So Long, Sonic: Another GM Car Bites the Dust

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
so long sonic another gm car bites the dust

This was a long time coming. In fact, Wednesday’s announcement of the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact was expected to arrive by the end of last year, not halfway through the present one.

Regardless, the small hatchback and sedan that greeted buyers near the outset of the 2010s will not last more than a year into the 2020s. It’s dead come October.


The news comes to us via CNBC, which quotes company spokeswoman Megan Soule as saying GM’s Orion Assembly will switch to manufacturing a crossover version of the Chevrolet Bolt (Bolt EUV) come 2021. The Michigan factory already cranks out the all-electric Bolt. The discontinuation of the Sonic was the product of “declining demand,” Soule said.

Appearing for the 2012 model year, the Sonic was a subcompact, youth-oriented companion to the larger Cruze compact car. Both models shared their thrifty, downsized powertrains (1.8-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder, 1.4-liter turbo).

Initially, as the U.S. bounced back from the Great Recession and cheap, fuel-efficient passengers cars briefly exploded in popularity, the Sonic fared fairly well. After climbing to a high water mark of 93,518 units sold in 2014, demand for the nimble little car tapered off. Sales declined each year thereafter, falling to a barely significant 13,971 units in 2019.

The far more expensive and complex Bolt sold more examples last year, though not considerably more.

Following the recent scrapping of the Chevy Cruze, Volt, and Impala, the departure of the Sonic leaves Chevrolet — and GM — with a single non-sports, non-electric, domestically built passenger car: the Malibu. And that’s a sedan that’s also facing its eventual demise. The tiny, imported Spark remains in the catalog.

What a difference a decade makes.

While the Sonic’s days are soon over, the assembly plant will retain its current complement of workers in order to build the Bolt EUV — a vehicle no one’s yet laid eyes on, but one that should bump up the electric nameplate’s cargo and utility factor.

In the meantime, expect to see cheap deals this fall as dealers rid themselves of all remaining examples of the Sonic. No longer offered with the base 1.8L and saddled with a standard six-speed automatic, the Sonic retains its initial hatchback usability and fun-to-drive characteristics.

[Images: General Motors]

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  • Akear Akear on Jul 08, 2020

    I have just been to the Car and Driver website and found the xt5 finishing dead last. That is GM for you. Their review for the xt4 was even more negative than the review on this site. Well, at least the xt4 finished 4th to last, which is an improvement.

  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Jul 13, 2020

    I had a couple as rental cars and I didn't mind them. In fact, if GM had leased this car like they leased the '16 Cruze "Classic" I got for $105/mo for 24 months, I would have leased the Sonic instead. I liked the unique front end and the "motorcycle inspired" gauge cluster in the earlier cars. The 1.4T would have been slightly better in this car than the Cruze, though just as coarse and thrashy above 4k. I'd rather GM keep this than soul-less, shapeless Trax.

  • Crtfour I live in East Tennessee where most of the time driving is pretty low stress. But for work I have the misfortune of passing through Atlanta every 3-4 months. And passing through downtown you have to change lanes and merge so many times I still can't seem to keep it straight. On my last trip I ended up in an exit only lane ; the lane next to me where I had to get into was stopped so I was blocking the exit lane with this guy behind me blowing his horn and flashing his lights. I finally managed to get over finally allowing this guy to floor it and be on it's way. I consider myself a good driver with the exception of passing through there.
  • Pishta Those 80 B2000's were very Ford Courier like but the 81's had a completely new for Mazda dash. Less pods, more integration in one window. These didn't get the F motor until 84(?) only with the B2200 option. Single wall beds had lost of rust through issues. The 80 Quad headlamp grill was very rare, I dont rememeer seeing but one growing up.
  • FreedMike So it has transited out of existence here...
  • TheEndlessEnigma Self fulfilling prophesy. Ford spends virtually nothing on sales and marketing for the Transit....then scratches their collective heads not understand why it doesn't sell to their assumed objectives. If you do not market the vehicle, it will not sell. Pretty simple to understand really. Ford sure is working hard to make itself a niche automobile company, trucks and SUV's only. But that's OK, Kia/Hyundai/Toyota/Honda and yes even Volkswagen & Nissan are more than happy to sell to those customers Ford is apparently happy to walk away from.
  • NJRide I would think this segment would have a following but I guess not enough of a price difference with larger vans and probably too unrefined to be a sort of minivan alternative