By on July 10, 2019

Our always (sometimes) reliable Ace of Base meter loves a good econocar, one that deigns to a low monthly payment but still doles out features like a benevolent reverend doles out candy at Easter. The diminutive Sonic has never been featured in this series, primarily due to the presence of its little brother — the Chevy Spark.

American auto-buyers seem to have shunned the Sonic as well, with the current model set to sail off into the twilight after this model year. Compared to the popular and evergreen Hyundai Accent sedan, can it secure an Ace of Base parting gift?

For starters, price has generally been a problem for the Sonic. Its base model, shown here as the LS, stickers at $15,420 which represents a 3-percent hike over the $14,995 Accent. That might not sound like a lot but any sort of price disadvantage at the instant ramen end of the scale is worth talking about.

Speaking of, we generally do no mention incentives in this series as they can vary wildly among regions and eligibilities. An exception is being made here thanks to some largesse on the part of General Motors who have slapped $2,000 on the hood of base Sonic sedans. This brings the pre-freight price to a much more palatable $13,420. As a ratio, that’s like getting $6,500 off a truck stickered at fifty grand.

Base LS Sonic sedans — indeed, all Sonics — are powered by a 1.4L turbo making 138 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque, the latter of which comes online at 2500rpm. It is lashed to a six-speed manual with a hill holder, great for new drivers. The late and unlamented 1.8L has been binned.

Inside, the Sonic has wind-up manual windows compared to the Accent’s power units, and the whole interior vibe in the Korean car feels much more modern and up to date. That’s largely thanks to the Chevy’s cabin, save for some minor tweaks two years ago, being left the same since its introduction in 2011. The driver gets an all-important armrest on which to lean but the passenger has to do without. There is no centre storage but twin gloveboxes help make up for that omission. Air conditioning is standard, a near-prerequisite around here, as are a decent 7-inch touchscreen display paired with items like CarPlay and USB ports.

GM is thankfully choosing to use up its remaining stock of paint allocated for the Sonic, allowing even this base LS to be slathered in interesting hues. This is refreshing, since it is usually only shades of grey permitted to be applied to these cheap seats. In terms of styling, the Sonic’s nose is pleasant enough but its rear looks like it has been given a giant wedgie thanks to vertical tail lamps placed on a tall but thin body.

Avec incentives, the 2019 Chevrolet Sonic LS sedan — in its final lap around the sun — earns its first and only Ace of Base trophy.

[Images: GM]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.


Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

52 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2019 Chevrolet Sonic LS Sedan...”

  • avatar

    In a car this small I’d much rather have the hatch or 5 door.

    The RS is a neat little proposition for the “drive a slow car fast” crowd.

    • 0 avatar

      The hatch looks so much better, too. This thing has such an awful rump. And it actually had some interesting headlights at one point, but then GM did their ~freshening~ thing and made it way blander.

      When the Sonic initially came out ages ago, I quite liked it. But just like most other Big Three products, they said “this is fine” and didn’t even attempt to update it (outside of minor cosmetic changes) over a decade. Of course, the Sonic was also the most expensive subcompact too, which doesn’t help matters.

      • 0 avatar

        It also had a pretty cool interior with the digital speedometer/tach before getting these analog gauges. Which are still better than those found in the ATS. Weird that the Sonic gets the “upgrade” that the Cadillac never did.

        • 0 avatar

          I liked the digital gauges better, it gave the interior a slightly different vibe.

          I think GM got their feelings hurt when the digital cluster was compared to “Chinese scooter gauges”.

      • 0 avatar
        PSX 5k Ultra Platinum Triple Black

        I agree quaquaqua, the original Sonic had cool headlights and the motorcycle inspired gauges, then GM did the typical GM and saved money on both things, making them less unique.

        At least the turbo 4 is standard now.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree on all fronts.

      The 5-door is more practical, offers more cargo and passenger room, and Gamma is a very competent platform. The 6-speed manual/1.4 turbo 4 is a well married combination. This is definitely a fun slow car to drive fast.

    • 0 avatar

      The most memorable thing about the Sonic was how unbelievably better it was than its predecessor, the hoary old Aveo, a strong candidate for the worst, most recent modern car.

      • 0 avatar

        Ah, the Aveo. I used to teach Drivers Ed. in the summer and one year the school district made me use an Aveo. I agree with rudiger that it might be the worst car in modern history. I could measure zero to 60 times with a sundial. I felt like I was going to die every time I taught kids to merge onto a freeway.
        I told the school I would never again teach kids in a deathtrap like the Aveo.

