at that point). Should they remain jobless then eventually the repo man comes and at that point a 3800 powered Buick or some such decade old car becomes far more likely than an econobox.

          If you don’t loose their job gas has to go way higher than it ever has to make such a transaction worthwhile. I remind you, at the height of the last rise in fuel prices which lasted years, the best selling vehicle was, wait for it, the Ford F series.

          Also, not 1978 anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        Middle-Aged (Ex-Miata) Man

        “Let’s stop acting like people didn’t learn from last time.”

        Let’s stop pretending that ‘people’ have such long memories and aren’t absolute f***ing morons in general.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      The small CUV’s and SUV’s get the same fuel mileage as the small and medium size cars

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        “The small CUV’s and SUV’s get the same fuel mileage as the small and medium size cars.”

        Um, no.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          Yep, you’re so right. Equipped with the same drivetrain (1.5T, auto, FWD), a CR-V gets 30 MPG while an Accord gets 31. Please, everyone, try to understand what a huge difference that is. GAS PRICES UP, CUVS DOWN! Chant it with me boys and girls!

          There is like 1-3 MPG difference in most midsize sedans and their equivalent CUVs (yes, most people DO go to a compact CUV like Rogue or CR-V from midsize sedans,
          They still offer more room with similar MPG at a similar price point). The difference is negligible and certainly not enough to detour people from buying what they want vs what the car champions here think they should buy instead.

          This is not to mention the Rav4 Hybrid or the upcoming reborn Escape Hybrid, sound choices for utility + MPG.

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            @John Taurus – that is a very good point I will give you. However, GM and Ford’s bread and butter is not high mileage small CUVs like the CR-V. It is big trucks and largers CUVs like the Traverse and Explorer which do not get very good gas mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      You are correct. Fuel prices will either rise due to increased demand for oil worldwide and/or due to taxes that progressive Democrats will put on the fuel to cover their big spending plans.

      After all, most of them seem to think trying to turn the United States into one big version of France is a great idea. Even if they don’t fully succeed nationally, there are states they control, and they control most of our major cities.

      Consumers will turn to Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai. GM and Ford will turn us for tax dollars to bail them out again. I have been saying this for a while now. It isn’t hard to predict this.

      • 0 avatar
        Jessie Pinkman

        Ha well explained. That was where I was going however people in their HUMMER seems to think EVERYONE learned their lesson 10 years ago.

        Where I work there are a lot of 20-30 year old somethings making good money with newer one to three year old lifted Chevy and Ford trucks some who were not driving yet.

        We will see what happens.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Let’s see – 12 sales per month x $1 profit per unit = $12 profit per month GM would be giving up if they dropped this car from their line (or $144 per year!!!). Good thing GM has high powered management to make such a tough decision.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Or, losing $700-$1000 on each sale (more likely), and GM IS A FOOL TO GIVE THIS UP BECAUSE GAS PRICES MIGHT GO UP ONE DAY (and people still wont want a car).

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I saw a sonic (sedan I believe) last week – the little red “turbo” badge on the back made me laugh a little. Classic GM / stuck in the 80s sort of thing. Given the number of cars that are turbocharged these days, it seemed a little quaint.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The TURBO 3 and 5 doors around here (decently popular with the sort of folks that could only afford Aveos) are cute in their own way and are always driven fairly aggressively. A turbo 3 door with RS package could be entertaining in a “drive a slow car fast” kind of way.

      If my next vehicle is turbo I have already planned to snag one of those little red turbo badges to slap on it because I’m old enough to remember turbo K-cars and the like. Things like that badge make me involuntarily smile when I see them.

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        The current Civic also has awesome 80’s style TURBO decals in front of the rear wheels

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          But it’s OK if Honda does it.

          As PrincipalDan noted, the Sonic is actually rather tossable and one of the few vehicles you can get with a 6-speed regardless of trim level.

