2012 Chevrolet Sonic
by John Davis
The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic subcompact series replaces the Korean-built Aveo. And like the Aveo, its basic design was conceived in the Far East. But that ends any comparison between the two cars. The Sonic is a clean sheet design that’s not only built in the U.S.A., it targets America’s youngest car buyers like no Chevrolet before it.
To that end, both the Sonic 5-door Hatchback and the 4-Door Sedan, sport motorcycle inspired styling cues. That includes the big, circular headlights with exposed lamps that surround a split Chevrolet grille. Strong character lines down the sides add to the sense that the Sonic is always in motion. As do standard alloy wheels on all models.
Naturally the 4-door sedan is toned down a bit from the 5-door hatchback. Still, both Sonics are styling standouts among mostly mundanely shaped rivals.
The Sonic’s interior was designed for young urbanites who spend most of their time cruising the big city. Front leg and head room are very good for a subcompact. There is more motorcycle influence in the gauge cluster that mates a round speedometer set with a rectangular digital readout.
Standards include a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, air conditioning, a fine sounding satellite stereo with portable device connections, OnStar, and a class best 10 airbags. Bluetooth for phone and music is available on all trims.
In the back, we found head room to be fine, but this is a subcompact so overall room is tight.
Front drive power for the Sonic comes from the larger Cruze. Standard is a 1.8 liter I4 rated at 138-horsepower. The optional 1.4-liter turbocharged I4 also rates 138-horsepower, but with more pulling power or torque. The turbo motor with a manual transmission has EPA fuel economy ratings of 29 MPG City and 40 MPG Highway. The automatic is less efficient but still good for its class.
As is track performance. Acceleration, handling, and braking for the Sonic turbo are also above class expectation. The standard engine has only adequate acceleration. So, Sonic is not truly a sporty car, but it is quite competent. Plus, Sonic has an excellent ride and is among the quietest small cars on the market.
The 2012 Chevrolet Sonic is a very good subcompact. It’s youthfully stylish, reasonably spirited, comfortable, well equipped, efficient, and appears very well made in the good old U.S. of A.
If you’re keen to find out more about the Chevrolet Sonic, be sure to catch MotorWeek’s Road Test of this new subcompact on episode #3010 that begins airing on most PBS stations on November 12, 2011. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to www.motorweek.org and click on “Find Your Station.” MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity (Formerly HD Theater) cable channel.