        • 0 avatar

          Holy cow, an Aveo for a driver’s ed car? What kind of low-rent high school used Aveos for driver’s ed cars? Were they trying to dissuade the teenagers from driving? They were slugs with just a driver. I can’t imagine how slow one must have been with three teen-aged passengers, even if they didn’t weigh much.

          Besides the terrible driving dynamics, the Aveo’s mechanicals were pretty bottom-basement, too. For a small car, they got miserable fuel mileage and it wasn’t uncommon to see a not particularly old Aveo belching out clouds of blue/grey smoke from their tailpipe as it limped down the road.

          They were that era’s dirt-cheap, K-mart cars. You could buy a new Aveo for about the same price as a three-year old Corolla or Civic but you ‘really’ just had to have a new car since that was the only redeeming value.

          • 0 avatar

            Colour me surprised that there are still high schools that have driver’s ed. Mine certainly didn’t. I had to pay something like $400 for my driver’s education classes about 16 years ago. The cars we used were Cavaliers, right before the final refresh.

          • 0 avatar

            Took drivers ed in a brand new Corsica that replaced a 1st gen Cavalier 4 door.

  • avatar

    “The late and unlamented 1.8L has been binned.”

    I know two people with GM products with the 1.4L turbo engine, and both had massive problems at low miles. Sounds like they got rid of the wrong engine if you ask me…

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. The 1.4L turbo was hardly any quicker than the 1.8L, blah blah blah waiting for the torque comments to show up. Not worth the upgrade.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve had 1 turbocharged vehicle, a Focus ST with all 270 torques at 2500 rpm. Even with all the torque relatively low in the rev range, I drove it the same way I drive everything; shifting at relatively high revs and being done with it.

        Is pressing harder on the throttle seriously that big an issue? Most of the vehicles I’ve driven have been of the 4 cylinder variety making peak torque at 5000-5500 rpm and I’ve never noticed that they were especially irritating to drive.

        This is a serious question. I truly don’t understand the need for gobs of torque down low, unless possibly for towing (which most compact cars aren’t going to do).

        • 0 avatar
          Johnny Ro

          VW went a long time ago with long stroke and low RPMS for their T engines.

          Not everybody likes that power profile. My Bro in law revs his 2002 A4, past its torque peak. Reminds him of his 1972 BMW I suppose and a relief from his Caravan. Now he has a Sonic 1.4, unseen by me.

          Riding with him in the Audi was a jerky adventure

    • 0 avatar

      I have the 1.4T in my Cruze and it has been fine so far *knock on wood*.

      I had the 1.8 in my Gen 1 Cruze and the 1.4T is 1,000,000x better.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    “Why buy this. For not much more a month you could grab a used Ferrari 458 Italia.”

    – Most posters on this forum

  • avatar


    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis


      TRD is a Toyota trim package. Not Chevy.

      • 0 avatar

        TRD is a Toyota equipment package. Turds are GM’s trade.

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Gazis


          Call my car anything you like. Just keep that slow moving Toyota @$$ of yours off the highway! If you’re not keeping up with traffic you’re creating traffic!
          And a Big “F.U.” from everyone you’ve ever made late for an appointment.

          • 0 avatar

            Wait is a guy who owns a Sonic giving someone else grief for holding up traffic?

            Not that I think the Sonics are too slow to keep with traffic or anything, but still…. it’s a bit rich.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I bet finding this same car, with a manual gearbox, will be a real challenge.

  • avatar


    Sree USA in your Guangzhou Motor (GM) Dong Yue LLC Chebroret Sonic OR Chinarado or GMC Chierra! Makes no difference-a.

    Interior parts and a textures and all components pride of Dong Yue LLC, Industrial Zone D17, Factory No. 3.

    Wedder you ra buy dis or a biggerer Guangzhou Motors Pickerup Truck, you are a supproting Chinese Compranees and China Government!

    SAIC Guangzhou deeply values lowest cost bidder parts supplier status with GM North America!

    We a most a ra parts and put for General a Motors Chebroret Chinarado and GMC Chierra!

    Tanks for a hepring Peoples Repubric of China become dominant rivarl to a USA, GM!

  • avatar

    I talked to a field rep who had a Sonic with close to 200K miles. I was shocked and impressed that it had so many miles, until I saw the car.