          For a penalty box on wheels, it is a very competent and liveable penalty box on wheels. It’s below the Fit, but certainly better than the aging Versa and the abysmal Yaris.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Just as sad as Mercedes telling us which models are powered by more than 2 wheels.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    GM could take this opportunity to cease its time-honored tradition of shafting its buyers for the mistake of purchasing one of their products.

    With the cars on the outs anyway, except maybe the Malibu (is that right? I haven’t seen Malibu or CTS in any of the reported death lists), let’s recall the ways in which GM kneecapped the Malibu.

    – No AWD! Chevrolet’s can’t have that! Buy the moribund Buick Teutonic crap pile instead.
    – No V6! Malibus can’t have performance! Buy the Impala instead.

    This is in part why I purchase Ford products today. I purchased a 2006 Uglibu V6 new because it was a hoot and a half to drive with the primitive 4-speed and the V6 that just felt fast and fun compared to my old 88.

    I did look at the bucked-tooth 2013 model year Malibu to replace mine. I would have purchased ugly IF it had a hot engine. That Malibu only had the unimpressive I4 non-Turbo that it shared with the Regal. The new Malibu is slightly better looking (it’s really good looking with the “corporate grill” hidden 1/4 into the garage), but it needs some cheap and cheerful power. Further, I’ve been spoiled by Ford’s AWD system. GM has an AWD that it’s denied Chevrolet to try to force buyers into the cars they are now killing. Time to slap it on the Malibu.

    That Sonic similarly looks like it would be fun with a hot engine. It’s no longer a viable business strategy to remind the customer he didn’t go for the next model up and expect him not to go to the competitor. With the cars dying, it’s time to kill the “Shoulda bought an Impala” or “Shoulda bought a Buick” garbage mantra.

    • 0 avatar
      Lightspeed

      Agree, GM’s biggest failure of imagination is not putting AWD in the Malibu and Impala. In fact, it should be standard on those cars. As for the Sonic, I think it was by far the best-looking subcompact in North America. I know it’s not particularly impressive, but it seems to be one of those cars that people who have them love them to death. One of those cars though that make you think, should I buy this new Sonic, or a 3-year old Civic?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Like I’ve said – make an AWD performance model.

        Malibu AWD 2.0T with the higher torque version of the motor from the AWD Regal.

        Impala SS AWD with the powertrain of the XTS V-Sport.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      Really? You guys are going to pony up $40K for a hot AWD Malibu?

      The ’18 Premier 2.0L turbo model is $35-38K already. Just guessing AWD would add another $3-4K on top of that and we’ve not even scratched the surface of the hotter Regal motor. No one pays MSRP, so let’s just spitball $40K, out the door.

      For your $40K, you can get some rather nice machinery. I say this as a GM fan and someone who would like a Malibu Premier.

      If GM were to make the car you’re talking about, they would sell like they were welded to the floor. Hell, the current car is already tack-welded as it is now.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        It’s Friday and I feel like starting a ‘discussion’ so. Just how many brands and/or models other than Subaru, and Jeep have been saved by being made available in AWD?

        What percentage of AWD/4wd Ford Fusions, Dodge Journeys, Toyota Siennas, VW Golfs, Pontiac Vibes, Pontiac 6000’s, Toyota Corolla and Tercel and Honda Civic wagons or even 1st generation Ford Explorers or Jeep Patriots are/were sold in relation to their 2wd variants?

        I would guess that even the majority of Nissan Rogues and various ‘cute-utes’ sell most often as 2wd models.

        So how many AWD Malibus would GM actually be able to sell and what discount would they have to offer?

        Discuss. :-)

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          FWIW, Jeeps have almost always been associated with 4WD, unlike Subaru and Audi who didn’t start out that way. More to your point, they shift plenty FWD/2WD units however.

          I have to believe the ratio of FWD vs. AWD models in the same model range is probably 80/20. I think I’m being generous, too.

