The critically acclaimed Chevrolet Sonic is a strong indication of the paradigm shift at Chevrolet in particular, and General Motors overall. For years, Chevrolet struggled to introduce a credible offering in the subcompact category. With the Sonic, Chevrolet has finally fielded a model fully competitive with every other offering in the class. Additionally, Sonic drives more expensive than its base price would lead you to expect. What’s more, the Chevrolet offers good fuel economy, a generous array of available features, and best of all (if this sort of thing matters to you), it’s built in the United States. No question about it, with Sonic, Chevrolet is firmly holding its own in the subcompact category. New for 2015, 4G LTE WiFi is standard across the entire lineup.
2015 Chevrolet Sonic Quick Spin Review
Offered as either a four-door sedan or a five-door hatchback, Sonic can also claim versatility as one of its attributes. Among its sporty exterior styling details are slightly flared fenders covering tires and wheels pushed out to the extreme corners of the car. “Overhang” is a word with exactly zero relevance to the Chevrolet Sonic. While the little car’s round headlights look like they came from a motorcycle (and yes, this is a good thing), the edge of the hood and the two-tier grille frame provide nice counterpoints. Speaking of the hood, a pair of character lines flow rearward from it to blend perfectly with the A pillars, introducing a sense of movement to the overall design.
A choice of two inline four-cylinder engines feed the front wheels. The base engine is a normally aspirated 1.8-liter, delivering 138 horsepower and 125 ft-lbs of torque. A five-speed manual transmission with a hill-holding feature is standard, while a six-speed automatic is optional. Fuel economy is rated at 26 mpg city/35 highway and 30 combined with the manual, while the automatic is said to be good for 25 city/35 highway and 28 combined.
The optional engine is a turbocharged 1.4 with 138 horsepower and 148 ft-lbs of torque. The horsepower figure is the same, but the torque figure is greater. The turbocharged engine gets a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Fuel economy with the 1.4 varies because the sportier RS model uses lower gearing to optimize performance.
Sonic LTZ and LT return 29 city/40 highway and 33 combined with the manual; 27 city/37 highway and 31 combined with the automatic. Sonic RS returns 27 city/34 highway and 20 combined with the manual; 25 city/33 highway and 28 combined with the automatic.
Standard safety features include traction and stability control, as well as antilock brakes. It should be noted all Sonic models save the sporty RS and the more upscale “Dusk” trim package use drum brakes in the rear.
Front seat occupants get knee airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, and side curtain airbags. Further, Sonic’s OnStar package provides automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle assistance and remote door unlocking.
Optional safety features include forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and a rear view camera.
NHTSA says Sonic is a five star car overall, while the IIHS says Sonic earned its top (“Good”) rating in all but the small overlap frontal offset crash test. Sonic scored the Institute’s second-worst (“Marginal”) ranking in that admittedly tough to pass test.
Pricing and Features
Sonic sedan starts at $15,070, while the hatchback starts at $15,670. Standard features include automatic headlights, air conditioning, power door locks, remote keyless entry, a height adjustable driver’s seat, Bluetooth handsfree telephony, and 4G LTE WiFi capability. Options include a sunroof, four-wheel disc brakes, Bluetooth audio streaming, a touchscreen interface, and Smartphone app integration.