    There are infomercials that last longer than the 1.4T. I’d rather drive a Mirage.

  • avatar

    An M/T and crank windows? Is it possible to *actually* purchase it that way, or is that just “From $XYZ!” website fodder?

    If you can’t actually buy it equipped this way, that’s not an Ace of Base.

  • avatar

    One of the reasons I bought a used vehicle with low miles was because I could get more room, more equipment, and more crash crumple zone space in a larger small vehicle – like my 2016 Hyundai Elantra. What is shocking is that my Elantra delivers 46 mpgs per tank (measured by mileage divided by gallons pumped into it) than this thing will do. My car also looks like it was styled instead have sheet metal dumped on it after the seats were installed.

    • 0 avatar

      Considering this weighs about the same as your Elantra, and has slightly better crash ratings, the extra crumple zones probably won’t do you much good. Also, your anecdotal fuel economy doesn’t mean much unless you’ve driven a Sonic under the same conditions. EPA gives a slight edge to the Sonic with the stick (although it’s admittedly reversed if you take an auto). Furthermore, Fuelly is reporting 29.9 mpg on average for ’16 Elantras, while ’17 Sonics and earlier (there’s not enough data on newer ones to work with) seem to show about 31mpg with the 1.4. Again, a negligible difference, but probably more representative than your one-off.

      Not saying you made the wrong choice, but a little too much of the “shoulda bought a used car!” evidence is just opinion.

  • avatar

    Waiting for The Deadweight.

    EDIT: Scrolled past him, my bad.

  • avatar

    Bravo Guangzhou Motors!

    This POS manages a #38 on Made In America with….get this…

    A whopping 50% of its components made in The United States, and the other 50% made overseas (cough..China…cough).

    Sree the USA in your Chebroret!

    • 0 avatar

      I’m amazed the North American content is that high. Remember when these were new and they were delivering cars with no front brake pads? That was because the cars were practically CKD kits from Korea, with entire strut/spindle/brake assemblies sent over preassembled.

  • avatar

    I own a 2015 Chevy Sonic LT hatch that we bought brand new. We love the car and it’s probably the best car we’ve ever owned. No problems or issues, and a quiet refined ride for an economy car. So much better than the ’15 Honda Fit we owned previously.

    Ours has the 1.8 litre with the manual transmission. It’s not the quickest, but we felt it’d be more reliable than the turbo.

    We bought the Sonic due to:
    -Being the only subcompact built in the U.S.
    -The quirky styling with exposed headlights and digital gauges. The look is distinctive (we call it “The Angry Birds car”) and the funky gauges are easy to read at a glance and look cool
    -Roomy comfortable seats
    -It comes with a spare tyre
    -Stable handling, quiet ride, and solid feel
    -5 star crash test rating
    -Generous rebates from GM
    -Availability of a manual transmission

    Honestly, there’s no regrets and I still have yet to find any newer subcompact that I like more

    I feel the ’17 refresh was a blunder and much prefer ours. The new design is much more generic and gone are the cool gauges. The interior is a mismatch of the former design (the doors, centre console) mixed with forced, incohesive updates. It doesn’t appeal to me nearly as much, but I’d probably would still choose it over most subcompacts

    Lastly, that sedan is so awkwardly proportioned. The pre facelift sedan and all the hatches look so much better

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah I’m sure its really swell. Enjoy your $100 thermostat changes in what is one of the worst engineering design choices ever.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree on all counts, festiboi. I drove a Sonic RS hatch a couple of years ago and was impressed. It went down the road as quiet, straight, solid and sure as a VW Golf, the perennial gold standard for small-car excellence. Headroom was great fore and aft. The hybrid digital-analog display, and interior design in general, was fun and sporty. The only letdown was the engine — my previous cars were a V6 and a hybrid, so I was accustomed to an off-idle torque wallop that the 1.4T decidedly did not have.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • stuki: “Smart money would buy a Lexus instead” But “Smart” don’t fall for nonsense as...
  • nrd515: about 7/8ths of the current Tundra is OK looking, but that front end, wow. WTF were they thinking? It makes...
  • conundrum: Never heard of the Toyota Mirai FCV? They’re on the Mk2 already for 2022 — the first one...
  • RHD: Triumph, Tata, TVR, Trabant, Th!nk… I’ll give you Tucker, Tesla and Toyota…
  • RHD: Toyota makes vehicles better than anyone. Are you just trying to stir up trouble, or do you really know nothing...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber