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Actual rating will vary with options, driving conditions, habits and vehicle condition.
The standard features of the Chevrolet Sonic LT Auto include ECOTEC 1.8L I-4 138hp engine, 6-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), side seat mounted airbags, curtain 1st and 2nd row overhead airbags, rear side-impact airbag, driver and passenger knee airbag, airbag occupancy sensor, air conditioning, 15" steel wheels, ABS and driveline traction control, StabiliTrak electronic stability, power locks.
Starting at: $16,895
|LT Manual Search New||$17,580||138-hp 1.8L 4-cyl||5-spd man.||25 / 33|
|LT Auto w/1SD Search New||$18,970||138-hp 1.8L 4-cyl||6-spd auto||24 / 34|
|Premier Manual Search New||$19,720||138-hp 1.4L 4-cyl||6-spd man.||28 / 38|
|Premier Auto Search New||$21,215||138-hp 1.4L 4-cyl||6-spd auto||27 / 36|
The Sonic feels strong and sturdy, with a ride that’s smoother and quieter than that of most subcompacts. It’s enjoyable to drive, thanks to a well-tuned suspension and electric power steering that has a nicer feel and weight than its Asian rivals. Sonic feels settled, more like a larger compact car. The Sonic RS hatchback tightens the suspension up a bit more. The package is available as an option on the sedan.
On the turbo, there’s a bit of throttle lag. But the 6-speed manual transmission makes it way fun anyhow. The gearbox is precise and direct, with nice short throws. The clutch is smooth and foolproof.
Unfortunately, the brake pedal is mushy, like every Sonic we’ve ever driven. The stopping distances are fine, but the feel is soft.
The 6-speed automatic transmission is good too. The 1.4-liter turbo doesn’t get paddle shifters, but there are shifting buttons on the lever to manually shift the transmission. It shifts in the right places when left in Drive, with the turbo; but with the base 1.8, the transmission goes hunting for gears, up and down. Another reason to avoid that engine.
The 2017 Sonic styling changes keep it in line with other global Chevrolets such as the Cruze, Bolt EV, Trax, even the Malibu.
The design is a pleasant balance, neither bold nor boxy and bland. Conservative but handsome. Alloy wheels are standard, even on the base LS. Thank you Chevrolet, for not saving money with plastic hubcaps over steel wheels.
The new hood flows neatly back from the projector-beam headlamps that meet the grille in a contiguous horizontal line that includes the LED DRLs (light-emitting diode daytime running lights). New front and rear airdams complement the change, while the rear bodywork is now chiseled.
The Sonic’s front seats are quite good, able to adjust to large and small drivers, but the back seats are tight and subcompact all the way, especially in headroom, and definitely with three squeezed in.
The rear seatbacks flip forward to make more cargo space, in both the hatchback and sedan, but the load floor isn’t low like some competitors, and it doesn’t offer anything near like the Honda Fit’s Magic Seat, a front passenger seat that drops level to make room for long sporting equipment or building materials. That makes the Sonic a bit less attractive for dog owners or cargo haulers.
The Sonic tries to make up for it in storage area. In front there are trays, bins, and cubbies to hold your small stuff. The hatchback boasts 19 cubic feet of cargo capacity, a lot for a subcompact, with a compartment under the floor that can hide a laptop. Meanwhile the sedan has a 14.9-cubic-foot trunk, big as that of the Nissan Versa.
In some places the interior packaging is inferior to competitors, despite some upscale materials. It shows its family design age, in particular the dash with wraparound console that curves into a V-shaped centerstack. The new available infotainment system with seven-inch screen updates it. And there are some nice touches that you don’t generally find on subcompacts, such as chrome trim rings and different grains in materials. Overall, it feels upscale for a subcompact, with one of the quietest cabins in the class. The LT is the quietest. If tire noise matters a lot to you, avoid the 17-inch wheel-and-tire upgrade, as on the RS model.
GM says the instrument cluster is inspired by motorcycle gauges, but the tachometer has a digital speedo with icons, graphs and lights, not exactly what you find on a bike.
The Chevy Sonic is a worthy competitor to the dominant Asian subcompacts. It has a winning powertrain with the 1.4-liter turbo engine, and we like the hatchback more than the sedan. It’s not a Honda Fit, but it doesn’t try to be; still, the cabin holds its own for a subcompact.
The 2017 Chevrolet Sonic sedan comes in Sonic LS, Sonic LT, and Sonic Premier models. The Sonic hatchback comes in LT, Premier and the sporty Sonic RS.