Earlier this month, we accepted GM Canada’s offer to provide us with a 2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ test vehicle to do a one week evaluation. In doing the review we drove the Chevy Sonic in both urban and rural environments to experience first hand what GM’s newest subcompact product is all about. And I have to say, it did not disappoint and exceeded our expectations overall of what a subcompact car should be. From its unique and distinctive styling, well appointed interior, powerful turbo engine, fun, six speed manual transmission and eco-friendly footprint it really is a solid car able to compete with the best cars in its class.
Our tester was a top of the line 5 door LTZ model which comes with all the bells and whistles including:
- 1.4L Turbocharged ECOTEC four cylinder engine with 138 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft. of torque at 2500 RPM
- 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive
- Air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows, locks and mirrors, cruise control, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, USB port and auxiliary audio input jack, and Bluetooth: hands free phone and audio connectivity.
- 17 inch painted aluminum wheels
- Trunk/storage space – 19 cubic feet with rear seats up and 30.7 cubic feet with rear seats folded down – based on GM Canada’s vehicle information
- $20,495 MSRP based on GM Canada’s website as of May 27, 2012
Some key facts about the Chevy Sonic:
- Currently built in GM’s Lake Orion, Michigan plant, the Sonic is the only Subcompact car sold in North America manufactured within the United States.
- This is really great news for us in North America as it signals more good things to come from GM in the way of innovative and high quality products.
With its modern, machined metal look and driver focused feel the Sonic’s interior has the appearance of a much more expensive automobile inside.
We found the Sonic’s driver and passenger visibility to be very good overall which is reassuring since there has been some recent criticism about driver visibility within the subcompact vehicle segment.
And with a highway fuel consumption rating of 5.1 L/100 KM as based on GM Canada’s manufacturer information the Sonic is very fuel efficient even for its class. An effective eco-feature with the six speed manual transmission is a notification on the dash of when to shift to a higher gear in order to save fuel. While it’s hard to say if this feature will really change anyone’s driving behaviour, it is very cool to know what the optimal shift times are.
The nimble Sonic is a blast to drive. When accelerating off the line it felt solid, ready to give you more. The engine is very responsive as is both steering and braking. The ride is elegantly quiet and smooth. Literally, the only complaint over the week was the fact that there was not an armrest on the passenger seat, or a high enough centre console for the passenger to rest an arm – not exactly a big deal in the whole scheme of things.
Competitors to the Sonic in this subcompact class include the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, Nissan Versa and the Mazda 2.
Our overall rating for the Chevrolet Sonic is a 4.5 out of 5. With this type of stellar performance, it should be at the top of your list if you are in the market for a new sporty subcompact.