          I can’t imagine that someone who would be shopping an AWD Audi would look at a AWD Impala or Malibu unless it was an outrageous value. Using Cadillac as an example and their futile efforts to compete with Zee Chermans, I can’t imagine that it would result in any conquest sales.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    The Sonic is being discontinued wether GM discontinues it or not. 12 sales in a month is effectively discontinued.

    What happens if (when) gas prices go up? The market will move towards smaller SUV’s. The fact is my wives CR-V get the same MPG’s as a four door Geo Metro with an automatic that we had as a rental in the ’90’s. In a 1000 mile plus trip it barely got 30 mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      bts

      Apples to oranges comparison.

      The CR-V and Geo are going to get similar mpg on the highway, but the light weight Geo and small engine will destroy the CR-V in City mpg.

  • avatar
    MoDo

    BuT cAnAdIaNs LoVe sMaLl CaRs

    Nope, they love CHEAP cars and when you can get something bigger for the same money they go that route.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Total Turd, bye-bye.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      “The Sonic RS is a much better car than most people give it credit for. No, it’s not as fast as a GTI or FoST, and it’s closer to a Fiesta ST in size, but it’s super fun to drive, and the back seat is surprisingly large…” Bark M.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    The Sonic is not *made* in Orion Twp. It is ASSEMBLED there. At least, that’s what the sticker on my 2013 said.

    When the CC switch failed, the replacement OEM part said “Made in China”.

    When the air intake hose failed, the replacement OEM part said “Made in Korea”.

    When the cooling system failed at 50k, I filled it with tap water and traded it in at a big loss.

  • avatar

    This is very sad news to hear but not surprising

    I am the proud owner of 2015 Chevy Sonic hatch- 1.8 litre with the manual. It’s been a reliable car and I enjoy the “big car feel” in it. The seats are comfy, there’s generous legroom for my 6’4’’ frame, it has a solid and refined ride, fun handling, isn’t noisy, and gets good fuel economy. Plus I love the quirky dash and style of the pre-refreshed models

    I had a ’15 Honda Fit before it and the Sonic was leaps and bounds ahead of the Fit in refinement, front seat space, and has strangely proven to be much more reliable. That Fit was a noisy, sluggish, sloppily-built penalty box that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. All it had going for it was a big back seat.

    Ironically, I parked next to a current generation Fit last night and thought to myself “if the Fit had a GM or Ford badge slapped on it, it’d be chased out of town for its lack of refinement, lack of front seat room, and flimsiness.” Looking at them, I am still so much happier with the Sonic.

    But as aforementioned, this news is not surprising. The entire segment is declining in sales as this CUV fade continues, and it makes no sense for Gm to invest more or waste precious factory space on the Sonic. Too bad, it’s a very good little car.

    • 0 avatar

      I drove one in 2014 when my wife’s Equinox went in the shop. I was amazed. Drove like a smoother version of my son’s Peak Honda ’93 Accord, and it felt more solid than even the Cadillac DTSs I’d driven a decade or so earlier.

      If I had a reason to own one I’d have one right now.

  • avatar
    tallguy130

    I don’t know if the issue will be people not affording the cost of gas when the market changes. The CUVs everyone is jumping to really are not that dissimilar in mgp.

    It’s the higher buy in cost of the small SUV/CUVs that will hurt them if people suddenly have less to spend on transportation. If/when the economy tanks it’s safe to assume that more people will gravitate to lower cost cars at the expense of other options. Then GM/Ford will be caught flat footed (again).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    So Sonic out, but Spark’s still in? I’m not sure where Spark is assembled but I wonder if this has anything to do with US assembly vs foreign?

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    No Sonic in Canada? It’s done in the USA.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    This is a long-term trend towards utility in vehicles. From at least the 50s through the 80s the 2-door coupe was what was desired – everything was diseinged with 2 doors first and 4 as an afterthought. In the 90s the sedan became prominent and the coupe faded away. Now the sedan is falling away to the similar sized CUV – which has more everyday utility.

    At current prices, wouldn’t you want the most usefulness you can get? Why not a high-riding wagon?

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